Sony Xperia Z
Pricing not available
While 5-inch touchscreens look set to adorn every flagship Google Android phone this year, Sony got the headstart with the Xperia Z - which it launched at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. The water-and-dust resistant wonder was launched here last week, though pricing and exact availability is still sketchy.
The centrepiece is the screen. It's no secret that phone screens have been getting bigger. The problem is that enlarging a screen at any given resolution (720p high definition being last year's benchmark) makes it less sharp. The Xperia Z's 5-inch wonder not only dwarfs all of last year's phone displays in size bar one (the Samsung Galaxy Note II), it's also sharper. Much sharper. It even bests Apple's iPhone 5 screen in terms of sheer crispness.
1080p full high definition is the maximum resolution of today's TV screens. The Xperia Z's screen matches that. It's also got one of the latest quad-core processors so gamers and on-the-go video editors won't want for power. And graphics power to keep video buttery smooth and display pictures taken with the 13-megapixel camera.
But the biggest worry with a huge screen, a screamingly fast processor and LTE broadband is battery life. That's why one of the Xperia Z's most important feature is its Battery Stamina Mode, which is supposed to be able to stretch standby time four-fold. Battery-hogging apps get nuked whenever the screen's off, only to automatically fire up again whenever you wake the phone.
Even with a body that's only 7.9mm thin, however, this is simply not a phone that can comfortably be used one-handed. It's too big for most thumbs to traverse the pitiless expanse of the touchscreen without shifting grip.
But if that's not an issue or you tote a bag everywhere, the Xperia Z is definitely Sony's most impressive phone in years - even if it won't fit in tight pockets.
The Xperia Z will hit stores in Q1, in black, white or purple.
$928 without contract
Sony's Xperia Z may have been the first 5-inch phone to launch here, but as of today, HTC's Butterfly is the first you can actually buy. Like Sony's behemoth, its screen displays everything in 1080p high definition, and is powered by a quad-core processor. But it boasts a few features that set it apart. Video callers will appreciate an unusually good 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera (back camera's 8-megapixel), with an ultra-wide angle lens that can capture an entire group even when held at arm's length.
The specifications are so impressive that some might overlook the Butterfly's musical abilities, which are a cut above the crowd. Separate amplifiers for the built-in speaker as well as for headphones yield enough volume to make even soft classical and jazz pieces enjoyable. Hip-hop may be part of HTC's DNA now but the Butterfly soars with every genre, as long as the Beats Audio sound settings are turned off. This is about as good as it gets on a phone without plugging in an external digital-to-analogue converter.
At a thickness of just over 9mm, the Butterfly is far from corpulent and although it's thicker than the Xperia Z in the middle, pleasingly tapered edges make it no more unwieldy than the Xperia Z. The 2,020mAh battery is on the small size for this sort of energy-guzzling phone, but HTC's power management software - typically among the best on the market - should help compensate for that.
The Butterfly is available now in red or white from M1 and StarHub, as well as selected resellers.