The last Sony smartphone I looked at was an absolute beauty; the Xperia XZ Premium. At the time it was one of the best phones on the market with plenty of features that set it apart from competitors. Sony’s latest flagship smartphone is the Xperia XZ2 and I took it on the road to Majorca to test it out.
Well, where else could I test it out?
Xperia XZ2: Design
Sony has been known for their radical approach to phone design. While Samsung is busy being sued by Apple for infringing on the iPhone design, Sony wandered down a completely different path. As companies are trying to eradicate bezels, the Xperia XZ didn’t apologise for having a chunkier frame. Again, the Xperia XZ2 isn’t afraid to stand on its own and do things differently, but does it pay off this time?
I have to start with the fingerprint scanner for one simple reason; I bloody loved it on the recent Xperia XZ, XZ Compact and XZ Premium. The positioning was incredible and in such a natural position that I often unlocked my phone when picking it up without even trying. But they’ve changed it and they’ve changed it terribly.
Instead of it being in a great, natural position, Sony has decided to place the Xperia XZ2’s fingerprint scanner on the back, right below the camera lens. Not only is this an unnatural position, but the camera lens also feels like a fingerprint sensor. This means not only did I keep missing the fingerprint sensor but I was dirtying the camera. I’ll talk about the camera again later, but even the positioning of the camera is really weird. So weird, in fact, I was unable to use the XZ2 with my gimbal – say hello to the new first world problem.
Sorry for kicking this review off with something that might seem trivial, but Sony had the perfect fingerprint sensor and they ruined it.
By modern standards, the XZ2 has rather wide bezels but compared to Sony’s past flagships, they’ve trimmed them down a wee bit. Still, the XZ2 doesn’t look like any other phone on the market right now. While everyone races to slim down on everything, the XZ2 is a little potbellied; and that’s not a bad thing.
I’ve no idea what material the phone is made from, but it’s quite slippy. Be really careful when you leave it on a table or if you have shallow pockets. In one sitting at a Majorcan cafe, the phone nearly slid off a table and did slide out of my pocket onto the ground. As always, this problem is easily negated by buying a case and who doesn’t buy covers these days?
The ‘potbellied’ design makes the Xperia XZ2 a little chunkier but giving the phone is a slippy, this makes the phone easier to grip. While it’s not the biggest phone on the market anyway, the design does make it really comfortable to use; even one-handed.
I’m not saying this to be controversial, but within five minutes of having the Sony, I missed the headphone jack. Now, as I’ve said in the past, I do believe that the days of headphone jacks are numbered. It just so happened that my hybrid wired/wireless headphones were dead when I booted up the Sony. Fortunately, it does come with an adapter, but the phone needed to be charged.
My point? Well, get ready for a world where having wireless headphones is bloody important. It’s an investment I guarantee you’ll be making in the coming years. When you do, check back here because we have some reviews coming soon.
I’m a desperate swimmer. Like, ever being underwater for two seconds scares me. It’s my kryptonite, but in the interest of science, I dunked myself with the Xperia XZ2 and it survived. I swear, look:
As uncomfortable as I felt about going underwater, I felt twice as bad about having a phone anywhere near water. The Xperia XZ2 is IP68 certified which means it will survive in 1.5 meters of fresh water for thirty minutes. All the happens, which also happens with my Note8, is the operating system warns you not to charged the phone until it dries out.
Xperia XZ2: Camera
Right, bloody weird positioning aside, the camera on the XZ2 is pretty impressive. The primary 19MP camera and 5MP selfie camera absolutely competent cameras for the average mobile photographer. The only problem Sony is facing is the fact nearly every smartphone manufacturer has brilliant cameras right now, so why should you pick Sony?
Well, one aspect of the Sony Xperia XZ2 camera that I simply adored is the 960 frames per second slow motion video mode. You start recording video like normal, at a slightly reduced quality level. Then when something fast happens, just tap a button and the camera kicks in to capture the moment in 960fps. In my experience, there are two ways to use slow motion:
- capture something moving past the camera at speed
- capture something the camera is passing at speed
Here’ll you see a good example of the second one, while at the bottom of the article in the full video, you’ll see some fountain shots as an example of the first.
I thought slow motion video would be the definition of a gimmick, but once you get into the creative flow of shooting a holiday video like I did in Majorca, it really does give you another string to your bow. I absolutely love it. Sure enough, Samsung does offer slow motion and arguably, it’s implementation is less restrictive than Sony’s, but it’s streets ahead of how the Huawei P20 Pro does it and that is perhaps the best camera on the market right now.
Finally, the dedicated camera button is one Sony innovation which remains. I cannot fathom why all manufacturers don’t include a dedicated camera button considering we’re twice as likely to use our phones for pictures as we are to make a call.
Xperia XZ2: Battery
I can have no complaints with the latest Sony battery. The 3180 mAh is perfectly matched with the screen and processor to deliver all-day smartphone usage. Even if you are caught out, you have fast charging too so you won’t be left hanging around for too long. The only complaint I have, especially given the chunky design of the phone, is the fact there’s no wireless charging. It’s becoming a more common feature these days and I can only imagine there was plenty of room on this phone for the charging coil.
This is especially important when you consider the charging port might be taken up with your headphones. Wireless charging is the most logical solution for people looking to charge and listen at the same time.
Xperia XZ2: Performance
The camera loads bloody fast. The phone reacts incredibly quickly to all commands and can handle anything you can throw at it. This is because it’s packing one of the most powerful processors on the market. This is great news if you love jumping between social platforms, while snapping shots on the run and using Google Maps to find your way around; all at the same time. You’re unlikely to feel any lag at all.
Sony has also minimised the amount of shite software that ships with the phone too which you might hear others refer to as bloatware.
Xperia XZ2: Other Bits
I’m not entirely sure why this exists, but you can once again use your flagship Xperia to create 3D models of things. Whether it be your head or your favourite mug, you can create a 3D model of it and then even pay to get it printed out. Or, if you’re like me and get nosey with tech, you could start playing with Unity and making some 3D augmented reality apps.
As you can see, this is an incredibly niche feature on a smartphone!
Speaking of which, Sony introduced something called Dynamic Vibration which makes the phone vibrate along with whatever you’re listening to. I honestly don’t know what they bothered. The sound on the phone itself is great with some great software customisations on-board too, but all I could think of when the Dynamic Vibration was rattling through the phone was ‘my poor battery life’.
Xperia XZ2 Review: The Verdict
I love it. I genuinely think the Xperia XZ2 is one of those great rounded phones both in terms of style and specs. I was putting down my Note8 to test the Sony though and I have to be honest; I couldn’t wait to get back to using my Samsung. I still can’t quite put my finger on why exactly that was.
I think it’s a culmination of several things which leaves the Note8 slightly ahead of it, but to be honest; this is a real personal thing for me. Don’t let it put you off picking what is a great phone should it be the best-priced one laid out in front of you; as it is one of the most competitively priced flagships on the market.