The Look and Feel of the Xperia Z2
The look and feel of a smartphone is important, which is why I have an entire half page dedicated just to this. Companies spend countless man hours designing and crafting a smartphone to appeal to the masses, which is an impossibly hard task. Sony, in my opinion, pulled it off with the Xperia line of smartphones. The Z2 continues the sandwich design of the Xperia smartphone range, cramming in some truly beautiful glass and metal in the Xperia Z2. I've come to truly love the design of the Xperia Z2, and feel the plastic feel of other smartphones is simply out of Sony's league.
Sony has made subtle, but large changes with the design on the Z2, with some cleaner joins along the trim of the phone itself, and the waterproof plugs making the phone feel... well, more waterproof. There is no anti-shatter film on the display, so we have an all-glass, all-metal design which is truly a sight to behold, and feel. If you're coming from a curvy smartphone, or virtually any other smartphone for that matter, the Xperia Z2 feels odd to hold in the hand at first. For me, it took a few days to adjust the squareness of the phone, but once I did, I came to truly appreciate what Sony has crafted.
At first glance, it looks beautiful. Sony has made a truly beautiful smartphone, and once you've used it for a few days, the feel slides right into your hands and is quite comfortable to use for hours on end.
On the left of the phone, we have a plastic flap for the microUSB port and SIM card tray.
On the right, we have (from left to right) a dedicated camera button (a great feature from Sony), the volume rocker, a well-styled and useful power button, and another plastic flap for the microSD card slot.
On the back of the Z2, we have a sheer glass sheet which looks and feels great, with Sony and Xperia logos placed in the middle, and bottom of the phone. In the top left, we have the amazing 20.7-megapixel rear-facing camera.
On the top of the Z2, to the left corner is the 3.5mm jack for audio.
Turning the Z2 on its front, we have that gorgeous 5.2-inch Full HD display and at the top and bottom of the phone we have Sony's dual front-facing speakers. These speakers are powerful enough to have "Let It Go" from Frozen blasting from my cup holder in the car for my 3-year-old daughter, without a problem.
Another important part of the look and feel of a smartphone is the internal look and feel, through software. I'm a huge advocate of stock Android, and if I can't get it, as close to it, has to do. Sony stuck quite close with Google's stock look, something I applaud the company for doing.
We have Android 4.4.2 KitKat inside of the Xperia Z2, with Sony's refreshed Xperia UI doing its thing on top. I didn't find any performance issues with Sony's UI, which is something I can't say for Samsung, and some other handset manufacturers.
The first thing I do when I get a non-stock Android smartphone is delete virtually all of the widgets off of the home screens - but this is a personal choice.
Sony include a bunch of apps that you might, or might not use, including Explore, AR effect (for your camera), Movies, PlayStation, PlayStation Mobile, and more. I didn't use many of these apps, but from the ones I did use, I didn't have any problems, but nor did I have any memorable experiences with them.
Holding down the Home button and sliding up prompts two choices: on the left, What's New, which will show you everything that is new across all of Sony's entertainment hubs, and within all of your Android applications.
The default keyboard on the Z2 is nothing memorable either, with another one of the first things I do is install SwiftKey. If you don't use SwiftKey, I highly suggest you do, it's one of the best apps available on Android, period. You can see in the above shots, the default keyboard from Sony on the left, and SwiftKey at play on the right.
The overall feel of Sony's refreshed UI is that it keeps much closer to stock Android, which is really quite refreshing. I don't like picking up a new Android-powered smartphone for it to not feel like Android, because the company has splashed so much of its own UI over top. Sony kept it simple on the Z2.
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