Hands-on: Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z could be the first Sony tablet worth owning

Check out our review of the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.

The Xperia Tablet Z didn’t make its debut here at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, its presence is a good indication that the tablet will be launched all over the world in the next few months. Sony has struggled with tablets in the past, coming up with unusual, and strange designs to try and tempt the crowds away from Apple and Samsung’s offerings; but with the Xperia Tablet Z, it has abandoned the gimmicks and gone for flat out style instead.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z

The Xperia Z smartphone impressed us with its cool simplicity, and Sony has repeated this with the Xperia Tablet Z. Never has the word slate been more appropriate; not only is the Tablet Z dark and slim, but it’s also angled and sharp where other tablets are usually curvy. It’s a striking look, enhanced by the tablet’s low 495g weight. Despite the lack of smooth edges, it’s comfortable to hold in one hand.

Sony showed the black model at Mobile World Congress, and it has chosen a matte, soft rear panel that looks great against the deep, shiny black of the 10.1-inch screen and its bezel. It’s easily the best looking tablet Sony has made, and it’s astonishingly thin at just 6.9mm, a figure which almost certainly beats the smartphone in your pocket. It’s the perfect companion device to the Xperia Z, and it’s good to see Sony come up with a great design it feels comfortable extending throughout its top-of-the-range hardware.

IMG_0003

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is installed and although Sony says it hasn’t toyed around with the Android operating system too much, it’s still very much a Sony product rather than a Google one. As is often the case, this is both positive and negative. On the positive side, the photo gallery is great and encourages you to store your picture collection on the tablet. The pinch-to-zoom feature is intuitive and fun – thumbnails get larger or smaller as you pinch in and out – and is also useful for those of use with hundreds of images, particularly if they’re unsorted. The user interface (UI) is less successful if you’re used to Google Nexus devices; Sony has moved a few buttons around and it can be frustrating to search for them until you’re familiar with its nuances.

Back to the positives: The NFC pairing worked instantly with a Sony speaker (tap your tablet to the speaker to connect). The shortcuts at the bottom of the screen concentrate on features such as Sony’s customized gallery and the media player. For a tablet running Android 4.1 and using a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro with 2GB of RAM, the Xperia Tablet Z wasn’t as smooth we hoped, but its hiccups were relatively rare.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z menu

Although we couldn’t personally test it in our short hands-on with the Xperia Tablet Z, Sony claims that, like the Xperia Z phone, the tablet is water proof. It went so far as to show another test tablet being repeatedly dunked into a bowl of liquid to prove it could take the hydration. One of the other tablets announced at MWC, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, had a slow-witted camera, but the Xperia Tablet Z was quick to focus and take a picture. The results looked good on the tablet’s screen, although we were taking them in a brightly lit environment. It does use the Exmor R sensor seen in the Xperia Z and other Sony smartphones, so performance should be consistent.

Sony’s ace card is the Xperia Tablet Z’s design and construction, as embodies that premium feel Sony has long been associated with, but failed to capitalize on in recent years. Sony products rarely come cheap, and we don’t expect the Tablet Z to break that tradition. However, with this and the equally desirable Xperia Z smartphone on its books, 2013 could indeed be Sony’s breakthrough year for mobile, just as Sony’s Corporate Vice President Kaz Tajima promised at the Tablet Z’s unveiling. It’s expected to go on sale in the spring.

Mobile

Here are 5 things I’d like to see in the Samsung Galaxy Note 10

It's important that smartphones continue to improve and evolve or they risk stagnation and may alienate potential buyers. Here are five changes and new features I'd like to see in Samsung's forthcoming Galaxy Note 10 smartphone.
Mobile

The best gardening apps help you watch your garden grow

It takes work, commitment, and smarts to cultivate a beautiful garden or grow your own food, so you need all the help you can get. The best gardening apps can identify plants and pests and assist with garden care and planting schedules.
Mobile

iOS 13 is here. Here's how to get it on your iPhone or iPod Touch

The iOS 13 public beta has been released, giving you a chance to try out iOS 13's new features. But how do you download Apple's latest software? Here's our guide on how to download the iOS 13 public beta.
Mobile

Here's how to download iPadOS on your favorite Apple tablet

Interested in getting the latest and greatest software on your iPad? If you want iPadOS, you'll need to be okay with using the public beta, which is likely to have bugs. Here's how to install iPadOS on your iPad.
News

FTC and authorities crack down on companies responsible for 1 billion robocalls

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and law enforcement officials announced a new crackdown against illegal robocalls on Tuesday, targeting companies responsible for over a billion of the annoying calls. 
News

U.S. tech firms continue sales to Huawei despite Trump administration ban

U.S. chipmakers -- Intel, Micron, and others -- have quietly continued doing business with Huawei despite a ban on American sales to the Chinese telecom giant imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department in May.
Mobile

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 has smart card-equivalent security certification

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is Qualcomm's flagship processor for the year, and it's available in a range of smartphones. Now, the chip is certified with a smart card equivalent security rating.
Deals

Amazon Prime Day 2019: Official start date, predictions, and the best deals now

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is going to be on July 15 and July 16. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what this massive 2-day event will entail.
Deals

Best smartphone deals for June 2019: iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and LG

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $900.
Mobile

Oppo’s exciting new tech hides the selfie camera under the phone screen

Oppo has revealed impressive new technology where it can hide the selfie camera on a smartphone beneath the display itself, taking its devices another step closer to providing an unspoiled and completely immersive viewing experience.
Mobile

Vivo’s new charging tech rockets phone battery to full in only 13 minutes

Vivo has made another leap forward in battery charging technology with the introduction of Super FlashCharge 120w, which is capable of sending enough power through to your phone’s battery cell to recharge it in only 13 minutes.
Wearables

Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Band 4 is a desirable, cheap fitness band/smartwatch mashup

Xiaomi has announced the availability of the Mi Smart Band 4 in the U.K., which despite a low price, manages to squeeze in a massive amount of functionality, bridging the gap between fitness band and smartwatch.
Mobile

The Nokia 1 gets Android Pie, giving an Pie-flavored option for every budget

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

The best travel power adapters for international jet-setters

We recently tried out several of the best travel adapters on our journeys around the globe, and these are our favorite models so far. If you want to keep your gadgets juiced on the go, then snag one of these.