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Connect smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance and image quality.

Sony Xperia Z2 Product Images
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Introduction

The Xperia Z2 is Sony's latest flagship Android smartphone and a solid upgrade to its predecessor, the Xperia Z1. However, overall the changes between the two models are more evolutionary than revolutionary. At 5.2 inches, the Z2's 1080p display is slightly larger than the Z1's 5-inch screen and so are the dimensions, but overall the design with front and back glass panels encased in an aluminium frame hasn't changed. The new model is also still waterproof and dust-resistant to the same standards as the Z1 (IP55 & IP58).

As you would expect, under the hood things are now powered by faster components. A Snapdragon S801 quad-core processor and 3GB RAM allow for smooth operation of the Android 4.4 OS. Your images can be stored on 16GB of built-in memory or on the memory card in a MicroSD-slot.

With a 20.7 MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor on paper the camera specifications look identical to the Z1's but the new model is now capable of recording 4K video. New software features include TimeShift video that allows you to slow down portions of a video and Background Defocus which simulates a shallow depth of field by capturing a series of images at different focus settings and blending them.

We've put the Sony Xperia Z2 through our usual testing routine to find out if and how the image quality has changed compared to the predecessor and how the new features perform in real-life shooting. Read on to find out more.

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 20.7 MP 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS for mobile CMOS sensor
  • F2.0 lens
  • 4K video recording  (3840×2160 pixels/30p)
  • HDR video
  • 2.2 MP front camera

Other Specifications

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.3 GHz quad-core processor
  • 5.2-inch Full-HD (1920 x 1200) TRILUMINOS display
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 3GB RAM
  • Dust-resistant and waterproof (IP55 & IP58)
  • 16GB storage
  • microSD up to 64GB
  • 3200 mAh battery , non-removable

Our 9-page review

We've considered every aspect of the Sony Xperia Z2 camera, with the photographer in mind. We examined the user interface of the native camera app and its special features. We experimented with the camera's performance when taking stills and video, and had a play with the device's many special feature modes. Click any of the links below for more information of specific functions and continue to our conclusion for a final summary of our findings.

Comments

Total comments: 39
jamaljan

i'm googling but can't find out any review which shows which cellfone's front camera has the biggest sensor. Can someone please help... Am looking to buy a camera specifically for its cameras (both back and specially front). Already have Nokia 808 but its front camera sucks.

2 upvotes
jamaljan

can anyone please help me...

0 upvotes
oznikonian

Lars just letting you know the camera app on my Z2 remembers the mode you were in last.(selecting the camera icon on the home screen) its only when you use the button to launch the app that it reverts to the Superior Auto mode.

1 upvote
Peiasdf

Poor showing for the level of hardware this phone is carrying.

0 upvotes
ageha

The phone will be obsolete in a few days.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

for the past couple of years or so Sony has been replacing its top-of-the-line model every 6 months. However, that does not mean the previous model is not available for purchase anymore. You'll be able to buy a Z2 for quite some time. Equally, whatever gets announced at IFA most likely won't be available in the shops straightaway.

0 upvotes
ET2

where are studio shots?

1 upvote
Yudi Hilmawan

Next time it would be much better if you just can show us image comparison tools like comparometer from the imaging resource other than this kind of review.
I'm really disappointed with your review because even some other non photography related site can provide us with more better and detailed review.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

can you specify where we find those great reviews from non-camera people? Just so I can have a look.

2 upvotes
BarnET

Lars you gave an Sony phone an good review.
For some that is enough reason to call you all sorts of things.

0 upvotes
Toshik

Why would cameras need to crank up iso while using flash? Flash helps to illuminate the subject and therefore lower iso as there is more light.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

part of the problem is that most smartphones don't have real flash units but tiny LEDs which do not nearly produce the illumination of a Xenon flash.

1 upvote
vlad0

No studio shots ?

1 upvote
eno2

Sony cameras have the most unpleasant jpg engine from all companies that I know of, this phone make no exception. The heavy NR + heavy sharpening applied in the photos make the unusable. It is very sad.

3 upvotes
Menneisyys

I wish they had RAW output. (Not that I would purchase these phones... Sony is one of the worst companies WRT phasing out their "old" models - about every half a year. In this regard, all major manufacturers are better - Apple, LG, Samsung, Nokia/MS etc.)

3 upvotes
bigley Ling

Yes, but the Z2 does seem to improve the JPG engine to a degree, as there seems to be less heavy handed noise reduction. That being said, images at higher ISOs still lack detail, and are indeed noisy.

0 upvotes
bigley Ling

Menneisyys , I think the android phone that has RAW output currently is the OPPO find 7.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys

"Menneisyys , I think the android phone that has RAW output currently is the OPPO find 7."

Nevertheless, Sony has always put a LOT of emphasis on the cameras of their phones. I would really like them to give their customers RAW. After all, it can't be THAT hard to implement (unless they use some kind of a chipset where there's absolutely no access to the sensor data w/o preprocessing / JPEG compressing first.)

0 upvotes
bigley Ling

@Menneisyys

Absolutely agree. It could well be the output from their sensor is not all that it is made out to be, and the need for clever image processing may have been required give a semi descent output.

1 upvote
new boyz

You haven't seen Lenovo's yet. Its IQ(or lack thereof) makes you wanna give up on taking picture.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Markol

Looking at the samples my first thought is: if your camera can't handle 20 MP, don't even bother to make them available. Just offer the downsized versions, who will benefit from so lousy 20 MP photos?
Maybe it's my eyes or personal taste but the Sony 20 MP smart phones really disappoint big time. And I'm so waiting for a decent Android camera phone. Other than the S5. Nokia 808 decent. Look at the full size images from the 808 and then look at the 20 MP images here- this is my gold standard and not even the 1020 came close IMHO:
http://img230.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=436190887_2013_07_14_2952_122_424lo.jpg

Just to be clear_ I don't doubt that downsampliong these photos will give good results but I wonder why they use such a bad 20 MP sensor, just look at the ISO 50 photo of the roofs with antennae.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Menneisyys

Absolutely agreed. The 808 is and still remains the stills IQ king. You need to carry around significantly larger & more expensive cameras to produce photos with equal or better pixel-level sharpness.

For example, my 16 Mpixel Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55 lens operating at one of its sweet spots, f/5.6 at 18mm, delivers appr. the same pixel-level detail level. (Its DR, noise, OIS, contrast etc. are significantly better, of course.) Even DSLR cameras with worse lens / lens not operating at their sweet spot / with an AA filter may produce worse results than the 808 WRT detail.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
vlad0

808 is in a different league when it comes to IQ.. Sony are still struggling to get to N8 IQ levels.

0 upvotes
bigley Ling

vlad0 , agree completely, the n8 has abnormally large micron pixels which help contribute to good dyanmic range and lower noise. The only gripe I had with the n8 was the whole camera interface experience. It was good when it was released, but once I got the taste of the 808 camera UI, the n8 controls paled in comparison and actually got annoying to use.

0 upvotes
vlad0

@bigley, yes.. I think they messed up the UX with the "anna" update. I still have mine...its a pretty good smartphone.

The pixels on it are at 1.75 microns I believe.... so I am not 100% sure but I think it still has the largest physical pixels of any smartphone camera out there.

If the rumors are true, and my math is right, the iPhone 6 will finally surpass it with 1.9µm pixels... can't wait to see Apple's marketing frenzy behind "big pixels" vs. megapixel count :)

Comment edited 38 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
bigley Ling

exciting stuff, this IPhone 6. Will wait in great anticipation for it's release and camera offerings. Ignoring the camera quality, I still will be upgrading to an IP6 as I enjoy the way iOS as an operating system works in general

1 upvote
Menneisyys

The iPhone6 will be a major release. For example, the sweep pano implementation has always one of the best in iPhones - and is orders of magnitude better than that of Sony (or, for that matter, Google in their stock Camera app). The only problem with iOS8 is that it still lacks any kind of RAW output.

1 upvote
thx1138

Crazy generous score. The photo IQ is simply second rate at any thing other than viewing it on the phone itself. I'm sure it's a relative score and only compared to other phones but the score is crazy. I reckon DxO would rate this better than a 5D III sensor.

3 upvotes
Lars Rehm

pixel-level image quality is one component of the score but there a other things the X2 is pretty good at, that's how we get to this score.

0 upvotes
ukkisavosta

Thanks for the interesting review. Might I suggest one additional but very crucial item to your testing scenarios: camera lens scratch resistance.

A good camera is useless on a phone, if the lens scratches easily, and my experience with Sony isn't exactly rewarding in this sense.

I recently upgraded my trusty old Nokia N8 to a Sony Xperia SP, and after a couple months of light use (with the phone protected by a fleece-lined case) the camera lens is full of microscopic scratches that have rendered the camera basically useless -- all shots are soft with an ugly glow and the camera struggles to AF.

I've handled the phone very carefully and it is still in like-new condition, except for the lens, which is obviously made of some sub-par glass (or plastic even!). My N8's lens was scratch-free after 3 years of hard use.

I like Sony's products, and I've been happy with my A7 and NEX-C3 cameras, but the Xperia SP has definitely been a disappointment in this respect.

2 upvotes
Lars Rehm

Personally I have not had any problems of this kind with the phones I have tested and I have a feeling that the manufacturers would not be too happy about me deliberately scratching their test units. However, if it happened during normal use in the testing process I would certainly mention that in the review.

1 upvote
ukkisavosta

Ah, too bad, but I perfectly understand.

I'm amazed that these units passed the manufacturers' (or Sony's in this case) scratch resistance tests during the design stage. Surely such basic tests are part of the basic testing process.

Anyway, just wanted to raise this issue to others looking at buying a Sony phone. I'm quite peeved about this and still debating whether to send my Xperia in for a warranty fix (problem would likely turn up again later, or more likely I'd be accused of 'incorrect handling' and charged for the job).

Caveat emptor!

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

well, it's worth a try I would say!

0 upvotes
ipecaca

I have an xperia ION lte and the camera became useless because of the scrached lens in about 3 months as well.

1 upvote
Menneisyys

Yuck. Sounds awful. I won't be recommending Sony smartphones to friends, then. (So far, I've told them to go for them if they like flashy and, most importantly, water resistant stuff.)

1 upvote
dbo

"...only 1080p.."
ONLY????
Cmon, it's a cell phone. Who does really want and/or need 4k in a cell phone?

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

are you talking about the special mode output at 1080p? Yes, that is indeed a small image size for a smartphone in 2014, especially a high-end unit.

0 upvotes
Johannes Zander

What! No PSAM dial... No articulated screen... No hot shoe to mount standart flashes...
I think I keep my D800, also the pohone part is very badly implemented.

0 upvotes
noirdesir

Not that the D800 would have a PSAM dial or articulated screen.

1 upvote
Total comments: 39
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