Interesting news from Smartphone
land this week.
Sony is introducing the Xperia Z.
It’s a semi-gigantic phone which has a 5 inch screen, runs on Android and its party trick is being water proof.
Apparently, when Sony says «water-proof» they kind of mean it: the new Xperia should survive fully submerged under 1 meter of water for half an hour. Spilling your drink on it should be fine, then. We might also see an increase of «live from the shower» pictures on facebook and twitter. Just a fair warning.
In order to make the phone water proof though, Sony has had to fit small flaps or doors on all the connectors. That means whenever you want to physically plug it into a cable, you’ll have to open the flap first. Not a big hassle, but a bit more than we’re used to. You could avoid this minor inconvenience by buying the Xperia ZL, which is almost the same phone but not water proof and therefore probably not as cool. I mean, how many phones will let you take underwater pictures?
Or maybe a more relevant question would be, who wants to actually find out if their shiny new expensive phone can really handle salt water like it says on the box?
Anyway, there’s a lot more to this phone we should talk about. It comes with a 5 inch screen which has a full HD resolution. That’s right, a 5-inch 1080p screen. Keep in mind, only a couple of years ago 1080p TV’s were considered quite the technological achievement. Nowdays they are cramming all those pixels on a space smaller than the average sandwich. The pixel density of this screen comes to 443ppi which is considerably larger than even Apple’s «Retina» displays. So it should be plenty.
5 inches might sound like a lot to you (for a phone, obviously…) but the Xperia Z has a pretty slim chassis which means its dimentions are about the same as the Samsung Galaxy S3 which has a 4,7 inch screen. Of course, that’s still a pretty large phone, but not «small tablet» large.
I do feel phone manufacturers are currently testing the boundaries of what is an acceptable size for a phone. I cannot imagine they are going to get much larger than this in the future. The pockets in our pants are only so big, no matter how pretty those big screens look.
Filling all those pixels does take some considerable computing power, so the new Sony comes with a quad-core processor clocked at 1,5 Ghz. The battery has a capacity of more than 2300 mAh which will probably give you a sufficient amount of power for normal use. Well, batteries can never have enough power I suppose…but nobody wants a phone the size and weight of a brick. For now we’re stuck with current battery technology which means recharging our phones daily.
The Xperia Z has a pretty impressive camera as well, with a 13MP sensor and F/2,2 widest aperture lens. This kind of progress will probably continue to decimate sales of entry-level digital cameras. It’s even capable of HDR video recording, which is something competing phones cannot do (yet).
The phone comes standard with 16GB of internal storage which is about average, but a very welcome feature is a microSD expansion slot. That means you can buy yourself a nice memory card of ample size for a reasonable amount of money. The amount of money some manufacturers charge for extra internal memory is in my opinion the biggest scam of the 21st century so far. So thank you, Sony, for not going down that road.
Of course, there is a reason why Sony is being kind to us. They are far, far behind in the smartphone market. The dominance of Apple and Samsung is squeezing out the smaller fish like Sony, HTC, Nokia…
The fact that huge companies like Sony and Nokia can be called «small fish» in the smartphone world is a testament to just how successful Samsung and Apple have been recently. Their huge marketing budgets and fast upgrade cycles are making it difficult for anyone else to gain any market share. So a phone like this represents almost the last chance for Sony and others to try and break back into this market which is dominated by 2 giants.
It’s not unlike Nokia’s Lumia 920 in that regard. These phones are pretty much the best these companies can do, and in order to get any attention they are forced to be a bit unusual.
A 5-inch waterproof smartphone with a high res camera is certainly difficult to ignore. It runs on the latest Android OS which should be familair to most people who don’t have an iPhone. We can expect it on sale by the time the snow melts here in Moscow. From what we have seen so far, it looks like a pretty strong offering.
And just in case anyone is wondering, yes, you can also use it to call people.