The Sony Xperia Z1 was one of my favorite phones from last year. It is solidly built with a waterproof design, has the best camera on an Android phone, runs super speedy and comes with a great battery life. And thus I was really looking forward to the Xperia Z2 which was announced almost a couple of months back but has only just gotten on store shelves after the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Priced at AED 2699, lets find out if the Xperia Z2 can impress as much as its predecessor.
Design and Construction
The Xperia Z2 looks almost identical to the Z1. Sony continues to use the same design model as some of its previous handsets with two glass surfaces wrapped in a metallic frame. But there are subtle refinements that actually go a long way in terms of daily usability. For example, the Xperia Z2 is about a millimeter narrower and thinner at 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm which makes it fit better in your hand than the Z1. It’s also a bit lighter at 163 grams vs 170 grams on the Z1 and a hairline thinner at 8.2mm vs 8.5mm. All of these changes make the Z2 more comfortable in your hand. Luckily, these subtle changes work well with older accessories so if you have a dock for the Z1, the Z2 fits well in it.
Sony has also reduced the top and bottom bezel sizes on the Z2 which makes the phone feel a lot more modern, however, there is still room for improvement. Sony could have used the bottom bezel for capacitive buttons on the Z2 which would’ve given you a bit more real estate on the screen but I’m just nitpicking here. Sony continues to provide a waterproof design that works well as you’ll see in the camera section later on. Speaking of the camera, Sony has tweaked the button for launching the camera and made it slightly bigger and easier to press.
Hardware and Specs
Sony’s made it loud and clear that they have no issues with refreshing flagship models on a six month basis. This doesn’t mean that your older handset suddenly becomes obsolete but with the rapid pace of development with mobile processors, Sony wants to stay at the forefront of technology and has equipped the Z2 with similar specs as the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Like these two handsets, the Sony Xperia Z2 is powered by the SnapDragon 801 chipset which features a quad core processor running at 2.3Ghz, however it’s the only one that features 3GB RAM which will help you run multiple applications better. Storage is set to 16GB but you have a MicroSD slot that is capable of accepting unto 128GB cards. You get all the latest radios such as LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
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Display and Sound
One of the biggest complaints I had with the Xperia Z1 was the quality of the screen. Although it was an improvement over the Xperia Z, competing handsets were clearly superior. Sony has finally managed to put those complains to rest with the Xperia Z2. The IPS display has great viewing angles and very readable in direct sunlight with X-Reality engine kicking in when you’re watching videos. The size of the display has also been increased to 5.2” although the resolution stays the same at full-HD which is 1080×1920 pixels. Compared to the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Xperia Z2 has the largest screen.
Coming to the sound, here is something that’s brand new with the Xperia Z2. Like the HTC One, Sony has built speakers on the top and bottom of the phone giving a great stereo effect. However, what is really cool is that you can’t muffle the sound by wrapping your hands around speaker points. Although this is a small touch, it stops ruining your experience when playing a game or watching a video on the phone by only allowing you to hold it in a certain way. The sound itself is loud and decent- about what you expect from a good smartphone but don’t expect it to replace your portable audio speaker if you carry one.
The 20MP camera found on the Xperia Z1 continues to be the best camera on an Android smartphone to this day and it was wise of Sony to use the same optics although Sony has made some enhancements with signal processing and noise reduction. The new higher speed Snapdragon 801 chipset and the additional RAM has also allowed Sony to add benefits such as 4K video recording and Timeshift video. Here is a short sample video recorded using the Xperia Z2 at 4k resolution.
I did face an issue with the Xperia Z2’s camera when recording 4k videos. Frequently, the phone would get really hot to the point where the camera would just stop working. Just a day before this review went live, Sony issued a firmware update which helped a bit with the camera issues but I do hope that Sony continues to optimise their software and make this issue go away. Until then, Sony recommended me to take shorter 4k videos at a time.
Taking still pictures with the Xperia Z2 continues to produce the best shots I’ve seen on any Android device. Although the camera is reasonably fast to focus, taking a little bit of extra time with it can produce stunning pictures. Like the previous model, the Xperia Z2 camera works well underwater shots. Sony has also added some more AR effects which was one of the coolest aspects of the Xperia Z1 making the device more fun to use. Check out the pictures above for Spiderman, Horror and Comic AR Effect (Thanks Muffi). It is also now possible to record videos using AR Effects.
Wrapping things up, Sony has utilized the size gains on the Xperia Z2 well by increasing the battery capacity over the Xperia Z1. I never really have anything to complain with the 3000mAh battery found on the Z1 but you can never have enough and the 3200mAh battery on the Z2 will make the unit last a bit longer. Even after a full day of outing using the camera and recording 4k videos, the Xperia Z2 lasted us almost close to midnight. And that was the only day when I managed to deplete the battery.
On average days, expect to go to bed with over 30% charge remaining. And all of this is without enabling Stamina mode. Add that to that mix and you’re looking at a good three days or more on a single charge.
The best way to define the Xperia Z2 is that it smoothens the rough edges on the Xperia Z1. It’s by no means a revolutionary product but with 6-month product cycles, Sony never intended it to be one. But what a good job has Sony done fine-tuning a product that started its journey with the original Xperia Z. The Sony Xperia Z2 has everything that defines a flagship product and then some. Simply put, I find it as the best Android smartphone that is currently available.
+ Amazing Camera
+ Excellent Battery Life
+ Great Display
- A bit on the big and heavy side
- Can get rather hot
- Can only record 4k in short bursts