Android

The Sony Xperia XZ2 looks great, but you probably won’t buy it

Sony Xperia XZ2
Sony Xperia XZ2

Sony hasn’t drastically changed the design of their flagship smartphone in years. In fact, we haven’t seen a fresh redesign since 2013! Sony has always favoured evolution rather than revolution. This is no longer the case, as Sony has just unveiled the Sony Xperia XZ2 at MWC 2018.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Design

Sony has ditched their beloved flat rectangular slab design in favour of something sleeker, curvier and more in tune with modern flagship standards. The XZ2 utilizes aluminium and glass in its construction. Gorilla Glass 5 covers the front and back whilst an aluminium frame holds it all together.

The glass back on the Sony Xperia XZ2 looks to have been inspired by the HTC U11, which is certainly not a bad thing by any means. Much like the U11, the glass on the back is curved which creates a beautiful morphing effect when looked at from an angle. It looks premium and is far superior to the flat, dull look of the XZ1.

Just slightly above the centre of the glass back is where you’ll find the fingerprint sensor, which will actually work in the US this time! Then above that is the single 19mp camera.

Looking at the sides of the device, you’ll find the USB Type C port which supports fast charging. The Sony Xperia XZ2 also supports fast wireless charging as well which is a nice addition. The sides of the XZ2 house power and volume buttons, as well as a (very rare) dedicated camera button. One glaring omission from the XZ2, however, is the headphone jack. If you want to plug in non-Bluetooth headphones they’ll either need to be USB C headphones or use a USB C to 3.5mm adapter.

At least when you do plug in headphones, you’ll be able to use the premium built-in DAC for better audio quality. Whether that makes up for no 3.5mm headphone jack is entirely up to you.

On the subject of audio, the Sony Xperia XZ2 does include dual front-facing stereo speakers. It’s something we’ve seen Sony smartphones before and I’m glad they’ve kept them around.

Sony XZ2 Display

The front of the Sony Xperia XZ2 has also seen a fresh update. Gone are the massive bezels found on Sony smartphones of recent years. The bezels on the XZ2 definitely slimmer than the XZ1’s, albeit still sizable for 2018 standards. They’re not as sleek as what you’ll find on smartphones from Samsung, LG or even Nokia’s new smartphones from MWC.

The display itself also keeps up with modern trends and has been given the 18 by 9 treatment. Its 5.7 inch, IPS LCD, full HD+ resolution display won’t be as sharp as comparable smartphones with 2K displays, but the lower resolution will help to conserve battery life.

The Sony XZ2’s display does also support HDR (High Dynamic Range), which works great with video apps such as Netflix. Sony has also stated that the Sony XZ2 can upscale SDR video to HDR for a lot of content, which is something that no other smartphone currently.

Camera

Sony’s smartphone cameras have always been consistently good, but not great. Offerings from Samsung, Apple and now Google simply outperform Sony when it comes to image and video quality. As the XZ2 has only just been announced it’s impossible to comment on the camera quality. We can, however, take a look at the specs.

For the Sony XZ2 selfie camera we get a 5mp shooter and on the rear we get 19mp. The selfie camera is pretty standard, but it’s the rear camera where things get interesting. First up, it’s capable of recording 4K HDR video. This is something that only high-end video cameras can do, making it an even more impressive feature. Secondly, it can record 960 fps slow-mo video @ 1080p. This just beats out the Samsung’s new Galaxy S9, which is capable of the same but only at 720p.

Sony XZ2 Internals

The internals of the Sony Xperia XZ2 are everything you could have predicted from 2018 smartphone. The XZ2 features the latest Snapdragon SoC, the Snapdragon 845 – which you can thank for impressive camera tricks. The Snapdragon 845 is 25% faster than last years Snapdragon 835 and also significantly boosts graphics performance and efficiency.

Also inside, you’ll find 4GB of RAM, 64GB of Storage (expandable via MicroSD) and a 3180mAh battery.

Basically, the Sony XZ2 (also thanks to its lightweight skin on top of Android 8.0) will be blisteringly fast, there’s no doubting that.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Features

Let’s talk about everything else that the Sony XZ2 has to offer.

The biggest addition is the new Dynamic Vibration System. It’s similar to how a games controller vibrates when action takes place in a game. Sony’s Dynamic vibration system works with all types of media, whether it be movies, music or games. For example, if there’s an explosion is a film, the phone would vibrate to add to the immersion.

The other standout feature has to be Sony’s 3D scanning technology, which can now be utilized by both the front and rear cameras. This is a neat trick for making 3d models of real-life objects using your phone. Once you’ve scanned an object, you can send the digital 3D model to a 3D printing company to print it. It’s a cool feature, but how often you’ll actually use it is questionable.

Conclusion

The Sony XZ2 is a huge step forward for Sony. It’s a completely new approach to Sony’s smartphone design which has been a long time coming. The curved design may look leaps and bounds better than the XZ1, but it’s still not on the same level as the Samsung Galaxy S9 or LG V30.

The Sony XZ2 doesn’t have a confirmed price yet, but it will likely be in the same ballpark as the phones mentioned above. That’s around the £700+ mark.

For those on a tighter budget or those that simply want a smaller phone, Sony also released the XZ2 Compact. The Compact has a smaller, 5 inch 18 by 9 1080p display. It lacks wireless charging, there’s no new Dynamic Vibration system and it has a plastic back instead of glass. It does still have the same powerful internals though, making it (as of writing this article) the most powerful ‘small’ Android smartphone on the market.

Overall, I can’t help but feel that the Sony XZ2 is behind its competitors in almost every way. The Dynamic Vibration System and 3D scanning features are cool and fresh, but they also come across as gimmicky. As good as the Sony XZ2 may be, I think there are better options out there.

Please bear in mind that this is just my first impressions and initial opinion of the Sony XZ2, not a review by any means.