Better haptics to immerse you in your media
Sony has gotten serious about haptics this year. While most vibration motors have already gotten good enough to the point where we can differentiate between different notifications, Sony wants to use these vibrations to make you feel like a part of your content.
The company has completely redesigned its vibration motor, making it much larger to accommodate its new immersive haptics algorithm. This motor can vibrate along with your music, games, movies, and other media, and gives you the sensation that you are part of the media you’re experiencing.
You probably don’t want your phone to vibrate all the time, and Sony understands this, so it’s implemented an additional slider into the volume menu to adjust the level of feedback from your device. This way your phone won’t be buzzing around your table while you watch a YouTube video or listen to music on the dual-speaker system.
Dual speakers and a DAC
Speaking of dual speakers, this phone is packing quite a pair. While many devices opt for a downward-firing speakers, the Xperia XZ2 employs two for the front of the device. These speakers are backed up by an internal DAC to help boost sound quality, so your music should be pumping out of your phone with high fidelity.
Sony has unfortunately removed the headphone jack on this device, but there is a dongle included. Because the DAC is within the phone itself and not in the dongle, you should be able to get awesome sound quality through any dongle that works with the device. Sony says this iteration is 20 percent louder than the XZ1 as well, so if you’ve used that device you’re in for quite a boost here.
Because these devices are running Android Oreo, they’ve also got support for high-end Bluetooth audio codecs like aptX HD, which should get some great quality sound assuming you’ve got the headphones to support it.
Let’s get curvy
Sony’s devices have traditionally been fairly blocky, with sharp edges, generation over generation. This year, Sony decided to change it up, adding some curves to make the phone fit better in your hand. Sony calls this design language “Ambient Flow,” and says the design is modeled after the characteristics of water, forming to whatever holds it.
Continuing with the water theme, these devices are incredibly reflective. The company says this decision was made to make the phones feel more organic and alive, instead of just looking like solid pieces of metal. The XZ2 Compact line isn’t reflective like the regular model, but its general shape mirrors the same design decisions. The phones are also supposed to feel equally balanced no matter where you hold them, which works well with the relatively extreme curve on the back of the device.
Crazy video features
Sony has always been pretty adamant about having top-of-the-line video features, and these phones are no different.
The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact can shoot 4K 10-bit HDR video. This is incredible, since high-end mirrorless camera bodies are just now getting the ability to shoot 10-bit video. This means you should be able to capture a much wider range of color than your standard camera footage, giving you a lot more flexibility for color grading in post production, and getting much less color banding overall.
The 960 fps slow motion video from the XZ Premium is also back and better than ever. In previous models, this video feature was limited to 720p HD resolution, but the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact have the ability to shoot this frame rate in 1080p FHD. These clips are limited to outputs of three seconds while the 720p clips can produce six seconds of video, but this is still an incredible feature which could be invaluable to any video producer.
Updated 3D scanning
Previous Xperia phones gave us the ability to create 3D models of objects using the rear-facing camera, and this one can too. Sony decided to update this feature though, and it’s now giving users the ability to create quick and easy 3D face models using the front-facing camera. These models should be higher resolution than previous years as well, so you won’t have to clean up the files in programs like Blender, Maya, and Unity as much.
You can still use the back camera to create models of things, and they should also get a bump in quality. Just like the ultra slow-motion, this feature will likely be used by a small niche of users, but for someone who needs to make a lot of 3D assets, having a scanner built right into your phone can be a life-changing experience.
Gone are the days of the power button-embedded fingerprint reader. Sony used to be pretty famous for this feature, and many users came back to the phones specifically for the unique placement. With a new form factor comes new sensor placement though, and the reader has been shifted to below the camera on the back of the device. Lanh and I both think this placement is a bit awkward and just a tad low, but we’ll have to use it for a while longer to really get a feel for it.
Sony told us it’s placed the sensor there so your finger would land perfectly every time you took the device out of your pocket. This will likely vary depending on the size of your hand, among other things, so you’ll all have to let us know if you think this new placement is better than something like the Pixel 2.
Specs sure to wow
Sony isn’t messing around in the specs department. The XZ2 features the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of internal storage. There’s even microSD compatibility, so you can store as much media as you want on this thing provided you’ve got a card large enough.
Powering the strong set of video features is a 19 MP main camera on the back with the ability to go up to ISO 12,800 in photos and ISO 4,000 in video. The front-facing camera is 5 MP, but it should still produce much better photos than last year’s sensor.
The device has a 3,180 mAh battery, and we’ll have to wait see how that holds up compared to other devices on the market. The USB Type-C 3.1 port on this phone will be able to quick-charge this phone up in a pinch, and there is even wireless charging included in the non-Compact model in case you would rather set your device down and forget about it.
The 5.0-inch FHD+ display should look fantastic with official HDR support from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. The device can even upscale content to create a faux-HDR effect. This display has an aspect ratio of 18:9 as well, so you won’t have to worry about missing out on the latest generation of thin-bezel phones.
Sony hasn’t yet announced many pricing or availability for the new set of devices, but it says they’re expected to launch in late Spring 2018. Here’s what we know so far, and keep it tuned for updates.
What do you think of the Xperia XZ2? Is it a worthy successor to the last model? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.