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Sony Xperia Z2 review

Sony Xperia Z2 review

Sony Xperia Z2 review

Sony Xperia Z2 review

Sony Xperia Z2 review

So here I am, it's a little over 12 months since the Xperia Z hit selves and I'm checking out the third iteration of the Japanese firm's flagship series, the Sony Xperia Z2.

While the timing may be a little odd, you've almost got to look past the Xperia Z1 completely, the Xperia Z2 is a flagship smartphone in its own right and it heralds the next generation for Sony.

It builds on its predecessors with an improved screen, increased power under the hood and a slightly more compact chassis.

There's no question that the Xperia Z2 will be going head to head with the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Nokia Lumia 930 this year - and with that in mind it's got its work cut out.

Sony's had some trouble getting the Xperia Z2 into stores, missing its original early April release and thus giving an upper hand to the HTC and Samsung, although units are trickling through.

It carries the lofty price tag you'd expect from a flagship handset, with the SIM free Xperia Z2 setting you back at least £545 (around $600, AU$900).

Sony Xperia Z2 review

That puts the Sony Xperia Z2 pretty much on par with its direct rivals, so if you're looking for a way to choose between them pricing isn't a factor that'll help you make up your mind.

You'd be hard pushed to tell the Z1 and the Z2 apart, as they look almost identical with the same metal and glass design providing a sturdy and premium, if not a little industrial, finish.

The slabs of glass on the front and rear of the Xperia Z2 may add a level of class to the handset, but they're also a magnet for fingerprints and dust.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

I was constantly wiping the Sony Xperia Z2 to clear the smudges off the screen, but within minutes they built up again. This got rather frustrating after a while, and with exactly the same thing happening round the back I felt like I was fighting a losing battle.

On a positive note the Xperia Z2's body appears to be far more robust than that of the Z1 and Z1 Compact, which were found to scratch and scuff remarkably easily making the handsets look bruised and battered.

Round the front Sony continues its trend of sizable bezels above and below the display, extending the length of the Xperia Z2 making it taller than its predecessor as well as the One M8 and Galaxy S5.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

These extra large bezels do detract slightly from the overall finish of the handset, but I suspect in a similar fashion to the black bar below the screen on the One M8, they're all about squeezing in the latest tech under the hood.

Sony has narrowed the width and shaved off some of the depth in an attempt to make the Xperia Z2 usable in one hand, and for the most part it is.

It's by no way a small device, but I was able to hold the Xperia Z2 in my hand and access pretty much the whole expanse for the 5.2-inch display without calling in my second paw.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

The metal and glass body doesn't give a huge amount of grip, and the flat angular design means it's not the comfiest handset to hold for extended period of times.

I came straight from the HTC One M8 to the Xperia Z2 and the curved rear on the HTC made it far more palm friendly than Sony's offering.

Perhaps a nod towards HTC is the arrival of dual front facing speakers on the Xperia Z2, although at first glance you may not notice they're there.

Sony has been far more subtle with its placement compared to HTC, with small deviations in design at the top and bottom of the Xperia Z2's frame revealing slender speaker grills.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

That subtle integration does mean that the bezels above and below the display are more pronounced, where as at least on the M8 the additional height appears more justified thanks to the big grills.

Hidden behind the upper speaker is a RGB notification LED, allowing the Xperia Z2 to alert you to a new message, Facebook post or email without you having to wake the screen. Different colours denote notifications from different services, making it easier for you to decide whether or not to check it out.

Flip the Xperia Z2 to landscape for a movie marathon or gaming session and you'll immediately benefit from the new speaker location. The Xperia Z1 had its speaker location on its base which was easily covered when held in landscape.

Back to portrait and the centralised power/lock key down the right side of the Xperia Z2 nestles under your thumb or finger, making it extremely easy to access.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

The volume rocker sits just below, again in an easy to reach position, while towards the base of the handset you'll find the dedicated shutter key which provides a shortcut to the camera app as well as a way to snap pictures underwater.

Sony has kept up its dust- and waterproofing tradition with the Xperia Z2 and thus you find the first of two flappy bits on the right of the handset.

It's tasked with covering the microSD slot, allowing you to build on the mediocre 16GB of internal storage with support of cards up to 128GB in size.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

I found this flap, and the one of the left side covered the microSIM and microUSB ports, easy to remove and replace - although I fear for their durability. All it takes is for one of those flaps to fail and next time you take your Xperia Z2 into the bath it's game over.

There have already been reports of the Xperia Z2 failing to keep the water out, but during my dunking time with the handset I didn't experience any leakage. Just remember to close those flaps firmly!

It is frustrating to have to open a flap to access the charging port, and with it being located on the side of the device rather than the base like the Galaxy S5, it makes the Z2 harder to handle when plugged in.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

Anyone looking to upgrade from the original Xperia Z though will be pleased to see an uncovered headphone jack up top, continuing the tradition from the Z1.

Round the back the Xperia Z2 doesn't look that much different than the front, with the understated 20.7MP camera lens and single LED flash the only blemishes on the glass covered surface.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

The Sony Xperia Z2 doesn't do anything outlandish in terms of style, and it's yet another black slab of glass - but it is a well built, premium, functional and waterproof device which certainly trumps the design of the Galaxy S5.

If you're looking for something seriously stylish though you're probably better off with the iPhone 5S or HTC One M8.