It's only been a few short months since Sony launched the Xperia Z1 but the firm is already back with a new flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z2Read: The 24 best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in 2014.

In appearance, the Z2 looks almost identical to its predecessor. Although it's a little taller, the device is actually thinner and lighter but only marginally.

Sony retains a premium finish by using a combination of aluminium and glass. As with previous models, the Xperia Z2 is both dust- and waterproof.

See also: Best Android phone 2014: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 vs Sony Xperia Z2 comparison review.

The downside is that the handset, compared to rivals, is rather unwieldy. This is mainly down to the larger screen at 5.2in which was somewhat necessary - smaller bezels would have had a better effect on the usability of the phone.

Like other 2014 flagships, the Z2 has a Full HD resolution and the screen looks great. It's no big jump from the last model but viewing angles are noticeably better.

Upgrades in the engine room consist of a Snapdragon 801 processor and a generous 3GB of RAM. This smartphone offers top-end performance and that extends to battery life, too.

The Xperia Z2 is one of the best around in this area, comfortably lasting a couple of days – without even making use of Sony's Stamina Mode. There's no wireless charging but metal contacts on the side work with a charging dock.

A rare feature on a smartphone is front facing stereo speakers which is a real boon when watching videos. The Xperia Z2 also has built-in noise cancelling if you use compatible headphones.

Sony has consistently made great smartphone cameras and the Z2 is no different. It's the same 20.7Mp Exmor RS camera as found on the Z1 but can shoot video in 4K resolution. It also has some new tricks up its sleeve like Background Defocus and Timeshift for slow motion.

As you might expect, the Xperia Z2 comes pre-loaded with Android KitKat and Sony has kept things clean and simple. The interface is stylish and much less intrusive than Samsung's TouchWiz.

The main difference is the split notification bar and we only have minor complaints such as the basic lockscreen, sub-par keyboard and pre-installed apps.

Although not much has changed from the Xperia Z1, the Xperia Z2 is another solid effort from Sony. The smartphone is a good all-rounder with a great screen, camera, build quality and performance. We just wish it wasn't quite so bulky.