Sony Xperia ZR review: Ready to dare

GSMArena team, 30 July 2013.
Pages: 1234567891011»

Tags: Sony, Android

Introduction

Squeezing your flagship smartphone in a tinier, sportier shell is the fad in Android these days. Not the one to blindly follow the pack, Sony has chosen to do things differently. The Xperia ZR didn't get as far down as the Galaxy S4 mini and the One mini, and got a 4.55" display rather than a 4.3" diagonal.

However, unlike its HTC and Samsung rivals, the Sony Xperia ZR is keen to match the oomph of its flagship, offering better IP protection at that. Considering how important dust and water resistance were for the Xperia Z' success, some may as well consider this one as an upgrade, rather than a trimmed down version. There's also the proper shutter key - the Xperia ZR comes across as the better photographer too.

Sony Xperia ZR Sony Xperia ZR
Sony Xperia ZR official photos

The battery capacity has been kept the same, and it's even user-removable this time. Together with the smaller screen of slightly lower resolution and stamina mode, you get a smartphone that's not only easier to pocket, but one that will last more than the premium package. Now, how's that not a winning combo? Here goes the complete list of Xperia ZR pros and cons.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; 3G with HSPA; LTE
  • 4.55" 16M-color 720p capacitive touchscreen with 323ppi pixel density; Bravia Mobile Engine 2
  • Android OS v4.1.1 Jelly Bean with custom UI
  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset
  • 13 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geotagging, HDR
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps with HDR mode, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • IP 58 certification - dust resistant and water resistant
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA; Wireless TV out
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 8GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot
  • MHL-enabled microUSB port
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic

Main disadvantage

  • Below-par viewing angles of the display
  • Feeble loudspeaker
  • Low-res front facing camera

So, basically all you'll be losing if you chose the Sony Xperia ZR over the Xperia Z is some screen estate, the 1080p front-facing camera and the Full HD display. We wouldn't call any of those a deal-breaker, though: the smaller screen favors portability and, at this size, 720p is more than adequate. As for the video-call camera, most video-chat apps don't really support much higher resolutions anyway.

Sony Xperia ZR Sony Xperia ZR Sony Xperia ZR
Sony Xperia ZR at ours

It seems then that Sony has another potential winner on its hands. The Xperia ZR might just be what the company needed to cruise through the next quarter and allow enough development time for the Honami and Xperia Z Ultra, which look like the kinds of projects they wouldn't want to rush.

We need to see whether the smartphone behaves as promised, getting the most out of an impressive feature set. We start with the full physical right after the break.

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