The Sony Xperia phones have always been a sight to behold, and they run well. But does it keep up with the other phones we’ve reviewed so far? Find out now as, today, we delve into the Sony Xperia Z2.
You need to have a good first impression, and whilst the boxing for the device isn’t revolutionary, The Xperia box has a nice colour scheme and simplistic design that compliments the device well. The main image shows off the sleek design of the phone, as well as the factory operating system. The box also advertises the noise cancelling headphones included with the device, as well as a host of features on the back of the box, including the 4k movie recording capabilities, waterproof features and Triluminds display. The inside of the box opts for a design we have praised before on the site; the phone is the only thing visible when you open the box, and clutter that isn’t necessarily important, such as the charger and headphones, are hidden behind a separate flap of card. Overall, the box is reasonably serviceable, but does little to excite the user as they open up their new phone. The developers are clearly going for the wow factor of the device. Without much more delay, let’s move onto the device itself.
As with the previous iterations of this device, the Sony Xperia Z2 is, above all else, sleek. Predominantly glass on the exterior and feeling like a high quality product the moment you place it in your palm, it sits quite nicely. The phone is slightly thinner than previous incarnations of the Sony device, presumably in an attempt to allow use in one hand; unfortunately, the device’s 5.2-inch display is quite difficult to entirely navigate, having to force me to use my other hand to reach icons or settings at the very top of the screen. It’s no Nokia 1520, but the screen is still too large for one-hand use entirely. Luckily, the phone makes up for this with a beautiful display that doesn’t dare to disappoint, making the viewing of images and videos particularly exciting. It works well as a media consumption device, and doesn’t feel too sluggish, allowing for a variety of applications to be used from the Google Play store. Some discomfort can come from the flat design of the rectangular device however. A curved angle, like the one on the HTC One M8, is much more comfortable. This doesn’t make it any less appealing to use, but it is worth bearing in mind. I can imagine that, as a device, it will be used quite a lot for media consumption (Kindle reading in particular I found was very enjoyable), so wanting to have a comfortable fit in the hand is important.
Luckily, for all the varied discomfort you may get, the device runs extremely well. Applications are quick to open, and the Xperia doesn’t seem to struggle with more than a few applications at once. Games in particular are a joy, once again, to play on a device this size. Compared to smaller devices, the gaming side of mobile entertainment really does get to breathe on larger screens, and it definitely shows here. Much like the other devices we have looked at, the design of the interface is intended to be easy to use while still getting some good user complexity. These higher end phones are aiming to prove they are worth the extended price tag. Bear in mind, of course, that a phone such as the Z2, One M8 or Lumia 1520 all boast price tags larger than those of say, an Xbox One, or Playstation 4.
Where does this leave the Xperia? Unfortunately, it sits just below an HTC One M8, in my eyes. The price tag places the device around £100 cheaper, which seems fair considering the content you are going to be receiving. The Xperia delivers on promises that it guaranteed, but it doesn’t really go beyond that. In fact, it feels quite… boring. We’re going to coin a phrase with this review, and that is “boringly good”. What does that mean? Well, the Xperia Z2 is the perfect physical example of this. It’s a good smart phone, even a great one. But what does it do that isn’t just good?
Smart phones are beginning to enter a stage in their development where experimentation is key. HTC are perhaps the best known for this, releasing a ridiculous number of phones a month with the intent to find a winning number. This technique would see a dangerous down-curve in their profits, but would also see a dazzling attempt to vary and differentiate their devices in different ways. Since the release of the HTC One, and the beginning of a more standard approach, many companies have been heading into the smartphone industry with a “flagship”, a single phone that can cover an entire range of activities. The Xperia is very much the Sony “flagship”, and although it is very impressive, it’s also not very exciting. It suffers from a severe lack of innovation, heading with tropes and themes that are incredibly frequent in the smartphone market. It’s a superb phone. But it’s ONLY a good phone.
A lot of the features that are present on the Xperia are common treads with android operating systems. The applications are varied, much more enjoyably so than the apple store or the painfully restricted windows operating system. Many of you are probably more interested in how the phone itself compares with the others we have looked at, something that I will be continuing with reviews that have similarities to other devices. We’ll start with the HTC One M8. Although the M8 does boast a much better design, finish and an efficient approach to everything it does, the Z2 does have a couple of boasting points. In a straight comparison of cameras, for example, the M8’s measly 4 megapixel camera is shadowed by the Z2’s 20.7 megapixel snapper. The 4k video recording will never be achieved by the HTC One M8, making the Z2 easily the best phone for filming on the go. You’ll undoubtedly get much better footage from this phone than any other on the market.
Another example would be the Samsung Galaxy S5. Not something we’ve reviewed, but another big player on the market, the Samsung phone includes a variety of features that are “quality of life” assurances, something the Z2 unfortunately lacks. Although the Z2 is incredibly nice to use, the extra features of the Samsung S5 boast it as a much more versatile device. Although the S5 has arguably the better interface and capability, the design is a deal breaker. Definitely more up to personal choice, a decision would have to be made with the sleek, glass finish of the Xperia and the undoubtedly plastic exterior casing of the S5.
The Sony Xperia Z2 is a fantastic piece of tech, but it isn’t anything beyond that. In a smartphone market that is beginning to stagnate with the same ideas whilst avoiding the big, innovative ideas, it’s disappointing that the latest offering in the Xperia range doesn’t do more to try and separate itself from the crowd. For those of you who enjoy gaming, filming and consuming different forms of media, the Xperia may be the best choice for you out of this current smartphone crop. If you’re more into a comfortable phone that can service you in more practical ways, maybe the Sony Xperia Z2 isn’t for you.