Sony has revealed more details about its newly unveiled Xperia Z Android smartphone, with two separate posts published on the company's blog answering consumer questions posted on Twitter.
Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, the Xperia Z is Sony's new flagship Android phone for 2013. Unlike most previous Sony smartphones, there appears to be a genuine buzz about this device. It features a 5in full HD 1080p display, a 13-megapixel camera and is both water and dust-resistant.
The company ran two Xperia Z "Twitter chats" earlier this week with international product managers Lego Svardsater and Sharath Muddaiah answering a number of questions. While we already know the phone will launch on all three major Australian networks in March, other details in the Q&A session covered some extra information.
We've picked out the best bits of the sessions below without the over-the-top marketing speak and added our own thoughts below each detail.
Q: Will the Sony Xperia Z receive Android 4.2?
A: Xperia Z launches on Jelly Bean 4.1, but will receive 4.2 shortly after launch. As always, we’ll share more info on this over the coming weeks.
We say: A standard response. Sony has a poor track record with timely Android updates to its smartphones, so we'll take this information with a grain of salt. The Xperia Z appears to have a light UI skin though, and this may mean the update process can be more timely than previous models.
Q: Can you tell us about Xperia Z’s internal memory?
A: Xperia Z has 16GB worth of internal memory and supports every microSD card up to 32GB in capacity.
We say: A microSD card slot is a much requested feature in most Android phones, so this is a welcome feature. A theoretical maximum 48GB of memory will keep most potential users satisfied.
Q: How important is the water/dust resistance feature to the overall product?
A: Research and feedback from consumers tells us that this is a requested feature in a smartphone, and we feel it really adds a unique aspect to the phone. We have put a lot of effort into including this feature in Xperia Z without compromising on the stand out design.
We say: Although customer requirements differ by market, the water resistant capabilities of the Xperia Z will be welcome news to many Aussies. It's a feature that's not normally seen on high-end flagship devices so we think it could be a huge ace up Sony's sleeve.
Q: What is the battery life like?
A: Battery life depends on how you use the phone, it can be influenced by how heavily you use more demanding functionality. The new Battery Stamina Mode automatically shuts down apps when the phone is in standby mode, and then reboots them when you flick the screen back on. It can extend standby mode by four times or more.
We say: It certainly sounds good on paper but so do most "features". Any efforts designed to extend battery life are welcome, but the big test will be how power efficient the Xperia Z is when the screen is on — Sony quotes just five and a half hours of video playback.
Q: Are there any standout camera features – can we see example imagery?
A: Superior Auto Mode has to be a personal favourite. The Xperia Z’s camera comes loaded with many of the features found in Sony’s cameras — Exmor RS for mobile is also worth highlighting as it's the world’s first image sensor with HDR video for smartphones. We’ll be posting example shots over the coming weeks.
We say: HDR video certainly looks appealing and should theoretically improve images that are captured with bright objects near darker ones. A good example is capturing a photo indoors with a bright window in the frame. The feature sounds impressive, but can't be judged until we see sample images and put the camera through its paces ourselves.
Q: Can you tell us about the quality of the glass?
A: Unfortunately we can’t/don’t mention supplier brands by name, but the Xperia Z uses tempered glass with an anti-shatter film on the front and back. It’s the same stuff that’s actually often used as a substitute in cars and industrial electronics. All in all, specs and strength are equivalent to Gorilla/Dragontail.
We say: A glass back makes for an attractive design but we are concerned with durability. Gorilla glass is a good product but it's not bulletproof and we suspect neither is the Xperia Z's glass. It remains to be seen how the phone will fare if dropped. Remember all those shattered iPhone 4's?
Q: How much will Xperia Z cost?
A: We give local retailers/operators the chance to inform on pricing and availability specifics, so please check-in with them for the latest details.
We say: Typically no word on pricing from any of the Australian telcos as yet, but Sony Mobile Australia has confirmed that the Xperia Z will sell for $749 outright and unlocked. It will be available in black, white and purple direct from Sony Centres across the country.
Q: How does Xperia Z fare as a gaming device?
A: The Xperia Z is PlayStation Certified, and loaded with the latest Adreno 320 graphics chip and Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor.
We say: Nothing to see here. Being "PlayStation Certified" has turned out to be little more than a marketing gimmick with no real substance. The Xperia Z will play all games on the Android Market and has a powerful processor and graphics chip. That's all you really need to know.
Q: Can you shoot video underwater on Xperia Z?
A: Yes, we’ve used Xperia Z to capture video underwater. We’ll look at sharing some of this footage further down the line.
We say: An interesting feature. Not everyone will make use of it, but we can see it being used on holidays at the beach or during water activities like water skiing, fishing and snorkelling. Sony officially says the Xperia Z can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.
Are you interested in the Sony Xperia Z? What feature of the phone most interests you? Let us know in the comments below!