Moving swiftly appears to be the new way for Sony. The Xperia Z1 launched late in 2013 in South Africa and now the Xperia Z2 follows hot on its heels. Mobile technology is known for its rapid development and Sony seems to have taken this seriously. The good news is that new Xperia Z2 is better than its predecessor in almost every way. Steven Ambrose tests the Sony flagship out and discovers just how good it actually is.
We called the Sony Xperia Z1 the Land Rover of the mobile world, solid, beautiful, and well crafted, well the Z2 is no less of a beast, but it appears to more have more Evoque than pure Range Rover in its DNA. The Xperia Z2 is still hewn from aluminium and glass, and follows the DNA of its predecessor almost exactly.
The main change is that the Xperia Z2 feels sleeker and more polished and far less angular, this make this unashamedly large screen phone less cumbersome in the hand and far easier to handle. The Xperia Z2 remains a big device with its 5.2” screen, and its fairly large surrounding bezel.
The screen is also a huge step forward from the Z1, the colours are precise and the viewing angles and brightness are now everything you would want from large smartphone. Viewing videos and pictures is a real treat. Sony uses its big screen Triluminous technology, and it shows, colours are vibrant but accurate, blacks may not reach the depths of AMOLED screens but overall this is one of the best screens available.
The second stand out feature is the camera. The Z2 camera is capable of amazing pictures. Sony have used a 20.7 MP sensor along with its high end G lenses. A picture processing chip called BIONZ adds the final touch. Apart from some low level noise in low light challenging environments, I found this camera to be one of the very best I have used. It is fast and very detailed. Only the Nokia 1020 with its 41 MP sensor does a better job.
The Sony Xperia Z2 uses the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Quad core processor, along with an excellent video processor and it incorporates the latest LTE/4G radios. This generation of mobile devices are blazing fast and take almost everything you can throw at them in their stride. Games load quickly and play flawlessly, switching apps is fluid and fast, and all other functions are a snap. The real bonus of a big phone and the latest processor technology is the gains in battery life.
The Xperia Z2 comes with a big battery to start but in conjunction with the Qualcomm chips power management ability, offers excellent battery life. I was able to get through a busy day with ease, only running out of power late at night. Of all the latest generation devices such as the Galaxy S5 and others using the new Qualcomm chip the X2 gave me the best life overall. Sony’s STAMINA mode may have played its part as well. I just left the settings as they were, and the Phone just stayed the course.
The Sony Xperia Z2 is also waterproof and dust resistant. This is a not so subtle thing, and I found it particularly liberating. I did not worry where I left the phone, and spills, sand, accidental dunking became a bit of a party trick. Sony was first with this ability with the Z1 and have continued it use to great effect on the Z2. This is a feature that is hard to live without once you get used to it.
Android 4.4 comes standard, and it is fluid and smart. Sony have stayed fairly close to vanilla Android overall, and have dialled back some of their customisations. Overall this helps make the Xperia Z2 easy to use and fairly coherent. The Sony apps are smooth and mostly really useful. Life log and the music player are great examples. The camera app was also a big improvement on standard android.
Sony’s customisation of vanilla Android is a little bland and boring overall, it does however offer less intrusive intervention than Samsung’s TouchWiz, but is less functional and slick than HTC’s Sense 6 overlay and LG’s latest overlay on its new G3. The Xperia Z2’s interface is usable and functional it just does not set the standard for customised Android interfaces.
Setting up is intelligent and simple with all the help you may want to switch from another phone or to get your Z2 up and running. Android has it detractors but on the Sony the overall experience is good. The upside is that Android allows massive customisation from the launcher, to the keyboard, to even the basic phone dialler. Sony have blended the best of Android with some carefully crafted apps that make life easier not more confusing.
Sony have steadily risen back to the top of their game. After a long hiatus of premium products they are unashamedly pushing hard with the Xperia Z2. It’s beautifully built with attention to detail befitting its status as a flagship. It remains the Land Rover of the smartphone world, big, bold, and distinctive. The Xperia Z2 cuts no corners with technology, combines the hardware and software in a useful and pleasing way, and delivers camera and screen performance that is hard to beat.
The only challenge, for some, will be the size, it’s a big phone. As always try before you buy. I wholeheartedly recommend the Sony Xperia Z2 as one of the top Android phone currently available. Once its quality and attention to detail is appreciated, it’s hard to put down.