Wrap Up: Xperia Z2 vs. The High-end Pack
It may be just over six months since the release of the Xperia Z1, but there’s no doubting that the Xperia Z2 is Sony’s best and most well-rounded smartphone to date. The company has listened to feedback, addressed the flaws of past devices, and made a handset that’s easy to like.
The biggest gripe we had with previous Sony smartphones was the average display. This has been completely solved with the Xperia Z2’s 5.2-inch IPS panel: viewing angles are great, saturation is better than ever, and generally this is a panel that holds its own with competitors who’ve already established strong display offerings.
The camera has received some solid tweaks as well. Notably the inclusion of 4K video recording and improvements to low-light imagery. The hardware has stayed the same, so still no optical image stabilization, however this hasn’t stopped Sony from getting the best out of it. Images often look great, especially in situations where similar cameras have struggled, and the company’s strive for accuracy is commendable.
There are still several issues with the camera software – not supporting all features, such as HDR, when shooting full resolution images is confounding – which I hope Sony can iron out in a future release. Nevertheless, Superior Auto mode is solid, even if it captures 8-megapixel photos.
The software offering on the phone is bland without being visually unpleasant. Some apps are boring skinned versions of what you’ll find in stock Android, while others have had decent extra functionality integrated in. Aside from a shocking collection of bloatware, there’s nothing remarkable nor disappointing about what Sony has brought to the table.
On the hardware front, many aspects that made its predecessor great haven’t changed significantly in the Xperia Z2. You’re still getting a fantastic water resistant design that looks sleek and is constructed of premium materials, with new front-facing stereo speakers. The Snapdragon 801 is undoubtedly powerful, despite not being a huge upgrade from the Snapdragon 800.
Sony hasn’t skimped on battery life either, with the Z2 packing in a large 3,200 mAh battery and decent power saving features. I haven’t been impressed with the battery life of Sony’s past Xperias, but it’s clear this time around some serious improvements to efficiency have been achieved.
While the Xperia Z2 is a rounded, capable smartphone that’s solid across nearly every area, it lacks a killer feature that makes it stand out from the crowd. Honestly, we couldn't find a single thing that the Z2 couldn't handle with aplomb, but at the same time it doesn’t do anything significantly better than the rest of the high-end pack. The Z2's design is great, but the One M8’s design is better. The display is great, but the Nexus 5 edges it out if ever so slightly. Even the camera is great, but it’s not leagues ahead of the Galaxy S5.
Meanwhile the Galaxy S5’s focus on health and fitness gives it a differentiated feature set that makes it attractive to a certain crowd. The HTC One M8 has the Duo Camera and an astonishing build quality that makes it stand out. I'm sure many people will love the Xperia Z2, but if Sony wants to take it to the next level, it’ll need to find itself a killer feature.
Pros: The best Sony display to date. Great battery life and performance. Camera has improved upon an already solid offering. There wasn't a single thing the Z2 didn't do well.
Cons: Camera software could still use some tweaking. A few design and software annoyances. High-end competitors offer similarly well-rounded packages.