Sony Xperia XZ2 review

A great smartphone that's struggling to stand out

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Interface and reliability

The Sony Xperia XZ2 runs Android 8 Oreo, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, ensuring the phone is bang up to date out of the box.

Sony applies its own interface to Android, but it’s not as heavy here as previous iterations, giving you a slightly more stock-Android feel. If you’ve used the software before though, you’ll have no trouble getting to grips with the Xperia XZ2.

A few differences you will find include the horizontally scrolling app drawer (Google prefers to vertically scroll these days) and an additional panel to the left (of the app drawer) which offers up recommended apps based on your usage.

It’s not a feature we ever really felt the need to use, but it’s unobtrusive, so its presence isn’t an issue.

What’s slightly more frustrating are the additional apps Sony has preinstalled on the Xperia XZ2. As well as Google’s accomplished suite of apps, Sony includes its own email, gallery, music and video applications, resulting in unnecessary duplication, plus a number of Amazon apps including Kindle, Prime Video and Prime Shopping.

None of these can be uninstalled, although most can be disabled and so hidden from view. Again it’s not a big issue, but it’s annoying to have so many applications that you haven’t chosen cluttering up the phone when you first switch it on.

Music, movies and gaming

Sony smartphones are always well equipped when it comes to multimedia, and the Xperia XZ2 is no exception.

The Full HD, HDR-enabled display makes watching TV shows and films a pleasing experience, while the front-facing speakers are excellent when it comes to projecting stereo sound directly into your ears.

If your location is a little too public to utilize the loud built-in speakers, however, then there is a possible slight stumbling block: this is the first flagship Sony smartphone not to boast a headphone jack. It’s a significant step for a brand which always emphasizes the audio quality of its devices, with the Xperia XZ2 boasting Hi-Res Audio, Clear Bass and Clear Audio+ to that end.

All this adds to the audio quality, but you can’t directly plug your 3.5mm headphones into the handset. Instead, you’ll need to remember to keep with you the audio converter that comes in the box and slots into the USB-C port on the phone.

These converters are becoming increasingly common, but the absence of a headphone socket on any phone is a frustration, as the 3.5mm connection is still common in today’s market.

Once you’ve dug the connector out and plugged in your headphones, the sound output on the Xperia XZ2 is very good. From immersive movie soundtracks to party-starting tunes, there’s a lot to like about the audio output here.

Gaming is also a great experience on the Xperia XZ2, with plenty of power under the hood ensuring that the handset is capable of playing the latest and greatest titles from the app store.

Sony’s Dynamic Vibration System is available for gaming, videos and music playback, allowing the Xperia XZ2 to buzz in your hands in time with the music, or in response to what’s happening on screen.

As we mentioned earlier it doesn’t add much to the overall experience, and it can become a little irritating over time, but thankfully there is the option to switch it off if you’re not a fan.

Performance and specs

There’s plenty of power packed into the Sony Xperia XZ2, with Qualcomm’s latest top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 chipset running the show, assisted by 4GB of RAM.

That’s more than enough to run any app you can throw at the phone, although, as we’ve mentioned, we did encounter some lag in the camera app.

Running Geekbench 4 on the XZ2, the phone achieved an average multi-core score of 8225, which places it right in the middle of the flagship mix. 

While the score alone doesn’t give you a definitive answer as to where it stands in the pantheon, what we do know is that the Xperia XZ2 has plenty of grunt under the hood for handling complex tasks such as 4K, HDR and more.

You get a sizable 64GB of storage inside the Xperia XZ2, plus there’s a microSD slot allowing you to build on that by up to 256GB. In short, there’s plenty of space if you need it – and you may well do, as 4K HDR video files take up a lot of room.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.