REVIEW: Sony Xperia XZ2
With pretty much all of the major players having launched their flagship phones onto the Irish market, Sony’s own smartphone department has quite a bit of work to do to stand out from the crowd. Their latest handset, the Sony Xperia XZ2, is available in Ireland now and packs all the latest flagship specs you’d expect.
With its refined design that reminds us of HTC’s U range, the new XZ2 is much curvier, shinier and, unfortunately, given its new curved glass back, a lot more prone to breaking if you were to drop it. We’re definitely fans of the new design aesthetic and are glad to see Sony continuously evolve their design language. We’re also glad to see Sony going with the 18.9 screen ratio trend we’ve seen happening on many other flagship devices even if the devices bezels are still quite noticeable.
Under the hood, Sony has the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB RAM which were more than capable of handling everything we threw at them.
Having less pronounced edges, the XZ2 is covered in glass with a metal frame to keep it all together. The phone’s back is curved and features a glossy finish. This does mean that it’s a fingerprint and dust magnet so users should be warned. Be prepared to wipe the phone down every now and then to keep it looking shiny and pristine.
Sony has also repositioned the fingerprint scanner to the back of the device as opposed to being built into the power button on the side of the device like previous models. We’re happy to see this change but wish they hadn’t placed it so low on the back. We found ourselves tapping the camera lens, which is higher up on the back of the device, during our first few days of testing but we quickly learned to adjust our grip to ensure we’d be lining our index finger up with the fingerprint scanner instead.
The phone is also IP65/IP68 certified which means that it’s dust/water-proof (up to 1.5m for 30 mins) but still manages to pack impressively loud stereo speakers on the front of the device which is a nice departure from the quasi-stereo effect many other smartphone manufacturers have opted for in their designs.
Also, like many other smartphone manufacturers nowadays, Sony has decided to remove the headphone jack so it’s something to keep in mind if you’re still using non-wireless headphones.
They’ve also included a new form or ‘haptic feedback’ in the form of a ‘Dynamic Vibration System’ which can be compared to the vibration system used in Sony Playstation’s Dualshock 4 controller. This new vibration system is meant to add another level of immersion when watching video content, listening to music or playing games but, after testing it out for a few days, we decided to turn it off as it was more of a distraction than anything and we think our battery was better with it off also.
Packing a 5.7″ 1080 x 2160 Full HD+ IPS LCD display capable of displaying HDR content, the Xperia XZ2 really is a great device for consuming media on. During our testing, we did notice some slight ghosting on app icons when sliding between panels but nothing that would impede on the overall user experience. We do look forward to the day Sony starts to use OLED displays like the ones found in the Samsung Galaxy S9+ and iPhone X as their colour accuracy and black levels are extremely impressive in comparison to other LCD smartphone displays.
The XZ2’s 19MP camera has been slightly improved upon over the XZ1 and still features predictive phase detection and laser autofocus. The device is also capable of recording 4K HDR and 1080p super-slow motion (960FPS) videos which no other current smartphone is capable of doing. The super-slow motion is easily activated and records in 2 second bursts when capturing in 720p resolution but drops to just 1 second bursts when capturing in full 1080p.
Another world-first for this device is its ability to record in 4K HDR which should allow for much more balanced and true-to-life video captures. On our experience testing out this feature, we found the video footage to be slightly washed out but definitely offered better colour reproduction compared to SDR captured video.
Below is a video captured in 4K HDR uploaded to YouTube (which supports HDR) but you’ll need a HDR compatible display to watch it correctly, otherwise, YouTube will automatically tonemap the video down to SDR for non-HDR displays.
We found the low light capabilities to be very impressive on this device and definitely highlights Sony’s camera credentials. Noise was kept low and detail was still clear in many of the low light images we captured.
Around the front is a more than capable 5MP selfie camera with gyro EIS to keep your shoots sharp.
Below are some sample photos we took with the device.
The Xperia XZ2 also packs improved ‘3D Creator’ capabilities which allow you to use the phone’s cameras to capture 3D scans of your face, your friend’s head or pretty much anything else you’d like. These scans can then either be sent to a remote server to help improve their quality, added to your Facebook profile (which now supports these types of 3D posts) or sent to a third party printing service who can print off your scan and post it back to you. Below is an example scan using the ‘Food Scan’ mode in the app which did a great job of 3D scanning this delicious donut.
One area we think 3D scanning capabilities such as this would benefit are restaurant owners looking for a unique way to advertise their latest dishes on their Facebook pages with interactive 3D scans that allow users to spin the new dishes around and view them from all angles.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 contains a 3180mAh Li-Ion battery that will generally give you around a full day’s worth of usage. At 100% charge at 9am in the morning, and after a full day’s worth of normal usage, the phone would enter into stamina mode at 15% battery around 9pm. Of course this will vary depending on each use case and on the screen brightness employed (We used adaptive brightness). If you plan on really abusing the battery with a lot of 4K HDR video recording or HDR movie playback, be prepared to charge the phone much sooner though as this does significantly eat into the battery.
The Xperia XZ2’s new design aesthetic, flagship-worthy processor and impressive camera tricks makes it a great option if you’re planning on upgrading your smartphone this year. Competition from Huawei and Samsung is unavoidable but Sony holds its own and offers some fantastic features wrapped in a premium feeling handset.