Monday 10 December 2018

Hands-on review: new Sony XZ2 to challenge iPhone and Samsung S9

Sony Xperia XZ2
Sony Xperia XZ2
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Sony has ditched sharp corners and increased the size of the screen in its latest Xperia XZ2, which has had a hands-on trial with.

But the 5.8-inch flagship phone still only has one rear camera and is nowhere close to an all-screen device, unlike rival top-end handsets from companies like Samsung, Apple and Huawei.

Instead, Sony is emphasising incremental audio-visual features such as a new ‘dynamic vibration system’ that lets you ‘feel’ videos and music as they’re playing.

The XZ2 has also beefed up some of the features its rear and front cameras are capable of. Chief among these is HDR 4K video recording, which gives punchier colour, contrast and detail to video clips your record in ultra high definition. The phone’s super slow motion feature, which records at 960 frames per second, is also now available in full HD (1080p), a notch higher in resolution than rival super slow motion from Samsung’s new S9 (which records 960fps at 720p).

And Sony claims that low-light photos now have less noise thanks to better processing under the hood, with the same engine muscle transforming standard definition photos can be improved to a HDR standard.

As for its front-facing 5-megapixel camera, the 3D creator selfie images, first seen in the XZ1, can now be upscaled with more detail. They can also be shared instantly to Facebook.

The XZ2’s screen now has an 18:9 orientation, compared to the XZ1’s 16:9 shape. While this makes it easier to hold with its bigger screen, it also means that you won’t see the advantage of a larger screen when watching most videos, which will have to shrink a little to fit the skinnier format.

Other changes to the phone include a fingerprint sensor (the XZ1 didn’t have one), better and louder surround sound from the front of the device.

The XZ2 has a few issues that may raise eyebrows. Sony has done away with the headphone jack that the XZ1 had. While the company says that this is in line with sales of wireless headphones, some major rival companies (especially Samsung on its new Galaxy S9) aren’t convinced and are retaining their headphone jacks. (Sony says that the XZ2 will have a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor in the box.)

The device is also significantly fatter and heavier than the XZ1. Part of this is down to the larger screen. But Sony also says that it’s a design feature, which seems a little odd. Fat phones are rarely a thing to be desired.

However, Sony has finally given up the sharp edges on the corners of the XZ2, an event to be celebrated. This reporter has at least one pair of jeans whose pockets have prematurely been cut to shreds by the XZ1’s piercing edges. Thankfully, Sony has signaled that it is to follow through on this design change throughout its line of handsets in future.

It’s worth noting, too, that Sony is also releasing an XZ2 Compact edition. The 5-inch phone will have almost all the same features as the XZ2, excerpt for the vibration system. It’s expected to cost around €100 less than the XZ2, which should be priced at around €750.

Both the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact will be available in shops on April 6th and on Sony’s website from April 1st.

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