As I slide the Xperia XZ2’s box open for the first time, I’m wondering to myself whether this is going to be a frontrunner in the flagship game, or an expensive paperweight let down by flawed design. Sony has sometimes missed the mark when it comes to the flagship market (Sony Z5, I’m not talking about you).
Thankfully, with the XZ2, Sony sails through the pack like a Viking ship ready to pillage all the villages.
The XZ2 looks, feels, and even smells like a flagship. The rounded edges and back sit perfectly in your hand, and although it’s extremely slippery at first (which takes some getting used to), you’ll wish you could just gently caress the thing forever. And maybe rub it against your face a couple of times. This time around, Sony has opted out of having a big, bulky bezel, meaning the screen encompasses almost the whole front side of the phone.
When you hit that power button, you’re greeted with a fireworks display of vibrant colours. The 5.7-inch screen is bright and exciting, and the captivating animations and nice added touches that Sony has used with the built-in themes and the new Sony Loops helps bring the phone to life.
Let’s get some minor gripes out of the way, shall we? With regards to the fingerprint sensor, don’t be surprised if at first you find yourself anxiously rubbing the camera with your fingerprint-y finger in a fruitless attempt to unlock the phone, before flipping it around and realising that the sensor is a fair bit lower than expected, while the camera sits exactly where your finger would naturally go. It’s no biggie, but it did take me a day or two to get used to this.
I’m not a phone cover kind of guy. I like to leave my phone uncovered, so I can appreciate the hard work poured into its design and construction by its creators. It gives it that extra feel of awesomeness – but I have to admit that the XZ2 is one slippery customer. Most people would do well to put a cover on here. In fact, I’d actively recommend it. Still, it’s a beautiful phone, both to look at and to hold, and I still can’t bring myself to tarnish it with a protective shell.
When it comes to actually using the phone, I enjoy every moment of it, even though there isn’t anything really “new” to get excited about. Everything it does, it does seamlessly. Screen swipes are smooth, the fingerprint sensor unlocks easily on the first try, games run without a hitch, apps open without crashing, and the bloatware from Sony isn’t constantly all up in my face. Lifting the phone to quickly check notifications works well, the sound quality is top notch, the battery always lasts longer than I need it to, and the screen is bright and cheerful, even at a low brightness setting. The phone manages to keep up with me throughout the day, and it feels good to have a device that’s so effortlessly capable of doing so.
As with most new phones these days, there’s no audio jack to plug in headphones, and while this is more annoying to some than it is to others, if you have a good-quality pair of Bluetooth buds, then it shouldn’t bother you too much. Sony has also added a new feature on the XZ2: the Dynamic Vibration System. This adds vibration feedback to your videos, almost like the vibrations of a PlayStation controller, for that extra bit of something-something when you’re watching Keanu Reeves get all jiggy with a bunch of bad guys. I found it to be a little too much and turned it off most of the time, but it’s nice to see Sony tinkering with new features on the entertainment side of the device, instead of just focusing on adding an extra five lenses to the camera.
Speaking of cameras: on paper, a single-lens, 19MP shooter on the back and a 5MP front camera normally wouldn’t be enough to blow anyone away, but the software that powers the XZ2’s camera suite makes for excellent photos and awesome video. Photos are crisp, smooth and vibrant, and this proved true whether I was taking full-length shots of gorgeous landscapes, or a close-up, front-side selfie with bae. There’s a “beauty effect” to smoothen faces (but this can be disabled), as well as a Bokeh mode for those foreground-focused snaps of the plants on your balcony.
The really good stuff shows up when you start recording videos though! Sony have packed in 960fps, super slow-mo recording in HD, which seems to be the new focal point in phones these days. It’s absolute entertainment. I spent a day in the park getting some cool footage (which you can see here: https://youtu.be/2sKQ0w3KIOQ), and every slow-mo second was a laugh.