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Sony Xperia XZ2 Review

Sony has a new flagship phone in town that goes by the name of the Xperia XZ2, and it sports a redesigned chassis with some great internals in tow. With a new focus and aesthetic, could the XZ2 bring Sony back in the flagship smartphone game? This is our full review.

Design and Construction

The XZ2, as mentioned earlier, bears a different design from Sony’s common box-y Xperia construction and has opted for a more fluid and refined take in its flagship device. Both the front and the back of the device are now covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 5, and some of the buttons or key features have been remade.

For instance, the right side houses all of the phone’s buttons — a volume rocker, a smaller power/lock button that’s devoid of a fingerprint sensor, and a camera button that offers assistance when taking photos.

The top of the device has the noise-canceling microphone and the hybrid dual-SIM slot that needs no ejector to remove. It’s not hot-swappable, though, as the phone automatically restarts once it has been ejected from the phone.

The lower part has the microphone and the USB Type-C port, as well as two antenna bands that aid in capturing better signal given its construction. The sides are all curved to provide a better overall feel when holding the phone.

At the front of the XZ2 is a tall 5.7-inch IPS display, a call speaker grill that also functions as a speaker, a five-megapixel front camera, an LED notification light, a couple of visible sensors, and a long, thin slit at the bottom that completes the stereo speaker setup of the device.

Once you check on the back, you’ll notice a re-positioned number of modules that are neatly lined up in the middle. The 19-megapixel rear camera and its accompanying LED Flash and sensors are all at the upper-middle part, while the fingerprint scanner is separated from the power button for the first time in years and has been placed right at the center. Despite its aesthetically pleasing layout, this positioning dissatisfies the ergonomics as we oftentimes mistake the camera module for the fingerprint scanner, and we wouldn’t even notice unless we look at it ourselves or someone else notices it.

One can say that the phone has undeniably become heavier than the predecessor given that the XZ2 bears an all-glass construction. Despite the noticeable heft, it isn’t much of a worry since the device is still good to be carried for long periods of time. The 2.5D curved glass at the front also enables the user to seamlessly navigate between the side frames to the main screen without much fuss.

Still, the design attracts fingerprint smudges from time to time and is quite a hard one to hold when you have wet hands. The absence of an audio jack is also noticeable, and it’s something most audio users would groan about despite the presence of a USB Type-C to 3.5mm jack in the package.

Display and Multimedia

Sony opted to power the XZ2 with a 5.7-inch HDR IPS display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a Full HD+ resolution, enabling you to see 424 pixels per inch. It’s also backed by the company’s TRILUMINOUS technology with X-reality and a dynamic contrast enhancer — something we oftentimes see with their own BRAVIA LED TV lineups.

The idea of having such technology in a small device has done well for viewing as it enabled rich, vibrant colors, the right amount of contrast, and great viewing angles. Its brightness is good to be seen up a high sunny day, and the lowest offer decent comfort for bedtime reading.

Stereo speakers have now begun to accompany most flagships, and so does the XZ2 with two speakers that deliver clear, well-produced audio thanks to the phone’s built-in ClearAudio+ technology. In addition, the S-Force Front Surround system envelops you right in the music with peak highs at 79dB. There’s also a dynamic vibration mode that makes the phone buzz in sync with the produced sound, as well as toggle its intensity upon your liking.

You’re literally walking with a walkman around as the phone also sports a DSEE HX audio chip that enables you to listen to high-resolution audio whether in wired or wireless mode. There’s no 3.5mm audio jack, so you’re left with using the included converter in the package to use the included headphones in the package that still offer decent sound. You’re still better off with an IEM of your choice to fully maximize the phone’s audio capabilities.

Camera

Sony makes great cameras alongside the software it has on its phones based on previous generations, and the XZ2 delivers the same with its 19-megapixel Exmor rear camera that features live filters subbed as Creative photos, panorama mode, and a Sound Photo mode that records audio with the photo. There’s also a dedicated camera button to quick-launch the app and offer more precise shutters.

Pictures taken at decent lighting offer vibrant colors, decent sharpness and contrast, and good low-light shots that offer minimal noise. Likewise, the five-megapixel front camera offers smudgy, creamy portraits with decent brightness and colors, still suitable for social media sharing. Here are some sample shots:

Videos, on the other hand, offer 4K video recording and slow motion up to 960 frames per second in Full HD resolution with good details and composition values. Here are some sample clips:

OS, UI, and Apps

Android Oreo tucked inside Sony’s own Xperia UI is what’s baked with all XZ2s, and the skin is a lightweight with minimal learning curves if you’re coming from pure Android with sliding app drawers, Xperia-exclusive features, and a ton of pre-loaded apps in tow. Aside from Google’s suite of apps, we get Sony’s own apps for photos, movies, and music, social media apps like Facebook, and others such as AVG Antivirus and Amazon. These pre-loaded apps, unfortunately, cannot be uninstalled right off the bat.

As such, there’s an available 40GB of free space for installing other apps and content. This could be further expanded with a microSD card, at the expense of dual-SIM connectivity, in the hybrid card slot.

Performance and Benchmarks

The Xperia XZ2 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip coupled with 4GB of RAM, and the result is a fluid device that’s great to multitask or play games with. Noticeable warmness can be felt at the upper right side when doing intensive tasks, but nonetheless is a lot cooler than the metal-clad Xperias of the yesteryear.

As for gaming, we experienced minimal stutters when playing PUBG Mobile, Rules of Survival, or even Asphalt 8. Even with its setup, it outperformed several flagship phones in our database. Here are a few benchmarks we took with the device:

Benchmark ToolScore
AnTuTu v7263,586
3D Mark4,046 (SSE – OpenGL ES 3.1)
-3,357 (SSE – Vulkan)
Geekbench 4.22,391 (Single-Core)
8,197 (Multi-Core)
PC Mark8,258 (Work 2.0)
10,060 (Work 1.0)
AndroBench740.52 MB/s (Sequential Read)
174.71 MB/s (Sequential Write)

Call Quality, Connectivity, and Battery Life

Calls made with the XZ2 are crystal clear — you can hear the other party audibly in the call speaker, while the noise cancellation feature is deemed good and can help you achieve a good conversation in noisy environments.

Other wireless connections works great — the Bluetooth is adequate for file sharing and high-quality audio streaming over your favorite wireless audio gear, NFC is responsive, and GPS identifies your location near accurately.

With a 3,180mAh battery in tow, one might think that the Xperia XZ2 offers quite a short life on a single charge, but this is not the case. We’ve used the phone at an average of eighteen hours on single charge consisting of calls, SMS, taking photos, and light to moderate browsing over WiFi and Mobile 4G data. Sony also has options to keep the features down to the very basics with its stamina mode just in case you need to get more power to go through your day. It automatically goes to such when the battery reaches 15%, so be prepared with that.

Our PCMark battery test kept on crashing when we did our tests, but our video loop test got 14 hours and 33 minutes score. Recharging with the Type-C USB connection takes roughly 1.5 hours on a single charge. There are options for wireless charging but an accessory needs to be purchased separately for that to accomplish.

Conclusion

Sony surprised us with a redesign of its flagship Xperia line starting with the XZ2, and the result was a smartphone worthy of challenging other formidable competitors in the range it wants to tap with, given a Php43,990 price tag in tow. It’s a good performer when we check on a lot of the features this possesses — a rich and vibrant display, a great camera, good performance, and crystal-like audio technology that seems to cater to audiophiles and casual listeners alike.

However, no smartphone is deemed perfect as the Japanese company has missed on quite a few opportunities to cater to loyal fans and curious buyers alike. Despite contingency measures, the absence of a direct audio jack in the device to preserve its aesthetics would throw off a few people who prefer direct wired connections. There’s also the dilemma of a hybrid dual-SIM slot and the presence of still uninstallable apps that are there with the device since day zero.

The direction is heading towards Sony’s next big thing, and that is the Xperia XZ2.

Sony Xperia XZ2 specs:

SpecificationSony Xperia XZ2
Display5.7-inch 18:9 Full HD+ (1080 x 2160) HDR TRILUMINOS display
GlassCorning Gorilla Glass 5
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 845
GPUAdreno 630
RAM
4GB
Storage64GB UFS
MicroSDup to 400GB
Rear Camera19MP rear Motion Eye camera (1/ 2.3”, 1.22?m, 25mm Sony G Lens f/2.0)
960fps Full HD slow Mo, 4K HDR video
Front Camera5MP Exmor RS front camera (1/ 5”, 23mm f/2.2 wide angle)
SIMDual SIM
LTE4G LTE
WiFiWiFi, Miracast
Bluetooth5.0
GPSGPS with aGPS, GLONASS
NFCNFC
AudioStereo Speaker with S-Force Front Surround, Qualcomm aptX HD audio
PortUSB Type-C 3.1
Water/Dust ResistanceIP65/IP68
OSAndroid 8.0 Oreo
Battery3180mAh battery w/ Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, Qi Wireless Charging
Dimensions153 x 72 x 11.1 mm
Weight198g
ColorsLiquid Black, Liquid Silver, Deep Green, Ash Pink
PricePhp43,990

What we liked:

  • Good performance
  • Great seamless design
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Great camera
  • Rich, vibrant display
  • Water resistance certification

What we didn’t like:

  • Rear camera and fingerprint scanner placement
  • Absence of a 3.5mm audio jack
  • Uninstallable bloatware still present
  • Hybrid dual-SIM slot


Carl spots the newest devices and best deals in town as a Senior Correspondent and creates lists of everything and anything tech with Fast Five. Feel free to drop him a line at @lamielcarl!

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