Smartphones With the Largest Screens: Have We Reached the Breaking Point Yet?

One of the biggest news of the last two days is the release of yet another smartphone in the Samsung Galaxy family, a phone of no especial features, with 720p 233ppi TFT screen, Android Jelly Bean, 1.5 GB RAM, 8/16 GB internal storage, Exynos 5 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, etc. The smartphone, known as Galaxy Mega is peculiar due to its screen size, of 6.3 inches, which makes it the mammoth of the smartphone market.

Samsung Galaxy Mega

Samsung was the first manufacturer to lead the way to phones of unusually large screen sizes. Soon enough, other manufacturers followed, and some even managed to go a few steps further. Is this rat race for large screen sizes come to an end? Is it time for customers to really think about the display technology, rather than the screen size? Let’s find out.

The year was 2011 and the place, Berlin, home to the Berlin Radio Show. Samsung announced a legendary product in its Galaxy family of devices—the Galaxy Note. The product is in its second generation now, with sales going up continuously. It is one of the most successful products from Samsung, and the most successful among the so called ‘phablets’. Note came out almost a year after the first device to mark large screen revolution, Dell Streak, which did not sell well largely due to the cumbersome nature of its form factor.

Note, however, changed the story altogether, by becoming highly successful. Note II is also well received, although we would love to wait. Note family has spawned a whole number of phablets, which was a new term applied to devices between phones and tablets (specifically, between 5 and 7 inches of screen size). Galaxy Mega, by that reasoning, is a perfect phablet.

Screen Sizes of Touch Devices

In the last few years marking the revolution of touch-based devices—smartphones, phablets, and tablets—we have seen that the devices have touched all screen sizes. We have a whole array of phones and tablets with screens going from 4 to 10 inches.

We have the legendary Apple iPhone at the sixth generation now with a screen size of 4 inches, the smallest of all devices in high-end mainstream production. We have BlackBerry Z10 with 4.2 inch screen, Nokia Lumia 920 with 4.5 inch screen, HTC One at 4.7 inch screen, Galaxy S3 at 4.8 inches, and S4 at 4.99 inches. This is the array of smartphones having all kind of screen sizes. After this, we have phablets—LG Optimus G at 5 inch, Note II at 5.5 inches, and now Galaxy Mega at two different screen sizes—5.8 inch and 6.3 inches. Beyond that, we enter into the tablet market, dominated by Google Nexus 7 with 7 inch screen, iPad Mini with 7.9 inch screen, etc., and the list goes up to Nexus 10 with close to 10 inch screen.

Right now, the only size that we expect to be filled is between 6.3 inches and 7 inches. Maybe, Samsung will come up with another phablet with some 6.8 inch screen to fill that void.

The crux of the matter is that we have reached an impasse. Any other screen size probably is not going to make any difference. You can safely put away the search for a fitting phone with large screen size.

What Should You Consider in A Smartphone Display

Another important question here is, how do screen size and screen quality correlate? Galaxy Mega has a 6.3 inch TFT screen, but it supports only 720p HD resolution, which is smaller than 1080p full HD on Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Accordingly, it has close to half as many pixels as in Galaxy S4. 233 ppi is not a very rich screen, in comparison to GS4’s 441 ppi or iPhone 5’s 326 ppi.

Another important aspect to consider is the technology used in the display in question. There are quite a number of smartphone display technologies out there, and you should know which your phone uses. Super AMOLED and LCD IPS are two of the most prominent. While most of the Samsung devices have Super AMOLED HD display, iPhone and most of the other smartphones come with LCD with In-Plane Switching technology. There are a few differences between AMOLED and IPS.

A year ago, if you needed a smartphone of enormous display size, you probably had only one or two options, but now you can get a number of phones from all manufacturers at all convenient display sizes.

The crux of the matter here is, you should consider the display technology used, including the brightness, contrast ratio, resolution, etc., now that you can get smartphones of all display sizes.

A Few Competing Devices

As we noted early, Dell Streak started the revolution, although it was not part of it. Note won the revolution, and following its success a number of phones and tablets came out with extra-large display sizes. A few of them are here.

1. HTC One


One comes with a 4.7 inch screen, which is just perfect for viewing anything, wrapped in a form factor that fits in your pocket perfectly. [By the way, just as Samsung came up with Galaxy Note with slightly larger screen than Dell Streak, they came up with S3 with slightly larger screen than HTC One X.]

2. Galaxy S4

Galaxy S IV smartphone

Upcoming Galaxy S4 marks Galaxy S family’s largest smartphone, at 4.99 inches.

3. Droid DNA (HTC, Verizon)

Verizon Droid DNA phone by HTC

Popular Droid DNA has super bright 1080p full HD display using LCD3 technology. It’s available from Verizon, and outside Verizon it takes the shape of J Butterfly.

4. Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

Xperia Z is this year’s Sony flagship with 5 inch screen. It is waterproof as well.

5. LG Optimus G

LG Optimus G

Optimus G is the most advanced smartphone from LG and it has the same tech specs as its brother, Google Nexus 4, also manufactured by LG.

6. Asus PadFone Infinity

Asus PadFone Infinity

This is a 5 inch phablet from Asus. It should not be confused with Asus FonePad, which is a 7 inch tablet with phone call capabilities. On an unrelated note, neither FonePad nor PadFone is named right.

7. Optimus G Pro

LG Optimus G Pro smartphone with 5.5 inch screen

Upcoming LG Optimus G Pro is a classic phablet with some pretty decent specifications.

8. ZTE Grand Memo

ZTE Grand Memo

This year’s Grand Memo is one of the devices that ZTE is betting on highly. It has a 5.7 inch screen. [By the way, Galaxy Mega has a 5.8 inch screen version as well, effectively closing the gap in competition with Grand Memo]

9. Huawei Ascend Mate

Huawei Ascend Mate

You know Samsung wants to make a larger phone whenever a phablet of large screen gets released, right? We saw it in action with Dell Streak earlier, and we saw it again with Ascend Mate from Huawei. The phablet with 6.1 inch screen was officially unveiled in CES this year.

These are only a few worth mentioning in a sea of large screen phones.

The Usability

One of the important things that I look for in a smartphone is how convenient it is to take it with me. A phone is a portable device, and it should be portable. Usually phablets are neither portable nor good enough for some serious work. If you want a phone, the perfect size should be five inches or less, as long as the design is compact enough to be carried around in your pocket. 4.8 inch Galaxy S3 fits well in your pocket and with the same size as that, Galaxy S4 will also fit perfectly. S4 is also thinner than S3. HTC One looks good and has a pretty correct form factor for even tight-fitting pants.

As long as the manufacturers keep the size of the phone proper, fitting well in all kinds of pockets, the screen size can be tweaked. On the other hand, making devices around screen size is not a good design technique. This is the reason why I would not recommend devices larger than the Note II at 5.5 inches. Due to the same reason, Galaxy Mega is not a product that we are excited about, not to mention the substandard tech specs.


Galaxy Mega and such other large phablets actually don’t give you any better user experience than a regular smartphone. They may only confuse you by making you think whether you could have chosen a small tablet instead. Nexus 7 would be perfect in place of Galaxy Mega. Hence, any product larger than 5 inches or at the most 5.5 inches qualifies as overkill and you needn’t be excited about it.

Recent Teardowns: Sony Xperia Tablet Z and BlackBerry Z10 by iFixit

Let’s take a look at the prying open of two devices in the current market—Sony Xperia Tablet Z and BlackBerry Z10. Teardowns of some important, flagship devices reveal the technology, design, and innovative new parts that constitute that product. It is not only a way to understand the inner workings of our popular gadgets, but also a way to find out how tough they are. iFixit’s teardowns, which we looked at other posts as well seek ways in which you can fix an electronic product at your home. Let’s check out these teardowns.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z


Xperia tablet Z teardown


If you read our review published earlier of the Xperia Tablet Z, you may know how slim and well-packed this lightweight Sony tablet is. It has been already touted as having one of the finest constructions—waterproof as well—in the market today, and the teardown reveals how painstakingly each part is assembled.

More than that, who tore the device down? None other than Sony itself! Sony’s TV show-cum-YouTube channel, SGNL posted this video of the teardown of Xperia Tablet Z.

It takes you all the way through the various parts—battery, camera, SD card slots, motherboard, etc., in about three minutes. Check this out.

iFixit Teardown of BlackBerry Z10


BlackBerry Z10


We all know how BlackBerry Z10 is making waves these days. It is the most ambitious project by BlackBerry in about two years, and BB10 OS is the company’s biggest hope for a comeback into the smartphone industry. BlackBerry Z10 is definitely a very brilliantly built smartphone with quality parts. Here’s iFixit’s teardown detailing the various parts of the smartphone.

In Conclusion


Quite charming to see what these devices have inside, isn’t it? iFixit’s professional teardowns and repair guides are very popular. You can also buy tools from iFixit to fix simple issues on your smartphones. It is also recommended that you not try teardowns on brand new smartphones as that will void the warranty of the device.

Display Technologies on Your Smartphone Screen: A Myth Buster

When you are looking for a new smartphone, you often come across some of these display technologies in technical specifications—LCD, LCD IPS, LED, WLED, OLED, SLCD, TFT, Retina Display, AMOLED, Super AMOLED, PLS, Super PLS, and so on. What the heck are these acronyms? How can you find out what is what and what matters the most? It’s a difficult job indeed. There are quite a number of things you need to understand and appreciate. But here, in this article, let me clear a few doubts and myths.

Display Technology


When we consider a smartphone screen, there are three major aspects to consider—the basic technology used, the resolution, and the technology used for wide-angle viewing.

The first part is the actual display technology, which you probably know about. In yesteryear computers, you have CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), and then came LCD for flat panel displays. Realistically speaking, if you go into the detail of display technologies, there are actually only two types of major display technologies—CRT and LCD. LCD is extremely popular and they find use in almost all of the smartphones you have there.

The other technologies, like TFT, IPS, Retina, etc., are enhancements to the LCD panel for various end results. Let’s see.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)


I am just trying to give you a general idea of the Liquid Crystal Display and will not go into the nuances of the technology.

LCD finds its roots back in your old calculators and digital watches that have monochrome LCD panels. The structure of an LCD panel is shown here.

structure of an LCD panel


The main element of this display panel is the liquid crystal layer that is aligned between the transparent positive and negative electrodes. As the electricity is applied through these electrodes, the LCD will either let the light pass or not. This creates the image what we see on the screen.

an old calculator uses LCD display


One important aspect of this panel is the final layer you see in the image, which could be either a reflective surface, such as a mirror or a backlighting source. In the case of regular monochrome LCD displays such as the calculator you saw above, there is no backlighting source. The display is visible only in daylight. It simply reflects back the light it receives for you to see the image. On other applications, such as your smartphone or the laptop display, there is a backlight, which makes it possible for us to see the images in darkness.

LED Display


Is there really a technology known as LED display? When you are watching a sport event in a large stadium, you may notice the huge display panels set up that show live footage of the game. Also, you see billboards all the time. Buses have this marquee-style display lit up with a number of LEDs to show you the route information.

true LED display


All of these displays are true LED displays, because they have a number of Light Emitting Diodes (a teeny-tiny light bulb) that collectively show images.



In actuality, there is no display technology involved here. Then what is the LED, WLED display panels advertised by your TV maker? If you believe that they are actually made of millions of microscopic LEDs, you couldn’t be more wrong. They use exactly the same technology as the LCD above. Then what is the difference?

Remember we told you about the backlighting panel in the LCD structure above? That backlighting panel is usually made using a technology known as CCFL, which stands for Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps. This is a thin white tube that emits light. A horizontal panel made using a number of these CCFL tubes form the final layer of LCD displays. It makes the display thick and a little more power-consuming.

CCFL tubes


As an alternative, the industry came up with LED backlighting. Instead of using this series of CCFLs, we created an LED panel to provide light for the LCD display upfront. This is what we call LED display, and there is nothing it has to do with regular LED displays you see in a billboard.

First LED display panels involved white LEDs instead of colored ones. This is the reason why they are called WLEDs (White LED displays). Then came along colored LEDs, in three colors primarily—Red, Green, and Blue—later known as RGB LED displays. These panels are easy on the eyes since they give better colors than your regular WLED.

So, in essence, you have only one display technology, LCD, and LED is just an enhancement to it.

The Resolution


When it comes to smartphone world, we keep hearing quite a number of terms—VGA, QVGA, XGA, WXGA, UXGA, QXGA, HD, FHD, 2K, 4K, and so on. All of these terms represent only the display’s resolution, rather than the technology used.

For instance, VGA (Video Graphics Array) is a resolution of 640×480 pixels; QVGA is Quarter VGA with a resolution of 320×240; SXGA is Super Extended Graphics Array and represents a resolution of 1280×1024.

Aspect ratio is also closely related to this. For instance, iPhone 5 has a resolution of 1136×640, which corresponds to 16:9 aspect ratio. In the same way, iPad 4 has a resolution of 2048×1536, which corresponds to 4:3 aspect ratio.

Check out this image showing all kinds of resolutions on smartphones (click to enlarge).

resolutions and names


To know more about resolution, you can read our 4K TV article.

Another aspect of your display that closely relates to resolution is the ppi ratio (pixels per inch). iPhone 5 has a ppi of 326, which Apple likes to call Retina Display, while HTC Droid DNA has a ppi of 441. This has nothing to do with the display technology used, but everything to do with the size of the display and the resolution.

For instance, if you have a 4 inch display and 1136×640 of resolution, you cannot build it without having 326 pixels every inch. Droid DNA has a 5 inch display and with 441 pixels on every inch, it is capable of getting Full HD resolution of 1920×1080. Hence, the ppi ratio is directly proportional to the resolution and inversely proportional to the size of the display.

So, a smartphone display can show images well without high resolution, while a TV display has to have a high resolution to show images in good quality.

You can read about ppi ratio in our article about Retina Display.

One important thing to note is building too high resolution is also sort of an overkill. You don’t need anything higher than the Full HD on your smartphone, and HD, which is 1280×720, is also quite acceptable. Too high resolution on a smaller display will only make it look weird.

Over time, LCD has also had its improvements, and SLCD (Super LCD) used in most of the devices today (including iPhone, HTC One X, etc.) has come about, and it is manufactured by Sony. SLCD should not be confused with S-LCD, which is a manufacturer of LCD panels (and it is South Korean subsidiary of Samsung Electronics and Sony).

TFT, IPS, & Super PLS


You are hearing a lot about TFT and IPS lately, I suppose? These are not new display technologies, but are enhancements to the existing LCD panels. TFT stands for Thin Film Transistor, which is simply a layer on an LCD panel to make it address the pixels better. Just as there are tiny LEDs on a large LED panel, there are millions of tiny pixels on an LCD panel. And these pixels have to be individually managed to make an image appear on the screen.

This management of pixels is done by a Thin Film Transistor layer that has transistors across the rows and columns, directing charge to the pixel array.

The following is a typical LCD pixel array. As you can see, each individual pixel consists of actually three subpixels—red, green, and blue. Each of these subpixels has its own transistor that passes some amount of power to it to light it up.

Subpixel array on LCD panel


If you take an individual pixel, you can see that it has a TFT associated with it.

TFT on LCD panel


IPS (In-Plane Switching) is another enhancement to LCD TFT technology. If you are familiar with old LCD panels found in laptops and TVs, you know that they have terrible viewing angles. If you try to watch the screen from the side or from slightly above, you literally can’t see anything. But today’s LCD panels have much improved viewing angles, don’t they?

The technology behind this was first developed by a Japanese conglomerate known as Hitachi. In-Plane Switching improves your LCD panel’s viewing angle, and it is used in most of the smartphone display panels these days, may it be iPhone, Nexus 4, or HTC One. They all use LCD (SLCD) IPS panels.

Naturally, IPS would get its share of competition from others, and Samsung did announce another technology that improves viewing angles even further . The Korean beauty shows off its Super PLS (Plane to Line Switching) technology along with IPS panels.

Super PLS vs IPS
IPS and Super PLS side by side


Samsung says Super PLS improves the viewing angle and brightness of the display. So, which smartphones use this technology? Several of Samsung’s products in fact, including Galaxy Tab 2, Google Nexus 10, Galaxy Ace 2, Ativ Tab, etc.



So far, we have seen a lot of technologies, but only one corresponds to the actual technology used in a display, and that is LCD (and its advanced variant, Super LCD). All smartphones out there, iPhone, Nokia Lumia 920, HTC One, Nexus 4, and tablets, Nexus 10, iPad 4, etc., use LCD for their display.

What about a different kind of display technology? Samsung has the other side of the revolution going on.

Samsung has its own in-house solution to display technology, known as AMOLED—Active-Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. AMOLED is a type of OLED display in which a different kind of technology is used, rather than LCD.

AMOLED actually qualifies as a basic display technology. Other technologies like TFT, IPS, Retina Display, are all various enhancements or marketing gimmicks to existing LCD display with LED backlighting. AMOLED is a different kind of technology altogether.

AMOLED technology structure


As you can see, AMOLED panel also uses TFT for pixel addressing. To know various differences between AMOLED and regular TFT panels, visit this article. Super AMOLED naturally provides amazing viewing angles and very impressive black levels; also, AMOLED consumes much less power than LCD. These are major advantages of the display, but it has been identified that the panels can cause color oversaturation. Samsung has later on improved the AMOLED technology and came up with other variants like Super AMOLED, Super AMOLED Plus, etc. The basic technology remains the same.

Quite a number of phones have AMOLED display on them. The first generation Nexus phone, Google Nexus One manufactured by HTC had an AMOLED display; then came Lumia 900 from Nokia with AMOLED panel. Afterwards, quite a number of Samsung smartphones have sported this display panel— specifically Galaxy S series.

Samsung doesn’t have the manufacturing infrastructure to create AMOLED panels for all OEMs out there, and this is one of the reasons why HTC, Nokia, and others have moved on to Super LCD panels, created by Sony.

Sony also has the mobile BRAVIA engine shipping within its smartphones—more recently the Xperia Z. Mobile BRAVIA is nothing but a software program that enhances the display, so that the rendered images are much better. You will see some of the images in that article about Xperia Z smartphone.

In Conclusion


The article has already become too long for you to read. It was just meant to be an introductory article to all these display panels. You should check out each of those links as well. They are important links with further information. We have given care not to go into more technical aspects of these display technologies. If you wish to know any specific aspect, please tell us through the comments.

[Image credit: OutdoorLEDDisplayscreen, Wikipedia, Samsung, Reefbuilders]

Is It Worth the Buy: Sony Xperia Tablet Z, the World’s Thinnest Tablet

Sony has been making and marketing tablets since . The Japanese tech giant made an entry into the Android tablet world with Sony Tablet S with the folded-newspaper design and Tablet P having two 5.5 inch displays.

The entry however has not been quite profitable for Sony. Here is IDC’s global market share of tablets up until the fourth quarter of 2012, and in the statistic, Sony doesn’t even have its name.

Tablets world market share

Apple and Samsung are the only OEMs turning any real profit out of tablet business. In these extreme conditions, Sony is coming up with a new tablet, Xperia Tablet Z. Xperia Tablet Z has been unveiled officially in the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona yesterday. Just as Sony’s upcoming flagship, Xperia Z smartphone, Tablet Z is also waterproof. Let’s check out the new tablet from Sony and see whether it can be a really good buy or not, based on the available data.

Technical Specifications

First of all, let’s check out the technical specifications of Xperia Tablet Z. Here is a comparison between Tablet Z and iPad 4th generation, the most ruthless competitor to the Sony tablet.

Tablet Sony Xperia Tablet Z Apple iPad 4
Display LCD TFT IPS 10.1 inches with Mobile BRAVIA engine 2 LCD TFT IPS 9.7 inches
Resolution 1920×1200 (224 ppi) 2048×1536 (264 ppi, trademarked as Retina)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5 GHz Apple A6X (dual-core) 1.4 GHz
Graphics card Adreno 320 PowerVR SGX554MP4
Memory 2 GB 1 GB
Storage 16/32 GB; MicroSD up to 64 GB 16/32/64/128 GB
Camera 8 MP equipped with Exmor R sensor; 2.2 MP 5 MP; 1.2 MP
Operating System Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (4.2 available soon) Apple iOS 6
Battery Li-Po 6000 mAh Li-Po 11,560 mAh
Connectivity 4G LTE Cat 3 (100 Mbps download, 50 Mbps upload)
HSPA+ 42 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
LTE (73 Mbps download)
HSPA+ 42 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Lightning connector
Body dimensions Height 266 mm (10.47 in) Height 241.2 mm (9.5 in)
Width 172 mm (6.77 in) Width 185.7 mm (7.31 in)
Depth 6.9 mm (0.27 in) Depth 9.4 mm (0.37 in)
Weight 495 g (1.09 lb) Weight 662 g (1.46 lb)
The Price 16 GB $ 499 16 GB $499 (Wi-Fi) – $629 (Cellular)
32 GB $599 – $729
32 GB $ 599 64 GB $699 – $ 829
128 GB $799 – $ 929

Basically, the new Sony tablet can be regarded as one of the toughest competitors to Apple iPad. With its faster Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB RAM, slightly bigger screen, and bigger camera, it has what it takes to entice the current tablet buyers. Let’s check out the details of the tablet.

The Build

Xperia Tablet Z is simply the thinnest tablet in the world. At only 6.9 mm, it is thinner than the iPad Mini, which stands at 7.2 mm. It is slightly heavier than iPad Mini, but lighter than the bigger iPad. This makes Xperia Tablet Z an amazingly portable large tablet. Among large tablets, it is the lightest for the time being.

Xperia Tablet Z, just as most of Sony’s smartphones and tablets, is made from plastic and doesn’t inspire us in terms of build quality. In comparison to iPad, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7, Tablet Z would feel cheap in your hands. Build quality is one of the areas that Sony still has to work on. However, Sony insists the tablet is built from high quality materials and is one of the sturdiest they have ever come up with.

Tablet Z is waterproof and dustproof with Ingress Protection (IP) rating of 55 and 57. That means it has very good protection against dust (although not totally protected) and can be immersed up to about 3 feet under water.

Tablet Z in water

Sony doesn’t say anything about the protection on the front glass. It doesn’t mention whether it is using Gorilla Glass for protection or not. Sony, however, uses Gorilla Glass for protecting a few of the BRAVIA TVs it ships.

The Performance

The processor that comes in Tablet Z is Snapdragon S4 Pro, based on Qualcomm’s own Krait microarchitecture (based on ARMv7 instruction set, but different from ARM Cortex-A9 microarchitecture, which is found on other major tablet processors). Snapdragon has been benchmarked to be one of the fastest among tablet and smartphone processors. Qualcomm is also the leading provider of LTE baseband chips, and as we will see later, Xperia Tablet Z is LTE-capable.

The Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 processor found in Tablet Z was announced way back in 2011’s Mobile World Congress. This SoC has successfully powered a number of devices in these two years, and some of them are Google Nexus 4, LG Optimus G, HTC Droid DNA, etc. This processor has scored above 2000 points in Geekbench results, and iPad 4’s Apple A6X CPU has scored only 1776 points.

The RAM is 2 GB, which is better than most of the tablets and smartphones out there today. This also adds to Tablet Z’s performance.

Tablet Z includes a smaller battery of 6000 mAh only. It doesn’t compare well with other tablets in the market, iPad with 11,560 mAh, Google Nexus 10 with 9000 mAh, and Galaxy Note 10.1 with 7000 mAh. However, Sony has an app running on the tablet called Battery STAMINA mode that Sony says will make all the difference.

Sony must have high hopes on the Battery STAMINA to ship such a small battery with such a big tablet. We will get to see how the battery performs once the reviews come up.

The Display

The display resolution of Tablet Z is 1920×1200, which at the size of the display gives 224 ppi of pixel density. iPad 4 on the other hand gives 264 ppi, which is better known as Retina Display. In this, Sony tablet is inferior, but the display on Tablet Z uses Sony’s trademarked BRAVIA engine, which is a high performance software renderer that brings out better quality pictures.

These images were found in a Sony blog talking about the BRAVIA engine 2.

Sony mobile BRAVIA engine 2


Sony mobile BRAVIA engine 2 comparison

In response to Apple’s Retina Display, Sony calls Tablet Z’s display ‘Reality Display’, which according to Engadget is pretty identical.

The same technology comes in other Sony phones as well—Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, etc.

Connectivity Features

Xperia Z has great connectivity features. It has both LTE and Wi-Fi versions, and LTE supports category 3 with maximum download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. Xperia Tablet Z should be the first tablet to incorporate LTE cat 3 connectivity. It is the same kind of connectivity features available in other major smartphones like iPhone 5, Lumia 920, and Samsung Galaxy S3. None of the other tablets have the connectivity features like Xperia Tablet Z.

Generally, tablets come with only Wi-Fi connectivity, in which you have to connect the tablet to a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot in order to browse the Internet. A few of the tablets also come with data connectivity options like 3G, HSPA+, and LTE. Tablet Z has connectivity features like a smartphone. This is one aspect in which it is different from all of the other tablets.

Besides that, Tablet Z comes with NFC capability. You may have already read about the amazing applications of NFC, which will make this tablet special. Sony ships an app called One-Touch with Tablet Z; using this app, users can transfer media to other Sony devices that support NFC.

Also, it includes an Infrared Blaster, as found in Sony’s own Xperia Tablet S. Hence, controlling Sony’s TVs using Tablet Z as a remote control will not be a problem.

Android Jelly Bean & Multimedia Features

Xperia Tablet Z ships with Android Jelly Bean 4.1 preinstalled. Sony has given confirmation that the tablet will soon receive Jelly Bean 4.2 update. The latest available version of the operating system is 4.2.2 in Google Nexus devices.

Sony enriches the tablet with its own specific apps and multimedia features. Sony has told us the apps like Walkman, Movies, and Album will be available in Tablet Z. There is a feature called Music Unlimited that provides access to over 18 million songs, and another feature called Video Unlimited gives access to over 100,000 movies and TV shows. Integration to Facebook social network is also full-fledged.

Other Features

Sony ships two cameras with this tablet—main 8 MP and front-facing 2.2 MP. Both cameras are capable of capturing Full HD videos and images at 1080p. Sony has equipped the camera with its own trademarked Exmor R sensor. Exmor R is Sony’s CMOS sensor that makes the camera bring in more light to make the image pretty clear even in dim lit situations. Exmor R is the mobile-friendly version of Exmor, which is the CMOS sensor technology Sony uses on its DSLR cameras.

Remember that Sony Xperia Z smartphone uses a similar sensor known as Exmor RS, which is an upgraded version of Exmor R. Xperia Z smartphone should have slightly better camera performance than Tablet Z. As a side note, you should read about HTC’s One smartphone, in which HTC is coming up with a technology called UltraPixel that will bring in more light to the pictures. Another advanced camera in the mobile world now belongs to Nokia Lumia 920, which has PureView technology and is said to be the best camera in the industry.

There are two storage-based models in Tablet Z—16 GB version and 32 GB version. The price varies accordingly. 16 GB version is priced at 499 dollars, while the 32 GB version comes for 599 dollars, priced exactly like the iPad.

Tablet Z also has a MicroSD slot that can convert the storage to up to 64 GB.


Sony Tablet Z, as far as specifications go, is an amazing tablet. It is priced a little heavily at exactly the same price as Apple iPad. Sony Xperia Tablet Z has a better processor, much better form factor, slightly larger display, better connectivity options, better compatibility, better performance, etc., as compared to Apple iPad. iPad on the other hand has a well-established app ecosystem, much better build quality, and a super-fast operating system that works really well with its hardware.

Tablet Z in MWC

We will have to actually see Tablet Z in action before we can make a decision. For the time being, our recommendation is to wait till the device comes to the market (expected around ) and gets reviewed before making a purchase decision. We actually need to analyze these key areas—battery, camera, display, and performance. If they are also stunning, Xperia Z will be a really good tablet to buy.

[Image: Statista, Gizmag, Digitalversus]

Top 5 Most Durable High-end Smartphones You Can Buy

There are a number of factors affecting the purchase of a smartphone, such as the display, operating system, processor power, and price. Among them, I believe durability is also pretty important. There are protective cases for all types of smartphones, although they more or less make the phone look weird. I have never used protective case on my smartphones, although some of them have really needed them.

A few days ago, I picked up one of the most popular smartphones in the industry—Samsung Galaxy S3. I was impressed by the amazing hardware features it offered. However, when I picked it up, I could immediately feel the cheap plastic build of the phone that turned me off a bit. Many of Samsung’s phones lack in build quality, and that is the reason why none of the Samsung smartphones is there in this list. In the low end, probably the only Samsung device that can withstand any wear and tear is X-Cover Xtreme.

The same is the case with Sony. Xperia line of smartphones contains devices mostly of plastic build, save for Xperia P that has an aluminum unibody design.

Compare Samsung devices with those of some other manufacturers in the industry, and you will immediately feel the difference.

There are a number of water-resistant smartphones out there, including the upcoming Sony Xperia Z. However, water-resistance is definitely not the only attribute of durability. How more often do you swim with your smartphone than drop it?

In the following count-down, we have five high-end smartphones, and we will be discussing body-specific features.

6. LG Optimus G & Google Nexus 4

LG Optimus G

Optimus G is LG’s most advanced smartphone to date, and it is built with superb quality. The back of the device is made of tough DuPont Kevlar fiber and it is reinforced with a thin film of Corning Gorilla Glass. You may have heard of Kevlar; it is the same material used for building bulletproof vests.

Google Nexus 4

The smartphone’s display is protected by Gorilla Glass 2. Google Nexus 4 is also manufactured by LG and has similar hardware specifications and build quality. The Gorilla Glass at the back may be susceptible to somewhat rough use. But overall, both of these smartphones are really durable.

Buy Optimus G from Amazon or Best Buy.

5. HTC Windows Phone 8X


The smartest thing about this phone is that it is pretty thin and light-weight. Coupled with its unibody design makes Windows Phone 8X one of the most durable. On the front, you have Corning Gorilla Glass 2, and the back is made of tough polycarbonate, making it suitable for rough usage.

You can get the phone at Amazon or Best Buy.

4. Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD

In terms of build quality, Motorola keeps a very high standard. Razr Maxx HD is a smartphone with a huge 4.7 inch screen and amazing hardware features. It is also slightly heavier than its competitors. It uses the first edition of Corning Gorilla Glass (the version 2 and now 3 have come out) to protect the display. This makes the glass less scratch-resistant than some other devices out there.

What really separates Razr Maxx HD is its back, which is not plastic or metal. It is made of DuPont Kevlar synthetic fiber as in Optimus G. This doesn’t make the device essentially bulletproof though! It however survives extreme levels of rough usage.

The only disadvantage is that it uses Gorilla Glass 1, and the glass could break on a six-foot drop.

Get Verizon Droid Razr Maxx HD at Verizon Wireless or Best Buy.

3. HTC One

HTC One smartphone

This is an update. HTC One is one of the most awesome Android smartphones to hit the market. It has experienced a drop test too. In an XDA Developers Forum thread, a user accidentally dropped the phone and posted about it. The phone did have a few chips on its aluminum sides. One thing that places HTC One right below iPhone 5 is the fact that it has a regular aluminum body, rather than an anodized aluminum in case of iPhone 5. The front of the phone is well protected with Gorilla Glass and that will not scratch on your occasional drops.

HTC has done a great job with the design of the phone as well. It is one of the most gorgeous Android phones in the market, and could rival the iPhone in terms of aesthetics.

The phone is available at Amazon

2. Apple iPhone 5

Apple iPhone 5

Apple iPhone 5, just as all of the previous iPhone versions, comes with pretty amazing build quality. It is very thin and probably the lightest of all high-end smartphones. Its unibody design is made using anodized aluminum, and it is slightly different from iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, which had their back covered by tough scratch-resistant glass.

We don’t have any indication that Apple is using Corning Gorilla Glass for screen protection. But on multiple drop tests, the iPhone screen didn’t show any sign of wear and tear. However, there have been complaints about scuffs on the edge of iPhone 5 after a few days of rough use. This has been identified by many users. The black ceramic finish of the phone slowly fades away to reveal the underlying silvery aluminum.

Still, we recognize iPhone 5 at the top, because you can drop it from a very tall level and you will still not break the display or the internal hardware. Another important thing is that Apple does have a patent on protecting the device, which does include an orientation device that changes the orientation of the iPhone during a free fall to make sure the phone’s most impact-resistant side hits the ground first.

Buy from Apple or Best Buy (several carrier options).

1. Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia Lumia 920 is the toughest of all smartphones out there today. Being the heaviest smartphone could have made Lumia 920 fall behind in terms of wear resistance. However, the thickness of the Gorilla Glass 2 on top of the screen protects Lumia 920 from even tall drops. It has a unibody design with the back made of polycarbonate. Read our review of Lumia 920 which offers scratch and drop tests for the device.

Lumia 920 is available from AT&T (through Best Buy) or Amazon.


Durability is one of the important factors that you should look for on a smartphone. With Optimus G, LG has also proved its presence among the most durable smartphone manufacturers. Apple, HTC, Motorola, and Nokia have always excelled at building phones with high-quality materials. On the other hand, Samsung and Sony have given us somewhat substandard build quality.

[Image: PhoneArena]