updated 10:34 pm EST, Mon January 7, 2013
Sony brings new Android flagship
Sony continued its five-year tradition of Xperia smartphone introductions at CES, unveiling the Xperia Z and ZL at the 2013 expo. Electronista had a chance to handle the new Android handsets at the end of the company's high-profile press conference.
The Xperia lineup may not be the best-selling lineup in the Android market, but we have been impressed by Sony's distinctive designs. In this regard, the Z and ZL retain the clean lines and modern appearance of the broader Xperia range. Buyers can also pick from a variety of color options, alongside the white and black variants.
On paper, the new Z and ZL match or exceed the specs of current Android competitors, pairing a five-inch display with 1920x1080 resolution, a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and LTE support. A thin bezel enables the five-inch display to be packed into a housing that does not feel overly large, with a 7.9mm-thick profile that reminds us of the iPhone 5.
Sony brings modest tweaks to the stock Android 4.1 interface, which takes advantage of the company's Walkman and PlayStation features. We found the OS and app performance to be impressive, an unsurprising observation considering the quad-core Snapdragon chipset, and the company has already promised to bring a timely upgrade to Android 4.2.
The basic Xperia Z benefits from a water-resistant design, likely as a result of the hydrophobic vapor-deposition coatings that have been promoted by several third-party companies. The ZL, which is a bit thicker than the Z, drops the water resistance but adds an IR transmitter and a hardware button for the camera.
Sony suggests both models will be headed to market in the first quarter of the year, however carrier partnerships and pricing have yet to be announced.