Sony Xperia Z2 rear camera

Sony Xperia Z2 review: Cameras

The camera is still the 20.7Mp whopper which is found on the Z1 with Sony's G Lens and Exmor RS sensor. It remains the highest resolution available on an Android handset but there are some new features, too.

The camera app is packed with features can record video in up to 4k resolution which can then be played back over via the MHL 3.0 supported microUSB port. The Xperia Z2 can capture this quality at 30fps while Full HD is double at 60fps.

Alongside the Superior Auto mode which ensures general shots look good (there's a manual mode too), there's a Background Defocus mode to give a DSLR style depth of focus effect. It doesn't allow you to refocus the shot like the HTC One M8 but works well in the right conditions. You get a few controls including a focus slider to edit the shot before you save it too.  

Sony Xperia Z2 camera background defocus

It can also shoot 'Timeshift' slow motion at 120fps. As with other smartphones with this feature, you can edit which section of the video you want to be in slow motion. As well as Sony's other camera apps, such as Creative effects and Sweep Panorama, you can download third-party apps.

We always like to see a dedicated camera button and as usual, Sony hasn't let us down. You can use this side mounted key to launch the camera app when the phone is asleep, helping to avoid missing that moment. It's also two-stage so you can get your focus sorted before taking the snap.

Sony Xperia Z2 camera test photo Click to enlarge our test photo.

The fact the Xperia Z2 is waterproof (depths of over one meter for up to 30 minutes) means you can take some more unique underwater photos and videos – that's pretty cool.  

The front camera has been given a small boost to 2.2Mp but still records video in up to 1080p at 30fps. Like any flagship smartphone, you can expect decent quality for your selfies and video calling.

Sony Xperia Z2 review: Software and apps

As we should be finding with new smartphones, the Xperia Z2 comes pre-loaded with Android 4.4 KitKat. It still has Sony's user interface over the top which remains stylish but similar to previous versions. It's much lighter and close to stock Android than HTC's Sense and Samsung's TouchWiz.

The main change is that the drop down bar is now split into two tabs: notifications and quick settings, matching more vanilla devices like the Nexus 5. You can easily edit which quick settings you want access to and their order.

Sony Xperia Z2 Android KitKat User Interface

Annoyingly, Sony has changed the cool animated blind effect on the lock screen to a fairy dust type affair and you can't change it to anything else. It is made redundant if you use an unlock pattern, PIN, password or Face Unlock. There's also no option to add widgets to the lock screen or launch apps – apart from the camera.

Sony's keyboard isn’t the best around but gets better as time goes on and it learns your style. You can always switch the free Google Keyboard or pay for ones like Swipe if it's not to your liking.

The firm also doubles up on some apps – Walkman, Album, Movies etc - but they're genuinely good so we don't mind that. There are quite a few pre-installed apps including Vine, Garmin Navigation, Pixlr Express and OfficeSuite. Luckily you can uninstall the ones you don't find useful.

Sony Xperia Z2 review: Battery life

We're always looking for improved battery life and although the Xperia Z2's battery is still non-removable, it's larger in capacity than the Xperia Z1. At 11.8Wh (3200mAh), it's larger than most smartphone batteries and it shows.

The battery life of the Sony Xperia Z2 is one of the best around at the moment. It can easily last a couple of days with regular use and that's without switching on Sony's excellent Stamina Mode. Alongside a typical battery saver, this conserves the battery level even more by disabling functions like Wi-Fi and mobile data when the screen is off.

There's no wireless charging on-board the Xperia Z2 but as we mentioned at the beginning, there are two metal contacts on the side for use with a docking station – such as the 'Magnetic Charging Dock DK36'.

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