Sony Xperia Z: The waterproof smartphone that takes the peril out of texting in the bath

David Phelan manages – just – to get his hands on Sony’s flagship mobile at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas

Las Vegas

It’s so big, you see. In fact, apart from two phones from Samsung which are described as phablets because they’re half-tablet, this is the largest-screen mobile phone ever.

Though to be fair, the specs do it a disservice because when you hold it, it feels big but not ridiculous. Partly that’s because the phone is so slim, and partly because the high-end materials such as the highly tactile shatterproof glass back are so pleasing.

Every detail, down to the aluminium power button, is beautifully crafted – this phone has amazing build quality and looks very premium.

The funny thing is that while Sony and its predecessor Sony Ericsson have made some great phones in their time, those attributes (detail, crafting, build quality, high-end) are much more associated with Sony’s big rival, Apple, and that’s the company Sony’s taking on here.

And, like that other stand-out big phone of recent months, the Nokia Lumia 920, this is a phone that’s so stuffed with features, it’s hard to see where they’ve squeezed them all.

First, it has a screen resolution like you’ve never seen before. The Retina display on current iPhones manages 326 pixels per inch (ppi) and looks glorious. It’s more like a printed page with smooth text and pin-sharp pictures. In normal usage, you can’t pick out individual pixels.

But this takes it to a whole new level. The Xperia Z’s display manages 443ppi and adds even greater realism. It lacks the eye-poppingly bright colour palette of the iPhone but it’s a stunning display.

Second, it’s fast. A quad-core processor means that whatever you throw at it, it manages. Android phones do a lot of multi-tasking, with programs running in the background and this often slows things down. Here, there’s a feeling of a speedy, powerful, responsive phone.

Third, it’s water-resistant. I know, I know, but it’s kind of cool. The headphone socket has a little cap to keep, er, the music dry and other areas are suitably protected. You can put it in two feet of water for half an hour, though I haven’t actually tested this you understand. Anyway, it means there’s no problem texting in the bath, for instance.

Fourth, nobody has made NFC work as well as Sony. NFC, or near field communication, is that contactless data transfer system favoured by many office door-entry systems and Oyster cards. Sony has developed a huge range of headphones, speakers and even a TV remote, that are NFC-responsive. Touch the phone to the portable speaker and the track playing on your phone is suddenly audible in decent quality. Touch the Xperia Z to the TV remote and the video you’re watching on the 5in phone screen starts playing on the telly.

Sony has already launched special tags which use NFC. Touch your phone to the one in your bedroom and it turns the phone to silent and sets the alarm, say.  Tap it on the tag in your car and the mapping app is launched. And so on. NFC is a technology that is about to break through, and 2013 could be its year.

The phone also has a sophisticated battery management set-up so you can kill Facebook updates, say, when juice is running low. And the good thing about having a big screen is there’s room for a bigger battery, too.

But the success of the Xperia Z will depend on how well it can take on the smartphone giants like the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III. On first impressions, Sony has a real chance to turn around its fortunes in the mobile phone world.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Analyst

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: This is an exce...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star