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Design & Hardware

In terms of design, with its boxy shape the Sony Xperia Z2 is very close to its predecessors in the Xperia Z series. Like the Z1 the new model features an aluminum uni-frame that is visible around the edges. In combination with the front and rear glass panels this gives the Z2 the look and feel of a premium device. Unfortunately the glass covers also mean the device is prone to fingerprint smearing not only on the front but also on the back. On the plus side the Sony is dust- and waterproof (certified to IP55/58) which means it can be used in adverse weather conditions or dusty environments and even take pictures and video underwater. 

The camera lens and flash are located in the top left corner of the Z2's back.
The Z2 is a touch larger but otherwise looks very similar to its predecessor, the Xperia Z1.

Like the Z1 the Xperia Z2 features a dedicated two-way shutter button, a long-press of which opens the camera app. As before slots for a MicroSim or microSD card are hidden under sealed plastic flaps but the earphone socket has been redesigned and now does not need a cover to maintain the device's environmental protection. Power button and volume rocker can both be found beside the shutter button on the right edge of the device. 

The angular shape make it easy to hold the Z2 and use it as a camera but, as with the Z1, the location of the lens isn't ideal. In its corner location it is very easily shaded by your index finger when taking a picture. 

The shutter button is small but provides proper two-way action.
Power button and volume rockers are located on the right edge.

The specification of the imaging hardware has not changed with the new model. At 1/2.3 inches the 20.7 backside-illuminated CMOS sensor is the same size you would find in most consumer compact cameras and larger than the 1/3-inch sensors in most of the competition. In combination with the fast F2.0 Sony G lens, this promises decent low-light performance. That said, the Z2 still has to make do without an optical image stabilization system. 

MicroUSB connector and SIM-card slot are hidden behind a plastic flap. 
The MicroSD-card slot can be found on the left edge of the device.

Other hardware specs are pretty much in line with the top-end models from the competition. Android 4.4 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S801 chip and 3GB RAM. 16GB internal storage is expandable via a microSD slot. The 5.2-inch 1080p Sony TRILUMINOS display offers improved viewing angles and is great for viewing images and video and still offers decent usability when shooting in bright light. 

Comments

Total comments: 37
oznikonian
By oznikonian (3 weeks ago)

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
By Peiasdf (3 weeks ago)

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

0 upvotes
ageha
By ageha (4 weeks ago)

The phone will be obsolete in a few days.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (3 weeks ago)

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
By ET2 (4 weeks ago)

where are studio shots?

1 upvote
Yudi Hilmawan
By Yudi Hilmawan (4 weeks ago)

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
By Lars Rehm (4 weeks ago)

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

2 upvotes
BarnET
By BarnET (4 weeks ago)

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
By Toshik (4 weeks ago)

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
By Lars Rehm (4 weeks ago)

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
By vlad0 (4 weeks ago)

No studio shots ?

1 upvote
seliscan
By seliscan (4 weeks ago)

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
By Menneisyys (4 weeks ago)

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
By bigley Ling (4 weeks ago)

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
By bigley Ling (4 weeks ago)

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

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (4 weeks ago)

"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
By bigley Ling (4 weeks ago)

@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
By new boyz (4 weeks ago)

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
By Markol (4 weeks ago)

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
By Menneisyys (4 weeks ago)

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
By vlad0 (4 weeks ago)

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
By bigley Ling (4 weeks ago)

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
By vlad0 (4 weeks ago)

@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
By bigley Ling (4 weeks ago)

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
By Menneisyys (4 weeks ago)

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
By thx1138 (4 weeks ago)

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
By Lars Rehm (4 weeks ago)

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
By ukkisavosta (4 weeks ago)

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
By Lars Rehm (4 weeks ago)

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
By ukkisavosta (4 weeks ago)

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
By Lars Rehm (4 weeks ago)

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

0 upvotes
ipecaca
By ipecaca (4 weeks ago)

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
By Menneisyys (4 weeks ago)

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
By dbo (4 weeks ago)

"...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
By Lars Rehm (4 weeks ago)

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
By Johannes Zander (4 weeks ago)

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
By noirdesir (4 weeks ago)

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

1 upvote
Total comments: 37
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