Sony XPERIA XZ2 Review
The Sony XPERIA XZ2 marks a shift with a fresh new curved design from Sony. Launched in Barcelona during MWC 2018, this phone is now available in the U.S, and it has a few tricks up its sleeves. It has strong video-recording capabilities, including 960 FPS slow-motion in 1080p and it is the first phone in the world to record in 4K HDR. The front speakers have been included to provide a powerful sound during multimedia activities, and the new Dynamic Vibration system should give an extra dimension to the experience.
Sony Xperia XZ2 quick specs
- 5.7” IPS LCD Display (2160×1080)
- 19 Camera, f/2 aperture
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 platform 4 RAM, 64 GB of Storage MicroSD (400 GB max)
- 3180 mAh battery capacity
- Android 8.0
The Sony Xperia XZ2 was released on 2018-02-01 and was initially geared towards the High-end market. At publishing time, the Xperia XZ2 was priced at 710 USD. Even if this product was created to address the High-end market, keep in mind that many products will change positioning as their price evolves over time.
With cost as a primary criteria, we have found a selection of suitable competitors which we will use to assess how the Sony Xperia XZ2 fits in its immediate smartphone landscape: Samsung Galaxy S9 (most frequently cited competitor by prospect buyers ~715 USD), LG G7 ThinQ (~750 USD), Huawei P20 Pro (~840 USD), Google Pixel 2 XL (~820 USD)
Sony’s new industrial design part ways with the previous boxy design (See XPERIA XZ Premium) for a soft, curved-back one. I did like the previous design a lot. It looked clean and gave Sony phones a very distinctive style that was highly recognizable. A bezel-less version of that design could have been a hit as well, perhaps. The new design is objectively much more rigid and seems sturdier.
But it possible that Sony did market studies and realized that people prefer curvy phones more. What we do know is that dual-glass (front/back) phones tend to be more successful. As such the Sony XPERIA XZ2 is sandwiched between two layers of Gorilla Glass, a highly scratch-resistant (to scratches) tempered glass.
All the buttons are on the right side, with an extra camera button: XPERIA phones are often camera-oriented devices. In the back, the U.S version finally gets a fingerprint sensor (for legal reasons, Sony couldn’t use that tech in America).
The fingerprint reader is placed closer to the middle of the phone’s body, which could be disorientating for some users. However, I found it to be not THAT hard to adapt since you know where to aim: dead in the center. In any case, that’s still better than the odd placement of the Galaxy S8 fingerprint sensor.
“THE NEW DESIGN IS OBJECTIVELY MUCH MORE RIGID AND SEEMS STURDIER”
This smartphone feels very comfortable in hand because it has a width of 72mm for a thickness of approximately 0.44 inches. For reference, this is based on a medium size hand (US M gloves). You can try extrapolating based on this. The weight of 198 grams (6.98 oz) makes it a pretty heavy smartphone, which is 9% to 18% heavier than competitors mentioned above.
The weight comes from the hefty design of the phone. It is by far the biggest and heaviest phone of our line up. It is 29% heavier than the Galaxy S9 and 21% heavier than the Pixel 2 XL, which is not a small phone itself.
Despite its size, there is no 3.5mm audio connector – a controversial move. That is because Sony considers that the lack of it is an integral part of the design language for this year’s XPERIA XZ2.
Also, Sony cites a trend showing that wireless headphones are the future, potentially Hi-Res Audio headphones. We’ll leave you to decide if this that’s a problem for your specific use case, but at least there is a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box.
Glass is a smoother and shinier material that gives out a “premium aura” that metal phones sometimes don’t have. That is true for both a visual and tactile standpoint. Money aside, the price to pay for such design is the risk of damage that can occur if the device is dropped on a hard surface. Regardless, people still prefer these materials because they are so lovely. Handsets can merely be protected by a case.
This handset design packs excellent performance in relation to its size. From another viewpoint, the amount of battery capacity the user has available is good for a handset of this size. The screen display-to-body ratio of 76.1% is also quite good overall, but others have a ratio that is almost in the mid-80%.
Analyzing how the smartphone was built, we estimate that the risk of breaking during a drop on a hard surface to be probable. You can refer to our detailed article about how phones could be constructed to avoid breakage upon drops: : How the LG V20 Was Designed To Survive Drops. By the way, the curvy nature of the phone and its extremely smooth surface make it prone to slide slowly if there’s the smallest slope. Be careful if you put it near the edge of a coffee table.
This new XPERIA phone seems noticeably more rigid than the last generation, which bodes well for its general durability and resilience. The Xperia XZ2 smartphone has an IP68 IP rating, which means that it is protected to some degree from dust and/or water. Here’s what the IP68 rating means:
- Dust tight, no dust can penetrate.
- Up to 3-meter immersion waterproofing.
- In some cases, waterproofing means that “some” water can penetrate, but without harming the device
The Xperia XZ2 has not received a U.S Military MIL-STD 810G certification. You can check the link on the left to see all the details, but MIL-STD 810G is a series of test used to check that devices can survive some shocks and vibrations.
Dual front speaker
The XPERIA XZ2 has a powerful two-speaker system in the front, which is powerful enough to replace a basic small external BT speaker, and is great for conference calls, or just watching a movie on a desk. Powerful, it is, but we have even more powerful phones that are noticeably better at this: the LG G7 ThinQ, the S9, and the HTC U12.
XPERIA XZ2 Display Quality
The XPERIA XZ2 display and color settings are excellent. Out of the box, we set it at a brightness of ~500 NITs and compared it with the best: the Galaxy S9 display. The color balance and white levels were very agreeable.
Sony uses proprietary technology to tune the colors, and it shows. The image appears to be brighter on the Sony and that gives an impression of increased sharpness. This does not speak to the actual performance of the screen but is more of an artistic touch that adds value.
The XPERIA XZ2 LCD screen is slightly better than the HTC12 one by a hair, but both are excellent within their LCD category. For black levels, the OLED screen of the S9 easily wins, so would most OLED displays.
Display technical analysis
The Xperia XZ2 display uses an IPS LCD panel. IPS/PLS LCD technology made LCD displays reach the next level, first on mobile, then everywhere else. IPS/PLS can render more colors than normal LCD, with higher color saturation and wider view angles.
The display brightness of is 719 NITs is impressive. In general, higher brightness is useful to watch the screen content on a sunny day (or bright environment). Higher brightness is responsible for better image quality in very common situations.
The resolution of 1920×1080 would be considered to be high in absolute terms, but compared to the competition it would be below-average. In this price range, OEMs generally go for higher resolutions, and higher pixel density (424 PPI here, versus 563 PPI for the LG G7 ThinQ). The XPERIA XZ2 has gone from 16:9 to a wider 18:9 aspect ratio to follow the general trend, but competitors are still a bit ahead with smaller bezels and even dual front speakers sometimes.
Sony doesn’t communicate about how color-accurate its panel is, but we do know that it has been rated fit for HDR thanks to its 10-bit per pixel panel and a BT.2020 recommendation. It is compatible with Sony’s own Hybrid Gamma Log (HGL) HDR standard that we covered in the past while in Japan. It may not have the brightness screen or the darkest blacks, but the Sony XPERIA XZ2 delivers very good color reproduction and can take advantage of recent HDR content.
Within the range of IPS LCD displays there are still some differences, but in general IPS/PLS are much superior to basic LCD displays. However, LCD an IPS/PLS LCD displays as a whole are not as technologically edgy as OLED panels which have even better contrast ratio and color saturation.
While it is feasible to build excellent LCD displays that perform at a near-equal level to some OLED, these LCD screens should be seen as the exceptions, and they may not have any of the normal benefits associated with LCD (vs. OLED). You can read our complete LCD vs. OLED article to learn more. In the real world, the most visible difference with OLED is the black level, which is about how deep black color can be. OLED gets perfect black, LCD does not.
XPERIA XZ2 Camera
Sony has so far resisted jumping into the multi-camera setup in the rear. It is not a terrible thing, especially if you are not very attracted by effects such as Bokeh or zooming capabilities. If you do, oh well, many other phones do have Bokeh options. For regular photography, which is the overwhelming
majority of shots, most people won’t be able to tell. However, that pulls Sony’s handset back from the leading edge of phone photography.
Photo Quality and Experience
Overall, we found the Sony XPERIA XZ2 camera to be really good at handling and rendering colors, whether it is in bright light, low light, photo or video. Colors come out agreable, and remarkably vivid (but not too much) and the general color quality this is really Sony’s distinctive feature, probably thanks to its proprietary software.
For the outdoor test, we took a few phones, including the Galaxy S9, the Huawei P20 Pro, the OnePlus 6 and a few more, but unless there are special details, we mostly use the S9 as a reference because many people can relate to it. In a normal usage, The XPERIA XZ2 is an excellent challenger to the Galaxy S9 as both cameras can produce similar photo outcomes, but in the review we will push things to highlight differences.
“THE XPERIA XZ2 IS AN EXCELLENT CHALLENGER TO THE Galaxy S9”
Daylight pictures are generally excellent, and the general color balance and quality of the XPERIA XZ2 are nearly identical to the Galaxy S9. Note that most high-end phones tend to fare really well because these are the mildest test conditions where you expect things to go well.
You have to take a closer look at the image to start seeing small differences: The Sony camera ends up having a little more details, thanks to the higher megapixel count which can show in bright scenes. However, the S9 has better/stronger noise reduction and has what some people might think is a cleaner image.
For some reason, the S9 also has sharper details away from the FOCUS point (generally, I FOCUS at the center of the image). I’m not sure how that is, but you can see if you look for it.
Above: Sony’s natural photo style next to Samsung stronger image processing
In another shot, we can find similarities. Again, both images are very similar (minus slight exposure settings in favor of Sony), but upon closer inspection, the Sony photo is a bit noisier than the Samsung shot. In this photo, I can show you precisely how Samsung increases the sharpness around the electrical wires as the filter creates a “halo” of light blue which does not exist otherwise (look at the blue halo around the cables).
In a 2X Zoom shot, the Galaxy S9 has a visible advantage, because of its dedicated telephoto lens. There isn’t much that Sony can do, although the 19 Megapixel sensor helps with detail in broad daylight. When it comes to zoom, optical zoom always wins.
Above Sony XPERIA XZ2 photo, 2X zoom
In a high-contrast situation which requires HDR, both phones are close, with a slight advantage for the Galaxy S9 for exposure (garage doors, and green ) and details in the tree leaves. The Sony shot is cleaner around the upper-left corner where the S9 camera seems to struggle a bit with clarity, possibly due the having a hard-time stitching a multi-frame shot because the leaves moved.
In a challenging low-lighting environment, the XPERIA XZ2 performs very well, with excellent colors on par or slightly more vivid than the Galaxy S9. That said, the S9 comes out sharper and less noisy if you zoom in a little. It makes complete sense when looking at the camera settings for this shot above. Technically, the XZ2 had every reason to be slightly blurrier (more extended exposure) and more noise (Higher ISO)
- S9: f/1.5, 1/10 sec exposure and ISO-800
- XZ2: f/2.0, 1/08 sec exposure time and ISO-1600
In the cityscape shot, one of the hardest for any camera, we find a lot of the same things, except that Sony’s rendition of the city’s color is much more vivid and agreeable. While the S9 gets better details and HDR composition in the foreground (see the tree to the left), the overall photo is better on the XPERIA XZ2 which gets better sharpness, contrast, and colors on the cityline itself, which is the main subject.
Note that with a strict 500px Crop, the XPERIA XZ2 crop will appear more “zoomed-in” because it has a higher resolution. You effectively get a little more details.
Video quality: excellent 4K HDR recording
In 1080p/60, the video performance of the Sony XPERIA XZ2 is excellent as it seems to use rotational stabilization in addition to 2D image shifting. We used a dual-phone rig to record video simultaneously on the XPERIA XZ2 and an S9. In our test clips, we prefered the way the XZ2 stabilization looked as we were walking. I was surprised to notice that the S9 1080p60 video looked sensibly sharper, and I’m not sure why that would be. It could be a filter, but things didn’t seem unnatural.
It is in 4K HDR that the XPERIA XZ2 would shine. When casually recording, the difference isn’t immediately noticeable, until you get into some extreme contrast situation, such as having the sun (or some really bright light source) shining towards the camera. A non-HDR video will yield extreme black areas, because the camera adapts itself to the blinding intensity of the sun.
But in an HDR video, the camera can handle the sudden brightness and still keep some details. That feels and look much more natural. This time around, I walked below a tree and looked up to the sun, but situations like sunsets, or having vehicles light beaming at you could be scenes where HDR shines.
Note that the XZ2 always record 4K in HDR mode, and that limits it to 30FPS because of the intense computations involved. Other phones might reach 4K 60 FPS because they do not record in HDR.
Camera hardware analysis
In the Xperia XZ2, the rear camera aperture of f/2.0 is “okay,” but the the sensor size of 32.8 mm2 would be considered extremely large (for a smartphone). One can compensate for the other, but ultimately, it would be great if both would be excellent.
The 19 Megapixel count should not always be used as a default indicator of photo quality. On a sunny day or in very bright light situations, Megapixel could be a useful metric for photographic detail and sharpness. For example, on a sunny day, a landscape photo with a higher megapixel count could show finer details. Between 12 MP, 16 MP and 21 MP differences in small details can be quite noticeable, if printed or viewed on a large and/or high-PPI display.
However, in dark scenes situations, the high Megapixel count does not sway the outcome. Keep in mind that the physical size of each sensor pixel is important. With higher megapixel counts, sensing pixels (sensels) may have to be smaller. Each obtains less light information, and in dark scenes, it is sometimes better for the overall image quality to sense more light with fewer (but bigger) sensels than the opposite. It is a balance that needs to be found.
The Xperia XZ2‘s camera does NOT have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) on the primary camera module. The lack of OIS support will lower the chances to snap great photos, especially in dim situations OIS helps to improve image clarity and higher low-light performance by offsetting minute hand-shaking motion. OIS makes it practical to leave the shutter open longer to gather more light (more prolonged exposure). Optical and digital stabilization are utterly different, with digital stabilization suitable to improve video recording smoothness.
However, Sony has a decent Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) for video recording purposes. This will reduce the jerky motions when you walk and film at the same time. That said, Sony points out that its 5-axis image stabilisation is only supported on up to Full HD resolution 30 FPS (1920×1080/30p). Sony calls its EIS SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization)
“Sony INVENTED MOBILE 960 FPS SUPER SLOW MO AND STAYS AHEAD”
Perhaps the most impressive technical feat of the Sony XPERIA XZ2 is its 960FPS super slow-motion, captured in full 1080p. Sony invented mobile 960 FPS super slow mo and stays ahead. The other major phone to do this is the Samsung Galaxy S9, but it does it so at “only” 720p. That said, I still think that the S9’s visual trigger-mechanism based on subject motion is better, and I hope that Sony will add something like this at some point. Sony has all the necessary technology to do it.
The autofocus of the Xperia XZ2 camera is based on Dual Pixel Phase Detection technology. Dual-Pixel AF (DPAF) sensing is an awesome type of Phase Detection hardware. It has all the Phase-Detect advantages in terms of performance and efficiency but has better autofocus pixel coverage.
DPAF is made possible by splitting sensing pixel (sensels) into two small sub-pixels. By comparing what they “see” from a slightly different point of view, it is possible to know if the image at that pixel is focused (in-phase) or not (out of phase). You can read our detailed Dual-Pixel AF article if you want to know more. Dual-Pixel AF is currently the best and fastest way to perform autofocus on mobile. It was originally integrated on specific high-end DSLR cameras.
The Sony XPERIA XZ2 Camera performs quite well in broad daylight, but can quickly come under pressure in-low light because its optics and sensor aren’t that powerful. At night, this front camera will try to increase the ISO to compensate for the small amount of light coming in, but that will, in turn, create more noise.
In our opinion, the highlight of the selfie camera is its EIS video stabilization software which makes videos potentially smoother than competitors that do not have that option. The main difference with the Galaxy S9 is that the Sony camera uses the whole scene for metering, while the Galaxy S9 tends to prioritize the center of the screen (your face). Sony’s choice might be better if you want to show the surroundings behind you. The S9 method might be better if the face is the main subject.
You should also know about Sony’s cool 3D face capture option on the XPERIA XZ2. In minutes, you can capture a very realistic 3D version of your head and share it online. The result is quite stunning and probably the best we’ve seen on a phone yet. In fact, it looks even better than a similar one I did years ago on a colossal capture rig at 2K games.
Camera hardware analysis
The 5 Megapixel selfie camera is equipped with a tiny ~6.5 sqmm sensor. Add to this an aperture of f/2.2, and it is not surprising that it will get in trouble as the lighting conditions deteriorate. For daylight photos, it is certainly good enough, but could be challenged by similarly priced phones with higher megapixel (and sensor size) selfie camera modules.
XPERIA XZ2 Battery
The battery capacity of Xperia XZ2 is 3180 mAh, which is very good in general, including in the high-end phones category.
Battery life is one of the most essential features of a smartphone. A key factor is, of course, its battery capacity — especially within the same ecosystem (Android, iOS or other). Battery life can be affected by a bunch of factors, but the main ones are the central processor aka SoC, display and wireless radios (LTE broadband, Wi-Fi, the cell towers location and more). It is impossible to precisely estimate through synthetic tests how much energy drain YOUR unique lifestyle will generate. However, two things are without a doubt always good:
It is generally not possible to predict realistic battery life by running synthetic benchmarks. Things such as display brightness, (LTE/Wi-Fi) radio usage and distance to access points will vary too much. Also, how many apps installed and their activity is unpredictable. Battery capacity is the best battery-life indicator for YOUR usage.
This product does NOT have a removable battery, which is typical for smartphones nowadays. Closed batteries cannot be taken out or easily exchanged, but they do allow for smaller designs and slightly bigger battery size within the same product design. The Sony XPERIA XZ2 has an integrated wireless charging capability.
This handset has a relatively standard screen resolution. Although this may be a downside from a display quality perspective, having fewer pixels to compute is a good thing for battery life.
With the charger included in the box, the phone charges at a speed of 29 mAh/mn, which is noticeably slower than a typical 50mAh/mn (85%) for other phones in the same category. That’s because the default charger does not seem to be able to take advantage the fastest charge modes. With a standalone Quick Charge charger, the speed could go up to ~45mAh/mn, like other phones in the same price range.
To improve the battery life cycle (how many years before it no longer hold enough charge), Sony uses the Qnovo technology on this handset. By continually monitoring the chemical state of the battery, this technology is said to be able to charge it. without stressing the battery as much as classic methods. This technology can also work hand in hand with fast-charging techniques.
XPERIA XZ2 Speed
This handset main processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (8 Cores, 2.7 GHz) which has access to 4 GB of memory (RAM). This is most powerful processor available to Android phones, and you can follow the link to read all the details about it.
The amount of RAM is important for multi-tasking, or for having many apps/services on the phone. When the memory is tight, the phone may become sluggish if the OS has to read/write from the slower Flash storage instead. This has been one of the significant differences between low and high tiers of phones, but this line is blurry now.
Before you FOCUS on the charts, it is critical to realize that most tests are only loose indicators, usually for system or graphics performance. It is possible to see sharp performance gaps between different classes of handsets (entry-level, mid-range vs. high-end), but it is much more difficult to do so within handsets of the same class. Benchmarks alone should NOT lead to a smartphone purchase decision. To learn more, read our Are Benchmarks Important? article.
Gaming performance numbers (GFXBench) apply mainly to heavy applications using 3D graphics. Casual apps like puzzles and 2D games do not require this kind of power and can run pretty much on any modern handset.
As you can see, the Sony XPERIA XZ2 performs exactly as one would expect from a Snapdragon 845 smartphone. At times, it shines with extremely high bandwidth, or slightly more advanced synthetic CPU performance. However, more system-wide benchmarks show that it is at a comparable level with other handsets running on the same system.
Wireless Broadband Performance
Wireless networks (3G/4G) performance is often thought as peak download/upload speeds, but it is the average speed that counts. These days 4G/LTE is the primary network of interest, but 5G is coming. The higher the theoretical LTE performance and the better the average actual experience. Also, wireless carriers have better and more efficient wireless networks to optimize their own costs.
The Xperia XZ2 has a CAT18 modem. This level of performance is at the leading edge of what LTE communications can do today. Note that not all Snapdragon 845 handset implement the highest LTE Category, so this could be an advantage since newer LTE standards tend to fare better in areas where networks are spotty.
The 64GB of internal storage is sufficient for most users. If you need more memory, you can add a microSD card (400GB max. today) to store photos and films. If you plan to record movies, please make sure to get the fastest microSD type possible.
Sony is also one of the rare OEM to connect its phone over USB 3.1 Gen1 (5 Gbps), which is much faster than the USB 2.0 or even 3.0 used by many other handsets. This is particularly useful if you copy large files to and from your PC, like… 4K HDR movies.
The Sony XPERIA XZ2 is a good looking phone that is well-built. In fact, Sony has gone out of its comfort zone to create its best phone in recent years (there is a more massive XZ2 Premium as well). The XPERIA XZ2 captures the spirit XZ series because it is a multimedia powerhouse which pushes certain boundaries farther than any other phones.
It is the first phone to enable 4K HDR recording to capture great video in extreme contrast situations and offers a very good image and audio experience as well. It also makes it possible to capture in extreme 1080p 960FPS slow-motion. The Sony camera uses less post-processing and offers a more “natural” look to photography than many other high-end phones.
The competitive landscape is not easy to navigate for the XPERIA XZ2. It is true that there are other phones that are just as fast, but smaller or with a more advanced industrial design process. Maybe, others have more battery capacity or higher-resolution displays. The XZ2 may not be a “no-brainer” buy, but it is hard to find a high-end phone which is such a thing today. At least, it has a few clear differentiation that may just be what you are looking for.
Most of the potential downsides of the XPERIA XZ2 are related to personal preferences (size, weight, design) so we’ll leave it to weigh that aspect. Technologically, the phone is very powerful.
Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Good Phone, Bad Deal
The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact takes the regular Xperia XZ2 and shrinks it down into a smaller form factor with few compromises. This is the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review.
Sony XZ2 Compact
The main appeal of Sony’s Compact series of smartphones has always been flagship specifications in a small form factor but it doesn’t come without a price. At 599.99 the Xperia XZ2 Compact is expensive and unless you highly value its compact nature, it isn’t worth the purchase.
What we like
Fingerprint sensor support in the U.S.
Sony XZ2 Compact
The main appeal of Sony’s Compact series of smartphones has always been flagship specifications in a small form factor but it doesn’t come without a price. At 599.99 the Xperia XZ2 Compact is expensive and unless you highly value its compact nature, it isn’t worth the purchase.
Sony’s Xperia Compact series has always focused on bringing flagship specs in smaller, easier to use form factors. It takes Sony’s main flagship and shrinks it down without many compromises. The Xperia XZ2 Compact is the line’s latest offering. What does Sony keep intact from the standard Xperia XZ2? What’s different? Let’s find out in this Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review.
The plastic back doesn’t feel as elegant as the glass back of the standard Xperia XZ2 but this doesn’t mean that the XZ2 Compact’s build quality has been compromised.
Perhaps the biggest and most obvious difference from the standard Sony Xperia XZ2 to the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is the choice of build materials. The XZ2 Compact retains the same curvy rectangular shape and metal frame of the XZ2, but uses a plastic back instead of glass. It doesn’t feel as elegant as the glass back of the standard Sony Xperia XZ2, but that doesn’t mean that the Compact’s build quality has been compromised. It feels very sturdy and I like the back’s frosted look — it’s attractive and prevents fingerprints. That’s something you can’t say about the glass back of the XZ2.
In an era of thin and light smartphones the XZ2 Compact will stick out like a sore thumb but the extra thickness and heft makes the phone feel more substantial.
As expected, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is easy to use in one hand thanks to its small size. The rounded corners and curved back makes it comfortable to hold but it’s not the thinnest or lightest smartphone on the market. At 12.1mm thick, it’s quite chunky and the phone has a significant weight despite its size. In an era of thin and light smartphones the XZ2 Compact will stick out like a sore thumb, though the extra thickness and heft makes the phone feel more substantial.
Historically, Compact line displays are always lower resolution than their bigger siblings. This is the first year where that isn’t the case. The only difference now is the screen size, which makes sense given the phone’s smaller nature. The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact uses the same IPS LCD and 1080p resolution as the regular XZ2 but measures five inches in size. The 1080p resolution provides plenty of sharpness, as text and graphics are crisp and comfortable to read. It’s not the most impressive display but colors are pleasant, viewing angles are excellent, and it’s bright enough to comfortably use in direct sunlight. For media consumption purposes it’s more than adequate and even supports HDR. It won’t be as enjoyable in comparison to larger, higher resolution displays.
Sony made no sacrifices with the phone’s specs. The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact features the same Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB of RAM as the XZ2 for fast and responsive performance. The XZ2 Compact is quick to launch apps, multitask, and play graphically demanding games at a smooth frame rate. It will handle whatever you throw at it without skipping a beat.
The 2,870 mAh battery is smaller than many other competing smartphones but the XZ2 Compact has proven to be an all day warrior.
Battery life is also quite excellent, which I wasn’t expecting considering its capacity. The 2,870mAh battery is smaller than many other competing smartphones but the XZ2 Compact proves to be an all day warrior. I consistently get five hours of screen-on time and the XZ2 Compact would comfortably get me into the late hours of the day with around 15 to 20 percent left over. I was very impressed that I never had to recharge the phone midway through the day despite how many hours I spent watching YouTube or playing games.
Most of the hardware features from the Xperia XZ2 make their way over to the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact. This includes the IP68 certification against water and dust, microSD card expansion, dual front facing speakers, and fingerprint sensor on the back. Unfortunately, the XZ2 Compact also does away with the headphone jack as the XZ2 did.
The best news about Sony devices this year is the fingerprint sensor actually works in the U.S., which wasn’t the case with previous models. The fingerprint sensor of the XZ2 Compact is fast and accurate to unlock, but the placement could use some improvement. I like that it’s far enough away from the camera to prevent any confusion, but it sits a little too far down. I have to bend my index finger in order to properly reach it and it doesn’t feel comfortable.
The front facing speakers deliver crisp and clear audio and it’s much louder than previous iterations, though notably it’s missing the dynamic vibration motor from the standard XZ2. The feature was meant to create a more immersive audio experience with vibrations that could be felt throughout a movie, music, or when playing games. It was a neat idea, but somewhat gimmicky. I doubt many will see its absence as a deal breaker.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact also packs the exact same cameras as the standard Xperia XZ2. The front facing camera comes in at 5 megapixels at f/2.2, while the rear camera is a 19 megapixel Motion Eye camera with f/2.0 aperture and EIS. Sony isn’t jumping on the dual camera train just yet, but if Google’s Pixel 2 is any indication, you don’t need dual cameras to have a great camera experience. The XZ2 Compact’s camera isn’t as good as the Pixel 2, but it isn’t bad either.
Photos are packed with plenty of detail and sharpness, and color reproduction is pleasant but not oversaturated. Dynamic range is above average, retaining plenty of detail in the shadows and well exposing highlights in most situations. For not having optical image stabilization the camera performs admirably in low light. Noise is kept to a minimum and images are still full of detail and color. It’s only in the worst of low light situations, like a dimly lit restaurant, do photos begin to fall apart. In most low light situations I was plenty happy with the results.
Sony Xperia XZ2 vs XZ2 Compact
Sony could really improve its camera app, though. It’s easy enough to use, but it’s the same one Sony’s been using for the past several generations. The app feels outdated and it’s odd Sony hasn’t implemented an HDR auto mode. Instead, HDR mode is buried in the manual mode settings.
On the video side of things the camera is packed with features. Slow motion video at 960fps is still available but now has been upgraded to 1080p resolution and the camera natively supports HDR video recording for richer colors and more details. The 3D Creator app Sony implemented last year for creating 3D model scans has also been improved to support the front-facing camera. This makes it much easier to create 3D scans of your own face without anyone’s help.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 is jaw-droppingly fast, but suffers from flawed design
“Sony packs a lot of impressive tech into the Xperia XZ2 that makes it a promising competitor to the Galaxy S9.”
- Brilliant performance
- Good battery life
- Capable camera
- Sharp, vibrant display
- Water resistant
- Apps sometimes force close
- Camera app can be slow, buggy
- Features don’t stand out
- Design is flawed
After half a decade of the same design philosophy for its Xperia smartphones, Sony is finally changing things up. It starts with the cream of the crop, the Sony Xperia XZ2, which features a design motif the company calls “Ambient Flow.” It’s meant to emphasize curves and ergonomics — a stark contrast from the angular designs of Sony’s previous phones.
The Xperia XZ2 checks off a lot of boxes. It has fantastic performance, good battery life, and its camera is more than capable. But it’s held back by a few software bugs, and its new design language needs to go back to the drawing board for a little more refinement.
Chunky but ergonomic design
The bezel-less trend — where the edges surrounding a smartphone’s screen are minimized — kicked off more than a year ago, but Sony apparently just noticed. It has finally trimmed down those edges on the Xperia XZ2, but they’re still not as slim as most of the competition. Even the OnePlus 6, which is 270 cheaper, has thinner bezels than the XZ2. The front of the phone is a marked improvement over Sony’s previous devices, but it still manages to look a tad dated among the rest of the smartphone market.
Thankfully, Sony goes against the grain with dual front-facing stereo speakers, an uncommon sight among flagship phones. The earpiece doubles as a speaker at the top, and the second speaker is hardly noticeable, sitting at the very bottom edge below a Sony logo. They get loud enough to hear in the busy outdoors, but the audio quality is average. Nothing pops, and bass is virtually nonexistent. We’ve heard better from the likes of the LG G7 ThinQ, and the HTC U12 Plus.
We recommend heading to a store to check out how the Xperia XZ2 feels in your hand, since it’s such a subjective experience. You may find you like the button placements better than we do.
On a more positive note, we love the Ash Pink color option of the XZ2, and you can also choose from Deep Green, Liquid Black, and Liquid Silver. The XZ2 looks good, we just have problems with the position of some buttons and the fingerprint sensor, and the phone is a little too chunky for our tastes.
Fantastic performance, buggy software
We’ve used quite a few phones with the Snapdragon 845 — the latest chipset from Qualcomm — and even though the Xperia XZ2 uses the same processor with 4GB of RAM, it somehow reacts much quicker. Apps open almost immediately, scrolling is fluid, and games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Mobile and Transformers: Forged to Fight run without any issues whatsoever.
Here are a few benchmark results:
- AnTuTu 3DBench: 232,414
- Geekbench 4 CPU: 2,355 single-core; 8,409 multi-core
- 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 3,194 (Vulkan)
The AnTuTu score is a little lower than phones running the same processor, such as the Galaxy S9, which scored 261,876, and the HTC U12 Plus, which scored 250,938. Benchmark scores don’t reflect real-world performance, though, and we found the Xperia to be slightly faster than its peers. Either way, you won’t have any trouble running all sorts of tasks on this phone.
We found the Xperia to be slightly faster than its peers.
While performance may be stellar, user experience isn’t. The Xperia XZ2 runs Android 8.0 Oreo, but Sony has its own theme layered on top. Some parts of the user interface look really dated, but we were more annoyed at the amount of app crashes we encountered. In everyday usage, a few apps would just crash and disappear from the Recents menu. We received two software updates (we asked Sony what they were for and got no response), which seemed to help, as we haven’t seen as many crashes as before. Still, the occasional one does pop up, which is worrisome.
In mid- to low-light photos, detail starts to take a hit, but the results are still decent. Grain creeps in, but it’s not as noticeable as on some other phones. You may end up with a few blurry and fuzzy photos here, which means you’ll have to retake some photos.
The photos the rear camera takes are far from the best we’ve seen, but there’re also not the worst by a long mile. It’s average, but we also never felt like the camera experience encouraged us to take more photos, unlike the Huawei P20 Pro or Google Pixel 2. What’s makes this worse is the camera app is a little sluggish to use. The camera shutter reacts quickly, but photos take some time to process and appear, and launching the camera isn’t as quick as we’d like. Even zooming into photos, you can see details still loading in.
Also, remember when we said the fingerprint sensor was placed too low? So is the camera. We have a lot of photos with a finger or two in the shot — especially when we only use one hand. Sony should really have just moved everything a little higher.
There’s not too much in the way of features in the camera app. There is a Bokeh mode, though it’s a separate app you need to jump to within the camera app. It’s not very good. Photos look detailed, yes, but the blur is messy and blotchy, and we recommend skipping this feature.
There’s Super Slow Motion video, which means you can shoot at 960 frames per second in Full HD — a step above the Galaxy S9. It’s fun and the slow motion looks great, but it’s tricky to capture the exact moment because it’s not a continuous slow motion; it can only snap a few seconds, so timing is crucial. We wish there was an auto-capture slow motion mode like there is on the Galaxy S9.
The camera can also shoot in 4K HDR, and while videos do look good, the camera app crashes frequently in this mode. We’ve even seen continuous “Error” pop-ups that disable the camera, requiring a restart of the phone. Viewing the 4K HDR video on the phone is a little choppy, but it’s spectacularly detailed, and you can zoom in. This feature may not be worth using, not just because it’s unreliable, but because you won’t see much of a difference if you don’t have a screen or laptop to view 4K HDR videos.
The 5-megapixel front-facing camera takes selfies well enough, and there is a Pro mode for the rear camera in case you want to fine-tune some settings.
The Xperia XZ2 may only have a 3,180mAh battery, but it can last you a full day.
The Xperia XZ2 may only have a 3,180mAh battery, but it can last you a full day, even with heavy use. With a lot of video streaming, some music playback, plenty of picture taking, gaming, and web browsing, we ended one work day with 25 percent by 7 p.m.
But on average, when we weren’t trying to see how much the battery could take, we ended up with around 40 percent — sometimes more.
The phone supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 for fast charging, and there’s also the convenience of wireless charging on board.
Price, availability, warranty information
The Xperia XZ2 costs 800, and it’s available from Best Buy, Focus, Amazon, and BuyDig. It does not work on CDMA networks, meaning you won’t be able to use it on Verizon and Sprint, but it does work on T-Mobile and ATT.
Sony offers a limited one-year warranty from the date of purchase, and it only covers manufacturing defects.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 does a lot well, but it doesn’t do anything better than other phones on the market.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes. If you’re eyeing the Xperia XZ2, we think you’ll like the Galaxy S9 a little more. It’s a tad cheaper, the camera is better, there are more features and a better display, similar battery life and performance, and it looks better. The Google Pixel 2 or 2 XL are also good options, with brilliant cameras, continuous software updates, and great performance. Check out our guide to the best smartphones for more.
How long will it last?
The Sony Xperia XZ2 will last more than two years. Sony is relatively good about software updates, and the XZ2 can run the Android P beta right now, so we expect this phone to get Android P quickly when it rolls out later this year. The phone feels like a brick, so it might be able to handle a few drops, but you’ll still want to grab a case for it. It is IP68 water-resistant, so it can handle some water.
Should you buy it?
Yes. But only if you absolutely hate the Galaxy S9 or the Google Pixel 2. The Xperia XZ2 is a good phone, but we have issues with parts of its design. While its spotlight features are unique, they aren’t things you would use all the time, and they don’t add much benefit to everyday use.
Julian is the mobile and wearables editor at Digital Trends, covering smartphones, fitness trackers, smartwatches, and more…
Realme’s first true flagship smartphone, the Realme GT 2 Pro, has been announced at an event in China, where it was also confirmed the phone will be released in Europe in the near future. The phone has been teased several times already and many of the specs leaked, but this is the first time Realme has given us all the details, and there are a few surprises.
The 150-degree, 50-megapixel wide-angle camera is a world-first on a phone, and we can’t wait to try it out. The field of view is far wider than most wide-angle cameras fitted to phones, and Realme says it will produce images showing, “extreme panoramas.” It’s joined by a Micro-lens Camera, which will take close-up shots at 40x magnification. We’ve seen something like this before on the Oppo Find X3 Pro and had fun with the unusual feature, and while Realme is closely related to Oppo, it’s a surprise to see it here.
Smartphone company Realme’s first true flagship device, the Realme GT 2 Pro, will come with a truly wide-angle camera. How wide? It will take photos with a massive 150-degree field of view, far wider than the majority of competing phones, so you can capture more of the scene in front of you.
If you’re not familiar with the field of view offered by most wide-angle cameras on smartphones, for comparison the Google Pixel 6 Pro’s wide-angle camera has a 114-degree field of view, the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera captures 120-degrees which is the same as the Galaxy S21 Ultra, while the older Galaxy S20’s camera could take wide-angle photos with a 123-degree field of view.
Realme has launched several phones this year, including some models in the GT range of smartphones. They also have plans for their first foldable phone. With the final holiday period of the year looming round the corner, Realme has chosen an opportunistic time to launch its latest series of smartphones.- and the first to get Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip. The company has confirmed that a launch event will be held on December 20 to reveal the Realme GT 2 series of smartphones.
According to rumors, multiple smartphones will be announced at this event, including two variants of the GT 2 Pro, which has been heralded as the company’s “most premium flagship” smartphone. As per the leaked specs, the phone will possess a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen with QHD resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate.
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Sony Xperia XZ2, XZ2 Compact XZ2 Premium Reviews
Hello everyone! Today we’re truly excited to review the latest by Sony in regards to smartphones: the Sony Xperia XZ2, Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact, and Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium. Unlike the battle between Apple vs Samsung, Sony decided to take a shift in their approach to the smartphone market, offering one of the most reliable Android-based devices available in the market. Let’s explore what makes these smartphones to shine!
The most noticeable feature this smartphone has is the capability of recording 4K HDR videos, becoming the world’s first smartphone to be able to do so. Though we can enjoy these incredible footages either in monitors/TVs with 4K HDR resolution or the phone itself, in general, it won’t make a difference for users across social media as there aren’t other smartphones capable of streaming the content on its full quality yet.
Dynamic Vibration System (DVS) is introduced in this model as well, reminding users of the DualShock controllers from the PlayStation 4. This is a feature most gamers are thankful for, but for other apps, it just feels plain odd. When watching videos, the DVS makes vibrations only for off-screen sound effects instead of situations that would demand it for like collisions or battles, and for music playback, the phone will start vibrating according to the beat.
Though you can control these vibration levels with ‘mild’, ‘normal’ and ‘powerful’ setups, in general, it doesn’t pay the battery drain it does to the unit – at least it won’t in long-term.
That being said, no doubt it’s an interesting feature for those passionate for gaming with their smartphones, as experience will become undoubtedly more accurate to what you can feel when playing console games.
The other aspect in which this smartphone does shine is their Full HD slow-motion video recording, with 960fps frame rate, something that though being first introduced in 2017, Samsung decided to game on this competition with their 720p super-slow motion in their Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. Sony leads the market on this behalf for absolutely stunning super slow-motion videos, and the quality of its camera works best for natural daylight setups.
In comparison with its predecessor, the Sony Xperia XZ1, the XZ2 has a significant upgrade in both size and overall look. With a more curved rear and curved edges, the smartphone sits more naturally in our palm, whereas the camera, flash, and sensors have been moved to a vertical column on the back – following the trend that brands like Sony and LG.
The rear is made from a high-quality glass, making it look absolutely stunning, but has two major downsides: becoming a fingerprint magnet and, as expected, being fragile when it comes to accidents. Now, we cannot expect other materials finish these days with the hype of NFC technology and wireless charging, and both Samsung and Apple have targeted their flagship handsets to meet this standard, but in general for the user this requires to pair a protective case to prevent the impacts from accidents, losing the premium-quality feeling of the metal frame running around the device. And, do keep in mind, it can be somewhat slippery if not being paired with a protective case.
Bezels were also reduced in the front of this device, now sporting a cleaner look for a high-end smartphone. In size terms, with its 153x72x11.1mm the Xperia XZ2 still comes as bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the iPhone X for featuring a 5.7-inch display, whereas these other two phones have settled for the 5.8-inch one. It is also heavier than the aforementioned rivals, weighing 198g. You can get the Sony Xperia XZ2 in the following colors: Liquid Black, Liquid Silver, Deep Green, and Ash Pink.
The fingerprint scanner, though placed correctly following the vertical line set up by the camera and flash for this unit still feels somewhat low on its placement. We would have hoped it to be closer to the camera as it leads to a more natural motion when using it. However, the introduction of biometrics for this scanner is a blessing, something that was a long to-do for the Japanese giant brand. Perhaps it would help the feeling for the user to make it more noticeable to not mistake it for the camera lens – and avoid fingerprint smudging due that, but that’s something that users with protective cases don’t have to worry about as there’s a special care in most producers to make a noticeable difference between the two features on the back.
And personally, I love this whole navy look for such a stylish smartphone!
As usual, the power/lock key is located on the right side of this device, with the volume controls on top of it and a dedicated camera key below – ideal for us photographers. SIM card tray can be found on top of this unit and, with the removal of the headphone jack, we are welcomed by a USB-C port on the bottom.
Yes, Sony joins the trend of ditching the headphone jack to favor digital audio, but they do keep in mind their music-lover users with older generation headsets to include an USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter in the box.
Thankfully this premium device does come with an IP65/68 rating, ensuring both dust-proof and water-resistant capabilities, meaning that you can ensure the safety of your device under rain or tiny accidents, but it’s not waterproof, it won’t hold seawater exposure or chlorinated water (swimming pools), neither the spilling of liquids as soda drinks. If you want to take this cool phone for some underwater experience, a waterproof case is mandatory.
For a smartphone that has much to offer to the user, the display can be somewhat disappointing. Sticking with a 5.7-inch FullHD LCD display, Sony does not have enough power to catch up with competitors boasting QHD displays with AMOLED technology. That being said, the adoption of the 18:9 is more than welcome, giving a pleasurable experience when using the phone in landscape orientation for video streaming, and more vertical area for placing apps. The color pump given by the HDR capable screen would have been incredible if paired with an OLED QHD screen!
The HDR capable screen unlocks content on service providers as Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Netflix, etc. A great deal to use your phone as one media streamer for your video subscription services. But in fact, where it shines, is for both gaming and photography/video recording.
Its top resolution is 2160×1080, able to bring sharp images at 424ppi. We can also say it’s a very bright device with a luminance value of 535cd/m2.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 includes a 3180mAh battery, absolutely great that can warrantee a whole day of heavy usage with just a single charge. On this regard, Sony does position themselves way better than Samsung (with a 3000mAh for their flagship Samsung Galaxy S9) and Apple (with a 2716mAh for their flagship iPhone X), and it’s 100% worth mentioning given the fact how quickly do batteries wear out given heavy usage with apps and video recording.
That being said, the battery is able to hold video streaming sessions with ease, Spotify streaming services, social media apps, emails and phone calls camera usage without much trouble. We haven’t tested in detail battery-draining apps like Waze to give you a full report on that behalf, but our estimations are that this smartphone is well-suited for the power user on the move.
However, if your intention is to use your phone mainly as a video recording device we advise you to pack a power bank with you or a spare charger; the 4K HDR video recording or HDR movie playback is the worse battery drainers for this unit.
This smartphone also supports wireless charging via a charging pad that’s sold separately. For those interested in this gadget, the charging area is located a tiny tad below the center on the rear side of the smartphone, so you need to place it a bit off-centered for the wireless charging pad to recognize the device.
Power saving modes are also introduced to the handset to last longer. The standard is the Stamina mode, automatically triggered when the battery hits below 15% – you can set it manually if you prefer. What this mode does is reducing background app activity, reduces screen brightness and limits wireless connections to preserve the remaining battery life. The other power-saving mode is labeled as Ultra Stamina Mode, which renders the unit to only use basic features: calls, messaging, web browsing and notes; the color scheme is displayed in black and white, so the battery usage is heavily reduced. Users can find this mode ideal when the battery drops below 10% and you are still on your way home.
Here’s the biggest highlight for this unit. The Sony Xperia XZ2 is paired with the new 19MP Motion Eye camera, granted for top-notch quality photos and 4K video recording. This new camera boasts a Sony G Lenses, the Exmor RS sensor (mobile version of it), and the usual Bionz image processor that Sony cameras pair, but in the mobile version as well. That combo came as a surprise as, though the milestone for leading the market in what smartphone photography respects is truly a well-high cliff, Sony decided to take the bet higher and bring in their expertise in their professional photography division to this smartphone.
Predictive capture and autofocus burst are also available in this unit, an inheritance from the Xperia XZ1, which improves the low-light shooting conditions and helps with targets on the move – ideal both for candid photos and action photography.
Like we mentioned before, the 4K HDR video and Full HD super slow-motion (960fps) are among the biggest pros of this smartphone. The interface for setting the video recording quality has significantly improved from the previous devices, now with a slider in video mode to set the resolution (by default is settled for Full HD). Super Slow-Motion has not support for 120p and 240p continuous recording.
One thing worth mentioning is the warning that this unit does show when accessing the 4K video mode for the first time, which we will copy below:
If the device temperature rises, the app may close during use. Your recording will be saved automatically”
Whereas is good to count with such warning prior ranting for odd behavior, in general, we didn’t experience any of these downsides during our recording experiences in Denmark summer. Yes, it may be an issue for a warmer place, and the reason is that Sony has featured a security measure to avoid processor overheating, so we would expect that future updates can lessen the overheating issues for such a quality phone. In case you are wondering what can happen when the device starts to overheat when recording, you may experience issues in keeping the same framerate, or a non-desired lag in the controls shown in the display. Once again, it didn’t happen to us.
Unfortunately, the display isn’t capable of showing the true beauty of these videos recorded while doing a playback. The reason obviously lies on the lack of a 4K display for this phone, but with the HDR capable screen, it does look great for a handset streaming.
Moving on to photography itself, by default we work with an intelligent auto mode, something inherited from the compact camera series which photography amateurs will love.
There’s a tiny lag between shooting and saving the image – about half a second – that can be a bit frustrating until you get used to it. Can it be something inherited from the compact cameras? We don’t know for sure.
Do keep in mind that this smartphone works with a single lens, something surprising given the trend of dual camera setups to quickly switch from Wide to Telephoto mode. Yes, it’s a huge downside if you already tested handsets with this unique camera setup; if not, then you won’t find this camera that limitation. Sony has fixed this issue though with the release of the Xperia XZ2 Premium, which we will discuss later on in this article.
The native aspect ratio for the camera app is 16:9, which renders a 17MP image as a result. That can be changed to unleash the camera full performance at 19MP photos with a 4:3 aspect ratio.
We are truly impressed by its x8 digital zoom, which brings in detail without adding noise in turn (something quite frequent in smartphone photography as lenses do not work with optical zoom). Natural-looking colors are also warranted with this camera, either in normal mode or zooming in.
The front camera is disappointing though. 5MP selfies aren’t enough for a trend that came to stay with us. We would have expected at least an 8MP camera for this unit, paired with extra features as exclusive portrait modes, or an improvement on the front camera lens that can manage the difference between foreground and background with much expertise.
Working in Low-Light Conditions
Noise reduction is handled with care, something that does tell us the experience Sony has when it comes to photography, and though we can appreciate noise at high ISOs values, there’s a huge improvement from the XZ1 unit. The f/2 main aperture for this camera won’t work as precise for low light conditions as f/1.5 lenses used in smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S9, so do take that under consideration when planning your outdoor photography sessions as nature details as vegetation won’t look sharp as tack as what we can get used in daylight conditions.
One way to counteract that is to work with a tripod. Manual camera controls allow the user to work with shutter speed values from 1 second to 1/4000s, which can do wonders to improve the quality of the taken images. For very dim settings you won’t have much luck than to rely on flash usage, as the slowest shutter speed is limited to 1 second.
Exposure and Metering
Sony experience in photography is once again noticeable when it comes to getting accurate values for Exposure and White Balance when working in auto mode. Whereas manual mode gives you full control over ISO, shutter speed and white balance – no aperture control as it is a fixed lens – the Superior Auto mode come as a blessing for newcomers in photography.
When using Superior Auto mode, a complex computational algorithm performs the calculations needed to adjust the camera settings for the best outcome. This can bring a minor lag, but the Superior Auto mode is capable of identifying different planes for sharp details and proper DOF calculations in both portrait and macro photography, framing movement for pet photography or action shots and bringing in every detail in landscape mode for both outdoors and architectural scenes.
Dynamic Range and HDR Photos
The reason behind this hype for HDR technology in smartphones is no other than the limitations provided by the small 1/2.3” sensors used within the smartphones’ cameras. The limited dynamic range has to be compensated somehow, though HDR was the answer by combining multiple exposures to bring in enough highlights and shadows for sharp as tack details.
For the Sony Xperia XZ2, the addition of a 4K HDR Camera is no other but a step ahead in this direction. The results do not look oversaturated as a beginners’ image would look under HDR-style, quite the opposite. Colors remain natural but boosting in vividness for the appreciator’s eye. Highlights do not clip for extreme lighting conditions, which we thank, and detail quality is also preserved when zooming in.
When working under the Superior Auto mode, the camera will automatically determine if the scene demands HDR usage or not. Manual mode usage requires the operator to activate it manually as, by default, the setting for HDR is turned off.
Autofocus, Predictive Capture, and Autofocus Burst
Autofocus was greatly managed by the Sony Xperia XZ2. While we cannot expect the same results as with a larger sensor camera given the fixed lenses, this smartphone boasts face recognition algorithms to ensure that the camera tracks the subjects, putting them in priority mode while the background is softly blurred. When it comes to common photographs, you will certainly notice a difference in highlights for the objects in the foreground. The background remains in good quality but the illumination is somewhat reduced to help the image depth effect that Sony decided to use.
Predictive Capture works in a similar mode to the iPhone’s Burst Mode: it captures a sequence of images, storing them in the internal memory as a temporary file, then the user needs to pick one image from that sequence – which in turn deletes the others – or preserve the entire capture sequence.
Autofocus Burst, on the other hand, creates a sequence of photographs of a moving object. You can get up to 100 images in full resolution so it’s ideal for action photography. All it requires, after activating the Autofocus Burst mode is to hold the camera dedicated button to capture the action while at the same time tracking the subject manually.
Camera App Features
Like any other Android camera app, the layout is really compact, with tons of options available for the user to tweak, but not scary enough for beginners to mess up with the settings unexpectedly.
Grid lines are disabled by default as well as the sound for the shutter – which we recommend to turn off to be able to capture images wherever we like without bothering at people turning to look at us.
When switching to Manual mode the options for Autofocus, Shutter Speed, ISO, EV and White Balance are shown in a bar below, that we can quickly tune with the provided slider.
Special shooting modes as Bokeh and Panorama are only accessible through downloadable apps named AR Features. It’s limiting and something we didn’t appreciate as it requires an extra step, not to mention losing time to change among effects, and also reminds us of the failed attempt of the PlayMemories apps from the Alpha-series mirrorless cameras. Instead, Panorama mode could have been added as another option in the camera slider – as iPhones do – whereas Bokeh could have been implemented as a Macro Mode or an extra feature in a potential Portrait Mode – again, iPhone reference here. The worse part of these apps is that not only Bokeh results are not accurate due to the phone single wide-angle lens, but also the photos experience a downsizing to 8MP – a truly killer for the astonishing quality this phone can bring out.
We advise users to keep the images in either internal storage (64GB) or to get a hold of a high-class microSDXC card to avoid camera app freezing or lags when saving the files.
Are there disappointing aspects for this camera? Unfortunately, yes. As we been seeing through this review the camera freeze issue is noticeable when working under certain conditions. We can take preventing measures to avoid this, but overall it’s something that should be fixed with the upcoming software updates.
RAW shooting isn’t supported as well for this device, extremely disappointing for us. With the upcoming release of Lightroom Presets for the Lightroom Mobile app, one would have expected to see RAW support for a flagship device. In turn, we get a JPEG image output with a fair compression rate.
Super Slow-Motion for this handset is entirely manual, and you will require some time to get used to the procedure. For daylight outdoors, the results are absolutely breathtaking when the procedure is mastered, but interior slow-motion footages will struggle to meet clarity details out of them as the camera cannot adjust its exposure that quickly to keep the same quality output. And, like we mentioned before, the 120fps and 240fps continuous modes for Slow-Motion recording aren’t supported, not even in 720p recording quality.
The AR Apps should be removed the sooner the better, revisiting the camera app to include both Panorama and Macro Photo modes. Do not expect quality bokeh effects from this camera given the single camera setup.
Performance and UI Experience
This smartphone speaks lengths on what regards to its power. Packed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset and 4 GB of RAM that’s more than enough to run any app you can consider.
Benchmarks for this handset give an average score of 8420 for the CPU Multicore Geekbench test, that places it among the mid-point of the flagship products with the Samsung Galaxy S9 (QHD version) as the top choice at 8923 and the Google Pixel 2 XL on the bottom at 6291 scores.
Running the Android 8 Oreo OS, the factory tune-ups made by Sony are not as heavy as previous OS versions, meaning you will get a more “Android feeling” plus a better management of the included resources. Some of the pre-installed apps are truly not needed, as music, video and email apps – as most users tend to use Gmail app these days for emailing and YouTube Spotify for entertainment, not to mention that Amazon Apps as Kindle and Prime Video may not be suited for every market. Even though you cannot uninstall them you can get them disabled and hidden from view, but overall we would have valued the extra storage space that’s taken by unneeded apps.
Internal storage is really good, meeting the 64GB standard and allowing users to expand it to 256GB with the microSD slot. An ideal device for both newcomers and power users.
Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact: Power in a Size
The Sony Xperia XZ2 family does offer three phones: The standard XZ2, the XZ2 Compact, and the newly-released XZ2 Premium. The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is a phone that keeps size in high regard, aimed to those users who do not like those bulky 5-inch screens, or for those with smaller hands who do not feel comfortable to operate such a big phone. However, despite preserving the power that its big brother the XZ2 does the design does not please the user. It looks way too fatty – perhaps as it needed to pack all the specs of the Xperia XZ2 in a much-reduced size – feeling cheaper than it actually is for a smartphone with great potential.
The bezels are more noticeable than with the Xperia XZ2, something that does not help the clear-screen feeling. You cannot consider this phone as a second-rate buy as the iPhone SE was intended to be, though it’s this unit’s main competitor in both size and price range. The Xperia XZ2 Compact is intended to be a.sized version of the Xperia XZ2 for those who are still not ready to switch to the 5-near-6-inch screen new standard.
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, the same 4GB of RAM and equal camera to the Xperia XZ2, this high-end phone is also capable of playing HDR video, though the screen quality will not help the users to notice its top recording quality – it inherits the same 18:9 Full HD HDR LCD display, only in a 5.0” format.
The camera scheme was altered, now with the camera, flash and sensors being placed on a straight line on top of the unit, and the fingerprint reader way down below the camera location. The clear glass material finish is definitely ditched for this phone, sticking to a plastic back cover that makes it look cheap, but in general, helps to keep resistance for this phone in what accidents refer. Colour options for this unit are Black, White Silver, Moss Green, and Coral Pink.
The battery used for this unit is a 2870mAh, a bit bigger than the 2700mAh used by its predecessor the XZ1 Compact. Seems big for a phone of this size – considering that the iPhone X uses a battery with almost the same capacity, but in fact, it has a huge drainer in its display. You can go through the day with this phone in more than average usage, but do not consider that given its small size it will last more than a day; you will have to charge it overnight. Also, this phone does not support wireless charging. There’s an option for a fast charger but has to be bought as an extra accessory.
Like what happens with the Xperia XZ2, the headphone jack is removed, favoring a USB-C port for digital audio, though you will get a 3.5mm jack adapter to USB-C input.
Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium: The Much-Awaited Update
Roughly three months after the release of the Sony Xperia XZ2 its upgrade, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium is announced to the market. Yes, the July 30th of 2018 is the announced date for the release of this new handset to the US market, and it comes to fix up everything that we did not find to our liking with its little brother.
First of all, the screen is revisited. Now adopting a 5.8-inch LTPS IPS LCD display with 4K HDR quality, the Xperia XZ2 Premium takes a huge leap in quality. The pixel density moves up to 780ppi against the 423ppi that the standard Xperia XZ2 had, so the upgrade is no other but noticeable and also helps users to fully acknowledge the potential of the camera they have in hands.
The Xperia XZ2 Premium is 38g heavier than its little brother, and given the fact that it boasts a 16:9 display, the bezels are more pronounced, especially to the top. It pairs the same clear glass finish in two colors: Chrome Black and Chrome Silver.
Sony Xperia XZ2 | XZ2 Compact – Купить или забыть?
The most noticeable change is the incorporation of a dual camera on its back. The main one has an upgraded f/1.8 lens in comparison with the XZ2 f/1.2, helping the phone in low-light conditions. The new second rear camera is a 12MP paired with a f/1.6 lens. ISO is boosted to ISO 51200 for still images and ISO 12800 for video from the previous ISO 12800 for photo and ISO 4000 for video. The FOCUS seems to be targeted into fixing the Xperia XZ2 low-light performance but we have yet to check what the actual performance in bokeh effects and quality for this new dual camera scheme turns out to be.
Another interesting update is with the front camera, replacing the unfitting 5MP camera for a 13MP f/2.0 camera. Yet again, we are anxious to check its performance in selfie mode or if it’s planned to contribute in new login interface following the example of iPhone with FaceID technology.
On what regards to hardware, the Xperia XZ2 Premium sticks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, but now gets a boost of RAM going up to 6GB. Thanks to that, the battery had to be upgraded so we will see a 3540mAh battery for this device, though given the new display technology only time will tell if there is an actual increase in the autonomy for this device in comparison with the Xperia XZ2.
Sony Xperia XZ2 Family Lineup: Which one to pick?
Having seen the options that the Sony Xperia XZ2 family has to offer here comes a big question: which one should I pick as a potential customer? Well, thankfully there are several answers to that question.
- If you are considering budget-options: Go for the XZ2 Compact. It will offer exactly the same as the XZ2 but in a cheaper build finish and without the wireless charging feature. Also, it pairs a smaller screen that can be attractive for some.
- If you are considering power: The XZ2 Premium, as it has an upgraded RAM which will grant more performance, especially for video recording.
- If you are considering a good camera but do not care about high-end specs: Go for the standard XZ2. The camera won’t be as great as the XZ2 Premium but you will also save a good amount of money for those not-so-techy specs. The average user won’t feel that much of a difference to use a 4K display in contrast with a Full HD as the differences are noticeable when putting the device to test for professional work – as photography. Also, if you don’t count with a 4K HDR monitor or a 4K HDR television there’s no point on the extra investment right now.
- If you are a tech-lover that wants the ‘ultimate’ photography experience: Hold on until the XZ2 Premium gets to the market. The dual camera setup is divine, bringing a much purer experience for photography lovers as you will reduce the gap with actual DSLR cameras. Also, it is expected that the XZ2 Premium can work with RAW format. Low-light performance is significantly improved for this device as well, and the dual camera allows you natural bokeh effects. If all that isn’t enough, the Front Camera is game-on for quality selfies, something the standard XZ2 performed very poorly.
We hope this article can give you a good insight on what these new Sony phones have to offer for us photography lovers. Stay tuned for upcoming gear reviews and see you next time!