The Samsung Galaxy S5 might have dominated headlines during MWC, but it wasn’t the only big announcement. Sony unveiled its new flagship too and in a lot of ways it looks every bit as impressive as the Galaxy S5. But with such a short gap between the Xperia Z1 and the Xperia Z2 can there really be many improvements? Read on to find out.
The build is much the same as it was last time around, but that’s no bad thing, as the aluminium frame and glass back of both the Sony Xperia Z1 and Sony Xperia Z2 make them two of the best looking phones around.
It’s also got the same level of protection, specifically it’s IP58 certified dust and water resistant, allowing it to survive at depths of up to one metre and for up to 30 minutes.
There are a few changes to the build though, as the Sony Xperia Z2 is both slightly slimmer and lighter than the Xperia Z1, coming in at 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2mm and 163g, compared to the Xperia Z1’s 144 x 74 x 8.5mm and 170g.
The Sony Xperia Z2 has a slightly bigger display than its predecessor, coming in at 5.2 inches, while the Xperia Z1 has a smaller but still large 5 inch screen. Both phones have a 1920 x 1080 resolution, which given the increased size of the Xperia Z2 means it has a slightly lower pixel density of 424 pixels per inch, compared to the Z1’s 441 pixels per inch.
However the Sony Xperia Z2 actually has a slightly better screen overall, as it uses IPS and has Live Colour LED technology to widen the colour gamut, allowing it to produce richer and more varied colour shades without ever becoming over-saturated.
The Xperia Z2 has predictably seen a power boost over the Xperia Z1. It has a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM, while the Sony Xperia Z1 has a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM. So it’s not a huge boost, but it should be noticeable and the amount of RAM in particular in the Z2 is impressive.
The feature set on the Sony Xperia Z2 is largely very similar to on the Z1. The only real difference is the speakers. They’ve been moved to the front of the handset and deliver stereo sound, akin to what you’d find on the HTC One. The handset also lets you pick between five different audio engines for the perfect sound experience in any situation. The choices are ClearBass, ClearPhase, ClearStereo, Digital Noise Cancellation and xLOUD.
The Sony Xperia Z2 has exactly the same 20.7 megapixel main camera as the Sony Xperia Z1, but the front facing camera has been bumped up from 2 megapixels to 2.2 megapixels and a background defocus mode has been added to the shot selection.
The video camera has been given some major updates though. First off there’s SteadyShot, which is a video stabilisation technology to counteract the effect of shaky hands, for smooth, professional looking videos.
The Sony Xperia Z2 also lets you film things in 4K (2160p) at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps or 720p at 120fps, so it can also record video in slow motion, while the Sony Xperia Z1 only allows for 1080p at 30fps.
Finally, Sony has also added a few video effects, such as AR and Vine.
The battery in the Sony Xperia Z2 is a meaty 3200 mAh, which is up from the already quite large 3000 mAh battery in the Sony Xperia Z1, so battery life is likely to be longer this time around.
Both phones run Android, but the Sony Xperia Z2 is on the latest version (4.4 KitKat), while the Sony Xperia Z1 is currently on Android 4.3, though it’s due an upgrade.
There are also a few differences in Sony’s custom UI between the two, as on the Xperia Z2 Sony has added a Navigon sat-nav app and What’s New app, which tells you about new Sony content. The handset also has a Simple Home mode, which removes the clutter and makes the icons bigger, making it easier to use for people who are visually impaired or new to smartphones.
The Sony Xperia Z2 is a fairly minor upgrade over the Xperia Z1. The changes to the screen are welcome and the speaker improvements will give audiophiles an alternative to the HTC One, but other than that all you’re really looking at is a minor spec boost and a better video camera. The build is much the same and the connectivity options and storage amounts are identical, so there’s little reason to upgrade from the Xperia Z1 to the Xperia Z2.
On the other hand if you don’t currently have a Z1 then the Z2 is a great phone and renders the Xperia Z1 all but obsolete unless it gets a serious price cut. Outside of Sony land the Sony Xperia Z2 is still well worth considering, as really the only thing that rivals it for now is the Samsung Galaxy S5 and even then there are things that the Xperia Z2 does better, such as build quality.
It’s a brilliant phone and if the Sony Xperia Z1 didn’t exist it would be a major and exciting upgrade, but Sony’s current tactic of releasing a new flagship every six months or so inevitably means that each iteration is only a minor improvement and that makes it harder to get excited about them.
We're also currently busy working on our Sony Xperia Z2 review and it should be up within the next week or so.
The Sony Xperia Z2 will go on sale in the UK in April. Register your interest in Sony's smartphone here to be the first to know when it becomes available.
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