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July 25, 2013

Sony Xperia ZR Review

The Xperia ZR is Sony’s third offering for its Z family of smartphones. It combines the waterproofing capabilites of the Xperia Z and the plastic (but less fragile) backside of the Xperia ZL. Find out if the ZR is the best bet by reading our full review below.

xperia zr

Design and Construction

The ZR carried with it the signature design that the Z is known for. However, since it doesn’t carry a glass backplate and isn’t as slim as its bigger brother, the ZR is less edgy and feels more rounded. Like a Z with baby fats if I’m going to put it simply.

zr_rear

Found on the front is the 4.55-inch display which is a bit smaller compared to the Z and ZL. Right above it is the earpiece and the VGA front-facing camera while down below is the notification light that gives out a nice glow. On the left side are the microUSB port covered by a plastic flap for waterproofing and two metal contacts for the dock.

zr_ps

On the right side are the power/lock button, the volume rocker which oddly placed on the lower half, and the dedicated camera button. Right on top is the headset jack which is also covered by a plastic flap while right at the bottom is the microphone and the provision for a wrist strap. Flip it on its back and you’ll see the 13 megapixel camera, LED flash, and the speaker down at the bottom.

zr_sideprofile

As mentioned earlier, the ZR feels chunky compared to the Z and the ZL. True enough, it’s the thickest of the group at 10.5mm (Z – 7.9mm, ZL – 9.8). But this is not to say that there’s nothing to be admired about the ZR’s body. On the bright side, it’s the smallest of the group and the slight bulkiness actually makes the ZR easy to grip. On the other hand, the backplate’s matte finish feels nice to the touch. To top it all off, the ZR is IP58-certified meaning it can take on a dust storm and high water.

Display

The Xperia ZR is equipped with a 4.55-inch TFT HD (720 x 1280) display which equates to a pixel density of 323ppi. While the resolution is great, the TFT panel may not be much of a crowd-pleaser.

zr_display_outdoor

The ZR’s screen is reflective and suffers a lot outdoors especially during a bright sunny day. This can be a real drawback since the ZR’s dust and waterproof capabilities suggest to be used outdoors for some frolicking under the sun.

zr_screen

On the bright side, the ZR’s display is bright and crisp while the colors have the right amount of punch thanks to the Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2. In fact, you’ll hardly notice that you’re staring at a TFT screen when viewing it indoors. Although IPS still remains superior, the ZR’s screen can still be considered great.

OS, UI and Apps

The Xperia ZR comes with Android 4.1.2 Jellybean on board skinned with Sony’s Timescape UI. Sony did a good job in keeping their UI consistent across their Xperia devices.

zr_ui1

The interface is a great balance between eye-candy and simplicity, making long-time Android users feel at home while first time users won’t feel lost.

zr_ui2

Being an Android device, you’ll see all the basic Google goodies preinstalled with the addition of Sony’s own apps like Wisepilot, Socialife and Sony Select.

zr_ui3

Third-party apps are also present like AASTOCKS, File Commander, McAfee Security, Office Suite and Neo Reader. The good news is most of these apps can be uninstalled (except for McAfee) thus giving you more control of the more than 4GB of usable internal storage.

Camera

Like the Z and the ZL, the ZR is equipped with a 13.1 megapixel shooter coupled with a VGA front-facing camera. While the front camera leaves a lot to be desired, the rear camera on the other hand is impressive. It locks in fast and shoots quick.

zr_camera

The camera has a number of useful features to take advantage of the camera such as Superior Auto, Burst Mode, Picture Effect, HDR and Sweep Panorama. In addition to that, the camera also works wonders even when under water. Take a look at the sample shots below:

As for video recording, the ZR is capable of shooting videos of up to 1080p resolution at 30fps. It can also shoot stills while recording but you’re limited to 1280 x 720 images. To top it off, Sony threw in HDR video functionality to help you record those moments in tricky lighting conditions.

The only problem I experienced when using the ZR’s camera is that the display isn’t very responsive when wet. To make things worse, the screen registers splashes of water as touch which interrupts whatever it is that you’re doing.

Multimedia

Like the other Zs, the Xperia ZR is a multimedia powerhouse. Although it has a TFT screen, it’s still a joy watching full HD videos on it.

zr_multimedia

The speaker is very audible and can easily fill a small room. Sounds are crisp and clear but the bass needs some boost.

zr_speaker

Don’t forget to pat it dry though if it just came from a short trip in the water as the droplets muffle the sound pretty well.

Performance and Benchmarks

Keeping things zippy inside the ZR is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon APQ8064 quad-core 1.5GHz CPU, Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. So far we haven’t encountered any problem during our time with it. Applications open and close quickly while navigation is smooth and fast.

zr_benchmarks

We did our usual round of benchmarks with the ZR and here are the results:

AnTuTu – 20,965
Quadrant – 7,907
Vellamo HTML 5 – 2,284
Vellamo Metal – 652
NenaMark2 – 60fps

zr_nenamark2

The ZR fared closely with the Z and ZL in terms of benchmark performance but came out on top when it comes to AnTuTu.

Battery Life

The ZR is equipped with a removable 2,300mAh battery which is the smallest compared to the Z and ZL. With regular use which consists of constant WiFi connectivity , heavy SNS, moderate texting and light calling and gaming, the ZR was able to last a whole day.

zr_battery

As for video playback, the ZR is capable of 7 hours of continuous full HD playback in Airplane mode at 0% volume, 50% brightness and Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 activated, which is really great.

Conclusion

Sony made sure that you have enough options when getting their latest flagship. For those who prefer a glass-clad smartphone with dust and waterproof capabilities, there’s the Xperia Z. For those who want a daily-driver with a 5-inch full HD display minus the glass back and IP57 certification, there’s the Xperia ZL. The Xperia ZR falls right in the middle.

zr_water

The Xperia ZR is for those who prefer an IP58-certified smartphone but don’t mind missing out on the 5-inch full HD display and glass back of the Z. So if your preference falls in the latter description, then the Sony Xperia ZR is the right phone to choose.

Sony Xperia ZR specs:
4.55-inch LCD display @ 720×1280 pixels, 323ppi
Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8064 1.5GHz quad-core
Adreno 320 graphics
2GB RAM
8GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD card
3G/HSPA+ 42Mbps, LTE 100Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, WiFi Direct
Bluetooth 4.0
NFC
FM Radio Tuner
13MP rear camera, LED flash
1080p video recording @ 30fps, HDR
VGA front-facing camera
Li-Ion battery @ 2,300mAh
IP58 certified – dust and waterproof
131.3 x 67.3 x 10.5mm (dimensions)
139 grams (weight)

What we liked about it:
* Great build
* IP58-certified
* Good camera
* Great performance
* Good battery life
* Cheaper than the Z and ZL

What we didn’t like:
* Highly reflective TFT display

The Sony Xperia ZR now sells for Php20,300 over at Widget City {see listing here}.


17 Responses to “Sony Xperia ZR Review”

  1. antux says:

    Bakit pink? Yan ba favorite color ni papa Freking?

  2. XTN says:

    20? A lil bit more and you’ll have the Z or the s4

  3. Hayabusa says:

    Why does Sony insist on slapping their midrangers with 8GB of onboard memory? And this is in the upper tier of current smartphone standards, considering its SOC. With the way Android works now, having a measly 4GB of usable space for apps is disappointing, with the great hardware that’s capable of running intensive tasks to boot. They should’ve at least loaded the Xperia ZR with 16GB/32GB onboard memory much like its Japan-only cousin, the Xperia A. I say memory is another con, apart from the reflective screen.

  4. Makros says:

    Could we stop promoting the grey units sold by Widget City that do not have official warranty? There’s been too many complaints about their horrible after sales service.

    • yinyayang says:

      I agree.

    • Anonymous says:

      So, you’re generalizing their products? Is’nt it under the principle of caveat emptor? To be fair with Widget City, There are some items that the buyer is opted to include a manufacturer’s warranty or just service warranty from the store. It is not right to insist on not promoting the store just because some have bad experience in dealing with them. It is inherent in a client-business relationship to have bad experience some times. It is up to you if you want to have a manafacturer’s warranty, you can opt to purchase that. But once you opted the service warranty only, you bear the risks on your phone. That is caveat emptor.

    • Jen says:

      Kimstore should tie-up with Yugatech instead. Tried and tested ko na ang Kimstore. Waiting for December para sa S4 (ipon mode).

      E sana mbasa to ng Yuga admin ^^

    • Sykes says:

      mga sir ang kimstore po ba tumatangap sila ng credit card na 12 months to pay

  5. EJ says:

    Nice review, especially the sample photos.

  6. alex says:

    “ZR is capable of 7 hours of continuous full HD playback in Airplane mode at 0% volume, 50% brightness and Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 activated, which is really great.”

    -why the volume is at 0%? barely you cant hear a thing.. How long will it last if it stayed at 50% volume?

  7. yunho says:

    anyone knows where to buy a backup battery for this phone and how much it is? TIA

  8. lich says:

    very helpful. thank you :D

  9. swordfish031783 says:

    I think this phone is nice besides of it 2 gb ram and 8gb internal u can play 3d games here,..and the price now is little bit lower now… Nag sale kasi dito baka may ilalabas ang sony na new model.. meron T2 ultra

  10. ZRpablo says:

    Ok pa ba bumili ng ZR ngayon? 1year na since release. Gusto ko sana Z1 Compact pero kapos sa budget eh.

  11. karlo says:

    replaced my old ZR with compact. never had a problem with this phone. superb exp. downside lang pag tumagal yung rubber cover flaps on USB port lumuluwag na. di na sealed for waterproofing. get a charging dock if you don’t want that problem.

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