Sony's new flagship smartphone announced at CES 2013 is the Xperia Z with a 5in Full HD screen so here's our review.

Sony Xperia Z

It seems that Sony has upped its game with the Xperia Z after numerous Xperia smartphones throughout 2012 failed to stand up to the competition.

The design of the Xperia X looks a lot like last year's line-up. In other words it's very square. However, the handset looks a significant amount more stylish than the likes of the Xperia S and Xperia T. This is partly down to its clean and uninterrupted front but mostly because of its iPhone-esque tempered glass rear cover. The Xperia Z will be available in black, white and purple.

Sony Xperia Z purple

Despite being a very large phone the Xperia Z doesn't feel oversized in the hand. It's very thin at 7.9mm and light for phone its size. Furthermore the handset is dust and waterproof – although this means things like the headphone port must be hidden behind flaps which will, er, flap around when you have headphones plugged in. Overall the Xperia Z has a distinctly premium and desirable nature.

It is the 5in Reality Display with its Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and Mobile Bravia Engine 2 which makes the Xperia Z stand out. Content looks incredibly sharp thanks to its whopping 443ppi pixel density and colours look particularly rich and vibrant. Watching a feature length film finally makes sense on a smartphone.

Sony Xperia Z Full HD screen

Sony has chosen a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM to power the Xperia Z. In our time with the phone we found performance to be very slick indeed. There’s 16GB of storage on offer plus a microSD card for up to 32GB more.

We are generally impressed with Sony's cameras found its smartphones and the Xperia Z is no exception. The device has a 13Mp rear facing camera with Sony's Exmor RS sensor. The test shots we took looked vibrant and detailed. There's also a decent 2Mp front facing webcam. Both cameras can shoot Full HD 1080p video according to Sony. The firm said the Xperia Z has the world's first image sensor with HDR (High Dynamic Range) video for smartphones. It is a shame than Sony has ditched it usual dedicated shutter button.

Connectivity includes 4G LTE and something Sony has gone big on for 2013 – NFC. The Xperia Z can connect to a range of Sony accessories with one touch including speakers, headphones and Sony's 2013 TV range.

Sony Xperia Z smartphone

The Xperia Z comes pre-loaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and will be upgrade to version 4.2 shortly after launch according to Sony. The interface is mostly untouched compared to the 2012 Xperia smartphones. There are a few new wallpapers and widgets as you would expect and an updated lock screen.

With a 2330mAh battery providing juice for the Xperia Z's components and, most importantly, the Full HD we're apprehensive about battery life. The Sony spokesman we chatted to said the handset should comfortably last a day but we'll have to wait and see. Helping battery life is a Stamina Mode which, by shutting as much as possible down, can apparently increase standby time by four times or more.

The Sony Xperia Z will launch globally in the first quarter of 2013. We don’t have a price yet but you can bet this smartphone will have a high price tag. There will also be a smaller model called the Xperia ZL but we've been told it won't be hitting the UK.

Sony Xperia Z vs iPhone 5

OUR VERDICT

We are very impressed with the Xperia Z after our hands-on time with it. Pending further testing it looks like Sony's best smartphone to date.