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Sony Xperia Z2 review

 Review: February 2014  
 

Last updated April 2014

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The Sony Xperia Z2 has the same aluminium and plate glass design of the Z1 and is waterproof and dustproof. It's one of the best camera phones ever, able to record 4K UHD video. The phone also has a slightly larger 5.2 inch IPS display with Sony's new Live Colour LED technology. A match for the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8!

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Review

Here at S21 we've been raving about Sony's flagship Xperia Z range of phones ever since we first laid eyes on the beautiful but slightly flawed Xperia Z. The Xperia Z1 corrected all the faults of the Z and was easily the best smartphone of 2013, even though our users voted for the HTC One instead. And now here comes the Z2. The question we're asking is, how can you make the best Android smartphone even better?

Design & looks

The Xperia Z2 keeps the same design features that made the Z1 so stunning. It's made from an aluminium frame with glass panels, with a metallic band around the edge that makes the phone strong, enhances its premium feel and makes it ergonomic to hold too.

The size is almost the same, but it's half a millimetre thinner and a few grams have been shaved from the weight. The phone now features twin stereo speakers.

The Z2 is waterproof and dustproof, just like its predecessors. And it goes further than the Samsung Galaxy S5, which is only water-resistant. The Z2 meets the full IP55 and IP58 specifications, so you can actually use it underwater as a camera. When properly sealed it can be used up to 1.5 metres underwater for 30 minutes.

The Full HD Triluminos display has been stretched from 5 inches to 5.2 inches. It now uses IPS display technology for a wider viewing angle. The display also features Live Colour LED, a new technology for increased colour depth and gradation. Compared with the Z1 it's a real improvement, although it can't match the Galaxy S5 for overall brightness and zing.

Top camera performance

Photography has always been one of the Xperia Z range's best features, and the Z2 extends this further. The main camera is, like the Xperia Z1, a 20.7 megapixel camera with a large 1/2.3" Sony Exmor RS sensor. Sony’s G Lens has a 27 mm wide angle lens with a big f2.0 aperture, allowing it to capture more light. Like Sony's digital cameras, the Z2 uses the intelligent BIONZ image-processing engine for noise reduction and detail enhancement. This is particularly impressive in low lighting conditions.

The video performance of the camera has been upgraded from 1080p to 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixel) video capture. Of course you want be able to play back 4K video on the phone's 1080p screen, but you'll be able to keep the video for when UHD TVs become affordable.

The front-facing camera is also impressive, being able to capture full HD 1080p video.

There are many pre-installed camera apps, including one for creating Vine videos for Twitter. Another lets you adjust depth of field so you can blur the background while keeping the subject sharp.

Android KitKat

The Android operating system has been updated from Jelly Bean to the latest KitKat.

Specs

The internal specs have changed only slightly from the Z1. The processor is a super-fast quad-core 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, making this one of the very fastest smartphones available. The new Adreno 330 GPU handles graphics 20% faster than before. And with a huge 3GB of RAM at its disposal and little software baggage to slow it down, this is a phone that will surely burn through any apps you care to throw at it. We'd say that in general use it outperforms the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.

The onboard flash memory is limited to 16GB, but there's a microSD card slot that will accept cards up to 64GB.

Connectivity

This beast comes with every connectivity option that we can think of. 4G, 3G, quadband GSM and Wi-Fi are all here, of course, as is a 3.5mm headphone jack, USB and NFC. There's Bluetooth 4.0 and some more exotic options too, such as ANT+ and MHL. 

Battery life

The battery is increased slightly from the Z1, at 3,200mAh. This is a very heavy duty battery and in combination with Sony's Stamina Mode, battery life in standby is very impressive. Stamina Mode disables Wi-Fi and data traffic when the display is off, while keeping calls and text notifications active. As soon as you turn the screen back on, normal activity resumes. You can customise this setting, for example to keep Facebook notifications active when the screen is off.

Sony's official figures claim up to 19 hours of talktime, 10 hours of video playback time and an incredible 740 hours of standby time, making this one of the strongest battery performances for any Android phone.

Conclusion

It's clear that Sony is happy with the fundamentals of its Xperia Z series design and is now focussed on ramping up the specs as rapidly as new technology permits. We're very happy with the design too, and more than happy to welcome the new Xperia Z2 into the family.

As with the new Samsung Galaxy S5, this is an evolution rather than a revolution, but when you're this close to perfection, there's nothing wrong with that approach.

If you want the best screen possible, choose the Galaxy S5. If you value premium design and aren't too worried about the camera, choose the HTC One M8. But if you like the Sony style and want a good all-round performer, the Xperia Z2 will give you that and more.


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Sony Xperia Z2 user reviews

Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it, and please ask questions in our User Questions section above. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!

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Average rating from 10 reviews:

Reviewed by Borris from UK on 26th Sep 2014
Update

Having had the z2 for a few days and playing with it extensively I feel I can give an honest review.

Battery life - biggest issue for all smartphknes. The z2 has outstanding battery life for a smartphone. Whether in standby or being used battery life is better than I thought. I suppose its to do with the 3200mah battery size.

Build - wasn't convinced at first about glass front and back. I use a case mate barely there case with front and back screen protector films. Build quality is great.

Android - still taking time to get to how much more I can do with android compared to iOS. I still think iOS makes for easier operation. But once setup Ive got the z2 just how I want it.

Connectivity - I've not had any issues with dropped calls. I use my phone for work and pleasure and make loads of calls and send loads of emails on multiple accounts. Never misses a beat.

Performance - quick. Super quick. Some say the z2 lags a little at times. I think its no different to other devices. I've rooted my z2 and removed a load of the stock apps Sony shipped it with. It now performs quicker with noticeably less lag. I did flash cyanogenmod 11 but found battery life was a little heavy. It also lacked some of Sony's features. Sony's skin is good enough and performs well.

Camera - amazing. Set in manual mode at 20.7mp it delivers fantastic quality photos for a smartphone. On par in my opinion to my DSLR.

Screen quality - no problems. Great quality. Great colours. I have tweaked white balance to suit my taste and feel its now better than when shipped.

Overview - excellent phone. I can't think of any negatives other than the known 4k video recording issue. But let's face it I don't have a 4k TV.

Buy with confidence.
Rating:

Reviewed by Borris from UK on 24th Sep 2014
Probably to early for me to review my handset as I only got is yesterday but after using it constantly (except a few hours sleep) and unlocking the bootloader and managing to in stall various versions of android and being able to flash Sony stock rom back with no issues I am mega pleased with the xperia z2.

My only concern about the device is it can be twisted easily. I have a tight fitting case and when I take it off I can see the phone twist and the screen gets a blurry rainbow affect. It isn't permanent thankfully.

I will update with a proper review in a fews days after using normally.
Rating:

Reply by Bill from UK on 28th Sep 2014
Twist easily? How much pressure you putting on it??? Should be thankful its not the new Iphone. ;)

Reply by Borris from UK on 4th Oct 2014
Hi Bill,
The case is a Spigen case and I needed to take it off to use the dock for charging. I don't like keep opening the side port to charge it. The phone twists slightly but nothing I'm concerned about. I've now modified the case anyway to prevent taking it off all the time.
iPhone 6 plus, hmm. Seen several videos on web showing exactly how much force is required to bend it permanently and its between 70 - 100 lbs of pressure. That's a lot really.

Reviewed by AndrewP from UK on 29th Aug 2014
Great screen & fast processing BUT the camera frequently OVERHEATS & switches off when you need to take those all important holiday photos abroad. Good job it's waterproof - you will need to dunk it to cool it down!! ALSO SIGNAL STRENGTH/signal hold is much worse than my previous HTC One. It's a shame about these issues - spoil a potentially cracking phone especially the signal issue.
Rating:

Reviewed by dan morris from uk on 15th Jul 2014
Can I just say first thing what a great review site this is and keep the hard work up. Right in now had the sony xperia z2 probably 3 months and being a electrician I can be pretty hard on the phone, it's been dropped twice now and the screen cracked the first time and the second has a massive scratch along the front of the screen even tho it has a case! The screen is horrendous for light scratches even tho it has a screen protector and sony says it's scratch resistant which I can tell you it ain't if in fact the worst screen for scratches I've ever had. Part from that the phone is amazing,the battery is best I've ever had and being on the phone all the time and at night using it even more I've never had to charge it to get me through the day and if I used it less for games I reckon I could get two full use. The other problem iv found with this phone is when I'm talking to someone it will start opening menu's or trying to phone someone else even though I'm already on the phone. Good buy if u work in a office or some where it would less be likely be dropped or scratched. Ps too scared to see if it is waterproof yet. So In all a great phone but rubbish screen needs to be alot better.
Rating:

Reviewed by Chris A from UK on 28th Jun 2014
Brilliant phone!
Had the Z2 for a month and no problems so far. Camera is terrific as is the screen.
The dual front speakers are a good move forward from previous models.
Performance is lightning quick, with multi tasking available at excellent speed.
Battery life has to be mentioned, again fantastic! Switch on the stamina mode as you can comfortably get just under 2 days of use before needing to charge. This is such a difference from all previous phones I have had.
Definitely recommended!
Rating:

Reviewed by Antichrist from England on 10th Jun 2014
Had this for 4 weeks now, no complaints what so ever, top notch camera and video, excellent battery life when used with stamina mode, no lag, superfast.
Decent build quality ,nicely balanced, must admit it is a big phone so if you have small hands you might struggle, dropped it a few times and all still works.
Must admit not tried to see if its waterproof.
Have recorded in 4k and had no problems with it, did do 3 and half minutes and will admit it did start to get hot but never shut off.
Rating:

Reply by Brian from UK on 13th Jun 2014
Recent update allows 4k recording up to about 10 minutes was only about 5 minutes before it shut down if you get longer you are lucky.Phone gets hot recording 4k.

Reviewed by Diane from Wales on 29th May 2014
Had this phone for over a month now and to be honest its ok the battery life does go quickly when you play a single game. The sound quality is not the best and for some reason mine keeps cutting out so will be sending it back to amazon for refund then stick to my motorola g
Rating:

Reviewed by STUART from SCOTLAND on 30th Apr 2014
Having had this phone for over a week now, I've had a chance to play around on it. The screen is fantastic, details are sharp and colours vivid. The downside is if the screen is off you can see the IPS panelling. If you squint. And choose the right viewing angle. Sound from the dual front speakers is respectable and certainly better than a lone rear facing speaker. The boxed noise cancelling earphones though are outstanding. Outside noise is effectively blocked and the sound from the earphones is on par with a cinema experience. I have watched several movies on it using the headphones and cannot believe such a small driver unit can produce such a rich sound quality. Multimedia and games wise, it will handle everything thrown at it. Ive tried some of the more graphic heavy games on google play and was impressed. Phone call quality is very good also, sound is clear and no complaints from anyone I myself have called. The camera is excellent and I defy anyone not to love the AR effects. 4K is gimmicky just now and a word of warning, it will eat huge chunks of storage. Lastly the battery life. I use the phone for a variety of things as per this review. graphic intensive gaming for an hour, 6% battery life gone. 2 hour movie 4% gone. On standby overnight 2% gone. The battery life, as long as its on Sony Stamina mode is simply outstanding and such a change from my previous phone that I needed to charge every night.
Rating:

Reviewed by Johnny from Scotland on 29th Apr 2014
It is not a good phone, call quality is ridiculous and it runs slowly, the battery life is like totally pants, it will end up in the second hand shop.
Rating:

Reviewed by bmehra from India on 5th Mar 2014
Bought Z1 3 months back. I wish I had waited for Z2 :-(
Rating:


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