Wired.co.uk's Jim Hill was impressed by its form, declaring that the "button-free double-glazing felt pretty close to polished perfection", and for movie watching the "specially developed Mobile Bravia Engine 2 worked its processing magic to improve the brightness and clarity of video clips" on its 443ppi display.
Dan Seifert from The Verge isn't so enamoured with the Z's shape, calling it "distinctly sharp and blocky, which can make it a little awkward to hold in your hand" but looks-wise it's "unmistakably Sony", evoking the "high-end consumer electronics that the company designed back in its heyday".
Engadget's Mat Smith tried out the Z's camera and found the results to be "pretty good", displaying only "low noise in the dim briefing room". He also noted that "the waterproofing has had some effects on the physical design, with all ports (including the headphone socket) now covered with protective flaps."
Tech Radar's Gareth Beavis is happy to see a microSD card slot to supplement the "meagre 16GB of onboard storage" and reckons the Xperia Z will appeal to "fans of stock Android but like the idea of having a little personalisation in their handset". He's also happy to see the back of the "resource-intensive and pointless Timescape 'Splines' that dominated the old interface".
In the hands of Pocket-lint's Stuart Miles the Z was "zippy, happily coping with anything that was asked of it" and he noted that "video plays beautifully with the big, bright screen really shining".
Gizmodo's Brent Rose rates the camera app very highly, saying Sony "basically borrowed it from some of its touchscreen cameras… very intuitive and fluid" and goes on to call the Z (and ZL) the "best phones Sony has ever made, by a huge margin".
UPDATE: Read our full Sony Xperia Z review for Stuff's verdict.
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