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Sony Xperia Z2 Video Review: Just Another Smartphone?

22/04/2014 15:14 BST | Updated 22/04/2014 15:59 BST

The Sony Xperia Z2 is out now on a variety of top-end contracts.

Key Features:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
  • 3GB RAM
  • 5.2-inch IPS screen
  • 20.7-megapixels camera
  • IP58 waterproof
  • 3200 mAh battery
  • 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm

xperia z2

Verdict:

5starstechdarkblue

The Xperia Z2 is a premium, brilliantly-designed flagship Android smartphone with rock-solid fundamentals, some stand-out features, a few flaws, and a couple of missing elements. In that respect it is totally unremarkable - there is not a flagship phone on the market (including the Galaxy S5 and One M8) that could not be described in roughly the same way.

In the Z2's case, the best thing about the phone is obvious the minute you pick it up. It's large, at 5.2-inches, but beautifully made. Almost every design choice is intelligent and well-realised, from the metal sides to the glass-covered back, and it's heavy enough to feel expensive without being a burden in the pocket. Even against the all-metal M8 this is a lovely piece of classic design, even if it is very similar to the previous generation Z2.

Aside from the fast processor, excellent battery life and other core specs, the Z2 features a particularly impressive camera and screen -- as long as you give both the right conditions to shine. The screen is bright, clear and sharp, but is far better indoors than outside where -- at times -- it's borderline unreadable. The camera too is brilliant, at 20.7-megapixels and with fast autofocus and response times, but from time to time produces a duff shot that seems inexplicable given the hardware.

There are other nice features you might miss at first glance too, including built-in noise cancellation tech, 4K video recording and a neat AR photos mode.

Unusually for a third-party Android device, the software is pretty nice too. Sony has always known where to tighten and customise the Android experience and where to leave it well alone, and this time around is no different. The apps tray includes filters and a most-used section, and the notifications are given a spruce up, but otherwise there's not too much other than a parade of bloatware content stores and the famously ropey Playstation Mobile to ignore, or hide.

The downsides aren't numerous - this is a very high quality device - but they are present. The waterproofing necessitates a series of port covers which are annoying to open and close, and feel a little flimsy given you'll be using this for two years or up. The glass back makes us worry for the phone's long-term survival too, and we've had problems with the easily scratched Xperia panels before.

Mostly there's just a lack of invention and imagination on show - and that's a little bit of a disappointment. You see this is a top-class phone, but there's nothing here you haven't seen before, and if you bought any Sony Z- phone last year there probably isn't any reason to upgrade. The current state of mobile innovation is such that you won't miss the competition's headline features, such as the S5's heart-rate sensor or the M8's dual-lens camera, because they're mainly gimmicks anyway.

What you'll probably do is get excited, order it, open it, and realise it's just a really nice phone. Nothing less - but nothing more either. Given that it matches the best of the best in almost every area, it's hard not to give it a qualified five stars. But there are a couple of extra imaginary stars on the end of that scale for anyone with a bit of guts to make something better - and this isn't it.