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The Sony Xperia Z2 is one of the best flagship smartphones of this year. Comparing it with the last year's flagship, the Z1, it has a faster processor, more RAM, supports 4K video recording, and comes with a slightly bigger screen and battery size. In terms of performance the Z2 is quite fast, but not the best so far. The design is definitely one of the best, although we could do away with the glass back. For a flagship smartphone, it is totally worth the money.
The Sony Xperia Z2 is the updated version of Sony's flagship smartphone series with a faster processor, more RAM, a 4K equipped camera and a larger display. But does that hold up to make it the best flagship smartphone for 2014? Let us find out.
BUILD AND DESIGN
The Sony Xperia Z2 has an identical design to the Xperia Z1 with very minor changes. The Z2 is slightly taller, a bit thinner and lighter than its predecessor. You get the same omni-balance design (front and back glass and metal frame in the middle) just like the Z1 and the Xperia Z1 Compact.
The display size has been increased to 5.2 inches and with the same full HD resolution, pixel density has been reduced. The display incorporates Sony’s patented display technologies including Triluminos display and X-Reality for mobile which is said to have improved when compared to the Z1. This time there isn’t a permanent anti-shatter film over the front glass panel and now Sony finally wants users to get one of their own. Above the display there is a shiny Sony logo with the 2MP front camera and some sensors. Sony has very subtly made slits on the top and the bottom of the front glass panel. Both of the slits contain speakers which is something good as previously the loudspeaker was at the bottom and holding the smartphone in landscape mode meant covering it with your hand especially while playing games. The new speakers actually sound louder and with Sony’s sound technology features, it is pretty crisp and clear. The top speaker also contains the LED notification light.
The left side of the Xperia Z2 has a microUSB and a microSIM card slot covered by a single plastic flap rather than two. This makes sense as dealing with two covers gets annoying on both the Z1 and the Z1 Compact. Below the slots, we have Sony’s patented magnetic dock port (which can be used for charging) and right at the edge there are two holes to attach a lanyard strap.
The right side has the microSD card slot, again covered with a plastic flap, the round power/lock key covered in chrome, the volume control keys and the camera shutter release key. The top has the 3.5mm audio jack which is again waterproof.
The back has an all-glass finish with the 20.7MP camera on the top with an LED flash,the NFC logo (for data sharing and connectivity) and the shiny Sony and Xperia logos.
If you loved the design on the Z1, then you won’t be disappointed with the Z2. There isn’t a massive bump in the design of the Z2 and overall the smartphone definitely feels premium. Yes, the glass and metal design means that it doesn’t offer great grip and just a minute of usage leads to a device getting smudges and fingerprints. A glass body also means that it is prone to scratches so one has to use some screen protectors and a case.
UI & PERFORMANCE
The Sony Xperia Z2 runs on Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) out of the box with an updated version of Timescape UI. Sony has been known to have a light UI since the beginning and the KitKat version follows the trend. Users do get an option of themes as Sony has already launched a bunch of Xperia themes. There are other apps from Sony that have been included like Socialife News, Walkman, TrackID, Sony Select, PlayStation, Sony Music, and also 6 free movies out of a list of 15.
There is also a very useful feature called Stamina mode which is basically a battery saver with different kinds of modes where you can select and disable different services and apps to save battery life. This feature is on almost all the new Xperia smartphones from Sony.
The Xperia Z2 comes with some amazing sound technology which offers a great audio output when you plug in your headphones. There are various sound enhancements like ClearAudio and surround sound which offer clear quality and proper volume. Even the stereo loudspeakers, offer a very crisp and clear audio output, although it isn’t very loud.
In terms of synthetic performance, the Z2 scored pretty decently. The Snapdragon 801 seems to be as good as the 800 as we didn’t see a huge bump in the performance since the Z1.
Gaming performance was exceptionally good as the Adreno 330 GPU provided enough power to play games like Real Racing 3, Asphalt 8, Dead Trigger 2 and if you prefer games like Angry Birds, Temple Run or Subway Surfers, the Xperia Z2 won’t disappoint.
Battery life on the Z2 was quite good as our standard test showed that the Z2 can play a full HD video continuously for about 6 hours after charging the smartphone to a full 100%. The 3200mAH battery gave a full day and a half of battery backup on normal usage. If you are careful and use the Stamina mode to its full extent, you can manage 2 days without charging the smartphone.
Sony is all about photography. The Xperia Z1 and the Z1 Compact had excellent camera units and with the Xperia Z2, it just gets better. The camera module is similar to what we had seen earlier, incorporating a 1/2.3” sensor with a G-lens and a 20.7MP resolution along with Sony’s patented technologies including Exmor RS, Boinz and so on. So what’s new? Well, the Z2 offers 4K video recording capabilities and slightly better quality of pictures.
The UI is same as the Z1 and Z1 Compact with added modes for 4K video and Timeshift video. You can add several effects as well which mostly work on the 8MP resolution. Capturing pictures is fast and processing doesn’t take an eternity. We did face minor issues here and there but overall the camera app is easy and fast to use.
Picture quality is sharp and colours turn out to be very accurate. The image processor works quite well, be it bright conditions or low-light. Low light images do produce blurs, but if you shoot with a very stable hand, the pictures look great. The auto-focusing system is pretty fast and quickly shifts as you shift between objects.
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Coming down to the highlight, 4K video. While it is not very practical to shoot 4K videos, it is definitely an upcoming feature that is becoming a benchmark for smartphone cameras. Firstly, not a lot of people have 4K displays to view the videos that you shoot. Secondly, the videos take a large amount of space which does become an issue after sometime. Nonetheless, 4K videos on the Xperia Z2 look great. Colours, contrast and sharpness is all controlled and the auto-focus works like a charm. There is also a new mode called Timeshift video. This allows you to take a video and then select a section of that video which can be slowed down to give a nice slow-motion effect.
The Z2 is an excellent camera if you love shooting pictures and videos, and with the added advantage of being water-proof, you can even shoot in the rain or even in a pool.
An excellent camera, waterproof and dust proof certification, and a superfast SoCm - all packed in a premium looking design, for a flagship smartphone, Sony has done very well with the Xperia Z2. If you loved the Xperia Z1 and are desperate for an upgrade, then the Z2 is not a bad upgrade. If you ask us, the Z2 isn't a major update over the Z1 except the addition of 4K video recording, better speaker placement and a slightly larger display. The performance and UI seems quite similar and there isn’t any noticeable difference between the Z2 and the Z1.
For the ones who are planning to invest in a flagship smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z2 is a strong recommendation from us.