Sony’s high-speed launch schedule is continuing apace, with the Xperia Z2 being the latest to make it onto the shelves. Building on the basis of the earlier Z1, this sleek handset sits at the very top of the smartphone pack, but is it a viable alternative for anyone considering the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S5?
- 5.2-inch TRILUMINOS display
- Water and dust resistant form factor
- 20.7 megapixel camera
- 2.3GHz quad-core processor
- 3200mAh battery
- Android KitKat
Design and build
Sony’s bodywork is sturdier and feels more solid than most other Android devices, making the Z2 a satisfying handset to hold. We have found that its square corners make it a little uncomfortable during use as they can jab into the palm of your hand, but the sleek, minimalist appearance of the device makes it one of the most attractive around.
Front and rear-mounted glass panels add to this appearance, although they do mean that the handset is very prone to grease and dust. Keeping it clean can be difficult.
The Z2 is both water and dust resistant, making it incredibly tough and durable. This could be one of the better options for anyone with an active, outdoor lifestyle, or just the more accident prone amongst us.
Sony consistently makes outstanding displays, and the one seen on the Xperia Z2 continues this trend. The 5.2-inch Full HD TRILUMINOS display is one of the best we’ve ever seen, finding a brilliant balance between offering strong colours without being garish. The screen is also very easy to look at and we didn’t find it to be too tiring on the eyes, even when the brightness was set to full.
While it may not be quite as bright as other smartphones, the Z2’s display is still outstanding. And, when its quality is combined with its size it offers outstanding visuals.
Under the hood
Featuring a 2.3GHz quad-core processor, Sony’s flagship can match the performance of any other leading handset in everyday terms. There are no hold-ups in moving around the UI, and processing large files, such as high-res photos, is quick and smooth. High-end mobile phones seem to have reached a point in processing power where they can handle pretty much anything that is thrown at them, and Sony’s latest offering is no different.
Operating system and user interface
Sony has laid a light skin on top of Android KitKat, bringing its minimalist interface that changes the look of the software but doesn’t do a great deal to mess with the basics of how it works.
This is a real bonus, as there is little of the feature spam that fellow Android manufacturer Samsung has been criticised for in recent years. Aside from a couple of handy adjustments, such as the option to wake the screen up with a double tap rather than having to press the unlock key, you get a pretty standard Android experience.
Across five homescreens you have plenty of room to play with, and the few adaptations to the notifications bar are worthwhile, housing a few essential settings in an easy to reach menu of their own. Overall, Sony’s UI may not be as striking as those seen on other handsets like the HTC One (M8) but it is very easy to use and allows you to do plenty of different things.
Camera and video
Sony’s 20.7 megapixel camera can capture 4K video, a big shout that can be very hard to see the results of unless you stream footage to a high-spec television. Unfortunately the Z2’s 1080p display isn’t of a high enough quality to view 4K video itself, but there’s no doubt that the results are excellent and can rival tech found other flagships.
As for the more regular photographic functions, we’ve been very impressed by all of Sony’s cameras recently, and the Z2 is no exception. Images come out with a natural feel to them, with colours not being too saturated. Some brighter parts can become overexposed, especially when outdoors in overcast weather, but the standard is generally very high.
The camera app also offers a multitude of options so you can get to grips with the more technical aspects of photography, or simply play around with some unusual effects. One example, Background Defocus, is an interesting feature which allows you to blur out parts of an image, creating unusual results. Sony’s Superior Auto is the best of both worlds, doing a very good job of tailoring the camera’s different settings to whatever situation you are in.
Performance and verdict
Sony’s handset is a gradual step up from what we saw with the Xperia Z1, thanks to a few extra features that update it slightly. The sleek form factor of this year’s flagship is a big bonus, and as such it is one of the best looking Android smartphones around. In contrast to Samsung’s plastic devices, the Z2 is a rugged and sturdy phone that delivers a fuss-free Android experience. It is well worth some consideration for anyone looking to buy a large, high-spec smarpthone.