CES 2013
By Ben Bowers
on 1.8.13
Photo by Sony

Sony’s finally taken the gloves off in the smartphone ring with its Xperia Z and Zl flagship Android handsets. Externally, the perfectly rectangular 0.31-inch thick Z is a classic example of Sony design and definitely different — but it’ll likely take some getting used to in the hand. Its hardware rap sheet also stands toe-to-toe with premium devices like the Droid DNA, Optimus G and Nexus 4 thanks to a 5-inch 1080p “Reality Display”, Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, NFC, LTE, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a MicroSD slot.

Things get better with a 13MP rear camera featuring Sony’s new Exmor RS image sensor, the first chip capable of shooting 1080p HDR video; it also has a 2.2MP front-facing shooter. Though it’s not exactly novel in Japan, IP55 and IP57 certifications are also a welcomed enhancement stateside, and mean the phone can be submerged in up to a meter of water for half and hour and still work. The touch screen functions when wet too, should you still feel compelled to finish your text after fishing it out of a urinal. PlayStation certification, Sony MH-EX300AP premium ear buds and a 2330 mAh battery partnered with a new Battery Stamina Mode (which automatically turns off power leeching apps running the background when the screen goes dim to increase standby time to a whopping 550 hours) top the whole gravy train off.

The Xperia Z1 announced in tandem mirrors the Z in nearly every way — with the only notable differences being a lack of waterproofing and a different exterior form. Specifically, it’s slightly thicker thanks to a curved matte plastic back, but still boasts a smaller footprint due to a nearly bezel-less screen. There’s also a physical button for the camera and an IR blaster for using the phone as a universal remote.

Together, the pair makes for an impressive set of heirs in the Xperia family line — a line that should finally land Sony a seat in the Android royal circle when they launch later this quarter, even without Bond’s blessing.

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