Sony just announced an upgrade to its gorgeous Xperia Z1 flagship smartphone, creatively named the Xperia Z2.
Joking aside, it’s a fitting name as the new Sony Xperia Z2 is, to our eyes, a refinement of everything that made the first iteration great. There’s nothing groundbreakingly new about the Z2, but almost everything is better than the version on the Z1 – which, if we’re honest, was already a pretty good phone in its own right.
While the Xperia line has…embiggened…like most other Android flagships, the 5.2-inch display, combined with a narrow bezel, means that it’s still easy to hold in one hand. Inside, you’ll find a 1080p Triluminos display: while the the Triluminos part is new, better integration with Sony’s BRAVIA TV division means that the Z2 features a richer display with better colors and better contrast and black levels.
It’s the same technology found inside of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX tablets. The screen has a series of red and green phoshors excited by blue LED – not white – backlighting. The result is a display with fantastic color.
There’s a quad-core Snapdragon 801 running at 2.3GHz – so the CPU isn’t changing much over the Z1, but the better Adreno 330 GPU will enable a few new tricks. Sony is only shipping the Z2 with 16GB of internal flash memory, with expansion via microSD card slot. Some may find that limiting, but we find that most of the time, space gets filled up with pictures or other media files, which work fine on a removable memory card like this.
Today’s smartphones are shipping with up to 3GB of RAM, and the Z2 is no exception, and you’ll find that coming in handy. While the 20.7MP Exmor RS camera from the Z1 is still being used, you’ll be able to shoot up to 4K video at 30fps, or 1080p at 60fps, or even 720p at 120fps – all of which can be edited and shared directly from the phone. The front-facing camera has been upgraded to a 2.2MP model.
Hands down the coolest / most innovative feature on the Xperia Z2 – at least to us – is the built-in noise cancellation. Noise cancellation? On a smartphone? If you pick up one of the Xperia Z2 smartphones or the Z2 tablet, Sony’s throwing in a pair of pretty nice earbuds alongside. They’re just normal earbuds – but plug them (or theoretically any decent pair of headphones, we suppose) into the Z2 and Sony’s smartphone will turn on one of its microphones.
The phone will then run a few noice cancellation algorithms on the sound, and pipes the correct anti-sound back through the buds. The result? You can just take your smartphone with you instead of a fat pair of headphones and enjoy a blissfully quiet plane ride. It also means that if Sony develops better noice cancellation algorithms, you’ll be able to update the software later on.
It’s not quite as exciting, but Sony also updated their mainstream Xperia M smartphone with the Xperia M2. Despite being a lower market device when compared with the Z2, the M2 stands on its own with one the best designs we’ve seen in this class: which is to say, it looks a lot like the Z2, measuring only 8.6mm thick.
The Xperia M2 is a 3G-only device; no LTE here. You do get NFC, though. Its screen is nice, but limited to 960×540 resolution, meaning that some of its competition leave it outclassed, as 720p screens are quickly becoming this tier’s standard.
Sony is planning on a worldwide release for the Xperia Z2 this March, at the same sort of flagship pricing enjoyed by its predecessor. The Xperia M2 will follow in April for somewhere around the $300 pricepoint – making it a tough sell in our eyes, but it may be worth it if you’re craving the M2’s high-end looks.