Sony Xperia Z2 Smartphone Review

Sony hits a homerun with its Xperia Z2 smartphone, a truly awesome Android smartphone that competes with the best of them. Check out Anthony's full review.

Manufacturer: Sony
13 minutes & 24 seconds read time

Introduction & Specifications

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Back in April of last year, I reviewed the Sony Xperia Z smartphone, falling in love with what Sony was able to achieve with the Android-powered smartphone. Even back then, I said that "I would find it hard to believe that anyone could buy the Xperia Z and be disappointed in it, but I think Sony has a little while yet before they have the name that Samsung has in the competitive smart device market".

Well, Sony's time has come - between my review of the Xperia Z, Sony has released the Z1, and now the Z2, something that I have come to find is one of the best Android-powered smartphones I've used yet, even when it's up against LG's G3 smartphone, the one that features a 2560x1440 display.

Sony amplified things with the Xperia Z2, from its specs to display, and everything in between. Let's dive right into the specifications of the Z2.


Sony has done a little bit of work on the Xperia Z2 internals, with a beautiful 5.2-inch Full HD "TRILUMINOS" display with X-Reality - this is a bunch of words that simply mean it has a gorgeous 1920x1080 display.

Moving on with the specs, we have Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 SoC, which sees a 2.3GHz quad-core processor doing all of the heavy work, with 3GB of RAM to keep everything running smoothly. We have 16GB of internal storage (with around 11GB free), which is expandable by microSD right up to 128GB, 4G LTE support, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and more.

We have a very, very capable 20.7-megapixel rear-facing camera, which is capable of shooting 4K video and taking massive 5248x3936 resolution pictures, taking 1080p@60FPS and 720p@120FPS video. The 2.2-megapixel front-facing camera is surprisingly good for those selfies and video calls.

All of this arrives in a phone that not only looks great, but feels great. We have measurements of 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.3mm (or 5.78 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches). It weighs just 163g (or 5.75oz), so it feels quite light to hold in your hand. One of the more important things that the Xperia Z2 has going for it is the massive 3200mAh battery that just keeps on keeping on, all through the day. It's non-removable, but it's great to see Sony cramming in a giant battery, without making the phone much thicker.

You can get the Sony Xperia Z2 on Amazon outright for $625 completely unlocked, which is a good price. It is only $35 more than the Samsung Galaxy S5 - and that's not bad considering the marketing pull Samsung has against Sony in the smartphone market.

Look & Feel + Software

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.

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On the left of the phone, we have a plastic flap for the microUSB port and SIM card tray.

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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.

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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.

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On the top of the Z2, to the left corner is the 3.5mm jack for audio.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Camera Software

Sony is known for making some great cameras, so why not use that expertise when baking in the 20.7-megapixel sensor into the Xperia Z2. Not only has Sony installed an amazing camera into the Z2, but the software is quite powerful, too.

There are a few different modes you can take photos with, with the one that most people will end up using being the first, and default option: Superior auto. But, there are varying modes that you can use, with some of them being purely for fun, but there's even a 'Background defocus' mode which can 'take photos with beautiful background blur like a DSLR camera'. This mode was great for capturing photos of items, such as the examples below.

Amazing Photos

Here are some photos that I captured with the Xperia Z2, with a focus being put on the 'Background defocus' option that resulted in quite a stunning picture of a can of Fanta (of all things).

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This is the famous can of Fanta that came out quite stunning.

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Using the Superior auto mode, I was able to capture some great photos over the time of using the Z2.

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The AR effect option is quite fun, something I had a bunch of laughs with my 3-year-old daughter with. She had heaps of fun playing with the different modes, pretending she was a diver, or a knight in shining armor, or many of the other modes baked into the Xperia Z2.

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Even in the dark of the night, the Z2 captures some great photos.

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I was able to use the Sweep Panorama mode to its full effect, capturing a beautiful rainbow in the shot above.

4K video

The ability to record 4K video on the Xperia Z2 is nothing short of stunning, but you really need the display or TV to play it back in all of its high-res glory. You'll still notice the extra pixels doing their work on a 1080p display, but once you move up to a 1440p display, or a full blown 4K TV or display, the 4K video truly stands out.

120FPS Recording

This is something that is hard to show you, as you need to see it in-person, on the phone itself. But, the Z2 is capable of shooting 120FPS video, something that looks really awesome in person. You can slow down the video, so I've got some examples below of my daughter at her swimming and dancing lessons, jumping into the pool and making a big splash or twirling around in slow motion.

General Use, Performance & Benchmarks

Using the Xperia Z2 Smartphone

After close to a month of using the Xperia Z2 as my daily driver, I fell in love. This is a hard thing for me to do, especially as I was so attached to my Nexus 5 for more than one reason. Firstly, I'm a big advocate of stock Android - I tend to hate tacked-on UIs, but Sony has approached the Xperia Z2 with gentle hands in the UI department.

Secondly, the design and feel of the Xperia Z2 is like nothing else. HTC gets all the praise when it comes to making great-feeling Android-powered smartphones, but I think Sony deserves big praise for their efforts on the Z2. The Z2 feels like a powerful phone. It looks like a powerful phone. It also performs like a powerful phone.

From first glance, to putting it back into its box after I'm finished writing this review, my time with the Xperia Z2 was great. I actually convinced a close friend of mine to grab the Z2 instead of the Galaxy S5, and he's over the moon with it. Some of the photos he took with the very powerful 20.7-megapixel rear-facing camera came out very well from his family holiday.

I didn't care much about the performance of the Z2, as I experienced no slowdowns at all during my use. I was really pushing it up hill when using it too, with my Google Glass connected to it 50% of the time, and I was constantly taking photos and videos while doing a bunch of other things in between. Facebook, Gmail, Drive, backing up my photos and videos to Google Photos and so much more. The Z2 handled it all, without a single hiccup. To me, that speaks wonders on its performance.

Walking away from the Z2, I was heavily impressed with what Sony has crammed into the thin smartphone in what is the 20.7-megapixel rear-facing camera. The ability to snap amazing photos from a smartphone is one thing, but shooting 4K video at 3840x2160 is another. For those with a 4K-capable TV or monitor, you'll want to shoot videos at Ultra HD. But be warned: you'll be chewing up your internal flash storage very quick, so grab yourself a 64-128GB microSD card for shooting at 4K.


This is one of my least favorite parts of writing a smartphone review, synthetic benchmarks. How the smartphone performs shouldn't make up any majority of your decision on the purchase, but we're still going to sit down and discuss this with you now.

Around my lab right now, I have some of the best smartphones on the market. The hardware inside of these devices doesn't do much for me, as I like to put more of my judgment into the actual physical feel, the OS, and the hardware side of things that matter - the feel of the phone, the camera, the display, etc. But, numbers have to be crunched somewhere, so this is where we'll do it. Let's begin benchmarking Sony's latest and greatest handset, the Xperia Z2.

We've changed up our benchmark lineup, which now has three tests from Basemark X, the usual 3DMark test, and a few from GFXBench. Starting with Basemark X, and its Gaming Performance score at both 1080p and 1080 w/8x AA.

Basemark X

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We can see the Xperia Z2 kicking ass right out of the gate, beating out every other smartphone in our lineup. This includes the best from Samsung and LG's latest G3 smartphone. At 1080p without AA enabled, we have a score of 12,843 compared to the closest competitor, which is the Galaxy Note 3 from Samsung which scored 12,141.

Turning AA on didn't stop the Z2 in its tracks, reducing its overall score to 12,315. This is impressive, considering that the Galaxy Note 3 scored 11,646, while the G3 scored 12,123 and the Galaxy S5 scored 11,470. The Nexus 5 is getting a bit old in the tooth now, scoring 10,514.

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For our second test, we are looking at the two gaming tests within Basemark X - both run at 1080p with 8x AA enabled.

As you can see, the Xperia Z2 leads again. Starting with the Hangar test where Sony scores 18.45 FPS, leading the pack with the LG G3 coming in second place with 18.13 FPS. Both of the Samsung smartphones come in at third and fourth place, with the Note 3 scoring 17.42 FPS and the Galaxy S5 with 17.5 FPS. The older, but still super cheap Nexus 5 scores 16.13 FPS.

Moving onto the Dunes test, the Z2 still kicks ass with 14.29 FPS. Compared to the just-released (and still not available in some markets) G3 from LG, which scored 14.09 FPS. The two Samsung devices fall into third and fourth position once again, with the Note 3 edging out the S5 with 13.29 FPS compared to 13.08 FPS. The Nexus 5 slides into last place with 12.62 FPS.


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Running the Unlimited preset in 3DMark for Android, the Z2 loses its first benchmark to the two Samsung smartphones. Sony's Xperia Z2 scores 18,503, while the Galaxy Note 3 scored 18,910 and the Galaxy S5 wrote home with 18,566. The G3 came in last this time, which was really surprising, with a score of 16,932, leaving fourth place to the Nexus 5 with 17,883.


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The first test we have done with GFXBench 3.0 is the 1080p Manhattan test, which saw the Z2 nearly hit first place, but lost to the Galaxy S5. The Z2 scored 27.5 FPS, while the Galaxy S5 scored 27.7 FPS - a difference of just 0.2 FPS. The Galaxy Note 3 was hot on the heels of both of these smartphones with 26.1 FPS, while the Nexus 5 found itself in fourth place with 22.8 FPS. This left LG's newest flagship smartphone, the G3, with just 17.5 FPS.

Moving onto the 1080p T-Rex benchmark, where the Z2 lost to the Galaxy S5 again, mirroring its loss of just 0.2 FPS. The Z2 took home a score of 11.5 FPS, while the S5 barely beat it with 11.7 FPS. The Galaxy Note 3 came in third place once again with 10.7 FPS, but this time the G3 slid into fourth place with 10.3 FPS, leaving last place to the Nexus 5 with 8.7 FPS.

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Next up we have the Fill Rate 1080p benchmark, which tests out the Mtexels/s performance of our smartphones. The Sony Xperia Z2 takes first place once again, with a score of 4,015. Second place goes to the Galaxy S5 with 3,965, while its bigger brother scoring 3,850. The G3 comes in fourth with 3,558, leaving the Nexus 5 in fifth position with just 3,111.

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Our last benchmark is GFXBench's ALU test. The Xperia Z2 barely took the win here, with 150 FPS, edging out Samsung's flagship Galaxy S5 which scored 148.9 FPS. The G3 took third place this time with 146.7 FPS, while the Galaxy Note 3 was burning against its back tires with 143.1 FPS. The Nexus 5 slips in this test, down to fifth place with 119.3 FPS.

What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts

What's Hot

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Sony Has Nailed the Design: The sandwich feel and look of the Xperia Z2 is something that takes getting used to, especially when coming from a curvier handset, but when you do, you'll fall in love with it. I came to really appreciate the design of the Xperia Z2, so much so that I think it's one of the best looking smartphones on the market.

The Camera Is Truly Amazing: I took the Xperia Z2 over to Taiwan with me for Computex, where I used it more than I thought it would thanks to its awesome camera. The 20.7-megapixel camera has a bunch of features built-in that makes snapping photos simple, with amazing results.

It's Blazingly Fast: Anything with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM is going to be fast, with Sony baking these specs into the Xperia Z2 way before LG decided on them for the QHD-based G3 smartphone.

It's Fully Waterproof: None of this 'water-resistant' crap, the Xperia Z2 is actually waterproof. You can see in our video above that it can be dunked in water, or splashed over and over again in the shower. I actually used the Xperia Z2 to listen to music in the shower, with water splashing all over it.

Sony's Improved UI: Sony has been slowly improving their UI, so it doesn't feel as bloated as its competitors' interfaces. I find Sony's changed interface quite nice, and while I would always strive for stock Android, Sony hasn't done too much to the UI to shift it from the overall look of Android.

What's Not

It Doesn't Do My Laundry: That's about all I didn't like. The Xperia Z2 is a beautiful smartphone worthy of your money.

Waterproof Flap For Charging Is Annoying: I love that the Z2 is completely waterproof, but having to pull back the flap to plug in my microUSB cable to charge it every day got annoying, quickly.

Final Thoughts

Using the Sony Xperia Z2 has shown me that Sony is in a class of its own with Android-powered smartphones. Sure, everyone has a different opinion on what is great out there, but with so many overwhelmingly positive reviews on the two best-selling smartphones on the market - Samsung's Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S - there is plenty of room for another champion.

Sony not only steps up to the podium with the Z2, but it pushes the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5S to the side, making them stumble just that little bit. Sure, Sony won't hit the same sales numbers as Samsung and Apple, but it doesn't need to. Sony is making money with its various other divisions, including the incredibly powerful PlayStation brand.

If you're after a new Android-powered smartphone, you owe it to yourself to check out the Xperia Z2. I can nearly promise you that you won't walk away disappointed. It has excellent battery life, a gorgeous screen, a truly beautiful design, and some internal hardware that will keep you going for the entire day, without breaking a sweat. That's all without taking into consideration the kick-ass 20.7-megapixel 4K-capable rear-facing camera.

Sony has crafted itself an amazing handset that deserves to be fighting against the Galaxy S5, iPhone 5S, LG's G3 and HTC's One M8.

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering and has recently taken a keen interest in artificial intelligence (AI) hardware.

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