It must have been a sobering experience for an electronics giant like Sony to have spent so much time languishing among the "also rans" while your competitors romp ahead, particularly in such a burgeoning market as the mobile phone. While other tech markets seem to have stagnated or shrunk we've seen the mobile phone become the new standard barer and, from my point of view at least, it has been fascinating to see it follow a very similar evolution to that of the PC. We've seen processors move from single to dual to quad and now octa-core (kind of). we've seen a push for divergence and miniaturization followed by a complete reverse in direction with a "bigger is better" mentality and we've seen gaming performance blossom from blocky, pixelated time killers to fully immersive, graphics rich, console quality epics.
The Xperia Z is a very important handset for Sony. It looks and feels like the first of a new breed of handset free from the shackles of former bedfellows Ericsson. It's very much the premium part and, so far, the reviews have been extremely positive. It would appear that Sony at last have themselves a contender which, despite the usual foibles that accompany every Sony mobile phone release, may at last see them play with the big boys.
One of the big features that have garnered attention from press and public alike is the ip57 dust and water resistance. The Xperia Z can be dunked in water up to 1 meter deep for up to 30 minutes and suffer no ill consequences as a result. This is assuming you have properly closed the various port covers of course. And if you haven't? well, the Z's innards are reportedly coated with some hydrophobic trickery but there's every chance you'll face a similar fate to that of someone dunking a regular, non water resistant phone.
The port covers on the "Z" actually have "O" rings around the edges so as to properly seal them against water and dust ingress. Naturally an initial worry is how long these ports will continue to seal properly.
It's not unusual for a typical user to access the data/charging port at least twice a day, that's 730.5 removals and replacements per year, potentially 1461 removals and replacements over a two year contract. That's a lot of punishment, and even though Sony are boasting that the covers are more than robust enough to handle this kind of punishment there's surely no harm in reducing the potential wear. Luckily there's an option.
On the side of the phone are a pair of gold coloured connectors designed so that it can be charged in a dock without ever needing to prize open the USB cover. Great news! Well, that is unless you're the kind of proud owner that wants to protect your new glass monolith in some kind of protective case, in which case you're screwed! So, do you buy a case or do you keep flipping open that port and praying it doesn't wear out?
Or, do you buy a Flip "n" Charge from accessory gurus Muvit?
As part of their "Made For Xperia" range, which means the accessory is approved by Sony for use with the Xperia range of products, the Flip "n" Charge not only offers one of the few features missing from the Z's arsenal, that being the ability to charge it wirelessly. It also neutralises the "case or dock" dilemma by cleverly utilising to two external pogo connectors to accomplish it. Win-win right?
Inside the box you'll find the case, of course, the charging base, a power supply and some basic instructions.
Powered using technology from those experienced wireless boffins at IPANIPAN, the Flip "n" Charge is built around solid technology. The stylised logo in the centre of the charging base is actually a "Qi" logo (pronounced Chee) and this signifies that it complies with the standard which was developed in 2010 by the Wireless Power Consortium in which over 80 companies (including Philips, Sanyo, Panasonic, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, HTC and Motorola) participated.
Qi is the sign of interoperability between power transmitters and power receivers and so should ward off any short or medium term obsolescence.
The base is a sleek, shiny piano black disc measuring about 3.5 inches across. All the required circuitry is tucked away safely inside with just a small socket on show through which the power is supplied. It's clean, simple and stylish and wouldn't look out of place just about anywhere, though its compact dimensions may make it less suitable for larger "Qi" devices you may have hoped to charge with it.
The base sits steady on four soft foam rubber feet. Behind the disc of white plastic sits a bank of status led's which illuminate the surface beneath, clearly visible because of the small gap.
The case itself looks like your fairly standard fayre at first glance. The main feature, in fact the only visible feature of note, is a small block featuring the two gold coloured connectors that contact with the two connectors on the handset.
Amazingly all the electronics required for the case sit inside the back cover. If you're worried this will add bulk then fear not. As you can see from the end-on photo below the rear of the case is no more than a few millimeters deep (the green bordered area). This amounts to a case that's really no thicker than a regular flip case.
I'm not a huge fan of the bonded edges used on the front cover. The last case we experienced that featured this was Samsung's Flip Case for the Galaxy S3 which managed no more than a couple of months of medium duty service before the edges started to peel open like a zip. Hopefully this case will prove more durable.
Fractionally more frustrating, albeit a minor frustration, was the bend in the front cover which despite a barrage of bending, warming, pocket-dwelling and massaging stubbornly refused to sit flat. The bend was only slight, alas my OCD is not.
The case offers no corner protection and I suspect this will be the situation for all aftermarket cases as closed corners would block access to the charging port, headphone jack, speaker and lanyard loop.
To fit the case you must locate the left edge first so the contacts sit against the pogo pins. After this the handset just snaps into place and the front cover folds across to protect the screen.
It's a neat, simple and elegant solution that works flawlessy. Once fitted it looks no different to so many other similarly styled flip cases and as I mentioned earlier it adds nothing to the overall size, in fact it's no bulkier than, for example, the SMA5127 book case from Roxfit.
In fact compared to the Roxfit case the Flip "n" Charge is actually marginally thinner which is no minor achievement.
Roxfit (Top) and Flip "n" Charge (Below)
The white stitching somewhat adds to the appeal of the Roxfit in terms of looks however and it'd be great to see a premium version of the Flip "n" Charge make it to market.
There's no kind of fastening device on the case which is not a huge negative, in fact it could be perceived as a positive as most case manufacturers today seem to be using magnetic fasteners and this isn't the greatest of ideas on a phone with an integral compass.
Charging is as simple a procedure as you're likely to encounter in the world of tech. Once the base is connected to a power supply you simply plonk your "Z" on top and, provided you're reasonably central, off it goes. In standby mode the charging base features a single solid green and red LED. As soon as the base detects your handset, a ring of green LED's light up the the entire circumference for a couple of seconds before reverting to a single flashing green LED which signifies that charging is taking place.
Although nowhere near as bright as they appear in the pictures, the LED's are still fairly bright and there's no way to dim them. For me this was a non-issue as I can sleep through a herd of Buffalo stampeding through my bedroom due to having been spooked by a major earthquake, but some of you more delicate souls may feel the need to stick a bit of insulating tape over them if you're planning bedroom use, as I suspect many of you will. The option to dim them would be a definite plus for some.
The primary lights, those being the standby (steady green and red) and the charging (flashing green) LEDs are sited alongside the power jack so in most situations they'll be positioned around the back of the base which reduces the glare a little, while still maintaining their visibility through the gap beneath.
Charging from empty takes from around 3.5 to 4 hours though there's no visual confirmation that charging is complete. The back of the case gets very slightly warm to the touch but nothing more than that. I did notice that with the NFC radio switched on the base seem a little fussier about the precise placement of the phone on the base before detecting it.
On the subject of NFC, I was a little concerned that the electronics in the back of the case might hinder NFC operation but a few quick tests with a Sony Smart Tag showed that my worries were unfounded and everything operated as expected.
Presumably to keep bulk down there's no soft protective covering sandwiched between the rear of the phone and the hard surface of the case and knowing that small particles of God-knows-what can get in there and abrade the surface over time I made sure to fit the supplied screen protector to the back of the phone.
It's rather rewarding when a single product solves so many issues, real or imagined. OK so the ports probably won't wear out within the the typical period of ownership, and if they do there's no guarantee you're going to drop your handset down the loo anyway. The fact that while you're waiting for all these potential catastrophes to happen you'll have the convenience of hassle free charging is just the icing on the cake.
My knee-jerk reaction was that the price is too high by about £10-£20 but consider this. To develop a product like this for a Galaxy "S" or the iPhone is reasonably risk free due to the huge numbers they've sold. To develop a product like this for a newly launched handset from a company with a very mixed sales history in the mobile arena takes a little more faith and who am I to deny Ascendeo a small premium to cover design and tooling just in case the phone bombs? If the "Z" goes on to sell by the barrow load, and the early signs are not too bad at all, then perhaps we'll see prices fall a little.
Another point on price is that with your typical charging dock costing around £20 and a decent quality case about the same that leaves the charging technology costing £39.99 which is not unreasonable.
I have used the Flip"n"Charge daily for the past couple of weeks and, apart from the need to make sure the handset sits reasonably centrally on the base, it has operated flawlessly. For those of you who'd be happier to never open a port cover on their "Z" ever again then combining your Flip"n"Charge with a set of Bluetooth headphones and a copy of Wifi File Transfer means you may never have to.
Many thanks to Lara from Ascendeo for pulling the strings and enabling this review.
- Includes a Qi charging pad and case for convenient wireless charging
- Designed for a quick and intuitive charging, the Qi Wireless Charging Pad allows you to charge your Sony Xperia Z without the mess of charging cables. Included in the kit is a wireless charging pad which when used in conjunction with the Qi Wireless Charging Case enables you to charge your phone quickly and easily via Qi induction charging technology.
- Slim and sleek design complements the Xperia Z and saves space
- With a sleek, ultra slim design the Qi Wireless Charging Pad is a beautiful space saving way to charge your phone at your desk, office or at home.
- Includes Qi Wireless Charging Case
- A Qi compliant and form-fitting cover, the leather style charging case simply attaches to your Xperia Z to enable wireless charging at any time.
- Specifically designed for the Sony Xperia Z
- Designed to complement your Xperia Z perfectly the Qi Wireless Charging Plate is designed to reflect the contemporary and sleek styling of your handset. Whether it is for use in the home or office, the charging plate will look fantastic.
Charger Type: Mains Charger
What's In the Box?
1 x Muvit Qi Wireless Charging Pad
1 x Muvit Qi Wireless Charging Case for Xperia Z
1 x UK Mains Charging Cable
We're always looking for ways to make our reviews fairer. A Right To Reply gives the manufacturer or supplier of the product being reviewed a chance to make public comments on what we've said. They can explain perhaps why they've done the things we were unhappy with or blow their own trumpet over the things we loved. It's easy for us to pick a product apart but sometimes things are done a certain way for very specific reasons.
Should Ascendeo decide to exercise their "Right To Reply", we'll publish their comments verbatim below: