Ever since initial rumors of the Sony Xperia Z and its 5" screen surfaced, many have expressed concerns that the smartphone will be impossible to handle, even before having seen it. However, once more details started to appear, it became clear that Sony has done an excellent job of minimizing the bezel and the Xperia Z is only about a millimeter wider than the 2012 flagships. They also managed to keep the weight under control as the Xperia Z tips the scales at the perfectly reasonable 146g.
Sure, it's a tad taller than the Galaxy S III or the One X, but it's certainly not unmanageable. And if over 50 million pockets and palms were big enough for the flagships of old, then the Sony Xperia Z has nothing to worry about - particularly when you take into account that the tradeoff is a gorgeous fullHD screen.
The Xperia Z is instantly recognizable as a Sony device with its sharply angular design, but it departs from the arc-inspired back of its predecessor, instead featuring a more modern looking flat back. There's no denying that the smartphone is a real looker - the glass covered front and back panels go along excellently with the rubberized edges and the glossy blue plastic bits on the sides. It's a handset that you'd be proud to be seen with.
There are several flaps on the sides that not only helped the Sony Xperia Z achieve its IP57 certification, but also conform to its design. There are no ugly gaps and openings to spoil the smartphone's profiles - it all looks consistent and stylish. The only exception is the rather big lanyard eyelet at the bottom right corner, but even that doesn't look too out of place.
The choice of materials has just one negative side - with twice the amount of glass used, there's that much more area to cover in smudges and fingerprints. Indeed the Xperia Z turns into a greasy mess quite quickly, causing it to lose some of its brilliance. Fortunately, the good news is that cleaning it isn't particularly hard. Besides, you can always opt for the white version, which will certainly make fingerprints harder to spot than on our black review unit.
The build quality seems excellent as well - there are no squeaks, creaks or any other disturbing sounds to be heard when handling the smartphone and it generally feels quite sturdy. We can't do a proper test of the back panel scratch resistance, but Sony claims it's the same as the one on the front so it should be quite durable.