MWC 2018 has officially kicked off, and after Samsung, Huawei and Nokia, today was Sony’s turn to launch its flagship smartphones of 2018. The company introduced Ear Duo truly wireless Bluetooth headphones, and the Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact smartphones. Both smartphones come with top-of-the-line hardware, improved cameras, 4K HDR display and more. I got to spend some time with the new smartphones at the launch event, and here are my first impressions.
Both new Sony smartphones are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core SoC built on 10nm process, paired with 4GB of RAM, and 64GB onboard storage. There is also a microSD card slot for further expansion up to 400GB. The key difference in both smartphones come in the form of display size, design and battery capacity, while rest of the features remain the same.
Bye bye Omnibalance design
With the Xperia Z-series smartphones, a few years ago, Sony introduced the Omnibalance design, but after all these years, Sony has finally ditched it. The new Xperia XZ2 comes with an arc design, making it easier to hold it in one’s palms. It also ditched the metal back for a glass-like back with smooth curved edges, thus bringing wireless fast charging feature to the table.
However, the Xperia XZ2 Compact comes with a metal back and does not feature wireless charging. The compact form factor makes it easy to hold and operate with one hand. And unlike the previous smartphones, this time around Sony has moved the fingerprint sensor to the back, just below the camera module. In the previous phones, it was integrated inside the power bottom on the right hand side.
Sony finally joins the 18:9 display club, but those bezels
Although late to the party, Sony’s new smartphones come with full HD+ resolution displays with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The Xperia XZ2 comes with a 5.7-inch display, whereas the Xperia XZ2 Compact, as the name suggests, comes with a 5-inch display. Both displays are powered by X-Reality Engine and are HDR compliant to offer better sharpness, color reproduction and life-like viewing experience. I did play a couple of demo videos that were loaded on the smartphones, and the content looks very crisp and clear.
Well, with the tall displays one would expect the smartphone to shed those bezels, especially after the competition has done it. But as you can see in the photos, both smartphones come with thick bezel above and below the display.
Cameras with focus on 4K HDR, slow motion and more
One of the highlights of both the smartphones is the 19-megapixel rear camera with support for 4K HDR recording. Now, while LG and Samsung are touting f/1.5 and f/1.6 aperture camera lenses, it is sad to see Sony sticking to f/2.0 aperture. But to compensate that, Sony has added support for ISO 12800, that the company claims will let users click brighter and crisp photos in extreme low-light scenarios.
Now, while the Xperia XZ featured super slow-motion view recording at 960fps in HD resolution, the new Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact are now capable of recording 960fps videos at full HD resolution. Up front, both smartphones come with a 5-megapixel camera for selfies and video recording.
Sony has also added 3D facial capture feature for the front camera, similar to Apple’s Animoji feature. Basically, it lets you capture 3D image of your face and share it on your social networks too.
Sorry fellas, no 3.5mm headphone jack
While Samsung has yet again retained the 3.5mm headphone jack, Sony has done away with the legacy audio port, and believes that wireless audio is the future. You will either need a USB Type-C based headphone or a Bluetooth headphone to listen to your favorite music and videos.
Both smartphones run Android 8.0 Oreo with a layer of Sony’s customized UI running on top. You get all the goodies of Android OS, such as such as fluid and improved interface, adaptive icons, LDAC audio codec and improved notifications. You also get Picture-In-Picture mode, Background Limits, auto-fill for user ID and passwords and more.
Overall, the new Sony smartphones do look interesting, a welcome change from the boring design that we had been seeing for years. And unlike the previous versions where the specifications were compromised on the ‘Compact’ variant, this time around Sony has tried to maintain that ‘flagship’ level treatment on the Xperia XZ2 Compact. The smartphones will soon go on sale in select markets, but there is no word on India launch yet. Both smartphones then do look interesting, and we are eager to test them out. Till then, stay tuned.