Over the years I’ve not really had much time for Sony, I’ve had a play with most of their devices and I’ve never really been that impressed. Yes the build quality and design on the Z, Z1 and the Z1 Compact is rather splendid, but something always ruined it for me, most notably the screen. So when the Sony Xperia Z2 arrived on my desk I opened it up rather apprehensively. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it’s prime time for my review. Starting of course with my good and bad points.
- Great overall flagship spec.
- Nice and quick through all elements of the UI.
- being waterproof and dustproof gives the Z2 an indestructible feel.
- Screen drastically improved over previous models.
- Micro SD slot is always welcome on a 16GB device.
- Battery life is great.
- Front facing speakers sound great.
- The flaps never stop being annoying especially when charging the Z2.
- Overall size of the device is large compared to competition.
- The Xperia Launcher and bundled apps are a little bit confusing at first.
- No Qi Wireless charging is a pain.
The Sony Xperia Z range are great looking devices, a mix of glass and aluminium that just works. Some people moan about the angular edges, personally I like how solid the Xperia Z2 feels and knowing it’s also waterproof is like having insurance.
The edges are sort of flat and also curved, the right hand edge has the great feeling power button, the volume rocker and amazingly for an Android phone, the camera button. The camera button when pressed and held also wakes the phone and loads the camera. The right hand side has a flap housing the Micro SD card slot.
The left hand edge only has a flap, which in this case is where the Micro USB port and Micro SIM slot live. Also there are two pins for the magnetic charging dock which is Sony’s wireless charging solution.
The top edge has the headphone socket and a secondary microphone. The bottom edge has 3 holes which are the main microphone and a lanyard connection loop.
The front of the device is pretty devoid of any features, apart from the dual front speakers, some Sony branding and some large bezels above and below the screen. The front facing speakers are interesting in that they are thin almost seamless slots in the frame.
The back of the Z2 is a huge expanse of glass, nothing else bar the camera and the flash. Oh and another logo and a NFC logo too, which marks where the NFC detection coil is.
Overall I like the design, although it’s a huge phone for the size of the screen. It has the same size screen as the LG G2 yet the bezels above and below the screen are huge. Maybe keeping the phone thin and waterproof has meant they can’t fit all the components into a smaller chassis, oh wait they made a compact version last year. Who knows why it’s so big then.
Above from left to right you have a Nexus 5, an LG G2, the Sony Xperia Z2 and then lastly the Oppo Find 7a. The actual screen size of the Xperia (5.2″) is actually the same as the LG G2 yet the G2 is noticeably smaller. The Z2 actually feels closest to the 5.5″ Oppo Find 7a.
Click on the images below and they’ll open up larger.
Spec wise the Xperia Z2 has everything you’d want on a spec list. The almost clichéd SnapDragon Processor, more RAM than your first ever laptop, a camera that in theory trumps all other smartphone cameras (albeit apart from the Lumia 1020). The sound quality achieved by the Z2 is pretty good as well, using headphones gives you a really good experience with a decent bass response and using the front facing stereo speakers gives you a loud and clear noise with lack of decent bass. It is nice though to have decent front facing speakers.
Well done to Sony for making the regular iterative update to the Xperia Z range actually seem exciting this year. I for one am hooked.
- Processor: 2.3 GHz Qualcomm MSM8974AB Quad-core SnapDragon 801 SOC.
- Display: 5.2” Full HD TRILUMINOS™ Display, X-Reality for mobile picture engine, 16M colours Full HD 1920×1080 pixels.
- Internal Memory: 16GB.
- RAM: 3 GB.
- Expansion slot: microSD™ card, up to 128 GB (SDXC supported).
- Rear Camera: 20.7 MP Exmor RS 4K Video Capture, Burst mode, HDR for both picture/film, 8x digital zoom.
- Front Camera: 2.2 MP 1080p.
- Google Android 4.4 (Kitkat).
- Connectivity: 3.5 mm audio jack, aGPS, ANT+ wireless technology, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology, DLNA Certified, MHL support, Native USB tethering, NFC, Miracast.
- Durability: Waterproof (IP55 and IP58), Dust-resistant (IP55).
- Networks: UMTS HSPA+ 850 (Band V), 900 (Band VIII), 1700 (Band IV), 1900 (Band II), 2100 (Band I) MHz, GSM GPRS/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz, LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 20).
- FM Radio with RDS.
- 3D surround sound.
- Bluetooth stereo (aptX®, A2DP).
- Battery: 3200 mAh Non Removable.
- Weight: 163 grams.
- Dimensions: 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm.
Downsides to the spec are the 16GB internal memory, lack of QI Wireless Charging and the overall size. I’m really clutching at straws here the Xperia Z2 is a cracking phone and finding fault is difficult. The downsides are only really things I’d personally like, not actual real life negatives.
Every big phone manufacturer has a skin Android, be it Sense, Touchwiz, Optimus UI (or whatever LG call it) and the Sony Skin is no different. You get a special launcher, skinned core apps, a skinned settings menu and a load of Sony apps. At first it’s all a bit much, after clearing all the screens and starting again it made a bit more sense.
Sony have their own app store, own music and film Store and their own game store. Alongside the Google Play offering which would be very confusing for a new Sony user. Again I just ignored those and used the Google offering.
The Sony Gallery, Walkman and File Manager apps are all really quite nice looking and pretty functional. Meaning you won’t have to go hunting for third party alternatives. For a while anyway.
You soon get used to the Sony stuff, a new keyboard, a new launcher and a load of third party apps and you’ve got yourself a phone you can call your own. Over the years Sony have been quite receptive to the whole unlocking, rooting, custom ROM scene and no doubt the Xperia Z2 will take you along that path if you want.
Sony have a few little quick floating apps that are accessed through the recents list. You can use a timer, calculator, web browser and a screenshot utility. Only really the calculator would be useful in real life.
Other Notable Stuff
The camera is pretty good, in default settings the 20MP lense takes a 16:9 8MP shot, which in the manual settings you can take a 4:3 20MP shot instead. Doing things this way in the default settings allows the camera to use a certain amount of oversampling, meaning shots are crisper. In reality it means you just get a really nice 8MP photo, in decent light the Z2 takes some really nice photos, the Superior Auto mode really does a good job of deciding which settings to change. I preferred the camera on the Xperia Z2 to the Galaxy S5. In low light it predictably struggles a little adding an element of noise to all shots.
The dizzying array of options with the camera is slightly annoying, you hit the mode button in the corner of the camera interface and your given 12 different modes, including such delights as Vine mode and Social Live mode. Some of the modes are quite useful though such as panorama and Background Defocus, I stick to Superior Auto most of the time, allowing the software to decide what to change, meaning I can quickly snap a photo.
The 3000 mAh battery in the Xperia Z2 is really quite good. It lasted me through a quite heavy working day on many an occasion. Used sparingly you could easily stretch it out much longer. Sony also have the expected power saving mode to help when power is running short.
Benchmark wise the Xperia Z2 performs as you’d expect, which isn’t saying much as it shares the same chip in most cases.
Antutu X – 32384 (Samsung Galaxy S5 27113) (LG G2 – 28587) (Oppo Find 7a – 35958)
Quadrant – 17470 (Samsung Galaxy S5 23264) (LG G2 – 19250) (Oppo Find 7a – 21907)
3DMark – 18685 (Samsung Galaxy S5 18720) (LG G2 – 17730) (Oppo Find 7a – 20275)
Overall I really liked the Sony Xperia Z2, having been disappointed with previous models I was really pleasantly surprised with the Z2. Yes the launcher might be a bit iffy and yes the overall size of the device compared to the screen size is huge, but I really liked it. The overall speed of the device, a great camera, an amazing build quality and a feeling of invulnerability around water really makes the Xperia Z2 feel like a special phone. In my opinion it’s possibly the nicest Android phone around at the moment.
As to what I’d improve upon, I’d have to say the size more than anything, which leads me to think that the Xperia Z2 Compact if it ever happens will be an amazing phone.
A big thanks to Vodafone for lending us the Xperia Z2, you can buy one on contract from them here.