Sony’s Xperia Z has one trick that no one has been able to pull till now; it can take a dip in the pool and still work just fine for that business meeting. Sony is now taking this to the next level with the ZR, its newly announced droid, which is the international version of the Xperia A and is slated to launch soon exclusively for Japan. We suspect the ZR will be cheaper than the Z wen it launches, since a couple of key features like the screen resolution and on-board storage has been cut down – this should help bring down the price. The rest of the specifications remain identical to the Z. Let’s break down some of the key specifications and see what’s what.
OS – Android 4.1
The ZR will run Android 4.1 along with Sony’s custom skin. If you’ve used any other smartphone from Sony’s 2013 line-up, then you’ll be familiar with the interface and the bundled apps. The version launched in India will most likely come with the Sony Music app and Sony LIV streaming app pre-installed.
Cellular connectivity – Quad-band 3G support
From the looks of it, the ZR will not support LTE in India, but we should be getting quad-band GSM and 3G support.
A cheaper variant of the Z
Display – HD 4.55-inch TFT LCD
One of the biggest differences between the Z and the ZR is the smaller screen and the non-full HD resolution. The smaller screen is welcomed as it should offer better grip and ergonomics and the lower resolution should pose lesser strain on the CPU/GPU, so we can expect better battery life as well. The ZR’s pixel density is still a little above 320 ppi, so the display is well within "Retina" standards.
Form factor – Chunkier but lighter
The ZR is chunkier at 10.4 mm as compared to the Z’s 7.9mm. However, it is lighter by 4 g. The weight shedding is possible mostly due to the lack of a glass back. The back panel is modelled around the ZL, minus the texture. The button placement remains the same as the Z though.
Connectivity – Fully loaded
The ZR features all the connectivity essentials like Wi-Fi ‘n’, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v4.0, NFC and video out via MHL. There’s no mention of GLONASS, but we believe that should be present as well.
SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8064
The Xperia ZR is powered by the very same chipset that fuels the Z. A quad-core monstrosity based on Qualcomm’s Krait CPU architecture, each core runs at 1.5GHz. The chipset is accompanied by 2GB of RAM along with Adreno 320 graphics.
Internal storage – 8GB, further expandable
Onboard storage has been cut down to 8GB, out of which even lesser will be available for actual use. Thankfully, there’s a microSD card slot for expansion.
Available in multiple colour choices
Cameras – 13MP shooter with HDR video
All the camera features from the Z will be ported over to the ZR, which includes HDR for video as well. Features and performance should be very similar as well.
Unlike the IP57 certification of the Z, the ZR boasts of an IP58 certification, which means you can use it underwater up to 1.5 m – much more than the Z’s 1 m limit.
The bottom line
The Xperia ZR has all the makings to be a very good handset, provided Sony prices it right. We have a feeling that the ZR could easily end up in the Rs 30,000–35,000 price bracket given the current prices of the Z and ZL. The handset appears to be just as powerful as the Xperia Z, but is better equipped in the waterproofing department. The reduced onboard storage and 720p screen is still in keeping with today’s standards, so we don’t have a problem with that. If Sony can launch the phone for a low enough price, that would put a lot of pressure on the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the LG Optimus G.