The Xperia Z2 is the latest premium smartphone from Sony. Designed to compete directly with the One M8 from HTC and the competitively priced Google Nexus 5, it pushes the screen size stakes up to 5.2 inches whilst maintaining the water resistance feature of its predecessor. In an earlier article we took a look at the handsets design and construction. Here we review the technology contained within its sleek metal and glass casing.
High-end processing power
As expected from a flagship Android smartphone, the Sony absolutely flies during use thanks to its fast 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and capacious 3GB of RAM. Helping general speed, Sony also refrains from over loading its device with bespoke software, leaving the mostly original Google Android software to run the device.
We benchmarked the Xperia (using AnTuTu) at 32,504, which is slightly slower than the HTC One M8, although the difference is so small we wouldn’t worry about it as in real world use we don’t think anyone would ever notice. This level of speed puts the handset in the upper echelons of high-performing 2014 smartphones.
Battery with stamina
Battery life can get worryingly short when using large screened handsets and this topic is an ever growing concern amongst consumers looking for the latest smartphone deals. The Xperia’s battery doesn’t free it of such concerns but it performs sufficiently well for it to not be a problem. We could easily get a full day of moderate to high use which is very similar to its three rivals the S5, HTC One and Google Nexus 5.
To compensate for the larger 5.2in screen a bigger 3200mAh battery (compared to the preceding Z1’s 3000mAh battery) is fitted as well as Sony’s well regarded Stamina technology which increases battery life by powering down the data connection when the screen is turned off.
Whilst a match for its three smartphone rivals, it is still beaten by the modern day smartphone battery champ, the LG G2 which, thanks to more capacity (but a larger casing) will easily outlast all of these handsets. A LG G3 is due soon so we will have to see if this improves the already impressive statistics of the G2.
With a 20.7MP Exmor RS sensor with an f/2.0 aperture this is one of the most impressive lenses yet seen in any mobile electronics device. Pictures are detailed, punchy and well exposed and thanks to the high resolution can be easily cropped whilst still maintaining an acceptable resolution. Autofocus is fast and thanks to the three elements of speedy processor, plenty of RAM and a wide aperture, taking pictures is a quick and pleasurable task.
You also get loads of features thrown into the deal including background defocus, manual controls (for EV, ISO, white balance and focus modes) plus an excellent auto mode allowing quick an easy macro or night shots – something that is often not a feature of smartphone.
Potential buyers looking for a deal on the Z2 should note that the camera lens is right in the top corner of the device and could therefore give an issue with the blurry photos caused by a stray figure over the lens.
Video can be shot in both 1080p and 4K resolutions and thanks to Sony’s SteadyShot stabilisation technology footage always appears smooth and wobble free. One issue that has emerged on early release handsets is that of overheating when shooting 4K footage. After a couple of minutes the handset often gets too hot, flashes a warning and then stops shooting. This happened to our test handset with 4K shooting lasting around four minutes before the issue occurred. Hopefully a future firmware update will fix this, although it should be noted that the Galaxy S5 handles 4K video without any such problem.
Overall there is no doubt that the Z2 has one of the best smartphone cameras we’ve yet seen – although the 2K issue could be a deal breaker for some.
Delivered with Android 4.4 (KitKat), the Z2 also sports Sony’s customised Android interface which, thanks to its minimal intrusion into the workings of Android, is one of the best overlay operating systems you can get and probably equally as good as HTC’s Sense 6.0.
The standard Android menus, contacts, email and messages remain largely unchanged whilst Sony specific features such as the Walkman and movie apps are well integrated into the user friendly main system. It can also run small windowed apps on top of an already running app thus putting that impressive CPU and 5.2in screen to good multitasking use.
Sony has also integrated the latest gesture-based user improvements into the Xperia Z2. This means raising the phone to your ear can answer a call whilst a simple tap of the screen will wake up the device.
What do we think?
Thanks to is mix of quality construction (as dealt with in our earlier Z2 review ), impressive hardware and slick user interface the Xperia is easily in the top three Android smartphones of the moment along with the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5. Choosing any of these well net you a superb handset, although before finding a deal we do suggest seeing one in person just to make sure you can get on with the ergonomics of such a large smartphone.
If it is simply too large to handle comfortably then one of the mini versions of flagship handsets maybe for you. Whilst there in no Z2 Compact around at the moment, we’re sure the existence of the Xperia Z1 Compact suggests that such a model will appear in the near future.