SONY Xperia Z2 smartphone review

SONY Xperia Z2
So I was sitting with a huge mobile-phone, it is fast, it feels premium well almost a bit too heavy, it feels not exclusive with its glass backside – it feels “fragile”. I’m sitting here, watching it, thinking about how much differently it behaves compared to my Samsung Galaxy S2. It is a world of difference, the S2 wasn’t quite ever the true spur of a generation. The SONY however is the top-notch. It is on the top contender and it is NOW not a year after when the prices has dropped. It has a huge amount of features, it has loads of power that dwarves my poor S2. It has the latest of everything – but all I can think of is how bloody much I hate the damned spotlight of a LED light it gives when connected to the dock or the USB charger. I can’t have it on my bed-table since it makes the room look like a 70’s orange disco. Slight exaggeration.

So what is it? With its monster of a camera, top-notch processor? Well, it is still a mobile smart phone. It is still an Android as such. And that is in itself the biggest obstacle. It runs the same apps, it uses the same bookmarks, it still wants to know your aunts life assurances for checking your e-mail, wants you to sign up and away your last bits of privacy to Google+ to be able to rate yet another shit-poor app that promises something, wants everything and delivers some plain old crap app filled with annoying buy-ins and commercials. Yes – Android is still the piss-poor leeches OS. But there are glimpses of potential here. The camera. It is not just a huge pile of mega-pixels. The monster sporting a 20.7 MP camera with 4K camcorder just taunts me how ineffectively I will use all that potential. It is more than the fun of having dinosaurs roaming around the Pizza Hut pan pizza to your kids enjoyments – it is a really nice camera that made the old drag-along pocket camera finally take its final sigh and join the heap of stuff that is obsolete. Together with a lost investment in memory cards nothing now a day uses piling up on the elephant graveyard of dying out technology. Camera as such is a great thing, and it shines when you go into the manual settings. The camera app is quick, but unfortunately a lot of the special effects are apps on their own that tend to clutter the interface a bit. Some can be uninstalled and some can’t.

So camera is great – what else? Well, for one – the phone with all bells and whistles (in this phone called clear audio+ on), it sounds really well both with the PowerAmp app and the eminent SONY Walkman app. What more? Well I can now finally say that I’m happy to easily (if using the USB connector to get the two-way USB cord connected to the mini-USB cord to connect the portable DAC/AMP ADL Stride). This combo sounds really nice – of course it does. The ADL is such a nice little thing – except that it is not that small and since the mobile is not so small either it makes a laughable bundle compared to the bulky yet way smaller iBasso DX90 – and it can’t really match that one. It makes the DX50 a bit pale in comparison – but only due to the ADL stride – which I can connect to the DX50 and enjoy the AMP’s warm signature and a bit more lush and thumping bass. So – This is truly a music player on the go. Unless your choice is to have headphones that demands a lot of power to be good sounding – you don’t really need the AMP or the DAC for this to be acceptable sounding solution. If you got the pre-order noise cancelling in-ear headset – you really can’t complain. It is a good thing. Really it is. It isn’t he best and it won’t make your audiophile little bundle of DAC/AMP/DAP obsolete for those REAL listening moments. But on the bus, on your way to work, outside walking or just wanting to shut out the super market around you – it is great and it won’t make you have an extra case lugging it all around. Testing it for some more days and the sound is slightly better via the PowerAmp, switching between albums is also easier but the Walkman app won’t give up easily, it is not much worse and with the excellent “Units (or how it is named in English) makes connecting to your NAS/computer etc a real brief!

Wow – sounds great right? What could ever be the reason to sit and moan about eh? Well, before we get to that – let me tell you about the time I hit up the ES file-browser, opening an MKV file from my NAS and playing it on my MX PLayer Pro (there is some danged player with it from start but why risk it?) and watching my own ripped first episode of Game of Thrones Season 2, ep 1. (No pirating here – I do like to torment myself with still buying Blu-Ray’s and DVD’s and ripping some just because I might want to watch them on the go…). It looks – great. As great as it can look on an IPS 5,2” screen in 1920×1080 something called TRILUMINOSTM display with 423 pixel density… Who am I kidding? All these numbers mean shit – but the image doesn’t. It is great. It really is the one thing that stands out – the screen is perfect for sitting there in bathroom, in the bed, in a dark room watching HD movies on. It really looks great and the processor and graphic power makes it a smooth experience. Even the streaming over the home LAN works effortlessly. Too bad – you won’t enjoy that many movies on the morning bus in the spring/summer/early autumn since damned phone is like a mirror in the sunlight – or most kinds of lights. Or so I believed until one day I just reflected on that I was standing there, with the sun behind my back, glaring right down my phone, and me in sunglasses – Polarized of course – and I saw the screen just fine. I wouldn’t have liked to check images or video – but I could make out the screen just fine and read the text on the webpage I had surfed up. I actually started to like my phone that very instant. So the drawback? Many apps to mess up how to look and get to your video and to get it to play. As it is I still want to check the included albums and images – but I believe that in the end I will simply fall back on using QuickPic and MX Player Pro.

More good things? Even though that damned good-looking screen is hogging some 65-75% of the battery drainage of each daily use – the battery usually last a day without having to recharge. However, if you do look at movies or take advantage of the 4K camera or the 4G surfing – I guess you better not stray too far from a power outlet. But it is actually something outstanding. I use my phone mostly to listen to music with and play some games on breaks or in the elevator, at home I use it for some YouTube, Quizbattles, some Marvel and more YouTube and of course all these e-mail check and Twitter checks. At the end of the day – I’m usually connects it to the magnetic charger at rough 30-40% juice left.

So then we are finally there eh? With the guy sitting there like a damned Luddite watching a very expansive signalling mirror that sounds pretty decent, even great paired with an external DAC via USB out, which is a great camera – if you can just catch a glimmer of what you’re aiming said camera at between all the reflexes and smudge-galore. Well it is, sadly, just a very expansive Android mobile. I wish that SONY had actually made even more apps. Some call all the apps coming with a telephone for bloat-ware. Well, in many cases I agree – but the best made apps so far are the few examples I have mentioned above and SONY’s own apps. Even the gallery, the camera, the WALKMAN, the gallery app – are all great. But it is when you realise that the on the go now a days means GOOGLE’s on the go – not your own version you are running. I used to connect to me NAS and download newly ripped CD’s from my collection (as I mentioned above – not a pirate and where I live it is legal to rip your own CD’s for your own use and you may even share with close friends) directly to the micro SD slot. On the new Android – you can’t do that. Nope. CAN’T as in FUCKING CAN’T – no un-rooted mobiles with the latest android can write directly to the micro SD card via 3rd party file browser apps. And the Google file browser app? Yeah, you guessed it – it is still not in existence.

With the new mega huge screen and resolution – I can’t fit more icons in on the start screen, not getting any better widgets. There is just so much space around everything. The apps controlling how the Bluetooth connects to things are still like that rabid chihuahua hunting something to bone. As soon as it is on – it connects to the latest Bluetooth apparatus – in my case a Philips Bluetooth speaker – and tires to start playing music on it automatically. But I have told my phone not to do that until I “throw” something at it – but the Bluetooth controlling thingy still won’t let go. So every time I come home that chihuahua comes yapping (Bluetooth connecting) me swearing and bearing that .44 barrel to it head and out-worked:ishly pulling that imaginary trigger (disconnect bluetooth). Some fifty minutes later I have to “throw” some music on the Philips – which works great – it turns the Bluetooth on and all – but stopping it – disconnect the bluetooth in the phone menu.

So, what else? Well for one thing – it sounds crap while using it for oh that old-school thing called dialling someone (people still do that?). You see the danged phone is so long you have to hold it in a weird angle to:
1: be able to speak into the sensitive minute microphone. Deviate the slightest and the other party won’t hear you.
2: At the same time as manoeuvring that no.1 position you have to find that minuscule speaker for your ear to be able to hear the other party complaining about how bad you’re coming through. Deviate the slightest and you won’t hear the complaint (at this time perhaps one should hang up…).

– Does it work with that oh so nice noise cancelling headset you got for pre-ordering it with but otherwise have to spit out a liver or 60$/£/€ for?
Why, thank you for asking – it works really nice – except that as with all in ear or cover ear or any-ear sealing contraption sounds like you are lost raiding some cupboard for cookies and getting trapped in the tiniest one with echo set on “stun”. Simply said – it sounds really not pleasant and if you have to talk with someone not so pleasant it quickly makes that skippedly Twitter app seem like a dream where the few characters at least will let you express some obscene “eff you”.

So what else is there to all this still an Android phone? Well, that 5.2″ screen sure looks big and dandy when you first get it – but it is still not a tablet – not even a phablet so those HD apps you had for your nexus 7″ table that you sold to get this one – won’t run on this. Not even allowed to download them. Thank-you very much – and it doesn’t make gaming a whole let easier. The only thing it does is that it has now become totally unplayable to try play on the HTC 3.6″ mobile my office thinks is a great phone to deal with e-mail calendars and managing some brief comments with. Yeah right….

– But hey – didn’t you get that cool lifestyle:ish so hip smart wristband?
Yes I did – I got two apps, no three apps for it and realized that after it wanted to turn all that NSA knows about me into nice graphs where I could check exactly how many steps it had missed or un-synched it showed how I moved – oh sorry – I meant supposedly how few steps I had taken and telling me all that shit you already know. The only thing that sounded nice was the app that could detect your phone when you have displaced it – but since the NSF connection isn’t that great so if you are out of reach from your life-line, ehr, mobile, the bracelet starts humming. So don’t lose your phone. OK? I’m not sure about you but if you carry around a shiny brick and suddenly isn’t you think you would notice eh? If you don’t you are probably in a state where some minute tapping and checking blinking tiny lights won’t do much for your finding the phone anyway.

Yeah, it is great, having yet another item that I need to juice up and that logs shit about me. It might be something for someone – but that someone isn’t me so I guess you better check some other more “mobile and life-stylish” people tell you all about how glorious it is to have a diagram of your steps/car/cycling and food intake together with the latest offers from some greedy corporations as you take yet another selfie to post on some other service via another app…

In the end, this great mobile proved that, well, hard facts dictates that this actually is a good phone, in fact is in the hands of a guy that isn’t a great phone user nor a good GOOGLE disciple. I don’t GOOGLE+ nor Facebooking – at least on my phone. I was in it for the music/sound, the great screen and having a telephone that made watching movies or YouTube flicks not having to include a magnifying glass nor feeling to stupid. So if the music is great – are at least now sitting and listening to some rocking tunes on it now you might ask. No, I’m sitting here rocking some music on my NAD 1050 connected to my computer playing FLAC via FOOBAR and making the overly comfortable AKG K550 sound really great. But I have to use the bathroom soon so I will use it, to lose most likely another round of QUIZ-kampen, get beaten by Rhino in that Marvel Puzzle-Quest game or laugh my ass off (pun semi-intended) to some German breaking his ass on the intended to break ice – which held true.

The phone is great, truly it is. Compared to the Samsung S5, I think it is better, but the Samsung S5 feels way more portable and easy top carry around. But with limited storage and Samsung’s tendency to really use true bloat-ware and not having close to the same sound possibilities and a screen that makes your eyes water – the SONY is the winner. But really – ask yourself what you are going to use it for unless you have money to burn. And that in the end is what mostly rubs me the wrong way – this telephone made me smile a few times, but never made me say WOW – cool. After a weeks intense use the form factor is getting to be OK. I have some issued with the stupid PlayStation and SONY experience apps and validation and passports and whatnot – it is stupid, it is not doing much and the games you get on the PlayStation app is absolutely the worst piece of crap I have ever wasted time on in a long time. The Spiderman game is for free – in some regions. Not mine it appears – but I know all the others are getting it. SONY still needs to get their shit together when it comes to the end-user experience. The PlayStation-esque design and layout should get a huge pass next time around.

Speed and feel
All sound (except dialling without a headset)
Screen is awesome
Water proof – for real!
Micro SD card
Good battery life

Some of SONY’s apps and interface isn’t great
The Phone case isn’t released yet
The file browser have been nutered in new KitKat
Many KitKat design things
A bit bulky feel that takes time getting over
A bit too shiny in indoors light

Official SONY XPERIA Z2 page in English


About sketchywolf

sketchywolf(aka Foolwolf) is a blog where I will try different hobbies and document them on. Certain ramblings and may even start some story writing etc. I will also try to have a collection of my reviews of all things that I try and wants to share...
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