The Sony Xperia Z2 is a beast of a smartphone, but what’s the difference between the Xperia Z2 and last year’s Xperia Z1, and which should you buy? Check out our full comparison review…
Take a gander at this photo of Sony’s premium Xperia Z2 smartphone next to last year’s Xperia Z1, the phone it replaces. Chances are you won’t know which is which, and for good reason – Sony has basically taken the original Xperia Z1 and given it a dust and a polish, updating the specs and throwing in a couple of new features, to create this year’s Xperia Z2.
If you’re curious, the Xperia Z2 is on the right in this shot…
Is that a bad thing? Nope. The Xperia Z1 is still a great phone, so Sony has basically addressed all of the niggly little faults to craft the beautiful Xperia Z2. And it worked – we gave it the full five stars in our review.
So, you should just buy the Xperia Z2, right? Well, the Xperia Z1 is now a great deal cheaper, available for under £400 SIM-free, while the Xperia Z2 costs a whopping £550. So the question is, what’s the difference between the Z1 and the Z2, and should you stump up the extra £150 for the latest model?
Sony Xperia Z1 vs Xperia Z2: Design
If you peer a little closer at the two phones, you’ll start to notice the subtle differences between them. The Sony Xperia Z2 is a mite longer than the Xperia Z1, thanks to its 5.2-inch screen – a slight expansion on the Xperia Z1’s 5-inch display.
However, the Xperia Z2 is also a little lighter, and its slab-like frame somehow feels nicer to clutch, with its slightly tweaked dimensions. Our only bugbear with the new design is how the SIM card is exposed every time you charge the Z2, but in truth it’s firmly stuck in there, so it’s not a real problem.
Both phones are fully water-resistant, thanks to the flaps covering each of the ports. You can fully dunk each of them in a bath, and they’ll be perfectly happy. However, don’t think that means you can use them in the rain or while scrubbing down in the shower – water trickling across the screen makes both phones go a little loopy, flipping wildly through menus and apps. Here’s hoping Sony sorts it out by the Xperia Z3.
So, we do slightly prefer the feel of the Xperia Z2, but there’s so little difference that this round is basically a tie.
Sony Xperia Z1 vs Xperia Z2: Screen
Although the extra point-2 inches of screen space makes naff all difference when kicking back with a movie or game, Sony has massively improved the Xperia’s screen in other ways between the Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z2.
The Xperia Z2’s display is just as sharp as its predecessor’s, with a Full HD 1080p resolution, and both phones pack in Sony’s Triluminos and X-Reality tech, which work behind the scenes to keep everything sharp and pleasing to the eye.
However, where the Xperia Z2 really shines is its fantastically vibrant colour reproduction, which has been boosted by Sony’s ‘Live Colour’ technology. The resulting rich, bold colours really make a difference, producing gorgeous images to rival Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens. In comparison, the Xperia Z1 looks a little tepid and washed-out.
In truth, there are far worse ways to take in a full-length film on the go than the Sony Xperia Z1. But if you want the very best to get the most out of your videos and games, we’d have to recommend the Xperia Z2.
Sony Xperia Z1 vs Xperia Z2: Performance and battery life
Performance-wise, the Xperia Z2 boasts the latest SnapDragon 801 processor, a step up from the Xperia Z1’s SnapDragon 800 – but not a huge one. That’s mostly down to the short timeframe between the launch of these two phones. In fact, we actually saw more tiny, unexpected stutters while flicking around Android KitKat on the Xperia Z2. Still, both mobiles are absolute powerhouses, and you should be able to happily blast through the latest action games for quite some time.
Both the Xperia Z1 and the Xperia Z2 will also survive a full day of use, thanks to the mighty batteries stashed inside. There’s also the usual selection of power saving modes tucked away in each phone just in case.
Gamers and app fans will definitely be happy with either phone, but the Xperia Z2 obviously has the edge on the older peria Z1.
Sony Xperia Z1 vs Xperia Z2: Camera
Which brings us to the camera, and a glance at the spec sheet reveals the Xperia Z2 uses the same 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS sensor as the Xperia Z1. Both phones produce stunning, highly detailed everyday shots, indoors and out, and handle up-close macro photos well too. They’re also capable snappers when the lights grow dim.
Sony Xperia Z1 (left) vs Sony Xperia Z2 (right): both belt out gorgeous everyday outdoor shots
However, the new Xperia Z2 packs in a load more camera features, most of them video-oriented. There’s a Timeshift Video mode that lets you add slow-mo effects once a video’s been shot, and an easy-to-use Vine mode for shooting and uploading six-second clips.
But the real highlight is the 4k video mode, which does exactly what you’d expect. The resulting movies are incredibly detailed, and you can actually zoom into your videos on a standard TV if you can’t afford the latest 4k gogglebox. We’re also fans of the new SteadyShot feature, which effectively reduces shaky-cam moments.
If you’re serious about taking video on your smartphone, whether it’s filming your holidays or messing around for social media, the Xperia Z2 has a lot more to offer. If you just want to snap your mates and family members, the Xperia Z1 does just as good a job.
Sony Xperia Z1 vs Xperia Z2: Verdict
The Xperia Z2 may boast a slightly lighter body and a marginally more powerful processor, but the main upgrades are that super-vibrant screen and a whole new host of camera features.
However, if you really can’t afford the extra cash, or you’re not the least bit bothered by those video tools, you’ll be perfectly well off with the original Xperia Z1. Check out full reviews of the Xperia Z1 and the Xperia Z2 if you want to know more.