Review : Sony Xperia ZR : The Underwater Legend

REVIEW: Sony Xperia ZR : The Underwater Legend


The Sony Xperia ZR is keen to match the oomph of its flagship. Considering how important dust and water resistance were for the Xperia Z’ success, some may as well consider this one as an upgrade, rather than a trimmed down version.Together with the smaller screen of slightly lower resolution and stamina mode, you get a smartphone that’s not only easier to pocket, but one that will last more than the premium package. So basically all you’ll be losing if you chose the Sony Xperia ZR over the Xperia Z is some screen estate, the 1080p front-facing camera and the Full HD display. Now, how’s that not a winning combo? Here goes the complete list of Xperia ZR pros and cons.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; 3G with HSPA; LTE
  • 4.55″ 16M-color 720p capacitive touchscreen with 323ppi pixel density; Bravia Mobile Engine 2
  • Android OS v4.1.1 Jelly Bean with custom UI
  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset
  • 13 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geotagging, HDR
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps with HDR mode, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • IP 58 certification – dust resistant and water resistant , Under water Photography
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA; Wireless TV out
  • 8GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic

Main disadvantage

  • Below-par viewing angles of the display
  • Feeble loudspeaker
  • Low-res front facing camera


Looked from the front, the Xperia ZR is an instantly recognizable member of the Sony smartphone family and a slightly downsized clone of the Xperia Z. However, it lacks the cool looking glass panel at the back, which takes away much of the premium feel and look.

Still the plastic used in its place is of sufficiently high quality, so the Xperia ZR is still a looker. And the matte finish has a serious advantage over what the Xperia Z had – it’s far less prone to fingerprints, so it doesn’t require as much effort to look its best.
The sides of the Sony Xperia ZR have a different glossy finish, adding a second color tone to the exterior. The effect is much more prominent on the two brighter-colored versions, pink and blue, but is also noticeable on the more classic white and black handsets.
The richer color palette is another thing the Xperia ZR has over the Xperia Z – the flagship does have a purple version, but we believe the ladies will prefer the pink of the more compact device.
The final perk of the Xperia ZR design is its removable back panel, which grants you access to its battery. Sure it adds a millimeter or two of thickness and takes away some of the high-end vibe, but we are sure many will find this an agreeable trade.


The Sony Xperia ZR is equipped with a 13 megapixel camera that can produce still shots with a maximum resolution of 4128 x 3096 pixels. However, if you use the default Superior auto mode, you only get 12 MP 3920 x 2940 shots instead.
The difference between the Superior auto mode and regular mode with all settings set to auto is that the first tries to guess what kind of scene you are trying to capture and adjusts all properties accordingly – color saturation, contrast, metering mode, whatnot. The regular auto mode only sets the exposure automatically, but lets you fiddle with the other settings if you like.
The good news is the Superior auto mode also tells you what it guessed so you can easily intervene if it gets it wrong. From our experience so far though, it gets things right almost every time, so unless you are keen to always have your say or just have to have that extra megapixel of resolution, you’re probably better off sticking to Superior auto.
The camera interface consists of two panes. The right one holds four virtual buttons – a shortcut to the gallery, stills/video switch, and a front/rear camera toggle. On the left, you get the shooting mode selection key in the top corner, followed by three customizable shortcuts. The final shortcut here opens the drawer with all available settings for the selected shooting mode.
The Sony Xperia ZR is capable of capturing 1080p video at 30fps, which is on par with most modern day smartphones. However, as a nice extra touch, the smartphone also offers HDR for video capture, making it only the third one to have that after the Oppo Find 5 and Sony’s own Xperia Z


It should be obvious by this point that the Sony Xperia ZR is not just another shrink-to-fit exercise like most of them minis. Instead of focusing on size, Sony chose to put the specs first, take it from there and see how compact it can get. Here are some other options you can have in the price range of Sony Xperia ZR.


And if it’s the flagship experience in a more compact package that you are after, you might want to give the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini and the HTC One mini a try. Those two are certainly smaller than the Xperia ZR, but even if they look and act the flagship part, they don’t have the internals to back it up.


These two great devices are previous years flagship devices and can give the ZR a run for its money.


The final two devices that might give the Xperia ZR a run for its money are the LG Optimus G and its Googlified Nexus 4 version. Packing the same chipset as the Sony and offering 4.7″ screens of the same resolution, those two lack both water protection and memory expansion options. They do have the advantage of being significantly cheaper though, so they might attract bargain-hunters.
So at the end of the day, the Sony Xperia ZR remains the most compact Android smartphone to deliver the full flagship experience. And as if that’s not a great place to be already, the IP58 certification, the microSD card slot and the user-removable battery take it another step forward. With Sony already committed to updating it at least through Android 4.3, it’s really one of the easiest smartphones to recommend.


20 year old someone who loves watching football and cricket. Smartphone Aficionado. FIFA Addict. Currently using HTC One (M8) as his daily driver.

Latest posts by Afnan (see all)