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
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
i100
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

    1st Line Service Desk Analyst

    £27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

    Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

    £18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

    Day In a Page

    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?