Sony Xperia Z2 [review]

Go into just about any cell phone shop these days and for Android you'll end up seeing LOTS of Samsung, HTC, maybe an LG or 2.  What you're unlikely to find in most places is any Sony device.

What used to be a paragon of the consumer electronic world, they've certainly have stepped away from the centre stage as new magnates like Samsung have risen to higher glory.

Because the absence of the line of devices, folks have now grown somewhat leery of the brand, and I just don't understand why.  They do make some really REALLY nice phones... just like this Z2.  It's almost the unknown flagship.  Doesn't help that it's only available on Bell.

TL;DR?
Anyways, I was given the device to test out, and before our resident Sony fan, Mark, got one to try.  After just a day or 2 of using it, I did something I haven't done for a phone review before.  I put my own SIM card into it.  It was that good.  Sure, it wasn't perfect, there's some issues, and I'll dive deeper into that in a bit, but it's funny. Any of my issues I had, were all 'personal preference'... just tiny little idiosyncrasies that are really inconsequential to how I use the device.  Just minor inconveniences.  Would it have kept me from buying the phone?  Well read on to find out.


Specs
  • 5.2" @ 1080p Trilumious display
  • 2.3GHz x4 Snapdragon 801 w/ 3GB RAM
  • 16GB Storage + microSD
  • 20.7MP G Lens (1/2.3") / 2.2MP
  • IP58 certified (5/6 for dust, 8 out of 9 for water)
  • Android 4.4.2
3GB of RAM?  Whoah... and that G Lens... that's nice.  This is going to be a nice phone.  Nevermind speaking of the design.

Form Factor
It's your typical slab phone... but it's actually a bit more.  It's a little taller and feels a little wider.  Like a really small tablet almost, but not that big.  The edges and the thinness make it really feel somewhat 'futuristic'.  Like those palm-tablets you'd see people use in futurist movies.  Kinda really cool.

The width does make it hard to use one handed, and then there's the issues with the buttons.  I get why they're all on one side... there's the wireless dock on the other... just not used to it.  Nor am I used to a dedicated camera button.  I'm not saying it's wrong.  Just it takes some getting used to.



The speaker grill on the top also acts as the notification light.  Neat, but it's really faint and you can sometimes miss seeing it.

Speaking of speakers, it has a real nice audio sound to it... which you can adjust the equalizer in the settings.

Display

The triluminous display is nice.  IT really has some vivid colours, and you can see the difference while viewing photos as it'll adapt the screen colours to what's being displayed.

And if it's not 100% to your liking, you can even adjust the white balance of the backlighting to suit you better.  Total optimization!


Performance
This thing is fast!  Like fast.  Everything is fluid.  The animations are so swift and just part of the experience you hardly notice they're there.  Really nice touch.

I do notice that on some intensive apps that it gets warm pretty easily (like GPS ones especially).  Battery doesn't seem to be affected, but it's a little disconcerting.

Battery
Pretty good battery life... It does take a LONG time to charge, and I did notice that the charge port was pretty finnicky for some of my chargers (that have never been finnicky for other devices).  Just weird.

But as an example of how long it lasts; I got it at about 5PM and it was 100%... I used it for a bit, got it all set up with the account and then went to bed that night, took the phone to work, played a little Ingress at stops along the way and then streamed music for a couple hours.  It was about 66% by noon the next day.  Not bad.  And streaming All Access didn't really show much of a draing

Camera

They really want you to take your photos in landscape mode as you'll notice that the nav buttons on the bottom of the phone

I really couldn't wait to try out the 20.7MP, but as it turns out, unless you put it in Manual mode you can't access that feature.  (it automatically puts it in 'auto' mode).  And, at that resolution it won't do HDR.

The VR features were neat, but with just playing around for 5 minutes with my son it really heated up and actually shut down the app with a "camera overheating" warning.  I'm hoping that's not normal.

Other features like background blur are a real treat to play with.  I love having some more 'artistic' control over my camera.


When you do take photos I notice that just before you take the shot (half squeeze the shutter) it makes the object blurry... so I'm always worried that it defocused the shot... but it's fine.  Just weird it does that for that moment.

You can access the camera via the lock screen, but you do so doing the Google Now gesture (so it's been confusing for me)

Miscellaneous
Google Now swipe brings up 2 options - What's New (Sony's media hub) and Google Now.  I just wouldn't relate the two of them together... it just seems odd placing in my mind.  And you can't edit that at all.

There's a bunch of extra features in there you might find awesome, might not.  Wireless media transfer, 'smart stay' (ie. stay on while watching) and even a 'find my iPhone Xperia'.  A good features.


Water Proofing
It's IP58... which means it gets a dunk testing!!  It's IP58, meaning 5 out of 6 for dust proofing and 8 out of 9 for water... I was at a pool on like the second day, so of course I had to give it a try.

Just make sure all the ports are sealed up or you can forget about the proofing.  


If it had got some water in ... I couldn't tell.  Over a week later and still nothing acting up.  I'm pretty impressed, and the onlookers when I did it with my phone were just stunned.  That was pretty cool.

Overall
Well, I really liked the phone.  The form factor was nice, the responsiveness was amazing, the memory management even better.  Camera was excellent in my opinion (not stunning, but definitely REALLY good, better than others).

Just a couple of items preclude me from saying "it's my next".  I'll still whole-heartedly recommend it.  It's like driving a really nice Lamborghini... amazing car.  But, I'm just so used to my cupholders being exactly there... and the radio dial over here.  Small little things that really mean nothing in the big haul, but I guess I'm just picky.  Enough little things like that and I'll look for the next.

Too bad... because even the purple colour was growing on me!
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