Sony Xpe­ria ZX2 Com­pact

NOT GREAT FOR VIDEO CAP­TURE, BUT IF YOU WANT A SU­PER­FAST, SU­PER-COM­PACT PHONE THEN THIS IS A FINE CHOICE

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - ALAN MAR­TIN

Re­mem­ber when a 5in hand­set was con­sid­ered large? Now a 5in hand­set is con­sid­ered so small it de­serves the word “Com­pact” at the end of its name, but that’s an apt ad­jec­tive. Like its big­ger brother, the XZ2, it’s all smooth cor­ners and sides, with a slightly curved back. It’s a nice look­ing phone, even if Sony has re­placed the re ec­tive glass on the XZ2’s back­plate with an an­ti­s­cratch, poly­car­bon­ate coat­ing.

It feels com­fort­able in the palm, but one slight draw­back is the lo­ca­tion of the

nger­print reader. Older Sony phones used to have this as part of the power but­ton on the side of the hand­set, but now it’s harder to reach on the back plate. A big­ger ca­su­alty is Sony’s re­moval of the 3.5mm head­phone jack. Et tu, Sony?

Sur­pris­ingly, the Sony Xpe­ria XZ2 Com­pact comes with an 18:9 screen. This change of as­pect ra­tio is not only a rst for Sony, but a rst for a smaller hand­set. My early fears this wouldn’t work were quickly al­layed: it per­forms bril­liantly. The 2,160 x 1,080 IPS panel of­fers more than enough de­tail, and view­ing an­gles, to sat­isfy the most dis­cern­ing eye.

Those anecdotal feel­ings were con rmed by hard­ware anal­y­sis. Us­ing the phone’s “pro­fes­sional” dis­play set­tings, the XZ2 Com­pact’s screen cov­ered 87.9% of the sRGB colour gamut. Ac­cu­racy is even bet­ter, with a Delta E of 1.27, while a peak bright­ness of 600cd/m2 means you won’t strug­gle to read it in bright con­di­tions.

Nor does this phone strug­gle for speed. Sony in­cludes the top of the range Qual­comm Snap­dragon 845 pro­ces­sor, backed by 4GB RAM and 64GB stor­age. You can add an ex­tra 400GB with a suit­ably vast mi­croSD card, but only if you choose the dual-SIM model.

With the fastest mo­bile pro­ces­sor on the planet pow­er­ing things, dif­fer­ences be­tween this and other 2018 ag­ships are al­ways go­ing to be mar­ginal – and the bench­marks prove that. Over­all, Geek­bench 4’s sin­gle-core score of 2,379 and mul­ti­core to­tal of 8,559 means you’re look­ing at a 24% jump in per­for­mance over last year’s XZ1 Com­pact.

It of­fers even bet­ter re­sults in GFXBench’s off-screen and on­screen Man­hat­tan 3 tests, where it outscored the Sam­sung Galaxy S9 – al­though the dif­fer­ences would be neg­li­gi­ble in real-world con­di­tions.

You may worry that with less phys­i­cal space for a bat­tery, the Xpe­ria XZ2’s stamina would suf­fer. How­ever, I’m happy with a time of 14hrs 10mins in our 720p video loop test at 170cd/m2 bright­ness. That puts it 39 min­utes be­hind last year’s model, and only 13 min­utes be­hind the Sam­sung Galaxy S9.

Video cap­ture has re­ceived a big up­date since Sony’s last ag­ship out­ing. Not only has the XZ1 Com­pact’s party trick of 960fps su­per slow mo­tion video cap­ture been up­graded to Full HD, but both XZ2 mod­els come with a 19-megapixel rear cam­era that can record 4K video with 10-bit HDR pro­cess­ing. That means you’re look­ing at oo­dles of tonal de­tail, and the elec­tronic im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion (EIS) keeps the footage smooth and free of jar­ring shakes.

There’s a big but, though: 4K HDR footage suf­fers from un­even frame rates. Pan across a scene with SteadyShot switched off and the jerk­i­ness be­comes im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous. Switch it on, and things get much worse. That’s a shame, be­cause 4K video cap­tured with HDR en­abled looks hugely im­pres­sive, with strong colours and a rich, bal­anced over­all ex­po­sure rarely seen in smart­phone footage. But the fram­er­ate is­sue means you wouldn’t want to rely on it – un­less Sony can im­prove things with a soft­ware up­date. If you’re only in­ter­ested in stills, this is a ne choice of phone. On pa­per, the cam­era’s speci cations look mid­dling: a 19-megapixel rear cam­era with a sen­sor size of 1/2.3in, f/2 aper­ture and hy­brid phase de­tect/laser aut­o­fo­cus. In prac­tice, the re­sults are pretty good: even in low light, shots taken with the phone’s In­tel­li­gent Auto shoot­ing mode look ex­cel­lent, es­pe­cially with HDR en­abled. There’s a lit­tle more grain and noise than you get with the best smart­phone cam­eras around, and it’s no match for the Huawei P20 Pro, but this is yet an­other strong ef­fort from Sony.

De­spite my con­cerns over video cap­ture, the XZ1 Com­pact de­serves se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. It has speed to match the most pow­er­ful phone out there – the $969 Sam­sung Galaxy S9 - but costs more than $200 less. Yes, the screen is smaller and the cam­era some way be­hind, but if speed is your main pri­or­ity then the XZ2 Com­pact is an ex­cel­lent al­ter­na­tive that slips eas­ily into the pocket.

KEY SPECS

Octa-core 2.7GHz/1.7GHz Qual­comm Snap­dragon 845 pro­ces­sor • 4GB RAM • Adreno 630 graph­ics • 5in IPS screen, 1,080 x 2,160 res­o­lu­tion • 64GB stor­age • mi­croSDXC slot (up to 400GB) • 19MP rear cam­era • 5MP front cam­era • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 5 • NFC • USB-C con­nec­tor • 2,870mAh bat­tery • An­droid 8 • 65 x 12.1 x 135mm (WDH) • 168g • 1yr war­ranty

$740 • www.sony­mo­bile.com/au

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