Showing posts with label Sony Xperia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sony Xperia. Show all posts

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sony Xperia Z3 review: Hands-on

Sony Xperia Z3 review

Sony Xperia Z3 review

The Sony Xperia Z3 is the brand's latest flagship smartphone and as you'd expect, it replaces the Sony Xperia Z2.

As part of Sony Mobile's largest product launch to date, the Z3 is also joined by the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, the budget Sony Xperia E3, Sony Smartwatch 3 and Sony SmartBand Talk.

The Xperia Z3 has plenty of competition in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S5,HTC One M8 and the iPhone 5S  iPhone 6 but what does it bring to the table. We went hands-on to find out...

Sony Xperia Z3: Size and build

Sony is sticking to the familar design of the Z2, albeit with a few tweaks. The new handset has the same 'omnibalance' design, with the premium silver power button once again placed halfway down the edge.
It's very slightly slimmer than the Z2 and also slightly lighter. It certainly feels comfortably to hold and it's also more durable, too. Sony has added nylon caps to the corners of the phone, which means that if you drop it, it's less likely to break.

What's more, it's the has the highest waterproof rating available on a smartphone, Sony tells us, so it should survive any accidental submersion.

It'll be available in the usual black and white plus two new colours - copper and rather nice green (see the gallery above).

Sony Xperia Z3: Features

The Xperia Z3 is the world's first smartphone with PS4 Remote Play - a feature that will also be available on the Z3 Compact and Z3 Tablet Compact.
A gaming mount (sold separately, price TBC) uses a sat-nav-style sucker to attach your device onto your PS4 controller so that you can play over your home Wi-Fi network, using your phone or tablet's screen. That means that you can play on your phone or tablet in another room to free up the TV for someone else, or even partake in some seriously antisocial multiplayer.

In theory, you could use it on Wi-Fi networks outside the home, as long as your PS4 is left on, but Sony doesn't recommend it as it can't guarantee the quality. We haven't had a chance to try this out properly yet, but we did have a go attaching the phone to the controller using the mount, which worked a treat. The PS4 function won't actually work until November, Sony tells us.

The phone also features DSEE HX, which converts audio to near high-res quality. We had a demo and can report that the conversion was definitely noticeable when switching between modes, but then the original sounded pretty good to start with.

Sony Xperia Z3: Camera

The camera has the same basic spec as the previous model but with a few important refinements. The Z3 includes the world's first 12800 ISO rating, which should make it better for low light shooting.

It also includes an improved SteadyShot mode, ported over from the maker's camcorders. You'll also get a new wider angle 25mm lens, so you'll be able to pack even more into your shots. There are also several new software features including Face In - a mode that takes photos with the rear camera while including a selfie in a box in the same shot. We reeled off a few test shots - which all looked great - but we're looking forward to trying out the finished product in some more testing conditions.

Sony Xperia Z3: Screen

The 5.2-inch screen sports a full HD 1080p screen, with Sony making the deliberate decision not to go 2K as it doesn't think it's worth it on a screen this size. We have to agree.

Packing the brand's Triluminos and X-reality processing tech, along with IPS, the screen looks great and has really good viewing angles.

Sony Xperia Z3: Performance

Running on the latest version of Android, the Z3 has 3GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. While we haven't tried out a final version of the phone just yet, navigating around the OS in our hands-on time was slick with no lag at all. Obviously we'll be testing that out further as soon as we can get a full sample in for testing.

Sony Xperia Z3: Battery

Sony is making a bold claim of a two-day battery life - again, we haven't had time to test that yet, but we're certain intrigued. Along with the existing power-saving mode introduced on the Sony Xperia Z1, the Z3 also has a power-efficient screen.

Sony Xperia Z3: Verdict

While it may seem quite soon for Sony to be replacing the previous model, the Xperia Z3 looks set to be a very strong contender in the smartphone battle. The improvements are subtle but significant and the PS4 functionality is sure to be a massive selling point for gamers. Stay tuned for a full review.

Sony Xperia Z3 release date: October 2014

Sony Xperia Z3 price: TBC

Monday, 1 September 2014

Sony Xperia Z3 image and specs leak ahead of IFA


Sony's next flagship was spotted receiving Tenna certification (China's equivalent to the FCC) on Saturday.
As usual with Tenna, the full-specs have been revealed as well as images of the tested device.
From what we can tell, the somewhat-refined Xperia handset looks to have more rounded corners than we previously expected
It also seems like Sony has took some weight off its flagship, with the Xperia Z3 looking marginally thinner than its predecessor, the Sony Xperia Z2.
As far as specs go, the Sony Xperia Z3 is said to be driven by a quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 CPU
This is a bit faster than the quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 found on the Sony Xperia Z2
It will sport the same 5.2-inch, 1080p Full HD display as its predecessor, along with 3GB of RAM and a 20.7-megapixel rear-mounted camera.
There is also a 2MP camera on the front that will let you shoot video in 1080p.
Also like the Z2, the Z3 is expected to be water resistant, so there's no need to fret too much if you have a mishap in the bath.
Sony appears to have refreshed its Xperia line-up rather than improved it, with the Z3 only looking like a minor update to its predecessor.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Sony Xperia Z2 review: a big, powerful slab of a phone...

Sony Xperia Z2
It's been nearly three years since I reviewed the Xperia Neo, manufactured by what was then Sony Ericsson. The Neo represented just the second generation of Xperia phones running on Android, from a period when Sony was finding its feet in the world of mobile and still chucking out plenty of duds (I'm looking at you, Tablet P). Fast-forward to today and things have changed dramatically under Kaz Hirai's stewardship. I'll tell you this right now: The Z2 is an easy phone to recommend, at least for those living in countries where it'll definitely be available (a list that includes the UK and Canada, but not yet the US). The only real caveat is the handset's huge, monolithic construction (a far cry from puny, 126-gram Neo). As you'll see, if you can get past its size, the Z2 addresses some of the most serious gripes we had with its predecessors, the Xperia Z and Z1, particularly with respect to its LCD display. In fact, in some respects, it's far ahead of any other Android phone currently on the market.

Sony Xperia Z2 review

Let's deal with the size thing right away. It's not merely a question of weight, because the Z2 is only 18 grams heavier than the Galaxy S5, which is about as light as phones in this category come nowadays. Sony has actually done an excellent job of keeping the Z2's weight down: Somehow, magically, it's a few grams lighter than the Z1, yet it packs a larger display and a waterproof/dustproof casing, with tough, heavy flaps around the slots and micro-USB port.
No, the problem here is with the weight distribution. The Z2 feels wider and taller than it needs to be, and its center of gravity just doesn't feel very... centered. By contrast, the similarly heavy HTC One (M8) feels like its density is gathered around the spine of the device, so that it rests solidly in the hand. None of these handsets are especially conducive to one-handed use, but the Xperia Z2 is the worst of the bunch in this respect; I dropped it four times in the space of a week, which is a record even for me, and I found it unwieldy for reading in bed, too.
The other issue with the Z2's design is its blockiness. Visually, I find this attractive -- it's part of Sony's metal-and-glass design statement, which is further aided by the thinness (just 8.2mm, or one-third of an inch). In daily use, however, the absence of curvature and shaved-off corners can be annoying -- even for someone who's used to carrying something enormous like the Galaxy Note 3. Check out the video above and you'll see a shot of our own Jamie Rigg putting the phone into his pocket. The ridges of all four corners of the phone are actually visible through the denim of his jeans. (Seriously, watch the video. I had to go through the awkwardness of filming a colleague's crotch just to make it for you.)
Having said this, it's worth remembering just how much technology is packed into the Z2: a 5.2-inch display, a big camera module, the extra ruggedness I've already mentioned, a microSD slot, a widely compatible LTE modem and all the other gubbins listed in the table below.

Sony Xperia Z2
Dimensions 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2mm
Weight 163g
Screen size 5.2 inches
Screen resolution 1,920 x 1,080
Screen type Triluminos LCD with 16.7 million colors
Battery 3,200mAh Li-ion (non-removable)
Ruggedness IP55 and IP58 waterproof and dustproof
Internal storage 16GB (12GB free)
External storage MicroSDXC
Rear camera 20.7MP (1/2.3-inch sensor, f/2.0 lens with 27mm equiv. focal length)
Front-facing cam 2MP stills, 1080p video
Video capture 1080p, 4K
Radios HSPA+ (850/900/1700/1900/2100); GSM GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900); LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 20)
Bluetooth v4.0, aptX, A2DP
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AB)
CPU 2.3GHz quad-core Krait 400
GPU Adreno 330
Entertainment MHL, USB OTG, WiFi Direct, DLNA, Miracast, FM radio
WiFi Dual-band, 802.11a/ac/b/g/n
Wireless Charging No
Operating system Android 4.4.2 (Sony-specific UI)
Something not mentioned in the table: The Z2 apparently has active noise-canceling, to reduce background hubbub when you're talking to someone through a headset. This only works with specific Sony headsets, and our review sample didn't come with one, so I didn't test the feature. Nevertheless, you may see some retailers bundling a pair of compatible earphones (the MDR-NC31EM). And they're worth a look, too, if only because they're worth £30 ($50) as a standalone purchase.
More usefully, Sony has also made room for stereo speakers. These are still a bit tinny compared to HTC's BoomSound, but they're infinitely better than the single speaker on the Z1. The old model's speaker was easily blocked by the palm of your hand when the device was held in landscape mode, but now, the speakers are forward-facing and very hard to block -- a big tick for Sony.


If any of the above paragraphs left you glum, it's OK -- things mostly get more positive from here on out, and this section is perhaps the most glowing of the lot. The dodgy display that prevented me from wholeheartedly recommending the Z1 has been replaced by something infinitely better: an entirely new, enlarged 1080p panel that has much better brightness, contrast and viewing angles. The difference is obvious and totally welcome, but as a result the Z2's "Triluminos" display is also a bit less Sony-ish.
This is a manufacturer that has historically trodden its own path with respect to displays, to the point where Sony TVs and, to some extent, Sony phones, have forsaken deep black levels and vivid colors preferred by the likes of Samsung in favor of more detail and more natural color reproduction. With the Z2, however, it looks like Sony has seen a commercial need to deliver something more akin to its rivals and more familiar to potential buyers. I know a couple of people (just one, actually) who really liked the Z1's display and who might be annoyed by this change of heart, but to my eyes it's all good. We're now looking at a display that is at least on a par with other top-end LCD panels.
A couple of notes about setting up the display: Colors tend to be a bit warm, but you can adjust white balance and add a touch of blue in the settings -- a tweak that I tried and then decided to keep. I also permanently disabled Sony's "X-Reality for mobile" engine, because this post-processing effect has gone too far: It makes things look unnaturally saturated, and it also makes 1080p movies look pixelated due to over-zealous edge sharpening.


When you first boot up the phone, you'll be confronted by Sony's typical array of media and social feed widgets, which I reckon many users will remove as they begin to personalize the device. By the time you're done tailoring (perhaps by switching out the stock keyboard for something better, and losing the swirly PlayStation-style animated wallpaper), Sony's skin and various additions shouldn't get in your way.
Nevertheless, the manufacturer does leave some residue on your Android experience, and it has to be said that this lingering aesthetic feels dated. Whereas HTC and even Samsung have recently tarted up their skins, and Apple has made the stark shift to iOS 7, Sony's icons, fonts and layouts feel like they're stuck in 2012.
Accessing settings is also a bit old-fashioned: You have to open the notifications pulldown, select "quick settings" and then make do with basic toggles, which means most settings (like brightness or selecting a WiFi network) then take a couple more taps before you actually make the desired change. Stock Android, HTC Sense and TouchWiz all handle these mundane things with fewer presses.

Sony Xperia Z2 screen shots

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16 Photos
One bit of software that's unnecessarily obnoxious is called "What's New," which promotes recent (and mostly paid-for) content from Sony's music, video and gaming empire. It might be of occasional interest in its app form, but it's an unnecessary widget and -- more seriously -- it's an encumbrance to those who make regular use of Google Now. Instead of just swiping up from the onscreen home button to get into Google's special card-based interface, which was all that was required on the Z1, you now have to sweep up and to the right, so as to avoid accidentally launching "What's New" instead. Having said all this, if you're a Sony fan, it could be nice to have Sony's ecosystem readily at hand on the Z2. This is especially true if you already have a Music Unlimited or Video Unlimited subscription, or if you want to play a few Android games using your PS3 controller, or quickly mirror your phone on your Sony smart TV using NFC. The PlayStation Mobile store, however, is still lackluster and short on compelling games.


Still photography

The Xperia Z2's 20-megapixel camera is carried over from the Z1, and that's a good thing. You can check out our Z1 review for an in-depth look at picture quality, including comparisons to the current king of mobile imaging, the Lumia 1020. Suffice to say, this is still the closest you can get to the image quality of a traditional point-and-shoot on a standard-shaped Android phone (i.e., not a Galaxy "Zoom" phone). That means you'll be able to capture decent snaps even if you decide to leave the house without a dedicated camera.

Sony Xperia Z2 camera samples

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The Z2's meaty images don't result solely from the high resolution, but also from the size of the sensor: at 1/2.3 inches, the chip can suck in significantly more light than any of its Android rivals. Coupled with large JPEG sizes of up to 9MB (albeit, unfortunately, with no RAW option), this yields photographs with less noise and less of the flat "digital" feel that you'd normally expect from a phone camera.
With this sort of optical strength, the camera app almost doesn't need its plethora of effects and gimmicks, but it supplies them anyway. This extends to the now-obligatory "background defocus" effect, which is a hollow imitation of what the HTC One M8 can do with its depth sensor.
On the whole, I wish Sony had concentrated more on making its camera app more flexible and more suitable to manual photography, the way Nokia has done in recent years. There's no easy way to control ISO or shutter speed in order to get creative using the stock app; the only quick adjustments that can be made are white balance and exposure compensation. It could have also helped us out with better post-production tools, as the one supplied is extremely basic. As things stand, we'll just have to go elsewhere for our photography tools.

Video recording

To some extent, Sony's unnecessary gimmicks also stretch to video recording, since we now have a 4K recording option that only a few people with 4K displays might be able to appreciate. (If you're reading this on a 4K display, make sure you choose the full-res setting on the YouTube video above and, unlike the rest of us, you'll be able to see what these clips really look like).
The good news with 4K is that Sony hasn't crushed the data rate as much as I feared, so the footage isn't ruined by compression artifacts. The camera stores about 450MB of data for each minute of 3,840 x 2,160 footage, which equates to 7.5 MB/s -- that's nearly four times higher than the data rate of video recording on the Z1, befitting the quadrupling of the resolution. This is a roundabout way of saying that 4K clips from the Z2 should at least look similar to the 1080p clips we're already used to, with the bonus of higher resolution if and when it's needed.
Unfortunately, my sample footage was let down by the Z2's microphone, which couldn't really handle a windy day by the river, as well as by the lack of optical image stabilization (there's only a conspicuous sort digital stabilization on offer here) and the fact that it's almost impossible to keep your left index finger away from the lens. If you intend to use the Z2 for serious videography, consider investing in a decent mount, along with Sony's new stereo microphone accessory, the STM10 (£30/$50).

Battery life and performance

Sony Xperia Z2 Xperia Z1 HTC One (M8)
Quadrant 2.0 19,100 22,145 25,548
Vellamo 2.0 1,597 2,891 1,804
AnTuTu 3.2 32,574 29,377 30,100
SunSpider 1.0 (Chrome browser) 935 762 772
GFX Bench T-Rex Offscreen (fps) 27.2 23 28.2
GFX Bench Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 11.8 N/A 11.1
CF-Bench 36,699 31,702 38,526
Minion Rush median frame rate*
31 31 28
Minion Rush battery drain (% per hour)* 22 24 22
Battery rundown test 13.5 12.5 11.5
*Measured using GameBench Beta.
Our usual battery of benchmarks largely confirmed my expectations: The Z2 benefits hugely from its upgraded processor, the Snapdragon 801. There are a couple of freak numbers in the table -- especially the poor Quadrant and SunSpider scores. However, a number of the other disparities between the Z2 and the HTC One M8 could potentially be explained by the fact that the M8 has been programmed to run benchmarks in a so-called High Performance Mode -- so it could simply be that Sony doesn't mess with clock speeds to the extent that its rival does. On the whole, the performance scores are strong, with gaming benchmarks being broadly on par with the M8.
Moreover, due to the inclusion of a larger 3,200mAh battery, the stamina has increased greatly and is now probably the best of the recent batch of flagships. I say "probably" because these things depend largely on how often it's under load and how much use you make of the various battery-saving features. From my experience with the Z2, it has great longevity when it's mostly in standby, but it gets hot and can occasionally be inefficient when asked to handle more taxing activities. This led to a couple of instances where the battery depleted faster than I expected, but on the whole, I never had less than a third of the battery left by late evening. Our standard looped video corroborates (and perhaps slightly exaggerates) this advantage: The phone lasted a full 13 hours and 30 minutes -- three and half hours longer than the Galaxy S5.
LTE and HSPA+ performance was solid, with connection strength and data speeds being consistent with other phones we've tested on O2's network in London. The phone didn't drop its data connection even when, during a couple of instances, the reception indicator showed zero bars. With a couple of bars of signal strength, I got up and down speeds of around 7 Mbps, which is what I expected. Call quality and reliability held no nasty surprises either. I tried calls with and without background-noise suppression and "speaker voice enhancement," and neither I nor the other party noticed much difference, but in all cases, the audio quality was good.


I've had a bit of a roller coaster ride with the Xperia Z2, but I can at least summarize it all with one last trough, and one crest.
The downer is that, personally, I wouldn't buy this phone. If I wanted the Z2's camera, coupled with its high-quality display and fast processor, I'd wait to buy it in a smaller version of the handset -- which hasn't been confirmed yet, but must surely be on the horizon given the level of interest in the Z1 Compact. If I wanted a phablet, I'd get a Galaxy Note 3 or hold out for a Note 4. And if I wanted a big, premium non-phablet, I'd probably go for the HTC One M8 -- it has a more enticing, more comfortable design, along with a nicer UI and better stock apps (especially in the camera department). More objectively, though, I can see what Sony was trying to create with the Z2, and it has arguably succeeded in the areas that matter most. There'll be people out there who appreciate its gorgeous display, solid battery life and granite-like charm, and these attributes are inextricably linked to the phone's size. If you think that might be you, go ahead. This is a safe purchase, the best Sony phone that has ever been, and definitely among the top three Android phones currently on the market.

Xperia Z2

  • Huge, high-quality display
  • Rugged construction
  • Excellent processor and battery life
  • Shoots incredibly detailed stills
  • Unwieldy in the hand
  • Sony's Android skin gets in the way sometimes
Conclusion The Xperia Z2 is a solid purchase and easily the most impressive Sony phone we've reviewed. It's strong in every major department, from the display through to the camera, battery life and waterproof build. In return, however, you'll need to offer up some muscle-power of your own, because this handset is a whopper.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Sony Xperia Z2 review: Hands-on

The Sony Xperia Z2 has been unveiled as the brand's new flagship Android smartphone at the MWC show in Barcelona. Sony claims it to have the "the world's best camera and camcorder in a waterproof Android smartphone".
Launched alongside the new Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet and the mid-range Sony Xperia M2 phone, the new handset will replace the current range-topper - theSony Xperia Z1.

Sony Xperia Z2: Size and build

Crafted from a solid piece of aluminium, the new handset sports a similar design to its predecessor - the now-familiar Xperia style. Like the Z1, it's quite a large phone for small hands, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S4HTC One and LG G2, though obviously not as large as the likes of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.
The phones comes in black, white or purple.

Sony Xperia Z2: Features

As we've already mentioned, the Z2 is now totally waterproof (to IP58 standard). This is an improvement on the Z1, which was resistant to water, but not entirely waterproof.

The Z2 also packs built-in digital noise cancelling - the world's first in a smartphone, according to Sony. This works to great effect with Sony's compatible earphones, which will be bundled with the UK version of the phone. The noise cancelling wizardry won't work to full effect with other headphones other than those provided, which is a bit of a shame.

Sony Xperia Z2: Screen

The new handset sports a 5.2-inch full HD screen, which is only very slightly larger than the Z1's 5.1-inch display. Sony has made the frame around the screen thinner so that the space is used more effectively.

Like the Z1, the screen boasts Sony's Triluminos and X-Reality technologies, ported over from its TVs. The new phone also features a new version of Live Colour LED, which is designed to boost the colour range of the screen even further. IPS has also been added to the mix, which gives the the Z2 a far better viewing angle compared to the Z1. It also means the new, more vibrant colours keep their punchy hues even when you're not directly in front of the screen.

Sony Xperia Z2: Camera

The Z2 has some neat additions to its camera, including a new creative effects mode, plus a background defocus mode for taking those effective shallow depth of field shots.

Sony has also taken time to perfect the video capture, porting across a few features from its Handycam camcorder range, including its SteadyShot image stabilisation. In our hands-on with the phone, this tech worked especially well.

The Z2 also features 4K video capture. To see the full benefit, obviously you'll need to view your footage on a 4K TV like the Sony KD-65X9005A, rather than on the phone's full HD screen. However, it does mean that it'll still look extremely sharp on a full HD display.

Sony has also added a timeshift mode, as found on the iPhone 5s, and its ridiculously fun AR mode - which enables you to add dinosaurs and other stuff to your images - can now be used on video as well.

Sony Xperia Z2: Performance

The Z2 runs Android KitKat (4.4) and comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor on board, so it runs as smoothly as you'd imagine. We had a play with the UI and there was no noticeable lag when navigating around the onscreen menus.

Sony Xperia Z2: Verdict

The Sony Xperia Z2 looks set to be a worthy successor to the Z1. We like the improved screen and we were also particularly impressed by the boosted video capabilities. The addition of 4K video capture, while it may not be that useful at the moment, is a statement of intent and also a neat piece of futureproofing from Sony. Stay tuned for a full review.


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