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Sony has time and again proven that it can compete with the best when it comes to designing products. Their Xperia Z range in particular is constructed superbly and instantly comes across as a premium product. With the launch of the new Z2 product range, Sony continues to show their craftsmanship and today we review the Xperia Z2 Tablet.

Design & Construction Quality

I received the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet a few days ago and was instantly taken aback at how light it is. At just 6.4 mm thick and weighing 426g, the Z2 tablet is easily the thinnest and lightest tablet I’ve tested in the 10-inch spectrum. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to use it one-handed as easily as 7 our 8 inch tablets though, as the large bezels around the Z2 tablet’s screen make it is a bit difficult to grasp. Compared to my iPad Air, the Z2 tablet is slightly taller and wider at 172 x 266 mm but thinner and lighter.

While the front is all glass, the back has a soft finish that makes the Z2 tablet easy to hold and grip. Both the sides are fingerprint magnets though so be prepared to see a lot of smudging. When holding the tablet in landscape mode, the power and volume buttons are on the left side while the Micro-SIM and Micro-SD cards slots as well as the USB charging port sit on top behind waterproofed covers.Yes, the Xperia Z2 tablet is waterproof and can operate underwater like the smartphones in the Z range. An IR blaster is also located on top while a front camera and a notification LED sit above the screen. Lastly, the bottom has the 3.5mm audio jack and pins for docking. While I was able to charge the Z2 tablet using my older Xperia Z1 dock, the tablet wasn’t snapping on to it and needed some support behind it to keep it in a charging position.

Screen and Sound

The 10.1-inch screen on the Z2 tablet has a resolution of 1920×1200 which is a bit lower than competing Android tablets such as the Google Nexus 10 and the Samsung Galaxy Note. Although viewing angles are quite good, the IPS screen looks best when viewed directly and you immediately notice a change in contrast when tilting it. Sony has also done a decent job with the anti-glare coating and makes the screen reasonably reflection free. The screen is also very readable even in the strong Dubai sun.

Sony has adopted their TRILUMINOS technology for the Z2 tablet along with Live Color LED for increased color depth and gradation. According to Sony, this new technology combines red and green phosphor with blue LEDs and customized color filters to produce a brighter and more uniform light. To enjoy video, Sony has also added two surround-sound speakers towards the lower side of the Z2 tablet preventing you from muffling the sound when holding the tablet.

Hardware and Connectivity

Considering the Z2 tablet is Sony’s top-of-the-line tablet, expect the latest/greatest when it comes to specifications. The Z2 tablet is the first device we have received that is based on the latest Snapdragon 801 processor with the Adreno 330 GPU. Clocked at 2.3GHz with quad cores and 3GB RAM, expect the Z2 Tablet to be extremely snappy. I received the tablet with a pre-release version of the software and noticed a bit of lag here and there but was able to confirm with Sony that the shipping firmware will have better performance. Considering how fast my Z1 phone works, I wouldn’t doubt Sony’s claims. I ran a few benchmarks focused on the GPU as supposedly the performance gains are quite significant and here are the numbers compared to the iPad Air as well as the Snapdragon 800 based Sony Xperia Z1.

Apple iPad Air Sony Z2 Tablet Sony Xperia Z1
3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited 15470 18858 16604
GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex (Onscreen) 21 27.3 24.1
GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex (Offscreen) 26 27.6 23
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Onscreen) 8.7 11.3 9.8
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Offscreen) 13 11.7 9.2

Even for a pre-release, you can see the increased performance gains from the numbers above. Continuing with connectivity, again Sony provides you with all the options you could ask for. You get LTE, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi along with NFC. The LTE is not just for data and you can easily make phone calls using the Z2 tablet. MHL 3.0 is also supported to connect your Z2 to a 4k display while Miracast will let you wirelessly throw your display.

Camera and battery life

The Xperia Z2 tablet features an 8.1 megapixel camera on the back powered by Sony’s Exmor RS technology that helps take decent shots even in lower-lit environments. That is a good thing as like many tablets, the Z2 does not come with a built-in flash. The camera is also capable of recording videos at the full 1080p. On the front, you have a 2.2 megapixel camera as well which is good enough for Hangouts or taking selfies. The following are some sample shots taken from the front and back camera of the Z2 Tablet:

While they’re not necessarily the best shots we’ve seen from a mobile device, they are pretty decent for a tablet.

The Z2 Tablet comes equipped with a 6000mAh battery that is a bit lower in capacity compared to the iPad Air’s 8800mAh battery or the Galaxy Note 10.1’s 8200mAh battery. This is probably one of the reasons why Sony managed to keep the weight and thickness of the device so low. Having said that, the Z2 Tablet has plenty of juice and should keep going for a good 3-4 days of moderate usage. Keep in mind that there will be tons of factors affecting the battery life – for example if you have LTE enabled or not or the brightness levels of the screen. Sony’s Stamina mode allows you to selectively block apps from utilizing data and should also help in getting more usage out of the Xperia Z2 Tablet.

Conclusion

Priced at AED 2499, the Xperia Z2 Tablet is one of the finest tablet’s that I’ve come across. It’s the only tablet at it’s size that makes the iPad Air look thick and heavy. Simply put, Sony has done a superb job with the construction quality of the Xperia Z2 tablet. They have also made sure to equip it with a beautiful screen and all the latest specs currently available such as the quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with the Adreno 330 GPU and 3GB of RAM.

My only complain is one not related to Sony – the lack of tablet optimized apps for Android. Official apps from Facebook and Twitter still look and work better on the iPad. Yes, there are alternatives and yes, the situation is getting better but I think it could progress faster. But coming back to the Z2 tablet, there is nothing like it and I highly recommended if you are looking for a 10-inch Android tablet.

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