Sony Xperia Z Android phone (preview)

The 4G-capable Sony Xperia Z features a 5in full HD 1080p display, a 13-megapixel camera and a water and dust-resistant finish

We're barely a few days into 2013 but that hasn't stopped smartphones from being announced. Sony is one of the first off the block with the Xperia Z, the company's new flagship Android phone. Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, the 4G-capable Xperia Z features a 5in full HD 1080p display, a 13-megapixel camera and comes wrapped in a water and dust-resistant finish. Best of all? It's coming to Australia in March.

The Sony Xperia Z has a few eye catching specifications but the one most likely to receive all the attention is the 5in screen. It's a full HD display with a resolution of 1920x1080. Full HD screens are set to become the norm in 2013, and while Sony isn't the first (we're looking at you HTC Butterfly and Oppo Find 5), it will be one of the first to land on Australian shores.

Despite the large 5in screen size Sony's designers have managed to squeeze down the Xperia Z's dimensions. The phone is just 7.9mm thick, only 0.3mm thicker than Apple's iPhone 5. While the 5in screen makes it 3mm taller than the 4.8in-sized Samsung Galaxy S III, it's only 0.3mm wider. This is a large phone but hopefully one with good ergonomics. Sony says the Xperia Z's "rounded edges and smooth reflective surfaces on all sides" will make it comfortable to hold and use.

The Xperia Z is just 7.9mm thick, only 0.3mm thicker than Apple's iPhone 5.
The Xperia Z is just 7.9mm thick, only 0.3mm thicker than Apple's iPhone 5.

The Sony Xperia Z is also dust and water resistant, rated at IP55 and IP57 standards. The water resistant capabilities mean all ports are covered with flaps, but this is something we can live with as Sony promises the Xperia Z can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes without any issues. A more pressing issue could be durability — the Xperia Z has a full pane of glass on both the front and the back, so it remains to be seen how it will fare if dropped.

Sony will launch the Xperia Z with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) but the company has promised it will be upgraded to the latest 4.2 version "shortly after launch". Perhaps the most interesting software addition, though, is what Sony calls "Battery Stamina mode". The feature prevents applications from running when the screen is locked, therefore saving power of the 2330mAh battery and apparently improving standby time "by at least four times". Conveniently, Sony says you can individually select apps to bypass the feature if you wish, so there's an element of personalisation. The screen is still likely to drain the battery fast when in use though, as Sony quotes just five and a half hours of video playback.

Sony says the Xperia Z can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.
Sony says the Xperia Z can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.

The Xperia Z's 13-megapixel camera features an Exmore RS sensor, which Sony claims is the world's first smartphone image sensor with HDR (High Dynamic Range) video. The phone is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, has 2GB of RAM and comes with 16GB of internal memory. There's also a microSD card slot for extra storage. The Xperia Z is 4G capable for Australia, so it's compatible with the 1800MHz 4G networks used down under by Telstra and Optus.

The Sony Xperia Z will launch in Australia in March 2013 on Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Telstra has already published a "register your interest" Web page for the Xperia Z, but no pricing has been announced.

The Xperia Z has a full pane of glass on both the front and the back.
The Xperia Z has a full pane of glass on both the front and the back.

A promotional video of the Sony Xperia Z can be viewed below.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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