What has speakers in the front, a vivacious display and one of the sharpest cameras in the Android world? Let me give you a hint: it’s a metal and glass obelisk that can go for a swim and look good while doing it. It’s Sony’s premium smartphone: the Xperia Z2.
From the first moment you pick it up, one assumes that this Android is a lightweight at 163 grams, but with 5.2 inches of display, 8.2 millimetre thickness, an 801 snapdragon quad-core processor, a Lithium-Ion 3200 mAh battery and 3GB RAM, it can go head-to-head with any leading Samsung. Not only that, but it can record this battle in ultra HD (4K recording) on its 20.7 megapixel camera. All this in a water and dust-proof glass casing, making this phone markedly different.
Though its glass sandwich construction makes it one of the most functional Android offerings of the year, there was room for improvement aesthetically, with the side rails glinting purple in colour, detracting from its sleek black and silver finish. On the other hand, this is made up for by the magnetic DockPort, which enables it to be attached to a stand up dock, making charging effortless, rather than the usual fiddling of the port covers on the side.
Other features that will set this device apart and that users will appreciate are things like clear audio plus, which automatically optimises sound settings for listening to things. The active noise cancellation works by having a microphone located on the top, next to the headphone jack, automatically reducing atmospheric noise whilst on the phone or listening to music. There is a separate microphone for voice recording located near the bottom of the phone. When listening to your music, you can have a play around with the free equalizer that is on offer. It’s not exactly comprehensive, but it’s free and better than nothing, which is what most other phones offer. The dynamic normaliser is another cool feature which minimises the difference in volume of songs and videos. Basically it increases the volume of quiet sounds, whilst decreasing the volume of loud ones, without harming the audio quality.
The notification light built into the ear piece will light up differently according to the type of notification it is. For example, messages and missed calls are white, whereas Facebook is blue.
Waking up the device is now as simple as double-tapping the screen. When you do, you are presented with a 1080p (Full HD) display, which is now made with the Triluminos technology found in high-end Sony Bravia televisions. For those who are not familiar with this form of display, it works like this: the eye sees the colour range pictured below in the back of the two images. Triluminos displays allow for a wider pallet of rich, natural colours. Combine this with the X-reality image processor engine, which adds clarity to pictures by enhancing contrast, adding saturation and sharpness, whilst reducing noise, not to mention the super-resolution function, which analyses and then produces missing pixels to allow a high-resolution experience.
The software behind its sharp display is Android 4.4.2 (Kitkat), allowing for a lot of customisation. There was, though, a few little things that I found that other users also might find bothersome, such as Sony’s UI (User interface), which is as intense as ever. While this does not affect the smoothness or speed at which it runs, it does make it feel full-on. This is noticeable in the small apps option. Even on a big 5.2 inch display, the windowed apps feel clunky and serve little purpose. Other things include Sony’s self-promotion as seen in the ‘what’s new’ app, which is a disguise for the Sony media store. Similarly, there was no need for the special Xperia versions of social media apps, such as Facebook and Twitter.
All these minor things pale in comparison when it comes to the Sony’s trademark: a 20.7 megapixel camera with a dedicated shutter button. The dedicated button is a feature which I would like to see in all standard Android devices. It not only allows for quick launch, but half pressing it allows for focus. The software allows for cool features such as ‘background defocus’, ‘creative effect’ and my personal favourite ‘info-eye’, which takes a picture of landmarks and objects and gives you information on them. Most of these, though, are for edits you make to your own photo. However, to take clean, crisp photos in a wide range of shooting conditions, you can use the default superior auto mode. Low light performance is exceptional, even in auto mode, but for a truly brilliant picture I advise you to play with and tweak some of the features available in manual mode. What is also great is that zooming in on objects is no longer a problem when shooting in the 15 or 20 megapixel mode. With its ability to also record video in 4K (Ultra High Definition), I believe the Z2 offers the best overall camera experience on the market thus far.
Currently it is valued $650-$750 outright through various outlets and service providers. All that said and done, I was thrilled to hear the announcement of the Xperia Z3 and I am looking forward to what it brings to the ring.