The Xperia ZR is certainly not a new entrant to the mobile market. You could certainly look at it as a stripped down model of the Xperia Z. Let’s look at this device in detail.
The one thing surprising about this device is how close its internals resemble the Nexus 4. It is the exact same hardware, with Sony making a few improvements to the camera, display and storage.
When you look at the spec sheet, you’re gonna wonder why people would buy this over a Nexus 4 and this review is gonna do exactly the opposite. I’m gonna tell you why you should buy this device over the Nexus 4.
Everything good about the Nexus 4 is also a shortcoming. It is simply not a consumer device. It may have been the bestselling phone for a while, but it’s still a developer phone. The Xperia ZR, you could say, is a much better, polished Nexus 4.
It has a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor clocked at 1.5GHz coupled with a 2GB RAM and 8GB internal memory, with expandable memory up to 64GB which the Nexus 4 doesn’t have. The display is slightly smaller than the Nexus 4, coming at 4.6” instead of the 4.7” in the Nexus 4. The Nexus 4 itself is a wide device compared to the others. The ZR, is more pocketable and easier on the palms when using one handed. It also has wireless charging which is on par with Nexus 4.
The camera is where the Xperia ZR really stands out. Sony went out of its way to makes sure that it retained the excellent camera as in the Xperia Z. It has a 13MP shooter with Exmor RS™. It has some amazing shooting modes that makes you wish you had it in every phone.
The problem with the Nexus 4 is that for every little thing that makes a lot of difference, you need to install an app. The Xperia ZR solves that problem. Sony added a few nifty apps that replace the google apps. Don’t worry, google apps are still there. The Music player is something that I love. Walkman, is better than poweramp music player and way better than Google Play Music.
The Sony Music app gives you free streaming and download of theoretically millions of songs, but its hard to find many of them. So you’ll be left wondering what to do. The Music Discovery on the app is pretty poor, so don’t expect to discover new songs on it anytime soon.
The device itself runs Android 4.2.2; Sony has started rolling out the 4.3 updates, so I’m waiting for that.
So, here’s something unique about the phone. Its waterproof and dust proof. There are some certifications that assure you of this. One of my friends didn’t believe this when I told her. A dunk in a fountain reassured her. People would love doing this with your phone. So expect more of ‘wet’ phones. Coming to how this is done, the back cover has a rubber seal around the battery and the slots there which prevents water from getting inside. Unfortunately, the camera is not protected and I found my camera getting fogged often after a dunk. There are port flaps for the charging port and the headphone jack, which have white strips and turn red if there is water damage. The thing about this water ‘proofing’ is that, it isn’t meant to be used underwater. Sony’s ad campaign might say
otherwise, but none of the touch functions work underwater. So if you want to shoot video under water, you might have to start recording in air and then dunk it in water. The maximum depth it can go underwater is 1.5 meters, so it might survive a fall in the average pool. Just make sure you fish it out within half an hour.
The one problem that was there in this device is the WiFi and Bluetooth radios. I’m using a replacement device and the replaced one’s WiFi and Bluetooth went kaput after a few days. WiFi and Bluetooth would switch on, but would never connect to devices or networks. Sony promptly replaced the device within a few days, but the new device has Bluetooth problems. While searching for solutions online, I came across one that worked. You need to press the area next to the camera, with the NFC logo and on the left corner and connect to the device. Only then would the device connect to another device. Its definitely a hardware problem, so you might want to pick up a device that was manufactured in the past couple of months so you don’t have this problem.
You can get plenty of information about the device on Sony’s website, which would give you a clear idea about the quality of the camera and the device itself.
Should you get it? For the price, at INR 24,999, you might think you’re better off with a Nexus 4 or even shell out a couple of grand more to get the Nexus 5, but you have to remember that this is a perfectly polished device compared to the Nexus line. If you’re a heavy user, who needs lots of battery life and need a consistent phone, you should definitely consider this. That aside, I have a grudge against Sony’s default launcher. It doesn’t appeal to me as much as the other ones. So, you might want to invest in a good launcher like Action Launcher or Aviate.