Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review

Flagship phones are usually pretty big, but Sony's new compact phone fits those top-of-the-line features into a pint-sized package, let's check it out. This is our Sony Xperia XZ2 compact review.
Sony Xperia XZ2 & XE2

The XZ2 compact features Sony's new reimagine Xperia design whereas before Sony phones were angular and flat the new generation boasts a lot of curves, the corners are still square but the edges are soft and rounded. The XZ2 compact has an aluminum frame, but the curved back is made from matte plastic with a frosted look, the material makes it a little grippier than the all-glass XZ2 unlike his big brother this one won't slide around on a table, the XZ2 compact is thicker than last year's model and though it is small it feels like a heavy duty phone. It should be quite durable though we haven't put that to the test, it's fully water and dust resistant with IP65 and IP68 certification to give you peace of mind.

The fingerprint reader is rear mounted instead of side mounted like last year it's pretty fast to wake up your phone too, it is placed quite low below the camera but it's pretty easy to reach unlike on the XE2, it's pretty hard to mistake the two for one another.

The XE to compact is a stereo speaker setup with S4 front surround technology, the speakers sound even better than last year and there's no distortion at max volume which is 20% higher now. The compact is missing the dynamic vibration future from the XE2 though, so it won't be vibrating along with your music.

If you're listening with headphones you'll have to use the supplied dongle to connect or go wireless, Sony has opted to remove the 3.5 millimeter jack just like on the XE2.

For internal storage you get 64 gigs on board and it is expandable, the XZ2 compact has a 5-inch LCD display with a tall 18 by 9 aspect ratio bigger than last years and with smaller bezels, the resolution has changed too, it has gone from 720p to 1080p and contrast is better with deeper blacks than the XZ1 compact. The screen is quite bright at 576 nits and sunlight legibility is great for an LCD. The XEZ2 compact has support for HDR video playback with HDR content you'll see more detail and highlights and shadows than normal SDR video, streaming services still don't offer HDR to the XZ2 compact but that will change in time.

The user interface is Sony's familiar experience launcher over Android 8 Oreo, the home screen is basically the same from before swiping left opens a Google feed panel, swipe down and you'll see a search bar for apps as well as recommendations for new apps to install, right next to this is the app drawer which includes some nice multimedia apps from Sony, music, video and album.

Themes are available that can customize the look and sound of your interface, if you're confused about the phone's features a new interactive phone assistant can help you out and there is a tools panel that contains a lot of useful form management options.

The XZ2 compact is running on the top-of-the-line snapdragon 845 chipset just like its bigger brother the XE2, working with 4gigs of ram benchmark performance is excellent, around 30% better than last year's snapdragon 835 phones.

Battery size has increased since last year's XZ1 compact, but battery life has gone down a bit perhaps due to the larger IOS screen, it's still very good though scoring an 88 hour endurance rating in our proprietary tests, when plugged in the XZ2 compact went from 0 to 32% and half an hour with a 7.5 watt charger and got up to 41% with a quick charger, there is no wireless charging here unlike on the XE2.

Thankfully the two share the same camera, its 19 megapixels f 2.0 and has a really fast ram buffer which enables quick readout of the sensor to reduce rolling shutter, it's also the same camera as last year's model but now there is improved software processing from Sony.

In daylight shots have accurate colors, plenty of detail and wide dynamic range. The noise reduction is less aggressive than last year resulting in slightly more noise of pixel peeping but also slightly more detail.

In low-light the beta processing results in fewer noise artifacts, higher sharpness and better colors in before, there is still no OIS though the tripod detection is a lot better now and you'll get better nighttime shots when using one.

There is a software bokeh mode allowing you to take portrait shots with a blood background behind your subject, the blur isn't too accurate but it could be fun to play around with.

The 5 megapixel selfie camera takes nice shots with good sharpness and plenty of dynamic range, focus is fixed though we wish they had kept the autofocus from last year.

You can also play around with Sony's 3d Creator which now works from the front facing camera as well, it scans your face and renders it in 3d which can sometimes look pretty funny.

4k video quality is great with plenty of detail, great contrast, dynamic range and accurate colors. There's no corner softness either we did sometimes notice a bit of focus hunting though, you can also record video in 4k HDR a new feature this year, you can enjoy the results on the phone but they don't look good on other non compatible screens. One of the signature camera features is super slow-mo video which is possible thanks to the cameras RAM buffer, now you can shoot in 1080p not just 720. The time frame is cut in half a 1080 though, so the slo-mo is shorter and is harder to catch the moments if you can get it right though the results can be quite impressive.

As a flagship phone the XZ2 compact really stands out, at around 600 Euros is the cheapest Snapdragon 845 phone so far and premium features are hard to find in phones this small, compared to last year's XZ1 compact Sony has really made some improvements, the build is comfortable, the screen is larger in IOS and low-light camera performance is better. The only downside is battery life which is no longer incredible and just very good, but even so if you're looking for a small device the XZ2 compact is probably the best Android has to offer.


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