Xperia (e)xcellence: Sony’s Xperia Z2 reviewed

Even the battery manages to impress, and much more so than what Samsung managed from this year’s Galaxy S5.

The regular GadgetGuy real-world use test includes making phone calls, surfing the web, streaming music, playing the odd game, taking photos, reading and writing emails, and doing some of that thing we call social networking, and. throughout it, the Xperia Z2 never let up, providing a solid day and a half of battery life.

Extra testing found that if you throttle your phone, a day is possible, while more relaxed users will see two days out of the 3200mAh battery.

That’s an impressive performance for devices with the Snapdragon 801 processor, of which we’ve seen three thus far, with the Xperia Z2 edging out the HTC One M8 just marginally in battery life, though it does have a bigger battery to work with.

It’s a bigger battery again than the Galaxy S5, though, and it totally destroys the Galaxy S5’s battery performance, which itself barely makes it through a whole day.

Good work to Sony on this one, because battery life is one of the biggest concerns customers has, and the Xperia Z2 nails it, matching decent battery life with excellent system performance.

Also on the positive side is the camera, and while it might not seem like a huge departure from the 20 megapixel shooter included on last year’s Xperia Z1, the low-light image quality, speed, and ability to capture 4K video are all improvements.

First up is the speed, which appears to be faster across the board.

You can load this up by pressing either the camera shortcut or one of the shortcuts on the camera widget, or alternatively press the camera button on the side which makes the camera fire up practically instantly, ready to let you take the shot in the “superior” automatic mode, which actually does a decent job most of the time.

For those unaware, the 20 megapixel sensor in the Z2 doesn’t generally fire off 20 megapixel images, or rather, it doesn’t let you keep them. Instead, you’ll find it down-samples the 20 megapixel image to an 8 megapixel shot, essentially giving you a better quality shot.

Shot from the Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone

Most of the time, our shots looked excellent until you zoomed in, and the automatic modes do a decent job with focus most of the time.

That said, autofocus can be a little finicky on this camera, with most images looking sharp from the first glance, while other times you’ll find the Z2 focusing on completely the wrong thing and creating a blurry photo.

That doesn’t happen as often, but the few times it did, it was a little irritating.

Shot from the Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone

Outside of that minor AF glitch, you’ll find strong images mostly across the board, with some of the best low-light smartphone camera shooting we’ve ever seen.

Ignore the noise that you’ll see on the preview, because it’s simply on there when you take the photo, with the Xperia Z2 simply providing a little more light in the scene than you’d otherwise expected.

Testing the camera effects out: mosaic

Creative modes are also a welcome addition, and go beyond the basic monochromatic and colour tints, with some special effects such as motion trails, sketch modes, the warped colour bleeding of the Harris shutter, and an awesome tweakable mosaic mode that resembles what life is like if you’re living in an 8-bit video game (we had too much fun with this one).

Most of these can be used across stills and videos, making them fun for movies too.

The creative effects are also more than just the neato image effects, with slow motion effects able to be applied to video, augmented reality with dinosaurs and animated fish thrown in over the top of your field of view, and more camera options added in as extra apps.

Testing the camera effects out: augmented reality