Jan 08 AT 1:09 PM Nick Gray 42 Comments

Hands-on with the Sony Xperia Z and Xperia ZL

sony-xperia-z (7)

Last night, we had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Sony’s two new flagship Android phones. Year after year, Sony has been trying its hardest to muscle its way into the Android world, but has managed to come up short every time. Fortunately, the Xperia Z and Xperia ZL may be the perfect combination of specs and design which will resonate with consumers and hopefully translate into sales for Sony.

As we mentioned in our original post about the two devices, Sony has chosen to use the same basic components inside each device even though the physical attributes are different. The specs inside the two phones make them very competitive with the HTC Droid DNA, though the 5-inch 1080p screens don’t seem quite as impressive as HTC’s offering.

The main difference between the two phones comes down to physical appearance and construction materials. The Xperia Z looks and feels high-class with tempered glass on the back, but the Xperia ZL feels a lot smaller since Sony has managed to dramatically reduce the overall footprint of the phone. Motorola’s probably going to have a bit of competition in the edge-to-edge display marketing jargon. The Xperia ZL also has a nice glowing LED light below the screen which simply look amazing.

sony-xperia-z (1) sony-xperia-z (2) sony-xperia-z (3) sony-xperia-z (4) sony-xperia-z (5) sony-xperia-z (6) sony-xperia-z (7) sony-xperia-z (8) sony-xperia-z (9) sony-xperia-z (10) sony-xperia-zl (1) sony-xperia-zl (2) sony-xperia-zl (3) sony-xperia-zl (4) sony-xperia-zl (5) sony-xperia-zl1

It’s hard to say which phone we like best. Honestly, we wish Sony would have just made only one phone and combined the best design features of each. If Sony would just use the Xperia Z with its glass back, water and dust resistance, and the reduced footprint of the Xperia ZL, it could be the best Android smartphone to launch in the first quarter of 2013. What are your thoughts on the two phones?

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started HTCsource.com (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • Dr.Carpy

    This looks awesome! I don’t get why they didn’t put an IR blaster in the flagship as well. I like the dedicated camera button, but I haven’t had one on any of my last couple of phones so no deal breaker there. Keep it coming Android and Me, I can’t get enough gadget info!

    • Robert Griffins knee

      what an ugly brick, worst phone ever. And its a sony! tra$h

      • Co1e

        I’ll up vote all the comments you down voted. now gtfo.

        • kazahani

          I keep saying it: GUESTS SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO DOWNVOTE!!

          • in your face again

            repetition for truth: what an ugly brick, worst phone ever. And its a sony! tra$h

          • Thomas Biard

            The moderators have said (and sorry i can’t find where right now, or i would provide a link) that if a guest downvotes, it doesn’t effect your android and me rating. Granted it still shows up as a “-1″, but no points are lost.

  • jbcooley

    I suspect there are trade offs that prevent merging the glass back of the Xperia Z with the reduced footprint of the Xperia ZL. But I’d like to see either one of those come to T-Mobile.

  • Thomas Biard

    I used to be big on the dedicated camera button, but now I actually am starting to prefer just tapping the screen.
    Edge-to-Edge displays look nice, but when holding with one hand my thumb tends to barely touch the screen and cause “multitouch issues”.
    I do like the water resistant feature. I think more manufacturers need to start incorporating these types of features into their phones now that devices are so similar.

  • Meister_Li

    I quite like what I see of this device so far. I really hope the screen is up to snuff in the color reproduction department, tho. Sony’s “Bravia” Screens always looked a little dull compared to HTC’s offerings.

    I really like that they managed to fit in a MicroSD slot, tho, that is really awesome.

    The glass back I am not too excited about, tho. As with the Nexus 4 or iPhone 4(S), this just seems like it’d break too easily without a case. And having a case on it makes it kind of pointless to have this glass back in the first place.

    All in all tho, this looks like an awesome and promising device. I just hope Sony will get their stuff together when it comes to unlocking the bootloader. My contract runs out in April, and I won’t buy a phone I can’t unlock on contract.I also wonder if the processor might not be outdated already by that time, seeing the new Tegra 4 and Qualcom’s new Krait core coming from CES already…

    • sandy105

      yes in all hands on for the device ,they said color reproduction and viewing angles are not good..
      i hope ditches the ugly xperia skin and calibrates this display.
      and the zl looks more awesome to me

  • heat361

    Now of only it was a nexus and got timely updates I would buy it.

    • Paul

      You kidding? Sony Android devices have been some of the quickest to get updates. Mostly because they’ve contributed the most code to AOSP out of any manufacturer. Updating their devices has been a lot less painless. Oh, and in case they still don’t release an update fast enough, they’re big into supporting the hacking community. They’ve released drivers and custom compiled binaries (without bloatware) for Cyanogenmod. They’ve given them instructions on unlocking the bootloader, etc. Sony’s mobile division at least, is way cool. And the Xperia Z/ZL look amazing. I really hope they gain more Android share and begin to eat into Samsung’s pie a bit.

  • Oskar Wismierski

    Nice phone, but a 5 inch screen is way too much for me. My s3 feels big and thats ‘just’ 4.8”

    • Nate B.

      So you can’t go up .2? You have to realize the edge to edge screen keep the footprint down. And one day there will be no bezel all maybe.

      Point is, .2 isn’t a huge difference at all.

  • TURDxSANDWICH

    I agree with the last statement. Why not just do one thing great, instead of two things pretty good. But similar to Huawei, Sony is a little late to the high end party. Samsung already won the battle. Its going to take brilliant marketing, not specs, in order to win. Us nerds on these forums understand then difference and impact of specs, but we are a tiny fraction of the market. They have to aim higher than winning us over in order to truly succeed.

    • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

      Samsung may have won the battle, but they haven’t won the war. There was a time when Samsung was a joke. Their throne is not infinitely secure.

      • kazahani

        Mark my words: This line will be used in the next recycled Hollywood action movie starring Bruce Willis. Swap out Samsung for [villian's name].

        • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

          “In a world…”

  • kazahani

    Great, now I’ve gone and drooled all over my keyboard…

  • gmaninvan

    The Xperia Z is simply the nicest looking phone I have ever seen. This is going to bring Sony up with Samsung in the big sellers group provided they spend a decent amount on marketing. This really, really makes me hope next years Nexus phone is a Sony.

    • Paul

      Yeah. Imagine standing next to an Apple fanboy with his iPhone 5 and you whip out the T or TL, it’s an amazing looking phone. It’s got the look, it’s got the power, it’s got the right O.S!

  • Russell Sprague

    Personally I don’t want a glass back, so I am glad they made two phones.

    • frmorrison

      It seems the non-glass back is a cheaper phone for emerging markets. The US likely will only have the Z with the glass back.

      • Viakenny

        Plus, the ZL has an IR blaster. (Here in Brazil – an emerging market – we’ll get the ZL, as the “Xperia ZQ”)

  • Nathan D.

    I agree with Nick on this one, why not just do one phone and combine all the good qualities of each.

    • kazahani

      If they do have the same internals, then it really doesn’t make any sense to have 2 models. When these were first rumored, I thought the Xperia ZL was supposed to be more mid-range than top-tier.

  • Prince77

    What really matters is when they are coming out and to what carriers?

    • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

      Knowing Sony, it’s likely to be an AT&T exclusive unfortunately.

      • gmaninvan

        And likely only Rogers in Canada

  • uzunoff

    I wonder if they both have wireless charging? If they don’t that’s a no starter for me.
    I guess I am spoiled by the Nexus 4.
    What about NFC? Or is this a stupid question for 2013

    • Femme Fatale

      NFC is dead, Passbook is the king

    • Prince77

      Did you watch the video????

  • kschauhan

    great phone…after long time i really like any sony phone..

  • Himal Limbu

    this is the first time Sony has made me excited with their phone….looking forward to Hand on my myself in stores. :D

  • DR SAMSUNG – CEO OF BETRAYAL AND CUSTOMER GENOCIDE

    HIDEOUS PHONE FROM THE PEARL BOMBERS

  • eViLSt3ve

    Very informative, thanks!

  • kazahani

    If the Xperia ZL has 2300 mAh or higher battery then I might get that over the (rumored) new RAZR M.

  • redraider133

    Wish they would bring these to more carriers. Looks like an awesome phone.

  • Sameer

    I was expecting some in depth knowledge on Android and me. Sony experia looks great and i will take my hand on it

  • donger

    I want to try one out.

    • decker

      Sony has a developer program where they would send you a phone from a couple different models one month at a time so you could do real world testing. They don’t have these models yet, but eventually they will.

      Sony Developer Lending Program

  • digvijaya07

    This is Totally Awesome ..!! :) :D

  1. This looks awesome! I don’t get why they didn’t put an IR blaster in the flagship as well. I like the dedicated camera button, but I haven’t had one on any of my last couple of phones so no deal breaker there. Keep it coming Android and Me, I can’t get enough gadget info!

    • Robert Griffins kneeGuest 2 years ago

      what an ugly brick, worst phone ever. And its a sony! tra$h

      • I’ll up vote all the comments you down voted. now gtfo.

        • I keep saying it: GUESTS SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO DOWNVOTE!!

          • in your face againGuest 2 years ago

            repetition for truth: what an ugly brick, worst phone ever. And its a sony! tra$h

          • The moderators have said (and sorry i can’t find where right now, or i would provide a link) that if a guest downvotes, it doesn’t effect your android and me rating. Granted it still shows up as a “-1″, but no points are lost.

  2. I suspect there are trade offs that prevent merging the glass back of the Xperia Z with the reduced footprint of the Xperia ZL. But I’d like to see either one of those come to T-Mobile.

  3. I used to be big on the dedicated camera button, but now I actually am starting to prefer just tapping the screen.
    Edge-to-Edge displays look nice, but when holding with one hand my thumb tends to barely touch the screen and cause “multitouch issues”.
    I do like the water resistant feature. I think more manufacturers need to start incorporating these types of features into their phones now that devices are so similar.

  4. I quite like what I see of this device so far. I really hope the screen is up to snuff in the color reproduction department, tho. Sony’s “Bravia” Screens always looked a little dull compared to HTC’s offerings.

    I really like that they managed to fit in a MicroSD slot, tho, that is really awesome.

    The glass back I am not too excited about, tho. As with the Nexus 4 or iPhone 4(S), this just seems like it’d break too easily without a case. And having a case on it makes it kind of pointless to have this glass back in the first place.

    All in all tho, this looks like an awesome and promising device. I just hope Sony will get their stuff together when it comes to unlocking the bootloader. My contract runs out in April, and I won’t buy a phone I can’t unlock on contract.I also wonder if the processor might not be outdated already by that time, seeing the new Tegra 4 and Qualcom’s new Krait core coming from CES already…

    • yes in all hands on for the device ,they said color reproduction and viewing angles are not good..
      i hope ditches the ugly xperia skin and calibrates this display.
      and the zl looks more awesome to me

  5. Now of only it was a nexus and got timely updates I would buy it.

    • PaulGuest 2 years ago

      You kidding? Sony Android devices have been some of the quickest to get updates. Mostly because they’ve contributed the most code to AOSP out of any manufacturer. Updating their devices has been a lot less painless. Oh, and in case they still don’t release an update fast enough, they’re big into supporting the hacking community. They’ve released drivers and custom compiled binaries (without bloatware) for Cyanogenmod. They’ve given them instructions on unlocking the bootloader, etc. Sony’s mobile division at least, is way cool. And the Xperia Z/ZL look amazing. I really hope they gain more Android share and begin to eat into Samsung’s pie a bit.

  6. Nice phone, but a 5 inch screen is way too much for me. My s3 feels big and thats ‘just’ 4.8”

    • So you can’t go up .2? You have to realize the edge to edge screen keep the footprint down. And one day there will be no bezel all maybe.

      Point is, .2 isn’t a huge difference at all.

  7. I agree with the last statement. Why not just do one thing great, instead of two things pretty good. But similar to Huawei, Sony is a little late to the high end party. Samsung already won the battle. Its going to take brilliant marketing, not specs, in order to win. Us nerds on these forums understand then difference and impact of specs, but we are a tiny fraction of the market. They have to aim higher than winning us over in order to truly succeed.

    • Samsung may have won the battle, but they haven’t won the war. There was a time when Samsung was a joke. Their throne is not infinitely secure.

  8. Great, now I’ve gone and drooled all over my keyboard…

  9. The Xperia Z is simply the nicest looking phone I have ever seen. This is going to bring Sony up with Samsung in the big sellers group provided they spend a decent amount on marketing. This really, really makes me hope next years Nexus phone is a Sony.

    • PaulGuest 2 years ago

      Yeah. Imagine standing next to an Apple fanboy with his iPhone 5 and you whip out the T or TL, it’s an amazing looking phone. It’s got the look, it’s got the power, it’s got the right O.S!

  10. Personally I don’t want a glass back, so I am glad they made two phones.

    • It seems the non-glass back is a cheaper phone for emerging markets. The US likely will only have the Z with the glass back.

      • Plus, the ZL has an IR blaster. (Here in Brazil – an emerging market – we’ll get the ZL, as the “Xperia ZQ”)

  11. I agree with Nick on this one, why not just do one phone and combine all the good qualities of each.

    • If they do have the same internals, then it really doesn’t make any sense to have 2 models. When these were first rumored, I thought the Xperia ZL was supposed to be more mid-range than top-tier.

  12. What really matters is when they are coming out and to what carriers?

  13. I wonder if they both have wireless charging? If they don’t that’s a no starter for me.
    I guess I am spoiled by the Nexus 4.
    What about NFC? Or is this a stupid question for 2013

  14. great phone…after long time i really like any sony phone..

  15. this is the first time Sony has made me excited with their phone….looking forward to Hand on my myself in stores. :D

  16. DR SAMSUNG - CEO OF BETRAYAL AND CUSTOMER GENOCIDEGuest 2 years ago

    HIDEOUS PHONE FROM THE PEARL BOMBERS

  17. Very informative, thanks!

  18. If the Xperia ZL has 2300 mAh or higher battery then I might get that over the (rumored) new RAZR M.

  19. Wish they would bring these to more carriers. Looks like an awesome phone.

  20. I was expecting some in depth knowledge on Android and me. Sony experia looks great and i will take my hand on it

  21. I want to try one out.

    • Sony has a developer program where they would send you a phone from a couple different models one month at a time so you could do real world testing. They don’t have these models yet, but eventually they will.

      Sony Developer Lending Program

  22. This is Totally Awesome ..!! :) :D