Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review

Small and powerful, but not very stylish

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Interface and reliability

  • Runs Android Oreo overlaid with Sony's interface
  • Lots of pre-installed apps
  • Taking a photo stops audio

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact runs Android 8.0 Oreo with a custom Sony interface on top.

Sony’s used to be one of the less invasive UIs, but these days it’s quite different from standard Android. Google’s interface has a scrolling vertical apps menu. This one uses pages you flick through with left and right swipes.

Like previous versions of the Sony UI, you can re-skin this one with themes. Quite a lot of these cost money, but a handful are included.

Sony has also loaded up the XZ2 Compact with a handful of slightly bloat-like apps. There’s a folder's worth of Amazon apps, including Prime Video and Amazon Shopping. Kobo reader is pre-installed. It’s an alternative to the Amazon Kindle store.

The AVG virus protection suite is installed too, and it’ll try to upsell you a paid version of the service when you run it.

That’s just the third-party selection. Sony itself offers Lounge (an app packed with promotional offers) and two support apps. Xperia Assist is a help wizard dressed up as a digital assistant, Support a more conventional digital manual.

There are also Sony media apps, common to every Sony phone.

As the apps menu uses folders, the extent of these additional apps is not too apparent when you actually use the phone. General performance is excellent too.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact feels fast and responsive. Only one thing annoys. When you take a photo with the camera, any audio playing seems to stop, and doesn’t re-start automatically. That’s just about the only issue we’ve encountered.

Movies, music and gaming

  • Decent speaker
  • Great gaming performance
  • But no small screen phone is that great for games

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is as good a movies and games machine as a 5-inch phone can be. Let’s break it down.

First, it has a good amount of storage. There’s 64GB, leaving you with tens of gigabytes to fill with games and non-streamed films. A microSD slot in the SIM tray lets you add cards of up to 400GB.

The Snapdragon 845 chipset is extremely powerful too. While even mid-range chipsets perform well with 1080 x 2160 screens like this, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact gets rid of any slight frame rate hitches in high-end games.

Asphalt 8 runs extremely well.

For a small phone the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact also has fairly good speakers. There’s a front-facing driver right at the bottom of the screen’s glass, and the earpiece works as a speaker too. It doesn’t just output tinny treble either.

Compared to most other small phones, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact has thicker mids. This makes podcasts sound better. The speakers are not bass masters, though. Sound is decent, not exceptional.

The limits of gaming and movie-watching come down to the screen size. If you play games all the time or stream video on the way to work, it’s worth considering a bigger phone like the Samsung Galaxy A8. But that phone is 5mm wider and almost 15mm longer.

This highlights the odd contradiction of the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact. In many ways it’s a phone for demanding phone users, but its main appeal also limits how enjoyable things like gaming and movie-watching are.

Performance and benchmarks

  • Excellent benchmark performance
  • Snapdragon 845 is a top performer
  • Gigabit internet ready

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact has a Snapdragon 845 chipset. It has eight Kryo cores, in the standard arrangement. Four are performance cores, four are lower-clocked for everyday use.

It’s so powerful you have to wonder whether it’s slightly wasted on a phone with just an extra-long Full HD screen.

It scores 8,371 in Geekbench 4, comparable with the Samsung Galaxy S9. Many more phones are expected to use this chipset in 2018, including the HTC U12 and LG G7.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact has 4GB of RAM. It’s fast dual-channel DDR4 according to our benchmarks. Not that anyone pays attention to RAM speed at the moment.

The Snapdragon 845 also has a 1.2Gbps modem. This is handy if you live in an area with incredibly fast 4G mobile internet. But in most places it doesn’t mean a great deal.

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.