In Depth

Sony Xperia Z2: Glowing reviews for new flagship phone

Early reviews of the Sony's forthcoming premium Xperia Z2 handset are overwhelmingly positive

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THE soon-to-be-released Xperia Z2 is an important device for Sony. The Xperia Z did great business for the venerable old Japanese electronics firm when it was released in early 2013, but it was soon overtaken by Samsung's hugely popular Galaxy S4.

Most people agreed that the Z1 update, released just five months ago, was a stop-gap rather than a significant update, so the Z2 arrives as Sony's first real tilt at taking back some of the high-end smartphone market share it has lost over the past year.

Will it be successful? Reviews and hands-on reports have begun to emerge and so far they have been very positive.

Design

The Z2 looks very much like its predecessor, the Z1. In fact, according to Expert Reviews "on first inspection, little appears to have changed". The difference, reviewers say, comes once you pick it up. The Z2 is lighter and slimmer than the Z1, which means "you can comfortably hold it in one hand and still reach the far edge of the screen", notes Expert Reviews. The device is also thinner than before, shaving off 0.3mm off the Z1.

Display

In spite of the streamlined new design, the screen on the Z2 is actually bigger than the Z1 – 5.2 inches compared to the previous phone's five-inch display. To put this into perspective, the top of the range Apple iPhone 5S has a four-inch display, so you are getting over an inch more screen than Apple's flagship with the latest Xperia.

Reviewers agree that the screen is also much brighter than before. PC Pro says that the display delivers "punchy colours and plenty of contrast [which] should fix the washed-out look we've become used to with Xperia devices over the years".

Camera

Cameras have long been one of Sony's strengths, and the Z2's camera is no exception. KnowYourMobile calls it "a thing of beauty". The camera's tech specs are impressive, and it offers 20.7 megapixel photos and 4K video. In a nutshell they offer relatively accurate colours and good aperture (which allows you to take images with nice depth of field). The phone also offers a new slow-motion video capture mode, similar to the slow-mo effect Apple introduced on its latest devices.

Hardware

Beneath the bonnet, the Z2 is a "veritable powerhouse", says tech review website Pocket Lint. This is reflected in the device's "smooth operation".

The phone comes with 16GB storage space inbuilt but also features a microSD slot that allows you to further expand the memory to around 64GB. In memory terms, though, the device doesn't stack up against the latest Samsung Galaxy S5, which has both 16GB or 32GB models and can be expanded to a whopping 128GB.

On the other hand, the battery life on the Z2 is almost double that of the S5. On "stamina mode," the Z2 can run for 740 hours in an idle state. The S5, when put in its equivalent "ultra power saving mode" will run out of steam after 390 hours on standby.

Sound

The Xperia Z2 has moved its speakers from the back of the device to the front to try to match the HTC One's impressive stereo effect. They call their stereo offering S-Force Front Surround, and most reviewers agree it significantly improves on the sound output of previous Sony models.

The device also has a new noise cancellation system that works with the headset that will come in the box. Sony claims that the system will be able to cancel out 98 per cent of background noise. Pocket Lint say that in their test the noise cancelling system "seemed effective".

Conclusion

Overall reviewers agree that the phone is a big improvement on the Z1, especially in terms of the quality of the screen. The device doesn't match up to the Samsung Galaxy S5 in a number of categories but its high-quality camera should appeal to photo enthusiasts. KnowYourMobile says that the new display coupled with the device's faster processor has made "a great handset even greater".

Release date and price

Vodafone said this morning that the Xperia S2 will be available from 10 April, and the company is taking orders now. On a 4G tariff with unlimited minutes and texts and 1Gb of data, the monthly fee will by £47. Vodafone is also offering a free Sony Bravia 32-inch TV for the first 3,000 people who place an order.

Alternatively Sony is taking orders for unlocked, contract-free Xperia Z2s for a £599. It says deliveries are expected to start in early April.

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