Sony Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone X: how does Sony's best compare to Apple?

Sony Xperia XZ2 vs Apple iPhone X: first look
The stylish new Sony Xperia XZ2 comes with a higher, premium price and this time, it will not shy away from competing against the best and most expensive phones out there. And when we speak about premium phones, no mainstream phone is more expensive than the Apple iPhone X.

We took upon the opportunity to compare the new Xperia XZ2 (see full specs here) against the iPhone X (see full specs here) on the showroom floor at Mobile World Congress 2018. While this comparison does not go in depth, it should give you a good idea of how the two compare in terms of physical size, looks and basic functionality. Stay tuned for our more detailed review of the Sony Xperia XZ2 that should come soon.

Design: a big step up for Sony

The XZ2 comes with a luxurious glass back, but it has no headphone jack

For years, Sony phones have been more or less the same. Different than all the other smartphones and easily recognizable with their rectangular, sharp looks. Well, it seems somebody told Sony that they could do better and the new XZ2 looks exquisite, luxurious. It features a curved glass back with Corning's Gorilla Glass 5 protection and a metal frame. We used the the silvery white model, but there are three other models available: a dark, black one, as well as pink and teal. The lighter colors come with one important advantage for those who use their phones without a case: fingerprint smudges are not that noticeable as they are on the darker colors. Despite the XZ2 being listed as fairly thick at 0.44 inches, it does not feel thick per se, but that thickness is likely measured at its thickest point in the center, while the phone becomes thinner towards the edges. After using it for a while, we could not help but notice how the XZ2 design reminded us more and more of the HTC U11, the similarity is quite obvious.

The iPhone X is a somewhat similar phone: it has a flat glass back and a metal frame, while the XZ2's curved, convex back feels a bit better fitting in the hand. The iPhone X, however, is the smaller and more pocketable of the two.

There is one unfortunate similarity shared between both the XZ2 and the X: no headphone jack. You have to use wireless earbuds, or connect headphones via a dongle.

Then, both phones are water resistant. The XZ2 has an IP68 rating, while the X has an IP67 certification, meaning that hte XZ2 can theoretically survive being submerged in slightly deeper water (5 feet vs 3 feet on the X).

XZ2's bag of tricks: new vibration motor

New vibration motor makes using the XZ2 feel like using a game controller

The Sony Xperia XZ2, as the newer phones, has a bag of new tricks and the first one is a new vibration motor that Sony calls a "Dynamic Vibration System". What it does is make the XZ2 vibrate, a bit like a game controller, when you play a game, listen to music or watch a video. The vibration motor has three levels of strength, from weaker to stronger, or you can completely disable it, if you don't like it. The interesting thing about it is that it vibrates to the music and to do that it analyzes sound output in real time. At the end of the day, we found it to be a fun gimmick, but we are not sure we want to keep it in the long term.

Apple's Taptic Engine might not be as new, but seems a bit more discreet and precise in everyday notifications. Of course, the iPhone does not support any fancy vibrations like the XZ2.


The LCD screen on the XZ2 is just a bit less vibrant than the OLED one on the iPhone X

The XZ2 features smaller bezels than all previous Sony phones and that is largely due to its new, 2:1, taller screen. The XZ2 features a 5.7" 2:1 IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels, while the iPhone X has a 5.8-inch OLED screen with 1125 x 2436 pixels of resolution.

The big difference between the two is the technology: the OLED screen on the iPhone X has deeper blacks, wider contrasts and overall looks lively, vivacious. The XZ2 might use an LCD screen that many would count as its disadvantage, but in reality it looks pretty good and over the long term has the advantage of not suffering from burning issues (burn-in is a problem with OLED screens where some pixels on the screen might deteriorate faster than others).

Sony is also one of the first companies to support a full HDR mode for both photos and videos. You can record videos in beautiful HDR, but what is better that the screen itself supports HDR videos, so you can also watch HDR content from services like YouTube. Sony said it can transform a lot of SDR videos into HDR with software, so we are curious to see how this works in real life. 


HDR video and super slo-mo are two features the iPhone can't match

The Xperia XZ2 comes with a 19-megapixel rear camera, a single one with no additions and no portrait mode on board. You do not actually use the full 19 megapixel resolution all the time, as the phone would create a smaller picture when you use the Superior Auto mode, but you can still shoot full, 19MP photos in manual control modes. The iPhone X, on the other hand, features a main, 12-megapixel camera, but also a secondary, "telephoto" one with a 52mm distance that is used for capturing portraits and pictures with a blurred background. Both phones support 4K video recording, but only the Sony can record video in HDR.

The Sony also supports super slow motion video recording at 960 fps (yes, that's the same rate as on the trendy new Galaxy S9), while the iPhone X records up to 240fps in 720p resolution. We tried shooting a few slo-mo videos and the process is simple, straightforward, easy and impressive to watch. Of course, this is a cool gimmick, but what matters more is the actual daily camera performance. We managed to take a few photos with both phones to give you a rough idea about the difference in photo quality. Take a look below:

Prices, release date and final words

Do we have a winner?

Finally, the XZ2 official price is said to have grown to be about on par with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, the Google Pixel 2 XL and the other expensive $800+ phones out there. It's still not quite as high as the $1,000 starting price of the iPhone X, so the XZ2 will be the more affordable device. And while the iPhone X is already available, the XZ2 will only go on sale in the rather undefined "Q2 2018" (we'd bet on June, knowing usual corporate speak about dates and timing).

Overall, the Sony Xperia XZ2 has the looks, the styling and even the impressive display to match the iPhone X in many aspects. It also performs quite snappy thanks to the clean and likable Android interface. The iPhone X has the advantage of the iOS ecosystem - iMessage, more optimized apps, faster software updates, more and better games - and it also has the cool new gesture-based interface. We can't tell you which one to buy, but this alone is a great achievement for Sony. It finally seems to have put out a strong contender out there.

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