2 of 6Image
Pitting the Xperia Z against the HTC One is a particularly good comparison for me – I haven't been impressed by either brand in recent years but have a historic liking for both at one time or another.
In my role as a reporter covering the mobile beat, on any given day I have a choice from around six to nine phones. That means if I'm going to pick it up and use a handset day after day, it'll need to be good.
HTC hasn't been on that list for a while. I actually hadn't spent that long using any of the Xperia devices released in 2012, but was pleased to get a proper amount of time with the middle-of-the-pack Xperia T, which pleasantly surprised me and earned it a place as one of my back-up handsets.
The Xperia Z is, as advertised, waterproof up to certain depths for submersion of up to 30 minutes.
On paper the hardware of the two devices measure up well. The Xperia Z has a 5-inch (1920x1080 pixels) water and dust resistant display, 1.5GHz quad core Qualcomm processor and 13-megapixel camera on the rear. There's also 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage, which can be expanded through use of a microSD card.
In the other corner is the HTC One, which, while it isn't water or dust resistant, is still no slouch in the hardware department.
Under-the-bonnet, the HTC One has a 1.7GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM and is available in 32GB or 64GB storage variants. Unlike almost every other smartphone on the market, the One eschews the usual high megapixel count for its rear camera in favour of a 4-megapixel sensor specifically designed to give better low-light and all-round performance than your average snapper. Unfortunately, the design of the phone also means that HTC skipped over including a microSD slot for expanding that on board storage.
It’s a similar story for the displays, too. Both are full HD and with PPI counts in the mid 400s, although the HTC One does pip the Xperia Z to the post in terms of overall screen quality. But then, it's not waterproof.
While Sony has done a good job of creating an ultra-thin 7.9mm depth on the Xperia Z, it pairs it with somewhat strange design choices, like making the power button on the side of the phone a large silver button that protrudes from the side of the device. I'm not really a fan of that (or the small flaps you need to open to access the SIM, microSD and charger sockets which are required to ensure it stays water and dust resistant) but it does at least provide minor differentiation from other handsets and also ensures the button remains accessible when it's being used in a case.
Still, I prefer the narrower and slightly shorter chassis on the HTC One, which makes for a slightly more comfortable holding position. It's not that the Xperia Z is particularly wide, it just has very square edges which don't make for the most comfortable holding position.
The One's official depth is 9.3mm and it weighs 143g, making it 3 grams lighter than the Xperia Z. The One isn't perfect though, I did repeatedly keep tapping the HTC logo at the bottom of the screen expecting me to take me to the homescreen.