Sony Xperia Z2 review
There are users who cry out when a manufacturer launches a new "franchise phone" without at least a year having passed since the previous one. In this situation Sony is right now with the Xperia Z2 that comes to replace the Z1 that we already saw in September last year, while offering the Z1 Compact as a high-end smaller screen.
The fact is that, although some owners of the Z1 may not be enthusiastic about stopping having "the last one" so soon (which, incidentally, is not that it affects them too much, their phone will continue working the same way), there are several points in that the Xperia range needed to catch up. We talk mainly about dimensions, weight and camera, while updating the "guts" of the device. Is it enough for Sony Xperia Z2 to be competitive compared to the rest of the high-end market? Join us in this analysis in which we will try to decipher it.
Technical specifications of the Sony Xperia Z2
For a comparison of specifications, I recommend going through this one they did on Xataka Android, in general what we see is a serious update of the Z1 with an interesting weight loss and with the latest versions of the Qualcomm SoC and operating system.
Design or refine the Xperia line
In the current state of the market, if something was missing from the Xperia range, it was to improve the size of the franchise while maintaining its hallmarks, namely: an aesthetic with its own identity - and which I at least quite like - the camera technology that they have brought from the Sony compact and that they present as one of their great advantages and, not least the resistance to water and dust that they incorporate from the Xperia Z.
The good news for Sony is that in design they continue in their outstanding line and aesthetics are still a strong point of the Z2. From the power button to the side whose metal center goes through the glass back or the notification led, the new Xperia looks phenomenal with careful details and a high-end feeling in each of them. I would say more, it has up to a different touch, while other brands bet on a surface that goes unnoticed while the straight lines of the Z2 produce an effect of
Where there is not such good news is in the size of the device. The improvement over the Z1 is clear and even in thickness they have managed to be quite contained, but compared to the rest of the market we have a device that is too long for a 5.2-inch screen. With that screen size we find significantly more compact mobiles (especially the LG G2 and the Samsung S5), while in a size close to that of the Z2 we also have much larger screen proposals, as is the case of Note 3.
The fault lies with the excess frame. It is worth that for some this is not a problem either and they even defend it by aiming at a greater surface to hold (I share this on a tablet, not on a mobile) and that after a while you forget (especially if you are on a large phone), but on the shelf of the stores it is worse than its competitors.
In any case, it is difficult not to forgive this subject for the Z2 because the rest of the design is where Sony is expected to be: first-rate materials without sacrificing technology, solidity to the touch and own aesthetics and design languages. Oh, and that point I like so much about offering a dedicated camera button.
To crown the device, it should be remembered that it asks for less and less sacrifice in its commitment to resistance to water and dust. If Sony required a plug for the earphone outlet a long time ago, this is already discovered while maintaining the possibility of getting it wet or submerged at a shallow depth.
A screen with many adjectives
"5.2-inch Full HD Triluminos screen with X-Reality image engine for mobiles" is how Sony informs us that it is bringing matrix imaging technology to mobiles. Be that as it may, this is a step forward that we already saw in the Z1 Compact. Moving towards IPS technology has suited the range very well.
What does it mean to use the phone? What we've come across is an outstanding display, with top-of-the-line color fidelity, brightness, contrast, and viewing angles. Perhaps it shows a little saturated colors - and here we do not find as many options to personalize the experience as for example happens in the Galaxy range, although it does let touch the white balance - in a trend that we see more and more in all of Sony and that we do not like it. While Samsung is going the opposite way, of screens that tend to saturate more a more realistic image, the Japanese seem to be getting a little carried away by this odious tendency to "attract attention at first sight" produced by contrasting and over saturate.
In any case it is something slight that should not detract from the screen of the Z2. In fact, it is a great pleasure to enjoy the consumption of video and photography with the Z2, which both with maximum brightness and medium options offers a very good experience.
Where it does not reach the outstanding one is outdoors with the sun falling at full blast. Here is the only point where I find that there has been no progress on the Z1, I would even say that it is a tad behind. Of course reading, viewing websites and managing mail is feasible in full sun with the z2 screen, but some angles are penalized and with images it does not behave as well in that context, which hinders some use cases such as the browser in the car or shooting pictures (and the Z2 is very easy to take to the beach and take advantage of there).
The balance therefore, as far as the screen is concerned, is remarkably high.
Let's talk about performance and autonomy, especially autonomy
Analyzing high-end phones today one is tempted to move from the subject of performance quickly: a terminal with this micro Qualcomm, with three gigabytes of RAM and with an Android 4.4 that has improved its optimization, it is simply more than fluid and It has a power to spare for any task that we request.
Note in any case that the version of Qualcomm's 801 is the same as HTC's One M8, but not that of Samsung's S5, which runs at 2.5 Ghz for the 2.3 of Sony's. As for the memory, another positive point for the Xperia Z2 to have microSD for whom the 16 gigabytes of internal are not enough.
Another point that deserves more attention is autonomy, where the Z2 had the challenge of eliminating that shadow that hung over the Xperia range as a tenacious battery consumer ... and it comes out quite well. The 3200 mAh is a backpack more than enough for the consumption of this terminal and even very intensive users (and server it is), can perfectly extend the autonomy to a full day.
Here we can always discuss uses - what if notifications, what if I shine, what if bluetooth all the time with bracelets or watches, what if this or that voracious application - but at least my experience after more than a week with the Z2 as the first phone is that Sony enters the league of those who manage to spend a day of autonomy with solvency.
Additionally they add the Stamina mode, which is not as powerful as the "ultra" of the competition but should help us to extend the autonomy of the device somewhat.
The Z2 sounds terrific
There is a point that we almost never cover well in the analyzes, perhaps because of that complex of "not having an ear", which is that of audio on smartphones. In fact, we will soon have a proper comparison in Xataka, but while we could not fail to highlight an aspect in which Sony again puts into play one of its advantages and that is to have a very powerful audio division within the company.
And the experience with the Z2 has been remarkably high in this regard. In fact, it is worth noting - my colleague Juan Carlos López's work has been invaluable here - his ability to reproduce the mid frequencies (especially the human voice), and his response in bass and treble more than decent . The maximum sound pressure level that can be achieved with the Z2 is not the highest in the category, but still a very good overall mark.
It should be noted that Sony offers noise canceling headphones in some of the Z2 packs - they can also be purchased separately, these are these - which, to be in-ear and included with the phone, offer an outstanding level. In any case, we liked the other headphones a lot, making it clear that Sony has taken care of the sound section of the Z2 with care.
If there is something that makes it ugly, it is that in the calls the terminal offers a somewhat metallic sound, somewhat worse than other telephones. If one is talking a lot, it is likely that it affects the experience - it is not in any case very serious, just a nuance - but in no case does the audiophile experience that is very careful on this phone worsen.
Sony and its quest for the throne in mobile photography
We have been wondering for almost a year who will win the convergence between photography and mobile, almost as long as it will take Sony to find the best results given that in photo it is at an excellent level and manufactures the sensors that carry almost all ranges high, some of the which could boast better results than Sony itself.
The Z2 is not going to give us definitive answers to these questions, but it does have a few clues: Sony continues to advance step by step, without big leaps that show overwhelming superiority, but without pause.
We start with the characteristics, in which there is not much news regarding the Z1. 20.1 Mpx G-type lens and a sizeable sensor, 1 / 2.3 ", which is only surpassed by that of the Lumia 1020, although it is fair to recognize that Nokia pays the price of" humping "your phone and Sony does not. At maximum aperture we are at f / 2.0, which should result in greater ability to capture light in conditions where it is scarce.
In the software part we have a reasonably simple interface if our idea is "point and shoot" without further pretensions and that is a bit complicated when we go to the "Manual" part. In fact it is a false manual, since we will not be able to control the exposure parameters to our liking, but rather that we will be able to select a priori the scene modes instead of having the device automatically do it.
It seems that Sony has not just resolved between the two competing philosophies, that of mobile everything that is adding complexity is negative and it is best that the device solves situations and that it is desirable to give options to experts. In the first the Z2 can boast a very good behavior, in the second it is still very far from achieving it (something that added to the absence of RAW files leaves it behind what Nokia offers).
It should also be noted that the 20.1 megapixels are reserved only for that badly called manual (in 4: 3, for 16: 9 we stay at 15.5 Mpx) and not in the automatic, which is where most users will play - I bet - ( in that the phone "throws" the 20 Mpx but then only offers the 8 after processing it).
But let's go to what matters most to us is camera performance, at which point the news is ... pretty good. Good in the dynamic range to solve situations with a lot of contrast (those typical in which we have areas with a lot of light and others with shadows), good color fidelity and a capture of details that I have not seen since I tried the 1020.
In most cases the automatic mode does a good job of recognizing the scene and exposing accordingly. In something that was critical in the Xperia range, we observed a noticeable improvement in image processing, the noise it puts in in low light is "reasonable" - understanding the context of the mobile camera and depending on the difficulty of the scene - and an approach fast and accurate automatic most of the time.
In the cons of the camera we find that it is not as fast focusing as other competitors - here the server has used the S5 for a few days and sees it a little above - but it is worth remembering the physical button that partially compensates for this defect.
In the trend of including a mode of "selective blur afterwards" we have been surprised by one point: the Z2 performs significantly worse than its competitors but on the other hand the macro mode works really well and allows us to be creative with this aspect and enhance the close-up on the background with a very good result and no tricks after taking the photo.
In video the level is not so good despite including 4K recording and stabilization and audio are not bad, but in it the Z2 has focus problems often and in complex situations - in my case children moving all the awhile back and forth - suffers with loss of focus that needs to be done again.
On that recording at 4k and 30fps, it should be emphasized that it will not allow us large productions. Every minute it goes to a little over 400 megabytes, so with 16 of built-in memory - much of it is already occupied by the operating system and applications - we won't go very far if we don't move to the SD card.
Let's discuss some examples
Shooting at 20 Mpx outside, by day, cloudy. Very well resolved the exhibition, good level of detail. How we see when zooming is possible to recover a reasonable level of detail in which we find information.
Let's go with a series of photos in good light outdoors to see if the Z2 is capable of showing off
Now a bit of macro and playing around with the bokeh (not with the special mode, but focusing on the foreground)
Let's go now with some more complicated scenes
Again we go into detail to see how he has solved these musicians who were in the shade while there were areas of lights almost exploited
Even more difficult: night, interior, moving objects
And finally, a couple of videos. The first one recorded at 4K (although YouTube converts it to 1080p) and the second one using the timeshift option
This layer of customization sounds familiar to me
The Z2 comes equipped with Android 4.4.2 so we are not going to miss any of the features of the latest version of the operating system. Above it is the Sony customization layer that we could well define as little invasive.
In the notifications area they add a small usability improvement with the inclusion of the battery percentage within the battery that represents it, saving space for more elements to fit, but on the other hand, access to many settings requires more clicks than Android pure or layers like Touchwiz.
Where Sony does add value is with proposals such as the Stamina mode (with which we configure access only for some applications to save battery), the official Playstation application or the use of themes to customize the background and aesthetics of the system . Beyond that, a light coat we hope is the promise that it won't take too long for them to update the operating system when new versions come out.
Add to your value proposition the existence of an application - Xperia Loungue - that allows Z2 owners to access free content and promotions. In the absence of Sony fully confirming the list, we found six rentals on its video service, a month of music unlimited and a collection of eight games - not very well known - via Playstation for mobile.
The Lifelog application deserves a special mention, which is an aggregator of activity with the phone - where we have been, what photos we have taken, music, movies ... and even what we have walked and slept on if we synchronize with the Smartband of Sony - which we will see in depth later when we do the analysis of the Japanese quantification bracelet. Of course it is optional and you have to give it permission to start recording the activity.
Xperia Z2, Xataka's opinion
Whoever gets this Z2 is going to take with them, above all, a smartphone of outstanding level and with its own identity. The design language and the quality of the materials help make it so, but also a screen that shines with its own light and top-notch performance. The set results in one of those proposals with an ability to connect beyond the table of specifications and functionalities with the user
There are points where Sony still has room for improvement: on the screen they have taken a step forward with the IPS but when the sun is fully out, the experience should be better; in the camera we are quite satisfied with its performance, but it is still not the differential value with which Sony takes a body out of the competition. But especially in size is where the Xperia Z2 continues to have its pending issue compared to the high-end.
It remains to add in its favor the bet to take care of the audio - I insist on recommending its in-ear headphones with noise cancellation - and that in autonomy we finally have an Xperia with which to achieve that goal of the day without having to recharge, point in that Stamina mode lends a hand.
With all this the note of the new Sony franchise has to be high.
8,8Design8.5 screen Yield9.25 Camera8.75 Software8.5 Autonomy8,75
- The finish: design and quality of materials
- The leap forward on the screen
- IP58 water and dust resistance
- The camera improves on Z1
- Very careful audio from Sony
- Large for 5.2 inches
- The screen suffers in full sunlight
- Camera still has upgrade path
The terminal has been loaned for testing by Sony. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises