CES 2013 had many highlights. From the raft of luscious 4K TVs on display to Qualcomm’s slightly surreal presentation by way of the innovative Nvidia Shield handheld gaming console, it was a standout year for the annual technology showcase.
Used to being the centre of attention at consumer events, the smartphone may have been on more subdued form than usual, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t enjoy a strong outing. From the Huawei Ascend D2 to the Samsung Galaxy S2 Plus, the week has been full of talking points, though few handsets impressed on all fronts quite the way that Sony’s Xperia Z did.
Like other manufacturers, Sony has learned from the runaway success of Samsung’s ultra-expansive Galaxy Note 2 and is embracing the ‘phablet’ segment. The 5in Xperia Z (and its close relative, the marginally shorter ZL) is its first venture into this wilderness, boasting a sleek form factor with a depth of 7.9mm – not the ludicrous 6.45mm of the Alcatel Idol Ultra, but nice and slim nonetheless.
In the engine room, the Xperia Z sports a powerhouse quad-core Snapdraghon S4 SoC clocked at 1.5GHz and supported by 2GB of RAM. Content fiends will be pleased that it features a microSD card slot, while its 13-megapixel camera is – on paper at least – one of the finest on the market.
The super-sized handset also supports 4G LTE connectivity and NFC technology, and is water and dust resistant to a military standard – the kind of je ne sais quoi feature we predicted will be a key mobile trend in 2013. In other words, there’s little doubt that it’s an impressive device, and one that should compete robustly at the high-end of the smartphone market.
The big question, then, is when is the Xperia Z coming to Blighty? According to prominent high street mobile retailer Phones 4U, the date to circle is 1 March, while Carphone Warehouse has said that the brand new handset is “expected” in February. So far, the networks are lined up to carry the device are Vodafone, Three and O2 - the latter offering Sony’s latest smartphone in an exclusive purple flavour.
Sony itself is keeping mum on its official plans, so bear in mind that none of these dates are confirmed. Similarly, UK pricing is still a mystery, though line retailer Clove has slapped the Xperia Z with a £528 SIM-free price tag, citing two available colour options: black and white.
“The pricing we have given is as accurate as it can be and is based on costs given to us by Sony distribution,” said Jon Love, business development manager at Clove.
Stay tuned for more, as we’ll be getting our hands on the just unveiled Sony Xperia Z as soon as we can to put it through its paces for a full review. In the meantime, check out our full complement of hands-on Xperia Z and ZL photos, brought to you straight from CES.