With the same sensor/lens combo, the Z1 and Z2 produce very similar photos, but the Z2 takes the reign in video recording and extra camera options.

Sony uses the same 20.7 MP camera sensor in both handsets, but enables 4K video recording from the get-go in the Z2, making it what Sony claims as "the world’s best camcorder in a waterproof smartphone". Both phones offer 2 MP front-facing cams, capable of 1080p video recording. Despite that both rear cameras use the same 1/2.3” Exmor RS image sensor with 1.1 micron pixels, and Sony G Lens, Sony has leveraged the faster processor and more RAM in the Z2 for extra camera functions, added as new options in the otherwise almost identical camera interfaces. The still shots are getting a new trick, called Background defocus – it captures two photos at different focus settings, and blends together the different depths, leading to a blurred-out background for more artsy photos, similar to what the Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) do, but with less depth levels. Both phones sport the so-called Creative effects, where you can add coloring, image trails, mirror and motion effects, as well as augmented reality scenes to the stills and the video.

Photos from the Z1 and Z2 share largely similar characteristics, which is quite explicable, given the same sensor/lens combo. There are subtle differences, though, such as the fact that the Xperia Z2 slightly oversaturates the colors, compared to the real image in front of the lens, and its photos have slightly softer look.

The two phones nab the correct exposure settings most of the time, striking a good balance between shadowy areas highlight, and “burn” avoidance of brighter objects. The Superior Auto mode chooses whether to shoot in HDR regime automatically, and uses fill flash where needed with very good results. . Both handsets capture a very good amount of detail, though the Z1 sharpenes the finer detail better. We guess software update of the still new Z2 may tweak the post-processing to deliver sharper images. If you want the full 20 MP resolution, you'd have to use the Manual mode, as in the default Superior auto mode, the phone captures 8MP 16:9 photos, but these come with less noise and visual artifacts. We believe this is the better mode for Z2 and Z1 and we used it for most of our shots.

The indoor shots are about on par in terms of quality, sporting natural color representation both in terms of saturation levels, and true-to-life white balance that doesn't lean on the cold or warm side in most scenarios. Detail is plenty, and the noise levels are kept under wraps even when the light dims down significantly. Still, we like the Z2 test shots better, as they sport a bit more uniform color representation in different lighting scenarios, and a tad less noise. Also, the LED flash of the Z2 did a better job when shining light on our test scene from about five feet (1.5m) distance, producing a more evenly distributed illumination than the center splash that occurs with the Z1.

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Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 3
No data
Sony Xperia Z1 3.2
No data

We already mentioned the ability of the Z2 to shoot 4K footage with 30fps, compared to 1080p for the Z1. Sony also adds its Timeshift option for videos in the Z2, not only for stills. Moreover, you can shoot 120fps 720p footage, and select where it should turn into slow-motion one, for some extra drama. Add to these the real-time effects you can apply during shooting, like coloring, image trails, mirror and motion effects, as well as the augmented reality options you can choose before you press the camera key, and the video aspect all of a sudden becomes dramatically upgraded from the Z1. You are now able to create short and sweet Vine video clips directly from the camera interface, too, and underwater at that, if the situation calls for it.

The 1080p footage from the handsets is clean, fluid, and without skipped frames, or annoying artifacts. We like the Z2 videos a bit better, though, as they look a tad smoother, and more vivid. Continuous autofocus works very well with both handsets, but again the Z2 refocuses back and forth slightly faster. The 4K footage possible with the Z2 offers a breathtaking amount of detail, too, something that the stock Z1 isn't able to produce.


As the Z2 enters the elite club of phones with a stereo speaker set, it offers audio experience superior to the Z1.

Sony uses its Album app in place of a stock gallery on the Z2 and Z1, offering plenty of picture editing modes that can be used from within the app's interface. Your video collection goes in the Movies app, which also boasts a pretty interface with footage previews. There is an interesting Track ID TV mode, which serves as Shazam for video, pulling out information about the movie currently on TV based on the sound recorded from it.

The Xperia interface has one of the nicest music players from all manufacturer overlays out there. It is Walkman-branded, and offers a very appealing and easy to use interface, with plenty of categorization options and sound modes to choose from. The Xperia Z2 ups the Z1 game significantly in the audio department. Sony put stereo speakers and amplifier set in the Z2, dubbed S-Force Front Surround Sound. The waterproof speakers do sound better compared to the single speaker of the Z1, but the comparable BoomSound set on the HTC One (M8), for instance, has better clarity, and a more rounded sound. Also, the strength leaves something to be desired on both handsets – we measured 71dB on the Z2 vs 68dB on the Z1, which is nothing to write home about.

The Z2 also comes with a digital noise-cancellation technology in headset mode. The special in-ear headphones have microphone built-in, but unlike traditional active noise-canceling headphones, the DSP processing is done in the phone itself, instead of in the headphones. Thus the set doesn't have to have batteries, and Sony claims that the results are better. You can easily hear the active noise-canceling effect, and it works pretty good, but in most markets they don't ship with the phone, and you'd have to buy the special headphones separately.

The default video player on the Z1 and Z2 runs every popular format you throw at it, including DivX/Xvid/MKV files, up to 1080p in resolution. It also sports plenty of settings, like a loop mode, or subtitles support. The footage looks prettier on the larger display with wide viewing angles of the Z2, though.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 0.29
Sony Xperia Z1 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 71
Sony Xperia Z1 68



1. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

The five month separation period between the devices really bothers me. LMAO.

4. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Z2 is the thing what Z1 should have been at first place.

5. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Exactly my thoughts Sir +1

10. sgodsell

Posts: 7363; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I might still get the Z2. It looks very Good. I should have waited on the S5, although I got a Gear Neo with it for only $49 extra. Its easy to change lauchers on Android. I am getting tired of Samsung's S apps. I think I need a change. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with my S5, and it runs smooth. I just need a change and I think Sony has my next number.

13. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

I wonder what we're they thinking using outdated specs

2. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

COME ON now who needs this comparison PA, compare it to current flagships.

3. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

is there a need for this comparison? please proceed to the s5, m8, p7, oppo find 7, ip5s, and one plus one.

6. GreekGeek

Posts: 1276; Member since: Mar 22, 2014

I'm so glad they finally listened! I hope SONY buries their home-brewed Triluminous / TFT for good. And NO!, even on mid-low end devices. Please, do yourselves a favor Sony........... An old screen tech just don't have a place on modern day smartphones Maybe it would be great if they start releasing phones with Amoled or even Super LCD 3 displays as well. It doesn't really hurt to experiment sometimes,

7. district11

Posts: 126; Member since: Apr 17, 2011

Why is camera on Z1 better ??

8. jb4674

Posts: 145; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Sony can KMA. After waiting and waiting for this stupid phone (the Z2) to be released in the US, I gave up and bought an iPhone 5s because my phone died. Sony's marketing strategy for the US needs to be examined and their priorities need to be changed. You cannot compete with Apple and Samsung without launching your products in the US first.

9. amasog

Posts: 552; Member since: Aug 22, 2013


11. koko1

Posts: 103; Member since: Dec 03, 2013

there is no change in the camera !!! WTF ??

12. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Slight tweaks to the software make the Z2 slightly better. So many people actually think the Z2 camera is miles ahead of the Z1 which is not true at all. They're almost identical lol

14. buccob

Posts: 2968; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

And both Z2 and Z1 cameras are on par with Galaxy S5 camera... so I do not know what your "lol" is about... Also Battery life was greatly improved... check GSMArena scores against others...

15. pr890123

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 09, 2014

Guys don't purchase any sony phone, quality standards are very low and sony service center facility is worst in comparison to all other mobile vendors.

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