This content is related to the Sony Xperia Z which is available to buy from Clove.

Android 4.4 KitKat rolling out for Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z1 & Xperia Z Ultra

Sony firmware update for Xperia Z1 Compact and other includes 4.4 KitKat

sony-xperia-z1-compact-sny-xz1cA firmware upgrade is rolling out for the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, the Sony Xperia Z1, and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra which, among other things, includes an update to Android 4.4 KitKat. Older devices have not been forgotten mind you; Sony states that the 4.4 update for Sony Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia Tablet Z and the Xperia ZR will be coming ‘mid Q2′. The forthcoming Sony Xperia Z2 and Xperia Z2 Tablet will of course launch with 4.4 KitKat.

The update that is now rolling out doesn’t just include an update to Android 4.4, some of Sony’s own developments have been upgraded:

  • That status bar and quick settings have been improved. Sony says that they are now more intuitive, nicer to look at, and will only display the notifications that you truly need.

  • The launch animation and live wallpaper – which are also present on the PlayStation 4 – have been added to the lock and home screens.

  • Sony’s Media apps, WALKMAN, Album and Movies, with Sony Entertainment Network cloud service integration, have been upgraded with a better UI and faster download speeds.

  • New Xperia Themes so that you can customise the look of your device. Check the video below for a demo.

Via Sony Blog

The Sony Xperia Z2 – An introduction

Sony_Xperia_Z2_SplitSony took to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to announce the newest addition to their Xperia range, the Sony Xperia Z2 and as the market heats up we’ll be looking what features make this the phone you should be buying.

One thing that the Sony Xperia devices are well known for are their build quality. You only have to look at the sleek design to know that a great deal of time and effort has gone in to making this a device that stands out from the competition.

On the inside you’ve got a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon  801 processor running at 2.3 GHz which will see you swiping between apps. playing the latest games and all with a power management system that ensures only the needed amount of battery is being used.

For the movie buff, the dancing queen and the game boy, sound and vision are all taken care off. A 5.2″ screen  to beat your friends to the finish line, watch the latest hit films and dance the night away with  dual stereo speakers, if next door start complaining  enjoy noise-free sound with the sleek MDR-NC31EM headphones.

All these features and more we’ll be taking a very close look at over the coming weeks. If you have any questions or would like us to cover anything specific please let us know in the comments below or via our community channels. If you have already made your mind up that this is the phone for you, head over to our website and place your pre-order now.

Sony Xperia Z price drop – save £96

Sony Xperia Z£96 dropped off the Sony Xperia Z

The Xperia Z1 compact and Z2 are capturing the headlines at the moment, but what about the original Xperia Z that set the trend going?

You can now pick one up SIM Free for £300 including VAT, that’s £250 excluding VAT. Previously it was £300+VAT.

It may not be the latest and greatest, but there is still a lot to like about it including:

  • 5” 1080 x 1920 full HD Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
  • 13 MP fast capture camera with Exmor RS for mobile & HDR video
  • HD video recording
  • Front facing 2.2 megapixel camera
  • Dust and water resistant (IP55 & IP57) with a durable glass display
  • Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core 1.5GHz processor
  • 16GB internal memory (approx 12.6GB user accessible)
  • 2GB RAM
  • Battery STAMINA mode for better battery life
  • PlayStation Certified
  • MHL
  • WiFi
  • 3G
  • 4G/LTE (Subject to network)
  • MicroSD slot

For more information, please CLICK HERE.

Spec comparison chart of the latest Sony devices

Smartphones ranges are quite vast these days and the naming conventions used can sometimes make it a bit tricky to remember the key differences between similarly named handsets.

The chart below has been sent over by Sony and shows the key features of its latest devices side by side, so if you’re considering a new handset or tablet this should make it a bit easier to tell which device has which features.

All of the devices featured below are available to buy on the Clove website. The smartphones can be viewed here or the Tablet Z can be viewed here.

Keep an eye on the Clove blog in the coming weeks for content on Sony’s latest devices, the Xperia Z Ultra and the Xperia Z1.

Click the thumbnail below to view the chart in full size.

Sony device comparison

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active vs Sony Xperia Z (comparison video)

Galaxy S4 Active vs Sony Xperia Z hands on comparison video

In this video we take a hands on look at the differences between the SIM-free versions of the Sony Xperia Z and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, which are two top of the range handsets that have protection ratings against dust and water.

This video was also featured in our written comparison of the two devices, which you can view here.

Sony Xperia Z vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Active

The Sony Xperia Z goes head to head with Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Active

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In this comparison we take the Sony Xperia Z and put it head to head with the latest device from Samsung’s ever increasing S4 range, the S4 Active.

With similar features and specs a natural comparison between these two devices is inevitable. It is indeed difficult to separate the two smartphones with a single decision, so this post attempts to make a buying decision easier for you by providing the necessary information in an easy to read comparative format. We must declare that the handsets discussed are UK stock, so global variants may differ from the ones compared here.

The main differences at a glance:

[Read more…]

HTC One Pros and Cons

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the HTC One?

We are going to take a look at some of the main pros and cons of the HTC One. I may draw some comparisons with its main competitors – the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z where necessary. Some of the key differences could sway your opinion either way; that’s if you haven’t already taken the plunge with the HTC One of course.

HTC One Pros

HTC_One_Silver_FrontDesign/Build – Although there were early problems with the build quality, these were quickly cleared up; this reaffirmed that HTC have designed quite possibly the smartest and most premium looking device on the market for 2013. The edge to edge display with the slim aluminium curved body make for a truly stunning handset.

Display – The HTC One boasts the highest pixel density (PPI) of any Smartphone out there to date at 469ppi. The One is certainly the unrivalled champion when it comes to HD displays, there are two million pixels packed into its stunning 4.7 –inch 1080p LCD display. It’s nearest competitor would be the Samsung Galaxy S4 (441 ppi), Samsung have always produced high quality AMOLED displays on all of their devices but it just falls behind on this occasion for me.

Camera – HTC have introduced the first ‘UltraMegapixel’ camera on their flagship device. To say it’s impressive would be a huge understatement. The UltraPixel Sensor captures more than 300% more light than most leading 13 megapixel cameras. Perfect in low light conditions; however the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a remarkable camera also. Choosing between the two would be difficult, it would take some serious testing and comparisons to decipher who has won this particular battle.

HTC BlinkFeed – Get all of your favourite social networks, news and feeds streamed live to your home screen keeping you in the know around the clock. This feature isn’t for everyone however I can see what HTC are trying to do. You can however dedicate another home screen as your default home if this isn’t for you.

HTC Boomsound – Dual fontal stereo speakers powered by built in amplifiers certainly deliver a BIG sound with less distortion and crisper detail. Powered by ‘beats audio’ you’re always going to get that extra bit of quality when it comes to sound.

HTC Zoe –  Zoe is an extremely innovative feature that automatically captures 20 photos and a 3 second video bringing your picture to life. You can pin all of your favourite images together giving you a 30 second highlight reel of those memorable moments.

Large internal storage – 32GB/64GB variants offer more than enough storage for the average user.

Built in TV remote – A useful, but not essential feature to have. This is included with the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Sense Voice – Automatically detects loud ambient noise and will then dynamically boost the in call voice to compensate. Not a very exciting feature but certainly one you will appreciate at the time.

HTC One Cons

Not IP57 rated – Usually I wouldn’t look at this as a disadvantage as it’s only been available on bulkier, lower end handsets. However, Sony have introduced this on their flagship Xperia Z, so this is definitely worth taking into consideration.

Non removable battery – Not being able to remove the battery is a pain, if the device crashes or a problem occurs within the battery you’re going to be forced to send the device back to a repair centre. Not having the ability to manually power down the device is another drawback. The HTC One falls into the same bracket as the Sony Xperia Z here, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a removable battery.

No MicroSD slot – This can be a huge deciding factor for many as both the Samsung Galaxy S4 & Sony Xperia Z both feature microSD card slots. However there is an issue with Samsung’s on board memory on the 16GB variant, users are left with roughly 9GB to play around with which is pretty awful considering apps cannot be moved over to the SD card. If you want to avoid this problem then you will have to pay an arm and a leg for a 32GB/64GB model. The HTC One comes with an on board memory of 32GB and 64GB which is more than sufficient if you ask me.

Metal Body – This is a difficult one, personally I feel the aluminium build gives the HTC One a premium and robust feel. However, if you were to drop your HTC One on hard concrete or gravel for instance; you’d be at risk of scratching the device. I have the HTC One in black, I have a few scratches that show up quite prominently. It’s not a massive problem but definitely worth thinking about. You can of course counteract this issue by purchasing the silver HTC One!

Conclusion – The pros far outweigh the cons for me, the general build and design along with the vibrant display certainly make for pleasant viewing aesthetically. I love the new ‘UltraPixel’ camera and all of its features, along with some of HTC’s new features they have introduced like HTC Zoe, HTC BoomSound amongst others. The fact that it’s not IP57 rated does not deter me as I work in an office environment and believe I am not at risk of damaging the phone in that sense. I consider myself to be a heavy user and find that 32GB of on-board memory is more than enough for what I need. The only draw back I suppose would be the non-removable battery – The HTC One would be perfect apart from that!

We would love to hear your pros and cons with regard to the HTC One, along with any further comparisons that can be drawn between the three devices mentioned in this post -as I appreciate the list is endless!

Sony Xperia Z Pros and Cons

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Sony Xperia Z?

After owning a Sony Xperia Z for a few months now it’s about time I shared what I believe to be the main pros and cons with the device. As with all devices opinions will be divided and these are just a selection of points raised. If you have any other Xperia Z pros or cons feel free to share them with us with a comment below.

Sony Xperia Z Pros

Speed- Probably my top “pro” with the Xperia Z is the processing speed. It never seems to struggle with anything you throw at it and goes between apps, games and content with absolute ease.

Camera- Sony’s Exmor lens certainly does not disappoint and with features such as Superior auto, Sweep panorama, Burst and Scene selection your sure to capture the perfect photo with the 13mp camera. I think its useful to have a quality camera to hand without having to carry a dedicated camera with you everywhere, that’s why for me the camera on the Xperia Z is a real pro!

Screen- The 5” display on the Xperia Z is a real clincher for me, the clarity and colour depth continues to impress me and makes watching video content a pleasure. Still images look great too and the mobile BRAVIA engine 2 ensures the display is set up to display videos and images at their best.

IP Rated- The Xperia Z is IP57 rated, meaning it has a level of resilience to dust and water. This is more for peace of mind than anything else, I certainly havn’t been taking my phone into the water.


    Sony Xperia Z Cons

    Dust and fingerprints- The screen seems to attract a large amount of dust and grease, granted, this can be wiped off but compared to the screen of the HTC One or the Galaxy S4 that do not suffer from this it seems silly. I think the general design of the phone with the glass on both sides naturally attracts fingerprints and dust but I did not expect it to be this bad. Another issue I hold with the Xperia Z is the screen protector Sony decided to cover both the front and back with, this is not scratch resistant and picks up small and large scratches easily. I went as far as taking the front screen protector off my Xperia Z and notice far less scratches, underneath the non scratch resistant protector after all is a scratch resistant glass.

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Battery life- can be a bit short, any extensive use and you will watch the % fall in front of your eyes. Like most devices the biggest drain of the battery is the display, therefore turning down the brightness and turning off the BRAVIA 2 engine does extend it slightly. You can use the STAMINA mode to try and increase battery life, I did have this on but found it slightly annoying as noticed a few bugs with it.

No removable battery- There is no removable battery on the Xperia Z, devices such as the Galaxy S4 do have a removable battery. Personally I do not mind this so much but some people much prefer to have a removable battery on their smartphone.

      <p><strong>Updates needed- </strong>There is a few things I have noticed that need an update to fix a couple of glitches. These are rather trivial but nonetheless when paying for a premium device you expect it to be bug free! Also Xperia Z owners are still awaiting a software update to allow for wireless PS3 controller support when Xperia SP owners are already enjoying this privilege. 

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active – Water Resistant Headphone Jack

GS4-Active_008The Galaxy S4 Active has been wining praise from reviewers since its launch for providing (almost) exactly the same experience as the standard S4, but in a slightly more outdoors and work friendly package. Whilst it might not be as ‘rugged’ as devices like the Cat B15 – I don’t recommend dropping the S4 Active from a height any time soon – it does meet the likes of Sony’s Xperia Z head on with a water resistant and dust proof IP67 rating.

Quite a few devices now are starting to meet this specification and with Samsung and Sony pushing it in their flagships, hopefully it will begin to be the norm. One thing that can get in the way though is the use of flaps to cover the ports on these devices. Sony’s Xperia Z and the companion Z tablet both have a flap to cover the micro USB, micro SD card, SIM card and headphone ports. 4 bits of flappy plastic that although well engineered, feel like they might snap off without due care. For two devices that ooze quality from their design, this seems like a bit of an oversight.

Samsung however have managed to get away with just one flap – on the micro USB port. The SD card and SIM card slots are internal, under the back cover. Part of Sony’s design language is to have a sealed unit but this does result in the annoying flappy bits. Admittedly they wont be opened much after initially inserting cards but it does mean there are three extra ports for ingress that you need to ensure are covered to maintain the IP67 rating.

The bit of magic that I really like though is the S4 Active’s self-sealing headphone jack. The port remains open at all times but is completely water resistant when there is nothing inserted. A little bit of engineering wizardry ensures that when headphones are taken out, the port is sealed up from the inside. Without taking an S4 Active apart (which I don’t have a spare one to do!) I can’t see exactly how it works but I would imagine either a type of valve or spring / pressure related cover that shoots up shut when it isn’t being forced down. Anyone with knowledge of the exact mechanism is welcome to share below!

However it works, it would be fantastic to see it emulated from other manufacturers and possibly even iterated upon, if possible, to make water resistant USB ports. Although these might end up needing to be recessed – something  other rugged devices have done in the past – resulting in evil proprietary accessories.

What are your thoughts? Are there other hardware features you want to see in rugged devices that haven’t yet been employed? Let us know below.

What makes a phone premium?

Metals, plastics and rounded corners

The most important aspect of our technology should be how it performs when up against the tasks and challenges we encounter every day. With the power and technical quality of smartphones and other devices increasing all the time, this is becoming more and more sidelined for aesthetics. How a product looks and feels has always been of huge importance – everyone has different tastes but fashions dictate what the majority of us consider attractive and people are unconsciously drawn to that which is pleasing to their senses.

Sony Xperia Z (Clove)Whereas the excessive styling of advanced products has usually been the province of the more expensive brands – Apple for one have long charged considerably more than the sum of their device’s parts, however they are small fry compared to the likes of Harman/Kardon or Bang & Olufsen – high quality design is beginning to become the norm in lower end devices where differentiating on specification alone is no longer as important as it once was. The word ‘premium’ is one that I believe is overused along with other similar superlatives, especially in the smartphone industry, yet it continues to evoke response if the noise made by of professional reviewers and consumers online is anything to go by. So what do we mean by the term premium? Is it something that can be tangibly reduced or is it more of a concept that we simply ‘know’ by experience and familiarity?

HTC One (Clove)The topic comes up regularly but was highlighted pretty recently in many reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S4. Despite the incredible technological achievements in Samsung’s most recent flagship, reviews across the board have docked points or decried Samsung’s continued of plastics for the Galaxy range where competitors have either long been using or started introducing metal alloys in manufacturing. Devices such as the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One both make a big deal of their unibody construction and premium (there’s that word again) materials. Plastics too can be used well, Sony’s Xperia Z and SP both use different types of plastic casing yet somehow manage to come across as providing a better aesthetic than any of Samsung’s units. Perhaps it’s the type of plastic used or the finish – Samsung’s casings have been called ‘slimy’ and ‘unattractive’, whereas Sony’s are ‘grippy’ and ‘eye-catching’.

Nokia Lumia 925 (Clove)As mentioned previously, ‘premium’ evokes value, a value that can’t readily be defined but definitely translates to price. If Samsung devices don’t qualify for this premium moniker, then how can they continue to price themselves above their competitors and on a par with Apple? Samsung’s marketing goes great guns to justify the price tags by promoting both the hardware and software features whilst possibly over-inflating the quality of their design despite consumer response. For the time being this is working as their devices do indeed tend to have the largest and most comprehensive feature sets yet I predict this can’t continue for too much longer; already the bloated TouchWiz is beginning to lose favour.

Samsung Galaxy S4 (Clove)The design language of the current Galaxy range is very clearly an iteration of last year’s devices which also came under fire (but not quite as much) when put aside the likes of the HTC One X and iPhone 4S. The thing is why should they change? The Galaxy S3 was the best selling Android smartphone of all time and may well have outsold Apple’s devices of the same generation depending on which figures you look at. It’s a strange situation where people say they want a change yet are still willing to buy. For now at least the compromise on aesthetics for pure technological prowess is worth it, but how long will this last? If other supposedly better designed devices begin to encroach on Samsung’s Android dominance will they change tack next year? Only time will tell of course.

Huawei Ascend P6 (Clove)Premium then seems to hinge mostly on materials and by being different to the current norm. HTC introduced a unibody aluminum design with front mounted speakers and were lauded critically. Nokia have just redesigned the bulky poly-carbonate Lumia  920 with a slimmer and lighter aluminium alloy for the 925. Sony’s Xperia Z and Z tablet have opted for rigid square corners and a type of edgeless styling that looks different to anything else on the shelf. Even at the cheaper end of the market, Huawei’s new Ascend P6 has an interesting mix of curvature and sharp angles that help it find its own identity despite the cheaper materials. Motorola’s new direction under Google has also promised customisation and personality in the mid range game. Samsung then are left with arguably the lowest quality looking devices (understandably my own opinion…) yet a dominant market position. Is there anything that could change this and would Samsung risk it when one assumes the production line and project cycle for their next slew of devices is probably already well underway? Let us know your thoughts!

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