The Xperia Z vs. the Xperia X (or is it the Xperia Z vs. the Xperia ZL?)
As recently as December 29, 2012, the Yuga and the Odin were expected to be released as the Xperia Z and the Xperia X respectively. Just after the ball dropped in Times Square however, press images were pulled out from hiding on Sony's website by Engadget, tagging the Yuga as the Xperia Z and the Odin as the Xperia ZL. Other than slightly differing chassis designs, the two phones are expected to be virtually identical, aside from the rumored dual-sim capability of the ZL (Odin).
I did a side-by-side comparison of the two phones, showcasing the differing chassis despite both having virtually identical displays aligned by the purple background I included. Neither of the images was resized, as both were taken from Engadget's source links on Sony's website. I found the Odin (on the right) to have the slightly more attractive design, since it has smaller top and bottom bezels.
Two Xperias against the world
As I said at the outset, the two new Xperia phones are part of a global wave of phones with 5-inch 1080p displays powered by the quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 chipset that started with the Chinese-made Oppo Find 5 last fall. Also part of this wave are HTC's J Butterfly, Droid DNA, and Butterfly (global) phones. This list is expected to be joined shortly by LG's Optimus G2 and HTC's M7, but excludes similar Snapdragon S4 Pro phones that have "only" 720p displays like Xiaomi's Mi-Two and LG's Optimus G and Nexus 4 phones. Moreover, all of these phones have 2 GB of RAM, as Sony's new phones are expected to.
With Oppo, HTC, Sony, and LG (rumored) all making phones with identical CPUs and nearly identical 5-inch 1080p screens, each manufacturer will have to find a new way to differentiate itself from the others. In past years, the "skin" each manufacturer places over Android has been the main difference between similarly-specced phones. The overlays weren't the only differences though - there was more diversity among CPUs and displays between each OEM's flagship phone.
Now, though, the same Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset is used by at least 9 flagship phones being released within a three to four-month window, six of which either have been or soon will be powering nearly identical 1080p displays. The playing field is leveling out in terms of CPU and display, so manufacturers will need to compete in other hardware areas in addition to their varying Android skins. Camera and chassis design are emerging this year as two of the most important hardware difference-makers.
Sony's two new Xperia phones are expected to feature the Exmor RS sensor in their 13 MP cameras (by contrast, the DNA/Butterfly/J Butterfly have 8 MP cameras sans the Exmor RS sensor, though Sony did share its camera hardware with Oppo). Put in the simplest terms, the Exmor RS sensor is a "stack" of CMOS sensors that make it possible to fit a higher-resolution camera into a thinner phone chassis. In the gallery below, you can see the telltale bulge of high-megapixel cameras on the HTC One series, the Samsung Galaxy S III and Sony's own Xperia T in contrast to the svelte cameras on the Oppo Find 5 and Xperia Z.
telltale bulges in rear cameras for the HTC One X, the Galaxy S III and the Xperia T
svelte Exmor RS 13-megapixel cameras on the Oppo Find 5 and the Xperia Z (Yuga)
As to the image quality afforded by the Exmor RS sensor in the 13-megapixel cameras on the Oppo Find 5 and the new Xperia phones, I present the gallery below (there are also 8-megapixel Exmor RS sensors, but 8 MP is sooo 2012, right?):
Camera samples taken by the Oppo Find 5's Sony-built 13 MP Exmor RS sensor via PhoneArena
Camera sample purportedly taken from the 13 MP Exmor RS sensor on the Xperia ZL (Odin) via Phandroid