Sony has thrown itself as the major player in the smartphone market after quitting the PC business. Now the majority of focus is to capture this market with cutting edge technology and astute strategy. It’s more than a year now when Sony launched its first flagship smartphone Xperia Z in the market. The phone was an excellent device but flawed by poor display and vulnerable build quality. Sony continued to iterate devices on this platform and next to come up was Xperia Z1 released last year September. The device was offered with a robust body but addressed very few flaws of the predecessor. This time company took a major step and launched Xperia Z2 at MWC 2014 with a horde of improvements along with a compact version of Xperia Z1. The subdued Xperia Z1 compact was an instant hit and critically acclaimed all over with powerful specs in a mini package. But taking in mind Sony’s short term releases, its easy to see that this time also the sequel is just an incremental update nothing else. Does this move from Sony work or it is just an exercise in futility? Let’s find out.

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Design

Hardly have you found any changes when you cast first glance at Sony Xperia Z2 but a few subtle modifications here and there to appear better than the previous one.

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  • Power button are now a bit smaller in size and the speaker grille that was at the bottom in Z1, is no more at the same place. Instead it has been moved to the front.
  • The body is carved out of glass and metal while the frame has more round edges this time.
  • All the buttons are nicely placed and substantially useful while the camera shutter button comes handy.
  • The Xperia Z2 does come with IP58 grading that means it can be submerged in water upto 1 meter for as long as 30minutes.
  • One handed usage is still not comfortable as it is the same size of its predecessor.

In terms of design, the new Sony Xperia Z2 brings nothing new to the folks but it is not necessarily a bad thing as this design has become the moniker of Sony style statement.

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Display

The display comes impressive as a number of improvements have been done to enhance the experience.

  • Firstly, there is a slight increment of 0.2 inches while Sony has tried to keep the overall dimensions close to Z1 as much as possible and there are valid reasons behind it.
  • Secondly, many consumers were disappointed about the redundant bezels around the display and Sony addressed this concern in this new offering. It smartly narrowed down the bezels to fit in the larger 5.2inch display.
  • The phone now also comes with Live Color LED technology with same X-Reality Engine and Triluminos display that makes the screen more vivid.
  • The viewing angles are now better than the previous one.

Hardware and Performance

There are definite changes in this section which does gives this latest phone a jump to the top league.

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  • Sony upgraded Z2 to a more powerful and currently the fastest Snapdragon 801 processor from previous Snapdragon 800. Now it comes shoulder to shoulder to Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.
  • Memory can now be expandable up to 128GB to supplement the 16GB inbuilt storage.
  • And with 3GB of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU, it’s a beast now that surpasses both Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 to become the only smartphone in the category to hold such powerful specs. But unfortunately in terms of performance it is still on the third position compared to the two.
  • The phone still lacks USB 3.0 support which now has been part of several Samsung smartphones.
  • Xperia Z2 now comes with NFC support and the ability to connect to Dualshock controller via USB OTG cable.
  • The speakers at the front still lacks richness but decent for personal enjoyment.
  • Battery has also been tweaked to 3,200 mAh from 3,000 mAh in the previous one. Average user can easily get a full day of usage especially when power saving feature is enabled.
  • Gaming was excellent on the device and the highest games can be played to test the chipset and you will find that there isn’t an iota of hiccup or freezing at any point of time.

Camera

Sonxy Xperia Z1 was introduced with striking 20.7 megapixel camera. On paper it was the best camera but in real world it wasn’t close to Galaxy S4 and LG G2. The huge 1/2.3’ Exmor RS sensor powering the camera was short on performance. This time Sony has improved the image processing power. Whether we are shooting in broad daylight or in a more challenging low light situation, Z2 came out better than both HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5. Sony has also updated video recording capability to 4K plus stabilization based on software named ‘Steady Shot’ and also a slow motion mode for shooting 720p videos. However 4k recording is not up to the mark with video recording limitation to 4 minutes because of overheating issues. There is improvement this time but overall the camera is again a marketing gimmick rather than a useful feature.

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Software

On the software front, the latest Android version 4.4.2 KitKat comes onboard. Just like the previous one, the user interface feels pure stock Android experience with some notable changes to Sony’s ecosystem. It does come with lots of bloatware but thankfully Sony allows us to delete some of them. As mentioned above, it now supports DualShock 3 controller that let you play any Android game with controller enabled, wirelessly with a Sony PlayStation controller. But this feature is also short on games and rather elementary. Overall the user interface continues to show the essence of stock Android with unique Sony apps to make it stand out in the crowd.

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Pricing and Verdict

Sony Xperia Z2 has been launched in several markets around the world. No doubt it is one of the best smartphone available in the market today but can’t say for sure it is the best. At list price of $759 it is cheaper than HTC One M8 at $899 and much cheaper than Samsung Galaxy S5 priced at $929. While few incremental changes might not appease the existing owners to switch to this one but if you had not picked up the Z1 previously, then purchasing Xperia Z2 is probably a better choice.

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