Sony’s smartphone department has had immense competition from the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi, and Samsung in recent years but that hasn’t put a damper on them releasing new devices.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 is the company’s 2018 flagship smartphone and it packs quite a punch. Sporting a refined design that deviates away from what we’re used to. The Xperia XZ2 is curvier, glossier and practically covered in glass.
Apart from the new aesthetics, the device features one of the most powerful mobile processors around and handles everything thrown at it with ease. So why should a user choose this device over a Samsung Galaxy S9 then? Well we’ll help weigh up your options in this review
Sony Xperia XZ2 review – Futuristic design
The Sony Xperia XZ2 employs a design that sets itself apart from previous Xperia models. For starters, the XZ2 has far less bezel on display than the XZ1.
This is a major plus since the XZ1’s front looked quite frankly, atrocious, in comparison with the sleek designs of the competition such as the Galaxy S8. Thankfully, the XZ2 features a new look that makes it feel much more modern yet still uniquely Sony. The XZ2 makes use of a curved glass back and everything about this just screams “Premium”.
Sony’s “Omnibalance” design has been a company staple for a couple of years now so it’s great to see them making some changes in the aesthetics department even if they may be questionable in practice.
Having less pronounced edges, the XZ2 is covered in glass with a metal frame to keep it all together. The phone’s back is curved and features a glossy finish. This does mean that it’s a fingerprint and dust magnet so users should be warned. Be prepared to wipe the phone down every now and then to keep it looking shiny and pristine.
A frosted glass finish may have been a better option for the device in order to minimize the visibility of fingerprints. Having a curved glass back also means that the phone has a tendency to slide around on a surface when bumped. Thankfully, the glass used is Corning Gorilla Glass 5 so it will be less prone to scratches and damage over time.
The 5.7 inch device has a much more screen space than the previous model which is quite a welcome change. Perplexingly though, Sony has opted for a standard 1080 x 2160 pixels, 18:9 ratio Full HD+ HDR enabled IPS display on the device instead of a higher resolution screen.
In comparison, Samsung’s S9+ has a 1440 x 2960 pixels, 18.5:9 ratio Super AMOLED display that will look far more crisp than Sony’s Triluminous display on the XZ2. Sony, like so many other manufacturers has also opted to omit the headphone jack on the device and this may be a deal-breaker for some.
The XZ2’s 19MPcamera has been slightly improved upon over the XZ1 and still features predictive phase detection and laser autofocus. The device is also capable of recording 4K HDR and 1080p super-slow motion (960FPS) videos with ease. The super-slow motion is easily activated and records in 2 second bursts. Unfortunately, the Xperia camera is still unable to capture decent photo or video in lowlight conditions.
Another perplexing design change is the relocation of the fingerprint scanner. Previously the fingerprint scanner would be located on the device’s edge and doubled as a power button.
Now it’s been evicted from its usual spot and relocated to the back of the device underneath the camera. This places it in a position that may seem a bit awkward to use but it’s a minor grievance.
The XZ2 features a USB Type-C port much like the Huawei P20 and Samsung Galaxy S9. The phone is also IP65/IP68 certified which means that it’s dust/water-proof (up to 1.5m for 30 mins). We tested this by placing it under running water and the device has worked perfectly since its swim.
Sony Xperia XZ2 review – The dragon roars
The Xperia XZ2 makes use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset with a Kyro 385 CPU. An Adreno 630 GPU and 4GB ram rounds off the package and ultimately makes the XZ2 one of the most powerful smartphones around right now.
Comparatively, the Samsung Galaxy S9 features a Snapdragon 845 in certain regions with the local variant sporting an Exynos 9810. Benchmarks have proven that the Snapdragon 845 beats the Exynos 9810 but of course, real world testing may differ based on what apps are run on an individual device. We ran a series of benchmarks on the XZ2 though and the obtained the following results:
Sony Xperia XZ2 review – Battering the Battery
The Sony Xperia XZ2 contains a 3180mAh Li-Ion battery that will generally give you around a full day’s worth of usage. At 100% charge at 9am in the morning, and after a full day’s worth of normal usage, the phone would enter into stamina mode at 15% battery around 9pm. Of course this will vary depending on each use case and on the screen brightness employed (We used adaptive brightness). If you plan on really abusing the battery with a lot of 4K HDR video recording or HDR movie playback, be prepared to charge the phone much sooner though as this does significantly eat into the battery.
In the week of testing, the Xperia XZ2 held up quite well and each day of usage left us with enough battery to make it to bedtime quite comfortably. Users will definitely have to charge it overnight though because there won’t be enough battery power left in the device to last you a full second day of usage unless you make use of Stamina Mode permanently, or employ drastic measures such as Ultra Stamina Mode (which limits the phone to the utmost basics).
Geekbench’s battery partial discharge battery test, with adaptive brightness switched on, yielded a score of 4314, draining 39% battery in 3 hours in low-light conditions from midnight to 3am. This relatively puts it on par with the real world usage testing performed and earns it higher marks than Samsung’s Galaxy S9 battery life, depending on user usage.
Sony Xperia XZ2 review – Flagship worthy
Sony’s Xperia XZ2 certainly has what it takes to be a flagship device for 2018 but its biggest problem lies with its direct competitors.
The Samsung S9 and S9+ stacks up pretty well against the XZ2 and it may eventually all come down to local pricing as to whether or not this device is a better purchase. The Xperia XZ2 retails for $799 which places it slightly higher up on the pricing scale than Samsung’s Galaxy S9 ($720) yet still being cheaper than Huawei’s P20 ($850).
Given the fact that the phone has handled everything we’ve thrown at it in the past week, including multiple sessions of mobile PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds with no hiccups, we’d recommend putting it on your radar.
The curved glass design, “Premium” feel and blisteringly fast chipset makes the Sony Xperia XZ2 a great choice if you’re planning to upgrade to a new device this year.