Wednesday, 2 October 2013

12 days with the Sony Xperia Z1

Ok, after 12 days of playing with and getting used to my new Android handset, I have finally found some time to write about it. There's actually a lot to write so I'm planning on splitting it into multiple posts.

Warning from the outset: this is simply my amateur take on my new phone: hardcore Android fanboys will probably take great offence at my naivety about the OS, so please stay away!

In this post I'm going to write about the unboxing and first impressions of the hardware, and the stock Sony software. In the next few posts I'll write about the transition from iPhone and 2 days of iOS 7 to Android, and how I've eventually found a bunch of apps that I'm happy with.

I have never ever got a device on launch day, so it was a big leap of faith to pre-order the Z1. I decided to do this partly as I was convinced Android was the best OS for me: I love living in an Apple hardware world with Google services and this is great with my Macbook but iPhone simply does not integrate the various Google services as well. I have been itching to customise a lot more than the photo on my homescreen, and finally, I just want to stop being a sheep. The other main reason was that my service provider threw in a free QX10 lens, not a bad deal!

Delivery day itself was a bit of anticlimax: phone delivered as promised by 11am, but not unboxed until 4pm. Family time takes priority! My first impression: HUGE. I had never seen the phone in real life, and I knew it would be a bit bigger than my iPhone 4 but it is actually much bigger. It fitted ok in my jeans so no problem. I hooked it up to power for an hour, did the SIM switch, and then stuck the new SIM in. So far, so good.

I was expecting all the key Google apps in a little row on the home page, and as soon as I signed in I'd start getting my Gmails and my G+ notifications. It's simple but not that simple: I had to find the apps hidden away in the apps folder and drag them out, and some needed downloading from Play. This is where the fun began: *WIDGETS!!!*. Wow…coming from the Alcatraz of iOS, this was like being air-dropped into Willy Wonka's factory and being told that there's no such thing as tooth decay or obesity: go wild! 

I've reached a balance where all my main apps are on my first screen. Because I use so many, I have had to use folders for apps like my social media and reading. To the left: a screen with widgets for weather, BBC news, a Sony widget for quick access to functions such as Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, screen brightness, volume, location services, flight mode etc etc. To the right: a widget for my music and podcasts (separate post on this). Sony throw in some decent widgets: one to show all recent photos taken by the camera, one for camera and special fx, and Walkman.

Next time: my lock screen widget and battery life.

(picture courtesy of Sony)