We haven’t seen a new 10-inch device since Sony pulled the wraps off the Xperia Z2 Tablet at MWC 2014, so we thought we’d put the two side by side and see how they compare.
Design: Slimming out nicely
Sony’s been evolutionary in the aesthetic changes it makes to its smartphones and the same can be said for its tablets. The Z4 features more rounded edges, but it still keeps the metal frame and fibreglass back that we first encountered on the older Z2.
Despite retaining that 10.1-inch display, it’s slimmer on all fronts, particularly if you look at its thickness, which is now just 6.1mm deep, versus 6.8mm on the Z2 Tablet.
One of the Sony staples found on many of its premium devices is waterproofing and whilst the Z2 packs respectable IP58 certification, letting you submerge it in up to a meter of fresh water for 30 minutes, the Z4 jumps to IP68 certification which means it can be taken deeper underwater (up to 1.5 metres) without issue. The Z4 Tablet’s design also accommodates a new cap-less USB on top of the cap-less headphone jack from the Z2 Tab much like its launch partner, the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua.
Screen: A pair of pixel pushers
The Z2 Tablet packs a respectable 10.1-inch WUXGA (1920×1200) panel, just as its predecessor did, but finally saw fit to grant the Xperia Z4 tablet with a newer IPS unit, rocking an eye-watering WQXGA (2560×1600) resolution. Clarity is the most notable difference but Sony’s already strong colour accuracy and brightness endures too, so the newer slate will be great for video.
Performance & camera: Beefing up
Getting technical, the Z2 used one of the best processors available at launch, the quad-core Snapdragon 801 and whilst Sony stuck with Qualcomm it’s now using their brand-new octa-core 810 chip paired with 3GB of RAM. On the storage side things have also been upped, instead of 16GB you get 32GB of internal holding capacity and microSD expandability has now been doubled as well, up to 128GBs.
Not everything has been beefed up as you would imagine though, both tablets pack equally spacious 6000mAh batteries, but Sony has spent the last year improving its power efficiency tech. The Z4 Tablet’s party piece is that despite offering the same battery capacity as the Z2, it can dole out up to 17 hours of video playback, something that simply isn’t achievable with last year’s model, even with the life-extending STAMINA mode.
The scales have tipped a little further away from multimedia to business with the Z4 Tablet too. The IR blaster that the Z2 packs has gone and in its place you get improved Cat 6 LTE support, giving you potentially double the data speeds over a 4G connection. What’s more Sony’s launching a dedicated keyboard to go alongside the Z4 tablet, whilst the Z2 has to make do with alternative solutions.
The last part is camera technology. Both slates boast 8.1-megapixel rear-facing snappers, but the Z4 Tablet ups the ante on the front with a 5-megapixel camera in place of a 2-megapixel unit. This means better selfies and video calls, even in low light.
OS: Variations on a theme
You have to hand it to Sony when it comes to the consistency. Irrespective of the underlying Android OS running on the device you’ll always find a slick, clean, function user interface at your fingertips. Underneath the Z2 did eventually make the upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat, word of Lollipop is still up in the air. The Xperia Z4 Tablet meanwhile runs Android 5.0 from the get go and Sony has slimmed down the number of own-brand applications you’ll find onboard. Less bloatware means greater performance and more freedom too.
So, overall, whilst the differences are slight, the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet looks like a welcome refresh for 2015.