Sony Xperia XZ2 hands-on review

BARCELONA: SONY UNVEILED its latest top-end handset on at MWC Monday, the Sony Xperia XZ2.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 boasts a completely new design over previous releases while retaining some of the best features from the Xperia XZ1, such as Motion Eye smart camera and 3D scanning capabilities, this time with added selfie functions, and IP65/IP68 waterproofing.

In true Sony style, this flagship handset was launched alongside a smaller, less powerful version, called the Xperia XZ2 Compact, for those looking for a mid-range option.

We got some hands-on time with the Xperia XZ2 ahead of its release at MWC. Here are our first impressions.

Design and build
The first thing you’ll notice about Sony’s latest release is that, unlike Samsung, they’ve made a big effort to update the design of the new devices over its previous releases. As a result, the bigger and better Xperia XZ2 boasts a fresh 3D glass surface that creates a seamless form that makes it look and feel a lot nicer to hold in the hand.

Despite being made of glass, you’ll be pleased to know that Sony has kept true to the rugged design of earlier Xperia models. Thanks to its dust-resistant and waterproof IP65 and IP68 certification – the highest possible waterproof rating – Sony claims that the Xperia XZ2 will still be protected against spills and drops.

This, Sony said, is thanks to a new, tough Corning Gorilla Glass 5 exterior and metal frame which makes it the toughest device its ever made, apparently.

In reality, we can see what they mean. The Xperia XZ2 feels super tough and sturdy in the hand, but as a result, it feels much heavier than its predecessor. Looking at the specs, you’ll see why. It weighs over 40g more than the Xperia XZ1 at 198g. It’s also over 3mm thicker, measuring 11.1mm, meaning that while it feels sleeker, it is a bit more cumbersome than previous Xperia flagships.  

Saying that, it’s by far our favourite Xperia design yet, as it feels really well made while also looking the part. 

Boasting a 13 per cent bigger screen than its predecessor, the Xperia XZ, the new and improved flagship handset features a 5.7in FHD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio for nicer, wider viewing experiences.

In our hands-on time, we came to love the display on the XZ2, which boasts a super-vibrant screen that uses the firm’s Bravia TV technology for the ultimate contrast and colour vibrancy.

Text and images look sharp and touch operations are smooth on pages and apps, too. Nothing to cause concern here.

Powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor alongside 4GB of RAM, the Xperia XZ2 boasts much faster CPU and GPU speeds as well as an upgraded Qualcomm modem, which Sony said offers download speeds up to 1.2 GBps.

While we weren’t able to test its modem speeds in our hands-on, we found there to be zero lag, even when playing and recording 4K video, which might we add is now of HDR quality.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 runs Google’s Android 8.0 Oreo mobile operating system right out of the box. However, Sony has again skinned the OS with its own custom user interface, which is very light and unnoticeable, mind.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 is said to be the “world’s first smartphone to be able to support 4K HDR movie recording” thanks to an upgraded 19MP Motion Eye camera, which touts ISO levels of 12,800 and a 960FPS FHD slo-mo video capture, meaning it can capture in Full HD moving image (previously in 720p in the Xperia XZ1) for super slow-mo recordings.  

While we weren’t able to test the performance of the camera in low-light conditions, we found the still images taken with the Xperia XZ2’s rear-facing camera were super impressive, appearing crisp, clear, and full of natural colour, and were taken super-fast. Autofocus is swift, and the camera was able to focus on the background and foreground aspects of an image instantly.

One of the most interesting new camera features of the XZ2, however, is its ability to take a selfie with its 3D body scanning tech, which we saw in the firm’s previous flagship, and means you can capture your head in a single scan to use as an avatar, without needing a friend to do it.

The quality of the image has also been improved here, with the XZ2 leaving the scan processing to the server to improve the speed. We didn’t get chance to try this in our short hands-on, but we’ll be keen for giving it a go when we get the device in for a full review.

First impressions and availability
Overall, we were very impressed with the Sony Xperia XZ2 in our hands-on time, but the handset’s success will depend partly on its price, which Sony has yet to reveal.

Both the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact will be available globally from March 2018, launching in Liquid Silver, Liquid Black, Deep Green and Ash Pink colour options. 

Check back with the INQUIRER soon for our full review. µ 

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