Xperia Z2

Iterative improvements across the board add up to a sleeker, more capable Xperia phone

Mobile World Congress

Sony likes to release two flagship phones each year. We've bemoaned the fact before, but the Japanese electronics giant continues to persue an aggressive timetable of half-yearly replacements for its high-end "Z" series. Back in September at IFA, we met the Xperia Z1; just six months later we're getting our first look at the Xperia Z2 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. At first glance it's tough to tell the Z2 apart from the Z1 — they're both more or less the same size and shape — big, blocky phones, and products of Sony's "Omnibalance" design language. If you weren't a fan of Sony's Z series phones before, there's little here to change your mind. But even if it doesn't lend itself particularly well to good ergonomics, it's a solid look, and one Sony's sticking to.

There are physical differences to be found if you look hard enough — the ports are somewhat differently arranged, and the speaker grille is less of a grille, more a collection of holes. And the Z2 is slightly lighter than its predecessor, weighing in at 158 grams.

The Xperia Z2 boasts an absolutely gorgeous IPS display

On the whole, the Z2 is more about component and software upgrades more than any exterior changes. The biggest and most noticeable improvement is the new IPS-based "Triluminos" display, which looks absolutely gorgeous. With a couple of exceptions, Sony has traditionally struggled to get smartphone displays right, with even recent models suffering from poor viewing angles. Thankfully that's fixed on the Xperia Z2, which can boast a screen rivaling any other we've seen on a phone. The Z2's 1080p display is also larger than the Z1's, at 5.2 inches compared to 5.0, while fitting in more or less the same footprint.

Enhancements have also been made in the audio space, with Sony introducing stereo speakers and digital noise cancellation for use with headphones.

Xperia Z2

Upgraded internals enable 4K video through Sony's Exmor RS camera

On the inside, the Z2 runs one of the latest processors from Qualcomm — a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801, paired with an ample 3GB of RAM and 3,200mAh batter. Given Sony's track record with the Z1 and Z1 Compact, there's no reason to expect anything less than stellar longevity out of the Z2. And around the back is the same 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS camera found on the Z1 handsets. It's a great (though not quite perfect) smartphone camera, though we're just a little disappointed to see that the camera hardware hasn't been changed at all. The camera software has been upgraded, however, with the addition of 4K video support, the defocus camera app from the Xperia Z1s, and built-in Vine support, if you're into that sort of thing.

Xperia Z2Xperia Z2

Android 4.4 topped with a refreshed Xperia UI

And Sony's software and Xperia UI has received a welcome facelift on the Z2. The device runs Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, and Sony has tweaked its builtin apps to take advantage of the new version of Android. The launcher uses transparent top and bottom bars, and the Gallery app supports immersive mode. It still closely resembles Sony's existing design language, but it looks just a bit sharper on the Z2. (And that beautiful new IPS display certainly helps out here, too.)

The Xperia Z2 comes preloaded with Sony's new Lifelog app, among the usual suite of bundled Sony content. Demoed at CES but as yet unreleased, Lifelog connects to Sony's Smartband and other accessories using the "Core" gadget, and can be used to track exercise, and movement data, along with other stuff you might be doing on your phone.

Xperia Z2

On the entertainment side, Sony has given its "What's New" app prominent placement by adding it to the swipe-up menu usually reserved for Google Now. The app gives you a scrolling list of movies, music, games and other stuff through Sony's entertainment properties. Tighter integration between different parts of Sony isn't surprising to see, but the swipe-up shortcut icon will put this stuff front and center on the Z2.

Besides that, the Z2's software is about bringing things up to a new version of Android and making the UI looks a bit more modern, and perhaps closer to the look of stock KitKat.

Xperia Z2 + Z1

So the Z2 is another incremental upgrade, but a solid one that addresses one of our longstanding gripes with Sony phones — the display — while freshening up the Z1's hardware and building on the "Omnibalance" design language. The device is expected to arrive globally starting in March, so we won't have long to wait before we can get our hands on Sony's latest. At the time of writing, however, the company isn't talking about any U.S. launch plans for the device.

Xpiera Z2Xperia Z2

 

Reader comments

Sony Xperia Z2 hands-on

86 Comments

Only thing I want is flat icons.. And one thing I really don't like, they will release new Z3 maybe in September.. They really should give people at least 1 year time not to feel bad for buying Sony :-)

Exactly. If that's how people felt every time something new came out we would be regretting buying the Xbox 360, then complaining that Microsoft should wait at least 10 years to release a new console. Same concept when it comes to cars, TVs, computers, etc. Just buy what you like and be happy with it...

Or people should stop being so pretentious and feeling bad for buying a device just because it isn't the newest device out there. You do realize how fast and often new devices come out right?

Looks like a nice phone, good batch of upgrades, being a big block style phone can be worked around with a proper case

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You can see that there is a micro sd card slot on the side of the Z2 in one of the above pictures, but internal storage is still unknown.

I'm very happy to see Sony's comeback in the phone/tablet space with the Z Series, especially with the Z2 and the tablet Z2. Makes me wonder what they're going to do with the Z Ultra. I'd love to see Sharp's IGZO screen make it to the Sony line as well.

Only reason I didn't buy the ultra was the terrible camera and lack of a camera flash (though the slightly underwhelming sealed battery isn't great either).

Keep every spec exactly the same, even the camera, just blow it to to 6"+,and I will be all OVER it

I was hoping for a Z Ultra 2 announcement. I'm on the fence about picking up the Ultra right for the camera and slightly anemic battery (for the size)

The Z Ultra camera is pretty meh, but the battery life has been great on me. I average 2.5 days per charge with moderate use. More if I turn on Stamina. I got one of the cheap chinese charging cases for it, and it adds another full day of use to it.

Very nice, I think this will be my next phone, unless something unbelievable comes from HTC or other soon. For the camera alone.

I know this is a very small point for 90% of all users; but I welcome the inclusion of a lanyard point for a wrist strap or similar in this design. When you use a phone as a camera a lot having that extra safety margin is VERY welcome to me. Now that they are using a saner screen technology, I am more likely to choose Sony over Samsung.

As phones get bigger, holding them securely becomes MORE of an issue - not less. Samsung have stupidly dropped that tiny feature on the GS3, GS4 and Note 3. In fact I modified a case to add a lanyard point on my Note 3; because I dropped the blasted thing on day two, for that very reason. My GS2 still works and has never had a bad fall, because the lanyard point is built in. As a result I may well stop buying Samsung in future - for being stupid as well as arrogant.

Stick with Japanese brands, and more than likely you will continue seeing lanyards. :)
The Japanese have to have their cellphone charms; they'd perish without them! Haha.

Not gonna lie, that thing seemed to fly when he was pushing buttons and launching apps. Very impressive speed.

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Color balance looks pretty terrible. Weird choice of background - Almost like Sony want you to notice how bad it is immediately.

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This and their new tablet seem to fly through android! This phone looks nice and it seems maybe they have fixed the display finally. I'll wait for Samsung's announcement to see what my next phone will be. Is the z2 still waterproof?

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As gimicky as a heart rate monitor? I actually think it's useful. My wife and daughter use the IR blaster's on their Note 3 / S4 respectively, to avoid having to look for a remote or batteries for the remote. And I envy them for it. My next phone will definitely have an IR blaster. And after looking at what's out there and what's been announced I'm torn between this one, and the HTC and LG Phablets.

I'm sure this has been answered before but I can't remember. How come Verizon never seems to sell Sony phones? Would love one of these but since I'm stuck with Verizon (in Montana and ATT coverage isn't very good) I seem to be out of luck.

Phone looks really nice, and the 801chip seems to be blazing fast I couldn't believe how fast the camera app launched.

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I'm a VERY happy owner of Sony Xperia Z1. I never understood the Press remarks against its display. When I look at its screen "as I'm supposed to this" (= from in front of it), definition and colours are perfect for me. Then I PREFER that others don't see it so well from the sides... So I give a shit of the viewing angles.... I long for seing the benefits of the IPS display on new Z2, but viewing angles will NOT be my criteria to say if better or not, not on a Smartphone !
For the rest this Z2 is a monster of perfection.... but decently I can't change my Z1 already.... Unless I buy a 4K TV this year, of course...

This lookd awesome, a tad confused about the article though. To me it appeared as though it was almost negative towards Sony's design factor. Unless I am mistaken, this is not a review, but just a report of what's out there in Barcelona.

Posted via Android Central App Runnning on Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Any word if T-Mobile US is included in that March global launch? I wonder if that "stereo" speaker at the bottom compares at all to HTC One. I really want a Z1s or Z2, but its going to be hard giving up HTC One's stereo speakers.

I hope they do that since I want to switch to T Mobile soon, but I'm thinking they'll do an unlocked global release rather than trying it down to specific carriers.

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I was waiting for the announcement of the s5 before making any decisions on my next purchase. After watching that hideous thing release it has made my decision much easier. I will not be getting that cheap looking phone and will hopefully end up with the z2. I've owned a Sony phone but their phones do look sleek as hell! Any negatives about the z1 that people don't like?

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Can't see Samsung changing their ways anytime soon. Just maybe what they try and make the cheap tacky plastic look like - They might try and copy the look of Sony - Except they'll still use cheap plastic that looks like glass instead of actual premium quality glass. Or maybe Apple and HTC - Except they'll still use cheap plastic that looks like brushed aluminium. The TouchWiz interface is a reason I have not to buy a Samsung phone anyway, the cheap tacky build just makes it a certainty that I'll not be considering their phones.

Most importantly it's not enough of a change to make me want to trade in my beloved Z1, so I'm good to go with what I have until the Z3! :D
Sweet phone as usual Sony, great job!

3 Gigs of RAM.. 3,200 mAh battery, Super Fast loading of apps (The Camera WOW ! ), An Incredible Screen and being solid Black.. along with the Snap 801 make this a winner.
Very Nice Unit.

It supports up to 128GB etc with micro-sd slot so it is a way to keep the phone cheaper to produce and not stop you having better capacity than most (if not all) the competition

I'm not going for S5 with laggy Touchwiz, Not for Z2 with 16GB internal, Not with coming HTC since they stick with ultrapixel fake cam, G3 is my only option left to wait for and if they are not going to support memory card I will skip 2014.. Huge manufactures and no one can do a perfect mobile!!!

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This. Don't see what these others see but this thing lagged while he was going through apps. And the screen is terrible. Sony should just stick to portable gaming and other electronics... IMO.

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It seems the enormous tentacles of the Samsung marketing dept. has turned Phil's head. In the podcast he gets giddy talking/defending? the S 5 feature set and then says to Andrew that he just doesn't get the Sony Z2 but is happy Andrew is enthusiastic about it.
Phil, the Z2 equals or surpasses the S5 at almost every level. What is it you are not getting?

Maybe you are not getting schmoozed enough by Sony? Is that why in the podcast you have promised you will keep hammering the Samsung S5 message?

Check out the home page of Android Central: It's start to look like Samsung's mobile home page. Hmmm...

On screen buttons, battery size, front and back camera, the ui, ram, premium not plastic.

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I love my Nexus 4 and really like the performance of the Nexus 5 but have sent all 5 Google sent me back because there were imperfections in the finish. Credit to Google, they were happy to keep sending me replacements but I can't keep waiting round for another and another. I notice from in a store, the black seems to have a more rubberized back than the red one. I have always said though that the Nexus 4 build has been my favorite with the glass front/back so the Z2 will no doubt be my favorite phone now - minimal ui interference so as close to an up-to-date Nexus 4 style phone as I'll get. Lots of Kudos to Google for their price points on the Nexus range though.

Looking forward to trying this phone. It may very well be my first Sony device. Well, either this or the new HTC M8.

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I was also torn between the new HTC one and the Z2. Choosing Z2 for the camera, even though I don't know what the new one will use but I doubt it'll have 20.7. Boom sound is a non issue to me, I'd rather have the speakers on the bottom like iPhone and Sony. Because of boom sound the phone is taller

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A minor point but the Sony speakers are also on the front - the video is incorrect referring to the magnetic charging point on the bottom as a speaker. You can make out the speakers better at the end of the video when shown in white - there is a very fine slit across the top and bottom of the screen.

So my plan was to get the S5 but after seeing this phone I really want to get it. Unfortunately from what i'm seeing, it won't be coming to AT&T? What is that about? That sucks...