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Hands on with the Sony Xperia XZ2

Sony’s Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact are official. Both phones debuted at MWC 2018, and we were fortunate enough to get our hands on them prior to the big rush at the annual trade show. Several weeks ago in New York City, TechnoBuffalo joined several outlets in getting a preview of the 2018 flagship and its small-size sibling. To our surprise, Sony revealed it’s leaving behind its longtime design language for something fresh.

Before telling you a bit about what I think of them, let’s go over the basics. The Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact are very similar. Sony only changed the size, screen resolution, and battery size. These are otherwise identical in terms of their internal specifications.

Depending on where you live, you could purchase one of the two new Xperia phones as early as March. Sony just hasn’t confirmed exactly where, when, and for how much they’ll be sold. The Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact will make their way to the United States with active fingerprint scanners, that’s for sure.

Here are some first impressions I came away with.

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Xperia XZ2

Out with the old, in with the new. That’s pretty much what Sony set out to accomplish when it developed the Xperia XZ2. The company’s new design language, Ambient Flow, is more about smooth edges and curves. You might recall that the Xperia XZ1, the late 2017 flagship, shipped with some curves but still kept an industrial vibe. Sony now wants to embrace elegant looks and feels for its hardware.

The Xperia XZ2 is made mostly of glass, but it’s Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 that should keep the body from shattering into a million pieces. And the frame is an aluminum that won’t twist or bend over time. Basically, the phone is a glass sandwich with metal in the middle.

It was certainly more comfortable to hold than Sony’s previous flagships. Whereas its predecessors were awkwardly shaped, the Xperia XZ2 sits well in your hands. The only thing you might not like is the glass back, and that’s because the material collects fingerprints and tends to get sticky.

For Sony, this is a huge upgrade. And it goes beyond the design. It’s also finally implementing an all-screen front with slimmer top and bottom bezels.

Most people knew Sony’s Xperia line because of the design, and not for a good reason. The company would release countless phones that all looked too similar. When I reviewed the Xperia XZ1 last year, I made it clear that Sony seriously needed to move on. It’s a new year, and the company listened. There’s no better place to notice change than the front of the Xperia XZ2.

The 5.7-inch display boasts an 18:9 aspect ratio, which means you’re getting more screen real estate without the phone’s overall footprint increasing. It’s also a good display on its own. Although Sony uses a type of panel I don’t prefer, the LCD display seems accurate, vibrant, and rich. It could be the inclusion of Sony’s Advanced X-Reality engine that converts content to HDR-level quality.

Screen resolution is set at Full HD+ (2160×1080). Is it less than what’s normally on a flagship? Yes, but you’d be nitpicking to call out a difference.

Performance isn’t something I can comment on confidently since we weren’t able to run various apps. I will tell you, however, that shifting between apps on the Xperia XZ2 was fairly snappy. Sony likely benefits from using the latest version of Android with a light software overlay. Oh, and it’s the Snapdragon 845 blazing through everything.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t mind the Xperia XZ2 not having a headphone jack. It’s the way the industry is going so let’s just stop fighting that.

Testing the camera was also tough since we were in one room the whole time. Sony, though, does have plenty of experience making pieces for cameras. With that said, it’d be surprising if the Xperia XZ2 didn’t take above average pictures. But there is 4K and slo-mo support.

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Xperia XZ2 Compact

Sony’s Xperia XZ2 Compact, like I said before, doesn’t act as a standalone product. You’re getting the same appearance as the Xperia XZ2 but with some alterations made to reduce the size and cut costs. The biggest difference between the two phones is its build quality. While the Xperia XZ2 Compact doesn’t come across as cheap, it’s not made of metal. Sony swapped that for polycarbonate. And I actually liked it more since glass isn’t my thing.

The odd thing about the Xperia XZ2 Compact’s design is that its bezels still seem on the thicker side. It does have 5-inch Full HD+ display with 18:9 aspect, but the smaller structure means Sony still needs room to put stuff. The Xperia XZ2, meanwhile, is taller and thus distributes everything subtly.

The Xperia XZ2 Compact does ship with Sony’s S-Force Front Surround Sound speakers as well. As the company explains, it helps by “expanding both the low and high frequency response and optimizing the high precision signal processing.” That jargon boils down to the phones getting pretty loud.

Unfortunately, this phone is missing the Dynamic Vibration System. The regular Xperia XZ2 benefits from it when you’re watching videos, playing games, or listening to music. It’ll actually adjust your phone’s vibration to match the content and create a more immersive experience. Having the Dynamic Vibration System would’ve been amazing on a small mobile device.

The Xperia XZ2 Compact also skimps on wireless charging, which Sony brought to the Xperia XZ2 after switching from metal to glass.

Both phones are set to be offered in some attractive colors. Choices for the Xperia XZ2 include Liquid Silver, Liquid Black, Deep Green, and Ash Pink. Its sibling is colored in White Silver, Black, Deep Green, and Coral Pink. All of them are nicer than most phones’ shades, and the greens are particularly attractive.

When Sony releases the Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact, we’ll get our hands on them for a full review.

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Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...


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