Being a market leader is difficult. Ask Samsung, or Apple; they would know. You always have to innovate and look for new solutions to an existing problems, you have to stay ahead of the pack by generally improving current solutions and keep them interesting. There is plenty to do as a market leader; you have to fortify and strengthen your armour constantly to ensure your competitors would not find any chink in them. You have to make a nearly perfect product every single time.
That is, however not the point of the Sony Xperia XZ2. No, do not get us wrong; the Sony XPeria XZ2 is Sony’s latest and greatest – its new flagship for the Malaysian market. It is specced like one too; Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 – as high-end as you can get these days, 4GB of RAM – plenty enough for the Android 8.0 it runs on, 64GB of Storage – more than what you can load into the phone in a year, USB Type-C, Full HD+ display, and 4K HDR Video. This cannot get anymore flagship for Sony or any other manufacturer if you ask us.
It does cost MYR3,299 though – comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S9. How does it fare against the Korean behemoth though?
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (8 Cores)|
Quad-core @2.7 GHz
Expandable with MicroSD (Max. 400GB)
|Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)||Adreno 630|
5.7-inch (~424 ppi)
1080p Full HD+(1,080 x 2,160 pixels)
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
|Operating System||Android 8.0.0 Oreo w/ Xperia UI|
|Battery||Removeable 3,180mAh Li-Ion|
Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi IEEE802.11 a/b/g/n/ac|
Optical Image Stabilisation
4K HDR Video recording (30fps)
up to 1080p Slow Motion
1080p video recoring (30fps)
|Misc||IP65/68 dust and water resistant|
aptX HD enabled
S-Force dual speakers
Dynamic Vibration System
Playstation 4 Remote Play
First things first, when you get a new phone – you unbox it for the first time. When you do lift the box for the first time, you feel that the box is quite light; a little hollow if you might. Then you lay it out on your table to unbox. Then we found out our unit does not come with an earphone or a USB Type-C to 3.5mm jack adapter (we should clarify at this point though that the retail unit comes with them). We are welcomed with the device first on top with the typical Sony plastic wraps. Then you dig deeper and find a small-ish two-pin wall charger and a USB Type-C cable hiding beneath the box of manuals and warranty information.
But let us focus on the device; after all it is what you came here for – to know how it is in its first 24 hours as a daily driver.
As we lift the device up for the first time, we first felt the heft. It feels significant, it feels weighty, it feels dense; it feels great in the hands. The shape is natural to your palms, the heft is ultra re-assuring to the touch. It feels like a quality product and it feels robust, and it is. If you look at the material as well, it should feel like a premium product. It is made out of an aluminum frame that borders and holds a flat glass pane covering the large 5.7-inch Full HD+ display up front, and a complete dome of a glass that stretches across the back of the device.
Looks? It looks pretty – even if the front is just another slab of a device with a big screen. The bezels on the side of the screen when you hold it vertically is a bit bigger than the current flagships could offer I admit, but it never bothered me. We appreciated the bezel as it means that we would not have any accidental presses on the screen.
They have not bothered with the edge-less, full-view displays and make a notch out of the top bezel shenanigans. We love that too. We love the fact that there are two forward facing speakers, but the glass panel covered them so well that we never noticed. It is even rated at IP65/68 so you can safely be thrown into a pool, and be fine with it.
Then you move to the back of the Xperia XZ2 – the domed back. They call it the Ambient Flow design. Ambient? We cannot tell yet. Flow? Yes, it does.
The curve around the back of the device makes it feel so natural in your hands that you feel safe holding it in your palms. It adds to the flair of the device as well, a sort of fresh take of what a Sony Xperia phone should look like. It is not the slab of brick we were used to but some really beautiful sculpture so painfully simple, yet so complex.
Then there is the positioning of the camera, sensors, and fingerprint sensor. It does take some getting used to if I have to admit. Compared to the other flagships with fingerprint sensors out the back of the device, it feels weird. On any other device, the fingerprint sensor is where the camera is on the Xperia XZ2. which also means you are smudging the camera most of the time you pick up the device.
Despite that little hiccup though the fingerprint sensor’s placement is one of the most intuitive one in the market. All you have to do is pick up the device and your finger is already there even without readjusting them. It does get some getting used to, but it becomes natural after a while; at least it is to us.
The camera module is awkward at first too. It is too centralised and your finger gets in the way as you hold it with your index finger resting on the back of the device. But give it a while and it starts to make sense too. You can hold your phone comfortably now with both hands without ‘fingertipping’ the camera side just to avoid the lens. You get more stability out of that too. Oh and it still comes with the dedicated camera button, really lovely welcome back that.
Turn it on and the typical Sony Xperia welcome animation and to the Sony set up page which is slightly different from the usual Androids. What you are looking at is Sony’s Xperia UI on top of Android 8.0.0 Oreo. At a glance the User Interface (UI) seems to be a lot cleaner than before and plenty lighter on the internals this device packs. The Xperia UI is more than just skin deep though so stay tuned to our full review.
24 Hours of the Sony Xperia XZ2
We opened the device up at about 8.30 p.m. and so we started only to install whatever apps that we usually use on our daily driver. Later in the morning I found out that there is something called Sony Xperia Transfer Mobile, which makes your life a lot easier. The Xperia Transfer Mobile allows you to transfer your data from any other Android devices to the device wirelessly. Of course it will take some time to complete if you are transferring your apps and what not.
Setting the device up is just like setting up any other Android devices; straightforward and simple enough. There are some interesting Sony proprietary apps that are quite interesting to use as well. You can delete them but we left them there. That first hour, after an overnight charge to 100%, that was spent on just setting up the device took about 10% of the 3,180mAh battery.
Xperia UI has always been a pleasure to use and it is not different here. The latest iteration of Sony’s overlay UI on top of the Android 8.0.0 Oreo does take some advantage of some of the Oreo improvements. It feels just as snappy as before and nearly as stock as a clean, Vanilla Android. The only obvious difference between the Xperia UI and stock Android is the app menu button that is still dominating the center bottom of the display.
Other than that, the device works just as beautifully as it looks and there is not much of a difference between it and plenty of other Android devices out there. You can also group your apps in the app menu which makes it more organised (at least for me, I like everything to be found on one page).
It also has an ‘info in a glance’ feature where you just pick up the device for a glance and it shows you all sorts of notifications from messages, time, and whatever else there is. It is like the lovechild of Samsung’s ‘always-on display’ and Motorola’s gesture controlled ‘info in a glance’ thing. It is brilliant and intuitive at the same time. It does not consume as much battery as the ‘always-on display’ and is not as annoying as Motorola’s gesture controlled system as well to deploy. You simply pick up the device and you get all you need.
We did not have time to try any games on the device on the first day of use so we could not comment how the brand new Snapdragon 845 works on games. We did however do texts, web browsing, switch between apps plenty of times throughout the day and the device works perfectly. There was no lags to be encountered whenever you launch apps, everything seems to work in an instant. Even temperatures are kept in check all the time.
Lunch time, battery is at about 70%. It seemed like the battery life is short, but we were still setting up the device throughout the day so that sort of battery consumption is expected. We played a little bit with the camera and the results was as expected too – delightful photos with great saturation. The detailing that comes from the 19-Megapixel module is of course great. The colours are well saturated in good lighting conditions. However, the emphasis on red and green is quite visible once you do low-light photography. We do have to note however that the camera launches slightly slower than expected.
Even the Selfie camera works great, photos come out nice and crisp under sufficient lighting indoors. You cannot expect the same sort of detail you get from the main shooter but it works, especially for social media use. At first glances the front facing camera does not have the same saturation problems as the rear camera.
3.30 p.m. and so far so good, battery level is just below 40%.
We were streaming YouTube videos, and what not. We were getting used to the positioning of the fingerprint sensor as well. The placement started to make plenty of sense at that point. We pick up the device and your index finger lands on where the sensor is. You do not even realise that the sensor is there as it sits flush with the rest of the body. The only protruding part at the back by a very slight margin is the camera module. The bummer here is the lack of 3.5m jack that we were reminded of when we tried plugging in a headphone into the top of the device.
End of day, 9.00 p.m. battery goes down to 9%. There was still enough juice to keep it going until midnight technically; we did keep it running until then. It worked beautifully, we took a night shot to find the red and green over saturation. But I fell in love with it.
We’ve always loved a Sony Xperia, they make decent devices. They make great devices in fact. This is no different, it is still one of the Sony greats. It is Sony’s greatest so far in fact. There is plenty of potential here, with 1080p super slow motion videos especially. Yes, sure we do miss the 3.5mm jack and the thickness of the device should indicate enough space for one. It does not have one however, and it is compensated by the S-Force speaker which we have not exploited. There is also a Dynamic Vibration System which we have not exploited just yet in the 24 hours of use, but we think it is more gimmick than anything else.
Would we buy it? In short, even after a short 24 hours use; we would. Do we think that it is worth MYR3,299? Wait for our full in-depth review to find out.
Also published on Medium.