The Sony Xperia Z is proving to be a popular Android flagship. It’s an interesting mix of sleek style and innovative functionality (it’s waterproof!). If you have one, then you’ll be interested in how to get the best out of it. That’s what we’re doing here – looking to unearth handy features or functions that aren’t immediately obvious. Check out these Sony Xperia Z tips and tricks and find out if you’ve really unlocked your phone’s full complement of awesome.
How to customize your homescreen
If you long press on a space on your home screen then you’ll get a customization menu at the bottom. It has the usual Android options to set up widgets, app shortcuts, and wallpaper, but there’s also a themes option. There are loads of themes to choose from in there, and they’ll change the text color and the lock screen and background aesthetics to give you the look you want.
How to save battery life with Stamina mode
If you go into Settings > Power management you’ll find STAMINA mode. This is Sony’s secret weapon in the fight against battery drain and it can reportedly boost your battery life considerably. There is some confusion over how it does this, and it can cause behavior that some people are mistaking as buggy. The idea is that when you turn your Xperia Z display off, thereby putting your device in standby, it turns off unnecessary functions. These are:
- Data traffic
- LED notification
You’ll still get calls, messages, alarms, calendar events, and you can still play music or listen to the radio. You can also add apps to a white list, so they’ll continue to run in the background and potentially sync.
If you don’t like the idea of this, or it seems to be causing problems, then try Low battery mode (also in Settings > Power management) instead. It automatically disables the same things, but only when the battery falls below 20 percent.
(Note from the editor: In our testing, Stamina mode provided far better bang for your buck.)
How to boost your storage and back up photos
It’s worth installing the free Dropbox app on your Xperia Z as it can provide extra cloud storage space and it can be set up to automatically backup all your photos, making it easy to share them. To set this up you’ll need a DropBox account (2GB free) and you’ll need to install the app. When you start DropBox up on the Xperia Z go to Menu > Settings and turn Camera Upload on. It’s best to set it to Upload using Wi-Fi only to avoid using up your data allowance.
You can also install a micro SD card up to 32GB. If you want to move photos, videos, and files quickly and easily go to Settings > Storage and tap Transfer to SD card.
How to get Adobe Flash working
The Xperia Z has Chrome as the default browser and it doesn’t support Flash. Luckily you can use the Firefox, Dolphin, or Boat browsers. Start by installing Flash; there’s a guide with the necessary files at the XDA Developers forum. Once you have it installed, you will need to choose one of the browsers and enable Flash.
Here’s where to look in each browser:
- Firefox: Menu > More > Settings > Plugins and make sure they are Enabled
- Dolphin: Settings > Web Content > Flash Player and set it to On
- Boat:Settings > Page Content Settings > Enable flash/plug-ins and make sure it is set to Always on
How to connect to other devices and TVs
If you’ve got a recent Sony Bravia TV with NFC, you can mirror your screen easily. Go to Settings > Xperia > Mirroring and you’re all set. You can also use good old DLNA via Settings > Throw. Any compatible device, whether it’s a TV or a sound system, should pop up as an option. There’s also Bluetooth, which you’ll find in Settings.
For file transfers, sharing content, or contacts quickly with another NFC phone or device you can use Android Beam. Go to Settings > Wireless and Networks > More and enable NFC. Hold the devices close together and the Xperia Z should vibrate and prompt you to “touch to beam.”
How to automate your Xperia with Smart Tags
Sony has been working on some nifty automation options for your Xperia Z and you can access them via the Smart Connect app. It’s not exactly Tasker, but it is a lot more user friendly, and it allows you to do various useful things. Say you like to charge your phone every night, for example; you can use Smart Connect to dictate that your Xperia Z should start up the alarm and clock app, and go into silent mode every time you connect your charger.
You could also use Sony’s Xperia Smart Tags to enable specific functions via NFC. All you need to do is set what you’d like the tag to do, switch on GPS and Google navigator, for example, and then place it in your car and tap your phone on it when you climb in. You can get four colored tags for $20.
How to use ‘small apps’
If you hit the Recent Apps button at the bottom right of your Xperia Z (to the right of the Home button), then you can see everything that’s running and quickly switch between apps. You’ll also see a menu along the bottom of the screen that highlights the small apps that are available to you. These are things like a calculator, notebook, and timer, and they can be opened to sit on top of whatever you are doing. If you like them, make sure you search for more in Google Play, because there are some great additional options for things like media controls and video playback.
Extra Xperia Z tips
When you’re using the camera try Burst Mode for best results. It tends to take better photos and it increases your chances of getting a perfect shot because you can choose the best one from the batch.
If you want to control another Sony device using your Xperia Z then grab the Media Remote for Android app. It basically turns your Xperia Z into a remote control. There’s a full list of compatible products on the app page.
It’s possible to speed up your phone and save a little battery power by turning off some animations. Head into Settings > Developer options and turn off Windows animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale. If you don’t see Developer options in your Settings then you can unlock it by going to Settings > About device and repeatedly tapping on the Build number.
That’s all of your Sony Xperia Z tips for now, but feel free to add your own in the comments. Check back soon because we will update this article with more tips or tricks from time to time. Since the Xperia Z runs Android Jelly Bean, you may also be interested in our helpful tips and tricks for Jelly Bean users.