Sony Xperia Z2 – A week in review

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This post has been Updated 7th August  after more 4K Video Testing
 

I have owned my Sony Xperia Z2 for just over a week now and have had a chance to get to use most of the features that make this phone special. So here is my unbiased and honest review.

What is special about the Sony?

One of the killer features of the Sony for me, is the water and dust proofing. I am a regular bus user and in the UK, that means getting wet. With previous phones I have always been too worried about using them. Now I can continue to use the phone even in the heaviest of the British down pours. As the phone is new, it runs the latest version of Android, 4.4 (KitKat) out of the box.

Features

  • 5.2″ 1080 x 1920 Screen
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • 16Gb Internal Storage (12Gb usable)
  • Micro SD Cards upto 64Gb
  • Multi-colour Notification Strip
  • Face Detection for always on screen
  • 3200 mAh Battery
  • IP58 certified – dust proof and water resistant over 1 meter and 30 minutes
  • NFC
  • Noise Cancelling In-ear head-phones.
  • 3G/4G Mobile compatibility
  • 20.7 Mega Pixel rear camera / 2.2 Mega Pixel front camera. 4K video recording
  • Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band
  • Quad Core 2.3Ghz CPU

Daily usage

When you first get this phone, like all Androids – the first thing is to setup your Google account. This will then bring along your email and Google Play account information. As this is a Sony phone, it will also ask if you have a Sony network account (Play Station, Sony Smart TV etc) to bring along some cross compatible games and your wallet from the PSN. I have owned a PS3 before and so was able to use this account. Going from a 4.8″ phone, this one feels large in the hand and your pockets. I used to stash my phone in my shirt pocket, but the size of the Sony has meant it now lives in my trouser/jeans pocket. The size does mean a bigger battery and this is noticeable in day to day usage and the lack of charging compared to my older Samsung Galaxy Siii. The screen of the Sony may only be an LCD, but in comparison to my Siii the screen is brighter and just as usable in all but the very brightest of direct sunlight. In very bright direct sunlight you will see the digitizer (that is the technology that enables you to control the phone with your fingers) as a diamond pattern. This can be frustrating initially – but just turn the phone away from the direct light and all is fine and after a week in the very nice British sun I barely notice it any more.

Special Usage

On a recent day trip to Great Yarmouth I got to test the battery life, camera and video-recording and was pleasantly surprised by the phone life. It lasted all day even in a bad signal area and I did not need to try and find a charging point. The camera is nice and simple to use with it’s intelligent auto mode, you can just click and go. Straight from the lock screen you can use the dedicated camera shutter button to get snapping in seconds. This does not skip the lock screen directly, but will allow you to snap away. If you want to check on the shots taken, you will need to unlock the phone first. So that is good to know that Sony have learnt from previous security issues of other Android (and Apple) issues. I did try the 4K video, but only inside in poor light – but even then – the results are very good. I don’t have a 4K monitor or TV to test the playback on so can only say that on my 2k monitor it looks amazing.

Special Features

The Xperia Z2 has a user option to allow double tapping the screen while it is off. This will turn the screen on, allowing you to look at any notifications and unlock the phone. This is handy if the phone is flat on a surface as the power button is necessarily small. The USB port, Sim Card slot and memory card slot are all covered by a waterproof and dust proof cover. To combat the need to keep opening the cover, you can get a special magnetic charging dock from Sony that uses the waterproof magnetic dock on the side of the phone. You can also buy 3rd party adaptors that will allow you to use any usb charging block. The phone I purchased from EE came with a pair of noise cancelling headphones. These work with hardware in the phone (twin microphones) to cancel out background noise. I have had opportunity to test this in a room with a VERY loud air conditioning unit and the difference it made was exceptional. From a headache inducing noise, to just a background hum. I am also not normally able to ware ear-phones comfortably, but I was able to use this pair for a few hours without any issues.

Personalisation

One of the reasons I go for Android’s over Apple’s or Window’s Phones, is the freedom to customize the phone to my liking. Don’t like the launcher? Change it! Don’t like the icons? Change them! Don’t like the lock screen … you get the idea. The Xperia Z2 does not let you down in this department. Normally changing the default launcher required you go to into the applications setting, removing the current default. Then going to the app screen and launching the new one and setting as default. Sony has put an option up front that will allow you to pick the default without all that messing around! They have also built in a custom theme manager. Search the Play Store for Xperia themes, download and apply. Themes can change all aspects of the phone, from colours, fonts and icons, all the way to the on screen Android buttons! This is one of the first smart phones where I have not immediately reached for a rooting tool kit. There is simply no need with this phone! So that’s the list of PROS and it is a lot! Are there any downsides? Sure

Cons

  • 4K recording makes the phone VERY hot and may shut off between two and 10 minutes of recording. So no good for recording an entire concert in Ultra-HD. I have managed up to 10 minutes so far.
  • The aforementioned visibility of the digitizer.
  • Some of the Sony Bloatware

Are these show-stoppers? No, not really as you can hide the bloat and if you really need to record for a long time in 4k you would possibly have a better solution already.

Scores

Design:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Value:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Features:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Performance:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Average:5 Stars (5 / 5)

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