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Sony Xperia Z: Hands on review and pictures

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Sony’s latest flagship Android smartphone has just touched down here in the UK, ready to wow you with its glorious Full HD screen. The Xperia Z has everything you’d expect from a £500+ smartphone and more, but is it going to be worth your hard earned?

The white version of the blower landed at Gadget Helpline HQ today and being the gadget obsessive lot we are, we set about exploring every nook and cranny. The first thing that struck us, especially after getting handsy with its brother the Xperia ZL, is how slick and premium the design is. Whereas the Xperia ZL has a dimpled plastic back, the Z has a smooth glass finish, which in white looks stunning.

The use of glass continues around the edges of the phone, flanked by strips of white soft-touch plastic to help the phone grip in your hand – nobody wants a sheet of £500+ glass to just slip out of their hands, do they?

Being billed as a dustproof and waterproof phone, the Xperia Z has an almost seamless design which is absolutely gorgeous. The headphone, micro SD and micro SIM slots are all hidden underneath rubberised tabs that for once fit snuggly and don’t come loose, which is a welcome change. This means that the phone can be dunked underwater without any fear of ruining the high-tech components inside – provided you close all of the tabs properly of course.

Of course, the first thing we did when we received this expensive and brand new piece of kit was to test that waterproof claim. One coffee jug full of cold Somerset water later and we can safely say that the Xperia Z takes a good dunking with aplomb – no problems whatsoever, although on the first dip the screen seemed to select the back button by itself!

We’re still not sold on the button placement on the Xperia Z – the round power button on the right side is difficult to press if you hold the phone left handed, and the volume button just below it takes some getting used to as it’s nowhere near you would expect it to be. Still, both buttons protrude by just the right amount and give a good response, not feeling flimsy or wobbly in any way.

Hold the power button and fire up the phone and you’ll be struck by that awesome 5-inch Full HD display. It’s the same one as used on the Xperia ZL that we’ve spent time with previously, but it’s still just as impressive. Movies and HD games look the best they ever have on a mobile and going back to something even as good as the Nexus 4 feels like a step back in quality.

Operation is fast and fluid thanks to the 2GB of RAM and a quad-core processor under the hood, with the phone easily handling our demanding uses with no instances of lag. Sony’s take on the Android Jelly Bean OS is pretty nice, although it’s still not our favourite. There are some neat widgets and additions from Sony, such as the ‘small apps’ bar, which allows you to add floating widgets to your homescreen including a timer, calculator, memo and voice recorder. It’s nice to be able to have these sorts of things easily accessible when you need them, we think.

Our main concern before receiving the Xperia Z was the size and ‘holdability’, as we like to call it. Thankfully the phone isn’t the behemoth we thought it would be, thanks to a slim frame and very little bezel either side of the 5-inch display. It’s still a big phone, yes, but it doesn’t feel all that big or unwieldy in the hand.

The Sony Xperia Z is out now in the UK.