It is getting hotter at the very top of the smartphone segment. Quick after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8, Sony has brought in its Xperia Z2, aiming to cash in on the increasing popularity for powerful, yet expensive, devices in the Indian market. Here is a look at Sony’s new flagship.
It didn’t take me long to start liking this phone, or its camera to be precise. The day I opened the box of the review unit there was a thunderstorm in town. What better place to test the camera of a phone like this. It took a few minutes for my luck to shine, but when it did I was ready with the video running on the Sony Xperia Z2 (see video). Voila, I had shot my first lightning video. I have never seen many other cameras that can shoot a lightning so clearly, and I was pretty much sold to the camera of this phone from day 1.
The Z2 is an ultra-thin device. This is good considering that we are dealing with a largish phablet. It is still a bit tough to handle, thanks to the glassy back. It looks almost like the Sony flagship from last year and has the same waterproof and dustproof body. To achieve this everything is under a flap. The flap is strong and should not fall off after a couple of months. And this is a superb feature for any phone in India where we are constantly trying to figure out how to get the better of both these perennial menaces.
The Z2 also has an extra camera button which is now missing in most phones. This also makes its intention clear. Yes, this is a camera phone, not another good phone with a good camera. There is a groove which is used to link to the magnetic charging dock that is being sold as an accessory with this. In fact, this is the only part of the phone that is not covered, and hence feels a bit naked. There is an LED on top that keeps blinking to alert you of notifications or missed calls. Having been a BlackBerry user for many years, I liked this feature a lot.
The phone is available in white and black too, but as luck would have it I ended up with purple review unit which stuck out like a sore thumb during the week I got to review it.
Display & Sound
The 5.2 Full HD Triluminous display makes watching movies on this phone as good as on any large screen. But one needs to have the temperament to be able to watch long videos on the phone. But if you are the type then there is also noise cancelling headphone to enable the same even in a noisy flight or for metro train. The audio quality of the two front-facing speakers is also good for personal use — it cannot light up a party though. If the size is not good for you, there is the option to throw files to a larger screen.
Yes, this is a very powerful phone. After all it is powered by a 2.3-GHz Qualcomm Quad-core processor. On benchmark tests, it was just a stop below the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which is a good result for any phone. Multi tasking is effortless and you can go anywhere on the phone in a couple of easy moves. Everything is smooth and easy. There is no lag whatever app you use on the phone. And looking at the camera capabilities of this phone, regular apps would have been a run in the park for this processor.
The Android OS has been heavily tweaked by Sony. I don’t usually like this, but Sony Xperia Z2 has the kind of tweaks that makes life easy. Right from the setup Sony does a lot of hand holding to ensure that you do things the right way. Do this and you get the full, rich, experience that Android can offer you. The interface has a lot of widgets already added, like the Walkman widget for music and the video widget that lets you access the player easily. There is also access to a lot of Sony content all over the phone. The keyboard is also noteworthy as there is the option to make it more intuitive and intelligent by letting it learn from you Gmail or social networks the kind of language generally used by the phone’s owner. This feature worked well for me.
Now, this is the best part of the phone and Sony seems to have poured all its energies to make this a replacement for its fast depleting point-and-shoot segment. As I said earlier there is a dedicated camera button and there is also a camera widget on the homescreen that lets you access the camera as well as the many inbuilt apps on it. For instance, along with the regular panorama and superior auto, this camera comes with an augmented reality mode, time lapse and even a Vine camera app.
But the USP of this 20.7MP camera has to be its ability to shoot 4K video. This function might be useless for many, but a great option for those with a 4K screen at home. There is no other way you can shoot home video at this resolution at the moment. However, for this you will need a good quality large and fast Class 10 SD card in the phone. I kept running into a ‘the camera is heating up message’ far too often with the video of this phone. I guess it was because of the 2GB card I was using, or a defect in the review unit.
The camera is still very good. Yes, pictures can get a bit grainy in low light, but it is still better than a lot of other phone cameras and gives you options galore. However, this camera could use a faster auto-focus like in the Samsung Galaxy S5 to unleash its true potential. Another pain point is the fact that the camera does not shoot in 20MP as default and most of the features are limited to 8MP. Plus, in full resolution photos as in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is weird to say the least. Despite all this I can say that the camera, especially its video features, are good enough for you to start keeping the camcorder at home for family holidays.
There are not many phones in the market with battery life this good. I used this as my primary phone and the phone would have about 25 per cent juice left even after 24 hours. That is no small achievement. Use the battery more judiciously and switch to stamina mode once in while to stretch the life to around 36 hours.
There is no doubt that the Sony Xperia Z2 is among the best flagship phones out there. If you are buying this phone, it will be for its superior build quality, top-end performance, above average camera capabilities. Sony could have fine-tuned the camera to take this phone a notch further, but they seem to have stumbled at the finish line on that one. Still, this is a good phone to buy and promises great user experience overall.
The Sony Xperia Z2 will come bundled with the Sony SmartBand for Rs 49,990.