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Sony at MWC 2018: Xperia XZ2 hands-on and more

Sony promised to make 2018 the year it introduced an all-new design language and the freshly launched Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact are the perfect embodiment of the Sony smartphone renewed.

We’ve gone hands-on with both devices to find out whether their beauty is more than simply skin deep.

Sony Xperia XZ2 hands-on

‘Ambient Flow’ is the term for the new style direction and it’s most obviously recognised by the significantly more rounded and organic forms both new phones have adopted, not to mention a greater sense of symmetry. The XZ2 has swapped out the Alkaleido metallic back of its predecessors for Gorilla Glass that pillows outwards, matching the curvature of your hand more naturally than practically any other phone on the market right now (however, it is reminiscent of Nokia’s Lumia 930).

That does mean it’s markedly thicker than the likes of the new Galaxy S9 or iPhone X, but it’s a design decision we’ll go with if it means integrated wireless charging and a bigger battery. The rear camera now sits a third of the way down in a centrally-justified position too, whilst a new always-on fingerprint sensor sits directly underneath it and can be used both wake and unlock the phone with one touch.

Not only is the Xperia XZ2 the first Sony flagship to sport the company’s new design language but it’s also the first to adopt the growing trend in elongated displays. It and its smaller sibling, the XZ2 Compact, both boast a taller 18:9 aspect ratio screen than their respective predecessors, without suffering from a larger overall footprint, thus granting a better screen-to-body ratio in the process. Now all we’d like is even slimmer bezels and some rounded corners and edges on those screens for a real next-generation finish.

To build on the groundwork laid by the XZ1, this new flagship’s 5.7-inch Full HD+ LCD supports HDR visuals and (using the latest version of Sony’s X-Reality Engine for mobile) can even enhance standard-definition content to almost HDR quality on-the-fly.

As for the audio side of things, Sony’s ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack but the phone still offers the loudest dual front-facing S-Force stereo speakers on any Xperia phone ever, Hi-Res audio support and a wealth of enhancement technologies on the software side to squeeze out better quality sound from your music and media. There’s now also a Dynamic Vibration System, which promises to match on-screen action in games and movies with reactive vibrations, akin to a PlayStation DualShock controller.

With Qualcomm’s brand new Snapdragon 845 processor running the show, the XZ2 can pull off some serious tricks, particularly in the imaging department. The standout 960fps super slow motion recording from last year’s Xperia flagships is now possible at Full HD resolution, whilst the 19-megapixel primary camera uses an image signal processor (ISP) that Sony developed in partnership with Qualcomm. Its purpose is to yield better colour reproduction in all conditions and improve low light photography too.

The phone’s extra oomph also allows for 4K HDR video capture, whilst the front 5-megapixel camera can now be used with the company’s 3D Creator app to render a three-dimensional model of your face for export as a 3D file or to create animated avatars that can be shared directly to platforms like Facebook.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact hands-on

Just as the XZ2’s new 5.7-inch screen fills out the front of the phone without making it any larger than last year’s device, so too does the new 5-inch 18:9 display on the XZ2 Compact. It also shares in the same Full HD+ of its larger sibling and, of course, rocks the company’s new Ambient Flow design language.

As always, Sony has made some slight alterations in order to squeeze the same raw power found in the XZ2 into a smaller form factor. The glass back has been swapped for a swathe of pillowed polycarbonate, taking wireless charging support along with it.

There’s also a smaller battery, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, whilst the loss of the Dynamic Vibration System is also a minor upset, but beyond that you’re still getting the same Android Oreo-based Sony software experience with the likes of the 3D Creator app and PS4 Remote Play, the same excellent combination of cameras with super slow-motion Full HD recording and HDR display tech with SD enhancement capabilities.

Sony Xperia XZ2/XZ2 Compact specs

Xperia XZ2 Xperia XZ2 Compact
Screen size 5.7-inches 5.0-inches
Screen resolution 2160 x 1080
Audio Hi-Res Audio support, LDAC, DSEE HX, S-Force stereo front-facing speakers
OS Android 8.0 Oreo
Front cameras 5-megapixels
Rear cameras 19-megapixels w/ 4K HDR video recording, 960fps slow-motion video @ Full HD
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Memory 4GB RAM
Storage 64GB. MicroSD up to 400GB
Battery 3180mAh w/ Qi wireless charging  2870mAh. No wireless charging
Dynamic Vibration System Yes  No
Colours Liquid Black, Liquid Silver, Petrol Blue, Ash Pink Black, silver, Moss Green, Coral Pink
Extras X-Reality Engine w/ SDR to HDR enhancement, Xperia Assist 2018 w/ chat-style UI, IP68 certification, Qnovo battery charging care technology

For more videos of the Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact in action, including comparisons, check out our YouTube channel. For more from Mobile World Congress 2018, check out our MWC Hub.

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