Xperia Z2 Review.
It’s been three years since Sony parted ways with their former partners Ericsson, they made a wealth of popular handsets, from the Walkman series to the Cyber-shot series. Many wondered just how well Sony could hold up on their own, would they be able to make iconic devices, like they have countless times in the past. The Xperia Z2 is testimony to Sony still being able to design and build great technology.
The Xperia Z2 comes packing a bigger, better screen a more powerful engine and a more compacted and sturdy feeling design. The Z2 goes head to head with some incredibly tough competition this year from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and the LG G3.
The Z2 packs a big, bright 5.2 inch display into a chassis not much larger than that of the Z1’s of last year. The Z2’s screen has more vivid colours and better viewing angles when compared to its predecessor and that’s partly down to Sony’s Live Colour LED technology which, renders beautiful, life-like colours and heaps plenty of detail in photos and videos.
Watching a 1080p video on the Z2 is really eye catching, whether it’s one you’ve shot yourself or a HD film you’ve downloaded, you will be blown away by the detail. Watching back 4K video that you’ve recorded, you may struggle to believe that the Z2’s display is only 1080p.
If you’re not that big on videos then Sony still have you covered, text really jumps off the screen, making webpages and ebooks a joy to read.
Trying to use the Xperia Z2’s display in direct sunlight can be a different experience all together to the one I’ve just described, the glass front is incredibly good at reflecting light and getting a glare, also fingerprints become pretty obvious once exposed to outside light and you may find yourself giving the X2 a wipe once in a while to try and remove them.
The Sony Xperia Z2 is blisteringly fast, even when compared to the current cream of the Android crop, switching between apps was a pleasant and smooth affair, graphic intense games ran without a glitch and video looked excellent.
The Z2’s fantastic performance is mostly down to its top notch specs, it comes packing a Snapdragon 801 processor and an incredibly healthy serving of 3GB of RAM, which also puts it ahead of some of its rivals, like the M8. Sony’s Xperia skin is also very uncluttered which I presume also adds to the Z2’s rapid speed. Throughout my time using the Z2 I rarely encountered any lag, dropped frames or any other instances of the device struggling.
As well as putting the phone through its paces, with games, apps, downloading and multi-tasking I also ran some benchmarking tests, to see if they backed up my analysis. First up, I ran AnTuTu’s benchmarking app which gave me a score of 33,305 which although a high score, didn’t quite beat that of the HTC One M8, but still put its up there with some of the other big performers of 2014.
Next up I used Quadrant, a lesser known benchmarking app, which gave me a score of 17886 placing the Z2 at the very top of the list of devices, although that list didn’t include any other 2014 heavy-weights like AnTuTu did.
Although the performance rarely waned, the Xperia Z2 did become incredibly hot from time to time, either when the phone was on charge and in use or on the occasions when I shot 4k video, there have also been reports from other users that the device will either stop filming once it gets too hot or the screen will actually become cracked.
Something that has been at the Top of Smartphone users wish-lists ever since they became common-place is improved battery life, every year manufacturers improve upon their performance, displays and cameras but one feature that always seems to be below par is how much juice you can get out of your device. I’d love to be able to tell you that Sony’s solved all that with the Xperia Z2, but they haven’t, this may not be the Holy Grail of smartphone batteries, but it’s definitely a huge improvement and will last you a full day of heavy use.
The main reason behind the Z2 going that extra mile, is the simple fact it has a bigger battery than last year’s Z1 and the majority of the competition, the Xperia Z2 has a 5.2 inch screen so naturally needs a big battery to keep everything ticking over, this year Sony have opted to put a 3,200 mAh battery in their flagship versus a 3,000 mAh one in last year’s XperiaZ1. Combine the bigger battery with Sony’s new Stamina mode and you’re definitely cooking on gas, the stamina mode will reduce screen brightness when in use and cut data connections when the screen is turned off all in the name of conserving battery.
If you’re using the Xperia Z2 outside a lot of the time and have the brightness cranked right up then you are going to notice the battery level vanishing before your eyes, but definitely no worse than what you’re already used to or any other flagship currently available. With moderate to heavy use you will be able to squeeze 24 hours out of the Z2.
Sony really have thrown the kitchen sink at the Xperia Z2 trying to make it the best all-round smartphone and the camera is one of those areas where that’s most apparent. The Z2’s camera is capable of taking some incredible shots and puts it in the running for the best smartphone camera of 2014. Round the back you’ll find a 20.7 megapixel snapper with a G lens and single LED flash.
The Z2 instantly focuses on a subject, thanks to its massive processing power, once you’re focused in there’s tons of details, a slight hint of overexposure meaning your pictures come out with a lot of colour, but that’s definitely not a bad thing.
As well as a high megapixel count and high quality lens there’s also a plethora of features built into the camera app like; An AR effect which allows you to add virtual scenes and characters, background defocus, a vine feature, social live which enables you to stream video live to your Facebook friends and the ability to shoot video in stunning Ultra-high definition (4K).
The shots are very good and sometimes you won’t believe they were taken on a smartphone. It does have some setbacks though, taking pictures in direct sunlight isn’t always advisable as they can come out looking washed out and very exposed. The Xperia Z2 also doesn’t perform very well at night or in low-light settings especially when compared to its main competitor the HTC One M8.
Possibly the best part of the Xperia Z2’s camera is its ability to shoot in 4k (3840 x 2160) the screen itself is only 1080p so, you won’t be able to see the 4K videos you shoot in all their glory on the phone but they still look fantastic on the Z2’s 5.2 inch display.
Sony’s SteadyShot stabilization goes a long way to making sure your videos come out looking steady especially when you’re moving around while filming. One big drawback of the Z2’s camera is that it can cause the device to become incredibly hot when shooting, with some users even complaining that it stopped the phone from recording all together.
The Xperia Z2’s camera is undoubtedly one of the best on offer this year, if not the best, all though it can be a tricky to work your way through all the different modes and features, but once you get accustom to it, you’re able to product shots which people may struggle to believe came from a phone camera.
Sony’s Xperia Z2 comes out the box running Android 4.4.2 KitKat, although during my time with the phone it did receive an update to 4.4.3 KitKat. Sony of course has it’s own skin running on top of Android, like all major manufacturers of Android smartphones.
Sony’s skin is pretty unobtrusive though, I actually quite enjoyed using it, I’d still take stock Android any day of the week, but as far as skin’s go Sony’s done a lot to minimize clutter and duplicate apps. All of the Sony branded apps are easy to use and come in handy for purchasing movies/music and for playing media too.
Sony has also added some pretty useful gesture to the Z2, like LG’s G2 you can wake the device by simply double tapping on the screen, also raising the phone to your ear when you’re receiving a call will answer it.
As far as 2014’s current flagships go, the Z2 goes along way to being the best all rounder, it’ll make video and pictures look fantastic, it’ll take incredible photos and it’s also blisteringly fast, it may not have the looks of the M8, or the fitness tracking of the S5, but it oozes quality with everything it does and might just be the best smartphone to get this year,for some one who’s looking for a bit of everything from their device.
With it being updated to 4.4.3 merely a day after Nexus devices received the update too, it shows that this phone is the one to get for lovers of Android.