The Xperia Z: Sony’s Missed Opportunity

The Sony Xperia Z is the Japanese tech giant’s latest smartphone flagship. It’s been praised for its gorgeous design, and the water-resistant body is also a great advantage. The spec sheet packs a lot of punch, too. So why aren’t people lining up to buy it?

Going Back to its Roots

Sony has managed to capture many a fanboy’s or fangirl’s heart over the years, from its time as Sony Ericsson. The company made beautiful phones of topnotch build quality and, up until now, many people still swear by those old phones.

The Xperia Z is a throwback to that era. The phone is sleek and very appealing, and carries a bunch of features that makes it an excellent choice. You have the 5-inch HD screen, big internal storage, IP57 certification, and a 13.1-megapixel camera, among others. From a hardware standpoint, the phone is really solid. Thanks to that and the design, it has constantly garnered a ton of attention.

Same Old Sony

For all intents and purposes, the Xperia Z is a flagship Android device from one of the top brands. However, if you take a closer look at the spec sheet and the software that comes with the phone, the phone still doesn’t do anything to stand out from the flagships of other manufacturers. Being beautiful and water-resistant can only get you so far.

At the very least, this time Sony didn’t release a phone that’s a full version behind most other phones. The company is known for its sheer lack of reliability when it came to providing updates to the OS, so starting with 4.1.2 is a good first step. There’s a promise of an update to 4.2, but any Sony fanboy knows how long it could take. It would seem that the  skin is always too tedious to update.

Speaking of TimeScape, Sony’s dated customization of the stock Android interface still isn’t such a great add-on. It can be clunky and ungainly at times, and bloatware continues to clutter up the app drawer—not to mention take up considerable chunks of space.

Other things that hold the phone back include middling performance from the camera as well as the screen’s lack of contrast. These are two of the most important smartphone considerations these days on the part of consumers, so to fall short on these highly-touted aspects of the phone is truly a big blow.

What Defines It?

Ultimately, the Xperia Z fails to bring anything significant to the table. It doesn’t have to be something that’s extremely mind-blowing; it just has to offer something new. Heck, even its water-resistance isn’t anything new—Sony’s previous crop of Xperia phones featured the likes of the Acro S, after all. Flagships are like the S-Class of Mercedes-Benz cars in that they should offer us a glimpse of the future, even if they can’t bring the future now outright. From the best features to the best phone service (read more), serving up technologies like LTE–that’s what flagships are all about.

When you take a look at the HTC One, it’s a really big gamble, but it managed to capture the attention of many onlookers, considering the kind of industrial design that went into it, along with fresh features like Zoe. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is just an incremental update, but it still serves up the top features that the manufacturer can provide (although it did likewise fall short of expectations) and builds upon a design that many have come to love.

As for the Xperia Z, The specs are excellent, the performance is worthy of the flagship tag, and the tech is all there. However, with no specific thing to define it, it seems kind of lost amid all the sea of smartphones. This smartphone looked like a real winner, capable of toppling the rest of the field. The announcements of competing flagships have dampened the Z’s status somewhat, and even initially, it never really seemed like the must-have smartphone that the Galaxy S III was before. It’s a great phone, but it lacks the something that can make it the best of the best.