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Sony Xperia Z not a clear standout

By Rich Jaroslovsky
Bloomberg News

In my 10 days of using Sony’s new Xperia Z smartphone, I found many of its positives at least partially offset by negatives.

Yes, it’s an attractive phone at a reasonable price, but there’s not quite enough to make it stand out in the crowded field of devices using Google’s Android operating system.

The Xperia’s 5-inch screen positions it directly against Samsung’s Galaxy S4 among high-end Android smartphones. So too does the resolution of its display, which offers the same 1920-by-1080 pixels as the Galaxy.

Xperia’s most noteworthy feature is that it’s water-resistant to a depth of a meter for 30 minutes. But securing it against such man-made disasters requires a few annoying design concessions.

Specifically, the power and headphone ports and the SD memory and SIM-card slots are all covered by tiny hatches along the phone’s skinny edges. They’re hard to find and even harder to open.

I was generally happy with the photos and videos I shot. The camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and can high-dynamic-range video.

In normal use, the Xperia’s battery should be able to get you through a day without a recharge – particularly if you make use of what Sony calls “Stamina” mode. This feature, also found on the Xperia tablet, shuts down Wi-Fi and other data traffic when the screen dims.

You’ll still receive phone calls, texts and calendar notifications, but the phone won’t check for email or perform other tasks in the background unless you dive into the settings to make exceptions. That reduces the benefit of having an always-connected device in your pocket.

More home innovation news, videos, photos and more at Smarter Living.

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