When Sony announced the Z2 smartphone and tablet, it had a clear design in mind. The two devices go together like pea and pod. Both are super thin, have a beautiful square design and exude class.
Although the Z2’s design does not deviate much from its predecessor, the Z1, Sony has updated it to deliver a slightly thinner and lighter handset.
Though it’s somewhat controversial, we like the Z2’s sharp-edge design, which makes what is a large device easier to hold. It’s also nowhere near as slippery in hand as some of its competitors.
Also, the Z2’s power button is conveniently situated on the right. No matter which hand you use, it can be accessed effortlessly. The button is a little too close to the volume rocker, but, as with LG’s G2 and G3 models, it is possible to double-tap the screen to wake up the phone.
As with the Z1, photographers will love the dedicated camera button. Holding this button, even while the screen is off, brings up the camera app. But there is a slight lag in doing so, which can mean missing the shot.
The 5,2-inch liquid crystal display on the Z2 is crisp and, although not the best resolution on a smartphone today, its full-HD resolution offers up a very respectable pixel density of 424ppi.
Images and video are vivid and the display has some of the best colour reproduction we’ve seen on a smartphone.
Under the hood, the 163g Z2 has a 2,3GHz quad-core processor from Qualcomm with a generous 3GB of RAM and 16GB of flash storage.
The phone is snappy with virtually no lag, even in processor-hungry apps.
With one of the highest-resolution cameras on a smartphone, the Z2’s 20,7-megapixel shooter produces beautiful images. Although photos are still captured through a small image sensor, they are sufficiently big to print at scale at your local print shop without any pixellation.
In reality, though, the extra megapixels are better as an effective zoom, for cropping images.
Video mode includes a slow-motion feature that records at 120fps at 720p resolution. The camera is also able to take video at 4K resolution at 30fps, but you’ll want to ensure that you have plenty of storage space available — a four-minute clip consumes 1GB — as well as a 4K monitor to play the recorded material back on. Given the 4K capability, it’s perhaps a good thing that the Z2 supports expandandable storage — by way of microSD cards — of up to 128GB.
The camera also features Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilisation, now a must-have feature on any high-end smartphone camera.
The front camera on the Z2 is a more pedestrian 2,2-megapixel model, but which can still record video at 1080p.
For the great outdoors
One of the best features of the Z2, and one that is mirrored on the Z2 tablet, is its IP58 certification. This means it’s waterproof and dustproof. This phone can be dunked in water up to 1m deep and can be kept there for up to 30 minutes without damage — great for outdoor enthusiasts, or anyone worried they might drop the thing in the toilet.
To ensure the device stays waterproof, there are weatherproof seals around the microSD card slot as well as the Sim card and micro USB slots. These covers can be a nuisance to work with, but it’s par for the course with waterproofed cellphones.
The Z2, which has a decent 3 200mAh battery, comes with Android 4.4.2 and Sony’s own custom skin, which is one of the better overlays we’ve seen. The phone comes with a range of Sony software tools, including the Walkman, Movies and PlayStation apps.
The Walkman app is a simple music player that allows users to play music from the phone or the microSD card. In other countries (not South Africa), it also provides access to Sony’s Music Unlimited service. There are, of course, plenty of other music streaming services that are available for Android.
The Movies app is similarly crippled for South African consumers, with access to Sony’s movie rental services not available locally.
PlayStation owners will appreciate the support offered with the Z2. Users can connect a PlayStation DualShock 3 controller and play PlayStation Network titles that have been optimised for Sony’s Android devices. The PlayStation app also allows the Z2 to be used as a second screen for supported PS4 games.
Our big gripe with the Z2 — and the Z2 tablet, too — is that it’s a magnet for smudges and fingerprints. Although no device can be smudge free, Sony devices seem remarkably prone to attracting them.
Other than this, it’s hard not to like the Xperia Z2. It’s a beautifully designed smartphone with an excellent camera. If you’re in the market for a new phone, by all means have a look at the Z2. You will know instantly whether you like the design or not. If you do, you will like everything else that this phone has to offer. The Sony Xperia Z2 is available on contract. It can also be bought off-contract for prices starting at about R8 000. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media