Xperia: The new bad boys in town

Xperia: The new bad boys in town

Go to your nearest mobile store and you'll notice there's just too many Samsung Galaxy phones on display, leaving so little room for other brands.

From the smallest budget line to the premium flagships to the super sized phablets, Samsung is making everything for just about everyone with different needs.

Meanwhile, those who are looking for other brands that are not made from the Korean giant or a certain fruit company will have limited options.

There are only a handful of LG and HTC models, while brands such as Nexus 4 and Motorola X are nowhere to be found.

However, Sony has been increasingly popular among local buyers over the recent months thanks to its line of waterproof flagship Xperia phones. Due to the positive response from new Xperia Z owners, the demand is certainly growing, and vendors are more than happy to make huge orders of other Xperia variations.

This wasn't what it used to be. Since its split with Ericsson, Sony had numerous Xperia smartphones throughout last year that failed to stand up to the competition, but it has definitely upped its game this year.

Sony is hoping to change the game; Android phones can be beautifully designed and don't have to be all plastic. They also don't have to be custom-skinned excessively with bloatware and gimmicky features. In fact, I find waterproof phones more handy than waving my hands on the screen.

While most of us are familiar with Samsung's flagship line up, here's what Sony has been cooking up.

Sony Xperia Z1

Announced earlier this month at the IFA 2013 trade show in Berlin, the Xperia Z1 is Sony's follow up to the already successful Xperia Z released earlier this year and is aimed to one up the current flagship rivals, particularly the Samsung Galaxy S4 and even the recently announced iPhone 5s.

The Xperia Z1 is top of the class in Sony's Xperia smartphone line with a sleek look and solid performer running at the latest processor (Quad-core Snapdragon 800).

Its killer app is the camera. Of course, it's all about the camera for this year's smartphones, and Sony isn't wasting its resources in its already strong digital camera division; putting all the Sony digital camera goodness into its smartphone.

The Z1's 20 megapixel camera has a larger sensor than most smartphones at 1/2.3 inches, a wider aperture of f/2.0, a wide-angle lens of 27mm and is capable of shooting 4k (ultra HD) video.

I would say the Z1 has one of the best cameras in the market right now, up there with the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the iPhone 5s.

It also has one of the best displays in the smartphone market, as Sony has tapped into the technology from its Bravia TV range to produce sharper image and more accurate colour reproduction.

The Xperia Z1 could come out on top as one of the best smartphones of 2013.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

On the phablet front, Sony unleashed the Z Ultra, aimed to compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note series.

Design-wise, the Z Ultra could be the better phablet in the market, despite the Galaxy Note having the biggest phablet market share. But it is a serious contender to the Note.

While the Note feels fat and plastic-y, the Z Ultra has a more premium feel thanks to the tempered glass and metallic frame.

At 6.4 inches, this almost hits the mini-tablet category which starts at 7 inch, yet the Z Ultra doesn't feel that huge because of its slim and narrow form.

Since phablets are all about giant screens, it's definitely the killer feature for the Z Ultra; Sony marketed it as the Triluminous display with the X-Reality engine (also found in the Z1) that is capable of running sharp Full HD resolution (giving 344 ppi).

The downsides are minor. There is no 4G variant, which would disappoint consumers looking for ultra high speed broadband on their mobile device (which is still nonexistent in Brunei).

There is also no flash for the camera, but if you can live without flash (which most of us do), the camera on the Z Ultra is actually good enough for general snapshooting in good lighting.

But as a phablet, or a mini-tablet, the Z Ultra is an overall great device for those looking to supersize their phones.

Sony Xperia Z

The Xperia Z was the first flagship phone to come out this year before the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, yet it still is a great phone today.

It was the first to wow audience with its waterproof capability. And the sleek design and premium build quality impresses a lot of consumers who were looking to switch brands.

With the arrival of the new Z1, the old Z now has a much more attractive price tag, so if the Z1 and the Ultra is beyond your reach, the Z is still a good option if you want to jump into the waterproof Xperia bandwagon.

Despite being several months old, you're still getting that 5-inch full HD display, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core processor and a decent 13-megapixel camera.

The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Brunei Times.

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