Sony Xperia XZ2 hands-on: up close with Sony's fresh, new design philosophy



It's that time of year again, kiddies; Mobile World Congress is in full swing and with it comes a flagship phone announcement from Sony Mobile. Say hello to the Sony Xperia XZ2!

Design


As you may have noticed, aesthetically, it's quite a departure from Sony's well-known and omnipresent rectangular, full-metal or metal-and-plastic designs. Instead, this year Sony decided to no longer resist popular trends, now integrating a back-mounted fingerprint sensor, an 18:9 display, and Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides, for the ubiquitous glass-meets-metal aesthetic found on high-end flagships of today. It's a good look, and comes off uniquely, seemingly drawing elements from a handful of popular phones, yet still remaining distinct.

The Xperia XZ2 is also IP65 and IP68 certified, meaning it can withstand both jets of water (IPX5) and submersion (IPX8). It doesn't look too bad either, especially in the unique colors in which it can be had. Deep Green and Ash Pink look particularly distinct, though the Liquid Black and Liquid Silver options have their own allure. All of them shimmer and reflect light in pleasing ways, somewhat reminiscent of the HTC U11

Up front, you won't find the thinnest of all bezels, but in back, the purposeful center alignment of all components not only helps with ease of use, but also lends a bit of distinction from other phones. Sony calls this design language "Ambient Flow" – an aesthetic that focuses on curvature, light reflection, and symmetry. At first, the fingerprint sensor's lower placement may feel a bit awkward, but this placement too was intentional. Meant to be exactly where you place your index finger when actually using the phone, it will certainly get the job done, but picking up your phone usually places your index finger higher on the phone's back. Further time with the device may find this adjustment comes easily, though.

Display



Nestled into this flowing frame is a 5.7-inch FHD+ HDR LCD display. As mentioned, the 18:9 ratio is employed here – a trend now followed by most top smartphone makers. But Sony adds a neat trick to set this display apart. Leveraging technology developed for Sony's Bravia TV lineup, the Xperia XZ2 is able to take standard dynamic range (SDR) content and dial it up to near-HDR levels. 

Processor and Performance


Packing Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 845 system on chip – with 4GB of RAM – Sony made it a point to work closely with the chipset maker to get the most out of its silicon. This starts first with the Snapdragon's digital image signal processor (ISP) which the two companies worked on to deliver HDR 4K video recording for the first time on a smartphone. The tight integration continues with RF antennas, where Sony incorporated all the necessary hardware to fully utilize the SD 845's gigabit LTE modem for the fastest LTE speeds available. Lastly, the XZ2 offers screen-off "OK Google" hot-word detection and does so in what the two companies say are very low-power, efficient states – Qualcomm's SD 845 itself is 30% more efficient than the 835.

Sony always keeps things light when it comes to Android. Paired Qualcomm's latest high-end silicon, flicking through the phone was a breeze and we expect top-of-the-line performance and fluidity in most every task. Further testing will reveal this phone's true power, and also its battery efficiency.

Camera



Dual cameras haven't made their way to Sony flagships yet, but we don't anticipate Sony – the maker of many high-end phones' camera sensors – to let us down here. 19 megapixels and Sony's "Motion Eye" technology should mean crisp photos and stunning 960 FPS super slow-mo videos, which now can be recorded in full 1080p HD. As mentioned, the Sony Xperia XZ2 also becomes the first smartphone to support 4K HDR video recording which Sony and Qualcomm say capture and project around 64 times more color than SDR. Initial impressions of this video capture are indeed impressive, but some cropping does take place, which is a slight drawback to this feature.

3D creator has also been improved by tweaking post-processing algorithms to capture more detail and textures, while also adding the ability to capture 3D scans on your own with the 5 MP, front-facing selfie camera. As always, you can 3D print these, but new is the ability to share them via Facebook not as mere links, but as proper, interactive 3D images.

Media


Another big focus for the Xperia XZ2 was its prowess in entertainment. High-resolution audio playback through Bluetooth and USB-C is achievable with Sony's patented LDAC codecs, while the XZ2's stereo speakers are 20% louder than those on the XZ1. Sony's also added a neat trick here as well, dubbed Dynamic Vibration. Implementing a haptic feedback actuator twice the size of the previous version, the XZ2 takes audio from games, music, and videos and emphasizes it with haptic feedback from the phone. This will mostly focus on lower-pitch sounds. For instance, games like Angry Birds will have more of a thud when you're destroying those pig's houses, while music and movies will also be more tactile, and presumably more immersive experiences. Dynamic Vibration can also be turned off if the user so desires.

Connectivity


Much to the chagrin of wired headphone/auxiliary cable advocates, the Sony Xperia XZ2 does away with the 3.5mm headphone jack, but bundles an adapter for the USB-C 3.1 port to support such connections. Otherwise, Bluetooth 5.0 and Qi wireless charging round out connectivity satisfactorily on this phone.

Battery


Sony's phones have rarely disappointed us with their battery life, and we expect the Xperia XZ2 to perform well in this regard. It comes with a 3180mAh battery, which is considerably bigger than the one we had on the XZ1. However, let us not forget that the cell now has a bigger and presumably more power-demanding screen to keep lit. 

Expectations


Sony definitely appears to have checked all the right boxes for a solid high-end flagship. With powerful specs, refreshed aesthetics, and rich multimedia capabilities, the Xperia XZ2 is ready to take on the competition. And with all of this finally comes the until-now elusive fingerprint scanner, while the power to shoot 4K HDR video and playing it back on its HDR screen gives the XZ2 an edge over its rivals. Altogether, the Sony Xperia XZ2 is a uniquely designed and high-performing flagship device. We just hope for Sony's sake that this isn't "too little too late" for mainstream consumers.

Related phones

Xperia XZ2
  • Display 5.7" 1080 x 2160 pixels
  • Camera 19 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3180 mAh(23h 3G talk time)

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58 Comments

1. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 734; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

And I thought sony have change!

3. MINDoSOUL

Posts: 322; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

A very boring design too generic, that bottom speaker hole size is big & ugly as f from a design stand point. There is no symmetry in design add to that the unnecessary logo is still there on the front. No thank you Sony!

25. foreverNOOB

Posts: 166; Member since: Jul 07, 2017

Also that color palette look like Sony copied LG V30's Moroccan blue and Violet too.

2. Feanor

Posts: 1379; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

For me this new design direction is quite a disaster. The "Loop" design (incorrectly people referred to it as Omnibalance, as if Omnibalance was a coined word for huge bezels) may have had large bezels but it was thin (7.9mm for my XZ Premium) and with a nice machined precision with its diamond cut "loops". This new design direction, apart from being very fat (over 11mm in thickness to cancel out the bezels and place the camera directly behind the screen), has these horrible arced highlights on the back and it looks like every other smartphone, especially HTC. But worse of all, it makes Sony design directly comparable to Samsung's design, where Sony looses hands down (thicker profile, larger bezels, pillow like, arched highlights on the back). At least Omnibalance and Loop design were keeping Sony away from being unfavourably compared to Samsung, being of a completely different design ethos. Looks like I'll be keeping my XZ Premium a bit longer.

24. yann

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Same here. Hope next Premium to be real successor of xzp and keep omi balance with FPS side mounted. I do not like back FPS and this fat design. Not buy this. Hope for xzp, but if it is like this, will keep my xzp till next phone from another brand.

26. Feanor

Posts: 1379; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

XZ Premium was not Omnibalance. Z: Omnibalance (standing for glass front, back and all around thanks to plexis inserted in the frame) Z1-Z2: Watered down Omnibalance (glass front, back, metallic inserts all around) Z3-X: Even more watered down Omnibalance with the cancelling of side inserts XZ-XZ1: Loop design, nothing to do with Omnibalance People think that Omnibalance stands for square design with fat bezels but Omnibalance was just the original Xperia Z design because of its glassy inserts all around.

4. TerryD

Posts: 553; Member since: May 09, 2017

Back looks like a Lumia 625

5. gniewko97

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Stop complaining, the change is fine. Relax.

6. Feanor

Posts: 1379; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Change for the sake of change? There is change to the better and change to the worse. This is clearly a change to the worse. This is because people (including journalists who know nothing about design) were complaining too much for design matters they don't understand. At least we know that Sony is listening to what people say. They just don't know how to react correctly.

17. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Exactly, the design was absolutely fine, it just needed smaller bezels and these could be achieved without making the design ugly and generic. And there is no reason for jack removal, screw this, I'll just get a discounted XZ1C

18. Feanor

Posts: 1379; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

3mm removal is another obsession of people exactly like bezel talk. Yes, it is slightly annoying that you get no jack but come on! This is a mobile device, so go and buy some very nice wireless WF-SP700N with Digital Noise Cancellation and get over it. In the end of the day, there is also an adaptor in box. That being said, the rest of the hardware is a clear disappointment. Looks like if I want a nice pure Android experience with nice hardware design I'll have to look to Nokia.

32. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Well, I have opened my Sony phone up, and you need a certain amount of bezel in order to place the large camera sensor without going behind the screen. The tiny bezel craze has forced them to thicken the phone because the sensor can no longer fit under the top bezel. Blame all the people who never buy any Sony phones but always criticize them.

58. Skizzo

Posts: 403; Member since: Jul 14, 2013

As a Sony fan, I have to disagree with you. The shrinking of bezels should have little to no effect on the camera sensor placement/quality. All other OEMs were able to shrink the bezels, including Samsung, Pixel 2 XL, and Apple, while performing better than Sony in the camera department, so your argument is either invalid, or Sony uses abnormally large sensors compared to the competition. Either way you look at it, if others were able to shrink the phones bezels significantly, while also keeping the phones thin, AND have better camera performance than Sony, it means it could be done, and we shouldn't make excuses for a company like Sony.

31. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Blame all the reviewers and the people who never buy Sony phones yet always scream "same old design, Sony." The have caused problems for those of us who do buy Sony

7. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

This looks great but where is the XZ Pro with the 4K oled display?

11. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 734; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

It's nowhere! Just like what happen last year. You have been fooled!

13. Ciro1900

Posts: 591; Member since: Dec 17, 2017

October

8. TheOracle1

Posts: 2329; Member since: May 04, 2015

I just see another big bezel Sony in these pictures.......

9. Sparkxster

Posts: 1238; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

Don't get why people don't like the new ambient flow design language. It's very distinct looking and I find it to look very pleasing to the eye. Sony's new phones are refreshing and I can see them selling very well.

10. SonyFindOneDroidple

Posts: 865; Member since: May 11, 2013

refreshing? lol

12. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 734; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

"Sony's new phones are refreshing" LOL! From the design standpoint, it's worst: 1. FFS size is unbalanced! 2. No headphone jack(Who cares about this anyway?) 3. On the back. The middle is bulky! 4. Camera location and other sensors design is worst. 5. Still uses 1 camera instead of 2. 6. They moved the SFPS to the back. 7. Shorter battery capacity. 8. Offers 64GB model only. 9. Still uses LCD display. 10. No radio. So how come that's refreshing if the hardware still remains the same?

15. Ciro1900

Posts: 591; Member since: Dec 17, 2017

Troll!! read the article again

55. notfair

Posts: 753; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

who uses radio anyway nobody needs 2 cameras, it's a gimmick headphone jack a lot of people would have love to have

42. srgonu

Posts: 557; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

HTC U11 remix

14. johnnyjohnnyjonny

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 06, 2017

Looks nice. Kinda reminds me of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz.

59. vaick

Posts: 12; Member since: Feb 26, 2018

I think the same...

16. SyCo87

Posts: 317; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

Unique, I wish it success!

19. Migster1965

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 19, 2017

Looks like a HTC U11.

20. jroshan5 unregistered

will pick the XZ1 any day.. looks like a cheap Chinese brand I loved Sony for its unique design... now Sony don't have it...

21. ermond012

Posts: 24; Member since: Sep 13, 2013

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sony can't please everybody.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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