Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review

Small and powerful, but not very stylish

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Battery life

  • Acceptable stamina
  • Supports fast charging
  • But there’s no fast charger in the box

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact has a 2,870mAh battery, just a little larger than the 2,700mAh cell of the XZ1 Compact.

It sounds like a fairly big battery for a phone this small. It doesn’t hold up that well in our standard video test, though. We play a 90-minute video at maximum brightness and see how much the battery drains.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact loses 26%. This is a lot worse than the 17% lost by the XZ1 Compact.

This phone’s higher-resolution screen seems to be quite the power sucker.

Day-to-day use provides better results. We’ve found it fairly easy to get through the day without charge running out before bed time. By 11pm it tends to have around 15% battery left, following plenty of WhatsApp and a few hours of podcast streaming sprinkled through the day.

Despite the fairly good battery capacity to size ratio, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is not a phone that will last many of you through two days. It’s an every-day charger.

While the phone supports fast charging, you don’t get a fast charger in the box. It’s a standard 5V, 1.5A plug, which isn’t fast by any standard. Considering the relatively high price, this is disappointing.

There’s also no wireless charging. The Sony Xperia XZ2 supports Qi, but this phone does not.


  • High resolution rear camera with decent night shooting
  • 4K HDR video capture
  • Just okay selfie camera

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact has a rear 19MP camera, the same resolution as the Xperia XZ1 Compact.

Some improvements have been made, though, and this phone is a far better camera than Sony flagships of a couple of years ago.

Standard procedure for older Sony top models was to use ultra-high resolution 23MP cameras, far too high resolution for their sensor size. In an attempt to patch this up, Sony used quite nasty image processing that left finely-knit natural textures looking scratchy and ugly.

Down at pixel level the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact’s images still look obviously processed, with a clear attempt to bring out fine detail like the far-away branches of trees. 

However, the result no longer deserved a “yeuuugh” response of disgust. And day-lit shots have loads of detail.

Sony has, more recently, also improved its Auto HDR algorithms, used to balance out bright skies and the foreground without blowing-out highlights. Is it a star? Not quite. We still saw numerous instances of general overexposure and a few blown highlights. However, performance is more consistent than previous years.

A few classic Sony traits remain, though. The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact tends to overemphasize greens, making your nature shots look a little 'candied'. And purple tinges to textures are common, particularly in brown and near-black tones.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact still lacks proper optical image stabilization too. Instead it uses a gyro-based system that times the exposure to when your hands are at their stillest.

This isn’t the best night shooter around, but it is one of the best among phones without optical image stabilization. Detail retrieval in dimly lit conditions is surprisingly good, with a fair amount of fine detail visible even at ISO 800. This is the sort of sensitivity the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact might use for a street-lit night scene.

At higher sensitivities, image quality predictably falls apart more noticeably. Like previous Xperia phones, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact does its best to make very dark scenes look bright, commonly using ISO settings of up to 3200 in the Intelligent Auto mode.

Shooting like this you only get an outline rendering of a scene, as the noise reduction goes into overdrive, smoothing out the image in a much more aggressive manner.

However, in all conditions the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact avoids the ugly look of some older top-end Xperias. It’s pretty good.

If there’s one thing for Sony to improve other than incorporating true optical stabilization, it is exposure metering. In certain day-lit scenes the Xperia XZ2 Compact ups the exposure a little too much, making photos look washed-out.

This effect can be fixed by altering the mid-tone levels in post-processing, but who wants to do that?

Sony has cut down the number of extra modes in its app. You get a manual mode, a selection of creative filters and panorama. The mountain of modes seen in older models, including adding AR dinosaurs to your pics, has disappeared. It’s for the best.

There is a separate 3D-scanning app, though, called 3D Creator. This lets you make 3D models of your face, your friends’ faces and objects, by slowly moving around them with the camera. It’s mostly for fun, but you can make these models into 'Live' wallpapers that turn as you flick between home screens.

You can shoot video at up to 4K resolution with HDR and software stabilization. There’s a little video judder with everything turned on. And for the smoothest results you’ll want to shoot at 1080p, 60 frames per second.

There’s also 960fps super slow motion. It tends to make all but the fastest motion look boring, but is a great feature.

Around the front, the selfie camera is surprisingly basic. It has a 5MP sensor that can’t capture anything like the facial detail of the best, sharpest front cameras around. However, it does have a very wide-angle lens, which makes taking group selfies with friends very easy. No selfie stick required.

Camera samples

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.