Hands on review of the Sony Xperia Z2 phone

Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2

The clue is in the title – “Mobile Device”. These are devices that don’t sit on a shelf or on a desk but are devices that we carry with us wherever we go. The one trend in tech that I like is how mobile manufacturers are really taking note that we need more robust technology that we can use in the real-world. A world where it rains and we get wet, or when we hike and it gets dusty or where we cycle and we get wet and muddy. We still want our tech with us without worrying that they are too sensitive and need to be behind bulletproof cases.

Sony has taken this view with their new Xperia Z2 range where both the Sony Xperia Z2 phone and the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet are waterproof and dust proof making them ideal for the non-deskbound amongst us.

I took these devices on the road and paired the Sony Smartband to my Xperia Z2 watch to see just how robust they are in the “real-world”.

Here is the hands on review of the Sony Xperia Z2 phone:

When you look at the Sony Xperia Z2 you see you a quality finished product. It is largely square shaped measuring at 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm which is 0.2mm thinner than is predecessor the Xperia Z1. The square shape makes ideal for two handed usage but when it comes to one handed operation, my hands were doing finger gymnastics trying to get to various parts of the phone (could just be my hands though as others said they had no problems).

The shatter proof and scratch-resistant glass screen is a nice glossy IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen measuring at 5.2 inches with 1080 x 1920 pixels. Icons are clear even in direct sunlight and seem to pop off the screen making it easy to tap the apps. This is due to not only to the Full HD display but to the X-Reality engine which continuously enhances and sharpens the images.

Everything except the headphone jack is covered. This is how it gets its waterproofing and dustproofing rating of IP58 (more on that below). The top of the phone has the headphone jack, on the right you will find the microSD slot, the power button, the volume rocker and the dedicated camera button. On the left you will find the microUSB charging slot and the SIM slot along with the Sony docking station connection. On the back you will find the camera and its flash along with NFC contact.

Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2

The one thing that kept happening often was the device continuously slid due to the polished smooth surface on both the front and the back. Once you put it into a case this problem goes away and protects the phone at the same time.

Out of the box, the Sony comes with 16GB storage and 3Gb RAM. The microSD does allow for expansion up to 128GB which is more than sufficient.

The Xperia Z2 runs Android KitKat 4.2.2 and is powered by 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor which allows for high performance applications to be run with no hesitations. On odd occasions I did notice the the phone flickers and lags especially scrolling between app screens. In contrast, playing 3D intensive games the Xperia Z2 handles that with ease with absolute no lag whatsoever.

There is one feature that I wish Sony would change and three features that I loved:

Sony please change this:

The one feature that I didn’t like was the way that that you have to do extra steps with this User Interface. Specifically, when you swipe down from the top to get into settings, there are two “tabs”. The one is notifications and the other is Quick Settings.

The Notification tab is where you find all the push notifications from the phone (new mail, new like on Instagram, new screen shot etc.). The Quick Setting is where you find the various icons you expect such as WiFi and Bluetooth.  What I found a little irritating is that when you press on the WiFi icon, it only switches it off or on. It doesn’t let you go into the WiFi setting so you can choose which network to connect to. In order to do that, you either long-hold on the WiFi icon, or you tap into Settings and then select WiFi. The same applies with the other settings too.

Quick tip: if you swipe down from the tip with TWO fingers, then you go directly into the Quick Setting tab but if you swipe with ONE finger you go into the Notification tab.

What I loved – The Camera:

The Z2 comes with a 20.7 Megapixel rear-facing camera which has an autofocus lens and LED flash sensor on the back. The camera is super quick to load and focuses fast on the action so you don’t miss the critical shot. The camera software is simple to use and very intuitive. Nice to see that the video record button is right there beneath the photo shoot button. This comes in real handy when something is happening which you want to record in video mode, so you can simply press the button that is on the screen and don;’t have to take your eye off the action to look for the video button under some sub menu. Small touch but important. Whilst on video , Xperia Z2 allows to record in 4K mode which is great if you have a 4K TV to watch it on, if not, then its a waste of space on the 16GB internal storage of the device.

The Camera app has some great options. The Auto mode usually does a great job of optimal settings of the white balance and ISO to get a great image but you can change to Manual Mode and make those adjustments yourself. There are lots to keep you entertained with Creative Effects that show a preview in real-time of what the image will look like before you snap away. There are also built in app to automatically upload to Vine and Evernote as well as the ability to add other apps too.

Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2

Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2

The Augmented Reality is great fun allowing you to add virtual action scenes and characters into your own environment. You can record these too in video or still mode. These are great fun and kept everyone amused for hours as the software can detect faces and adds special effects around the people:

Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2

Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2

The Battery:

The Sony Xperia Z2 comes with a non-removable Li-Ion 3200 mAh battery and manages its power consumption beautifully.  Even on heavy usage, with NFC, Bluetooth and WiFi switched on during the day, I often get 60% of battery left at 5pm. If you do see you are running out of power, then there are two options that you can use. The first is the Stamina Mode which extends the battery by restricting performance and disabling mobile data and wifi when the screen is off. If you enable Low Battery Mode then you can instruct the Z2 to switch off certain functions when the phone battery drops below a set percentage.

Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2 Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2

The Waterproofing:

TheZ2 is rated at IP58 which means that it can be fully submerged for up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. This is great for listening to music in the shower or for keeping the phone with you whilst cooking and not having to stress about the device when the kids are having a water fight and you want to record the action. Remember if you want to take photos underwater, don’t try use the screen. As soon as the screen detects water it becomes useless. What you need to do is use the dedicated Camera button. The volume button takes care of the  the zoom in and out  and simply tap the dedicated button to snap photos underwater.

Remember not to have direct Jetstream of water onto the phone (like in a jacuzzi) and to have all the flaps closed tightly so that no water can seep inside the phone. The headphone jack can remain open.

Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2Hands on with the Sony Xperia Z2

So in Summary:

Sony has delivered a great device that not only looks great but is waterproof and can handle what the real world throws at it. It has a nice screen and feels solid and along with cleverly integrated features (such as the weather sits inside each day of the calendar) make this phone a superb choice.

Those with the Z1 will find it hard to upgrade as the Z1 is just that good. Those that are looking to get into the Sony experience will not regret their choice.

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