NOT GREAT FOR VIDEO CAPTURE, BUT IF YOU WANT A SUPERFAST, SUPER-COMPACT PHONE THEN THIS IS A BEST CHOICE Sony xperia XZ2
Remember when a 5in handset was considered large? Now a 5in handset
is considered so small it deserves the word “Compact” at the end of its name, but that’s an apt adjective. Like its bigger brother, the Sony xperia XZ2, it’s all smooth corners and sides, with a slightly curved back. It’s a nice looking phone, even if Sony has replaced the reactive glass on the XZ2’s backplate with an antiscratch, polycarbonate coating.
It feels comfortable in the palm, but one slight drawback is the location of the fingerprint reader.
Older Sony phones used to have this as part of the power button on
the side of the handset, but now it’s harder to reach on the back plate. A bigger casualty is Sony’s removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Surprisingly, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact comes with an 18:9 screen. This change of
aspect ratio is not only a i 1st for Sony, but a 1st for a smaller handset. My early fears this wouldn’t work were quickly allayed: it performs brilliantly. The 2,160 x 1,080 IPS panel offers more than enough detail, and viewing angles, to satisfy the most discerning eye.
Those anecdotal feelings were confirmed by hardware analysis. Using the phone’s “professional” display settings, the XZ2 Compact’s screen covered 87.9% of the sRGB colour gamut. Accuracy is even better, with a Delta E of 1.27, while a peak brightness of 600cd/m2 means you won’t struggle to read it in bright conditions.
Nor does this phone struggle for speed. Sony includes the top of the range Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, backed by 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. You can add an extra 400GB with a suitably vast microSD card, but only if you choose the dual-SIM model.
With the fastest mobile processor on the planet powering things, differences between this and other 2018 flagships are always going to be marginal – and the benchmarks prove that. Overall, Geekbench 4’s single-core score of 2,379 and multicore total of 8,559 means you’re looking at a 24% jump in performance over last year’s XZ1 Compact.
It offers even better results in Octa-core 2.7GHz/1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor • 4GB RAM • Adreno 630 graphics • 5in IPS screen, 1,080 x 2,160 resolution • 64GB storage • microSDXC slot (up to 400GB) • 19MP rear camera • 5MP front camera • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 5 • NFC • USB-C connector • 2,870mAh battery • Android 8 • 65 x 12.1 x 135mm (WDH) • 168g • 1yr warranty $740 •www.sonymobile.com/auGFXBench’s off-screen and onscreen Manhattan 3 tests, where it outscored the Samsung Galaxy S9 – although the differences would be negligible in real-world conditions. You may worry that with less physical space for a battery, the Xperia XZ2’s stamina would suffer.
However, I’m happy with a time of 14hrs 10mins in our 720p video loop test at 170cd/m2 brightness. That puts it 39 minutes behind last year’s model, and only 13 minutes behind the Samsung Galaxy S9.
Video capture has received a big update since Sony’s last flagship outing. Not only has the XZ1 Compact’s party trick of 960fps super slow motion video capture been upgraded to Full HD, but both XZ2 models come with a 19-megapixel rear camera that can record 4K video with 10-bit HDR processing. That means you’re looking at oodles of tonal detail, and the electronic image stabilisation (EIS) keeps the footage smooth and free of jarring shakes.
There’s a big but, though: 4K HDR footage suffers from uneven frame rates. Pan across a scene with SteadyShot switched off and the jerkiness becomes immediately obvious. Switch it on, and things get much worse. That’s a shame, because 4K video captured with HDR enabled looks hugely impressive, with strong colours and a rich, balanced overall exposure rarely seen in smartphone footage. But the framerate issue means you wouldn’t want to rely on it – unless Sony can improve things with a software update.
If you’re only interested in stills,this is a i ne choice of phone. On paper, the camera’s specii cations look middling: a 19-megapixel rear camera with a sensor size of 1/2.3in, f/2 aperture and hybrid phase detect/laser autofocus. In practice, the results are pretty good: even in low light, shots taken with the phone’s Intelligent Auto shooting mode look excellent, especially with HDR enabled. There’s a little more grain and noise than you get with the best smartphone cameras around, and it’s no match for the Huawei P20 Pro, but this is yet another strong effort from Sony.
Despite my concerns over video capture, the XZ1 Compact deserves serious consideration. It has speed to match the most powerful phone out there – the $969 Samsung Galaxy S9 but costs more than $200 less. Yes, the screen is smaller and the camera some way behind, but if speed is your main priority then the XZ2 Compact is an excellent alternative that slips easily into the pocket.