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Sony Xperia Z HDR still and video samples emerge post-CES

Sony has to win the prize for worst kept secret at this year’s CES following the long-rumoured announcement of their new flagship handset: the Sony Xperia Z. The Z is not only the company’s first smartphone of 2013, but it also stands as a milestone by being the first Sony smartphone to utilise a quad-core processor and the first in Sony’s portfolio to feature a Full HD display.

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Whilst floating around the show floor, the Xperia Z, along with its launch partner the Xperia ZL (see our hands-on here), was snapped up by some keen eyed journalists from BestBoyz.de, who were able to steal away the new flagship and take it into the real world in order to test out its fancy new camera. The Z not only totes Full HD video recording but the 8-megapixel unit is also equipped with the first mobile version of Sony’s Exmor RS image sensor.

This means that it’s also the first handset to tote both HDR (High Dynamic Range) still and video capability in where the camera can capture two exposure settings simultaneously to produce a compiled shot that doesn’t suffer from over-exposed or under exposed areas all the way through the composition. The samples above are full resolution examples of what the Xperia Z is capable of and below is a piece of test video footage, enjoy.

January 14th, 2013

What features does the Sony Xperia Z have?

LG has been quick to point out it was the first to market with devices featuring Qualcomm’s first quad-core chip (in both the Optimus G and Nexus 4); the Snapdragon S4 Pro and the Xperia Z has not only opted for the same brain in its sharp looking body, but has also decided to employ the same Adreno 320 GPU found in the Optimus G as well.

  • Processor: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core chip
  • Screen: 5-inch Full HD (1080×1920) Reality Display with Mobile Bravia Engine 2
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB internal, microSD slot up to 32GB
  • Camera: 13-megapixel sensor with HDR for stills and video, face detection and flash, 2.1-megapixel secondary camera both capable of 0180p HD video @ 30fps
  • Dimensions: 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm
  • Weight: 146g
  • Connectivity: HDMI via MHL, GLONASS, aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA, NFC, WiFi, microUSB, HSPA+, 4G (LTE)
  • Battery: 2330mAh with Battery STAMINA mode for up to 4-time battery life extension
  • Extras: IP55 and IP57 certified dust and water resistance

What operating system will the Sony Xperia Z run?

Another first landed by the Xperia Z is that it’ll be the first of the company’s smartphones to sport Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out-the-box. What’s more the company has already confirmed that it’ll be running the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean not long after release, so we suspect testing is already well under way.

Where does it sit in Sony Xperia Z’s line up?

If it’s not apparent by the mammoth spec sheet, the Xperia Z takes over from last year’s Sony Xperia T as the company’s new flagship and deservedly so based on the number of firsts for the company it’s managed to offer. Sony used CES to announce the Sony Xperia S last year, which in our eyes is still one of the top phones of 2012.

What are the alternatives?

The underlying architecture places the Xperia Z at the top of the Android pack and its screen size even pushes it towards phablet territory too. As such, there are a number of viable alternatives. The newly announced Huawei Ascend D2 will offer a similar big screen, Full HD experience likely at a cheaper price, whilst the LG Optimus G would be a good substitute thanks to the similar hardware at play under the hood. We also think throwing in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 isn’t a bad idea either as although the screen resolution doesn’t quite match up, there’s added value in that S Pen stylus input.

Sony Xperia Z

When will the Sony Xperia Z launch?

Sony have slated both the Z and ZL for a Q1 launch this year, which means we should be able to bring a review by March at the latest. Phones 4U have stated that they’ll be stocking the Z from March 1st.

How much will the Sony Xperia Z cost?

Unfortunately the availability stopped there so we have no indication of pricing, but expect it to be high, considering this is not only the company’s new flagship, but takes point as one of the industry’s first Full HD handsets. Find out more about network availability in Sony Xperia Z price round-up.

What do we think?

It’s always exciting when we have new standards in mobile tech to trial for the first time, 720p displays being all the rage last year. The fact that we’re now being offered Full HD displays is amazing, but we’re not 100% sure whether the 5-inch display size will appeal to all consumers looking to pick up a flagship handset. The Note did surprise many with its popularity, but it catered to a niche market segment that we don’t think Sony are aiming for. They beat down the competition with the offerings made by the Xperia Z, but is it at the cost of becoming less appealing to the broadest potential consumers. We’ll have to wait and see.

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