When Sony launched the Xperia Z at CES 2013, one of its key features is its IP55 rating for dust resistance. However, it seems that some dust particles managed to sneak past onto its camera lens.
We first knew of the problem in July when one of our readers reported some black dots appearing in the photos she took with her Xperia Z. The problems persisted even after using a clean cloth to wipe the rear back of the phone.
She sent her phone for servicing and was told by the customer service staff that the entire camera module had to be replaced. Today, we also found another Xperia Z user who encountered the same issue. This prompted us to do a search on HardwareZone forums and other online communities.
Apparently, we are not the only ones facing this problem. Several users on HardwareZone forum have experienced similar issues since March. The earliest post by forum user Doraemonboi, mentioned the possibility of dust particles in his device. A month later, he posted another feedback on the forum that there were more black spots.
The issue seemed to affect more people as time passed. Another forum user, bloke2529, posted that there was a black dot at the center of the frame. Bokie2529 claimed in a post one week later that his unit was sent in for repair "due to dust in the camera."
Other users such as Kiv8383, casshern, ri1030, kollybie, j.o.i.d, marcoyeo and dreamz13 also reported the same problem. In most cases, dead pixel(s) on the screen is ruled out as a possible cause since the problem only arises in camera mode.
Users in other countries also reported the same problem. Alanchoi, a member of Sony Xperia support forum, claimed in a post that the black dots could be software-related as the camera mode in Instagram made the black dots more apparent. We did a test on our device and got a similar result. However, a Sony service report suggests otherwise.
Another Sony Xperia forum user, emale5071, posted an image of the service report done by Sony on an Xperia Z which had the same problem. Apparently, it seems that the issue is hardware-related as the camera components are all found to be defective.
XDA Developer forum user, Firipu seems to suggest that dust particles were indeed the culprits for the black dots appearing on photos. In his post, he mentioned that the phone was brought back to the shop where he purchased it and the staff opened the device to clean it.
We've reached out to Sony Mobile Singapore on this issue and will update this article when we have new information. For now, the cause of the problem remains unknown as it could be caused by any of the factors mentioned above.
It's also hard to verify if the users put their phones through conditions beyond its dust proofing capabilities. Do note that the IP55 rating does not mean that the phone is fully protected against dust intrusion. However, it does bring us to question if the issues reported to-date could be what other users may encounter somewhere in the near future. Drop us a note if you have a similar story to share!