Sony is putting effort on their smartphones again. The company's new XZ2 and XZ2 Compact reduce the thick bezels of its predecessors (to some extent) and present the same higher and thinner screens that helped Samsung, LG and other companies overcome Sony's smartphone design the year past. The two new Sony phones feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 processor, the latest and best silicon that will be within most of the Android flagships of 2018. They are scheduled to ship this spring, and prices will be announced later.
This time, Sony is not exaggerating with an ingenious 4K screen. The 5.7-inch screen of the XZ2 has an aspect ratio and resolution of 2: 1 of 2160 × 1440. The top and bottom frames have been significantly reduced. There is still enough space for Sony to put its name on the bottom of the phone, so the company is not on par with Samsung, LG or OnePlus. But this is definitely an improvement. The screen is compatible with HDR and Sony says it automatically converts the SDR content to make it look more colorful and vibrant.
The XZ2 features a 5.7-inch screen with an aspect ratio of 2: 1.
Sony refers to the general design of the XZ2 as "environmental flow". That makes more sense when you flip it and examine the back, which is quite different from recent Sony phones. The back is tilted very well on the aluminum rail on each side, and Sony has moved the position of the camera so that it is now centered. And below is a new independent fingerprint reader. For a long time, Sony made the Xperia phone's side power button work like a fingerprint scanner, but the company always disabled that functionality in the United States. Now, everyone gets a fingerprint reader, and it's in the right place. The rear aesthetics of the XZ2 seems to me very HTC, but I am in favor of this change on the square and rectangular feeling of Xperias previous. This is much more comfortable to grab.
What you will not find anywhere in the XZ2 is a headphone jack. Sony is following the herd and is getting rid of it this year. It is disappointing to see a company that prides itself on supporting high fidelity audio. The phone supports AptX HD and LDAC codecs for high-quality Bluetooth audio, if that helps.
The XZ2's hardware still includes a dedicated camera shutter button, and like the XZ Premium last year, it has a 19-megapixel sensor inside. When recording 4K video, the camera is now capable of capturing the HDR color, and the ultra-slo-mo mode can record footage of 960 fps at a higher 1080p resolution. That's great and it exceeds what Samsung is doing with the Galaxy S9, but you'll need to have a subject with good lighting if you want usable images. And for fans of Sony's fun 3D Creator facial scanning application, which now works with the front selfie camera. (Previously you had to use the main camera).
The bezels of the XZ2 are substantially smaller, but even larger than some of the existing Android flagships.
Inside the XZ2 is Snapdragon 845 from Qualcomm, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage (with microSD slot) and all the necessary cellular network hardware for gigabit data speeds. The 845 made the XZ2 feel very agile in my brief time using it. (The Oreo lightweight software from Android 8.0 Oreo from Sony also helps solve the problem).
But there will be many phones with that same chip within this year, so to help differentiate its own flagship, Sony proposed something more to add: reticent comments. The new dynamic vibration system in the XZ2 makes your phone vibrate along with the media (movies, music, trailers, etc.) and games. Sony's slogan for the show is that it helps you "feel your means".
You can adjust the vibration intensity for individual applications, so you can stop using YouTube but increase the power of vibration of Netflix. The vibration system also adds subtle comments in other areas, such as when setting up a timer. I do not know how much value it actually adds, and it did not feel as impressive as the haptic engine of the iPhone, but it is among the main features of the XZ2. The XZ2 will be available in black, silver, green (which looks rather blue, as you can see above), or pink. The price and the launch date will come later.
For those who prefer smaller smartphones, Sony introduces the XZ2 Compact with a 5-inch screen. Share many hardware specifications with the flagship phone: you get the Snapdragon 845 and the same camera capabilities. But it loses the dynamic vibration system, and the back of the XZ2 Compact is made of plastic instead of glass. Unfortunately, the smaller model does not have wireless charge completely.
Then Sony has new phones with a little spark of design and powerful internal. But it is not known if that will be enough to reverse the company's mobile situation, especially in the United States, where operators such as Verizon and AT & T have stopped using Sony devices for years. Interestingly, Sony says that the XZ2 Compact will be certified for use in Verizon when it launches, but the same does not seem to be true for the flagship. (Both phones are compatible with AT & T and T-Mobile).
The smaller XZ2 Compact has a plastic back instead of glass, but lacks wireless charging.
If the plan is to once again sell the unlocked XZ2, you will not have much hope against the iconic smartphones that you can enter a shop of carriers and buy. It is good to finally see a renewed look, but there is little that makes Sony stand out against the Galaxy S9.