Right then, now that silly season has finished for a while, lets carry on with normal activity, beginning, for me with a completely, unashamedly, ever so slightly biased review of 2018's most elusive flagship, the XZ2 Premium.
Not much can really be said about the XZ2 Premium that we didn't learn in its 5 month waiting period for release. But just for those that missed the secretive announcement in China back in Spring, or even those that may have been banged up and now are free and eager for information on this behemoth of power, lets remind ourselves of the fundamental basics.
Xperia XZ2 Premium is the follow up to to the XZ Premium, 2017's 4k HDR phone, (wanna read about that one, check here) its based on the same system on chip as Xperia XZ2 with most specs matching, except XZ2 Premium has 6GB of LPDDR4x ram instead of 4GB, the biggest difference however, is the 4k HDR display stuck on the front, and its a beauty. The device follows Sony's latest design trend called ''Ambient flow'' which curves all the sides and rear of the device to sit more comfortably in the hand, in a device this big, it's a welcome feeling. As with XZ2, the long popular yet regionally restricted side fingerprint scanner has been moved to the rear, which seems to be the ''marmite position'' you either love it or you hate it. I myself preferred the side power button based scanner, but after a week or so, you do actually get used to the new position and yes, you do also stop hitting the camera with your finger, a widely publicised problem people have at first. also worth mentioning is that once more, the Premium range devices are still the most shiny items created in the universe, this is not exaggeration, XZ2 Premium is beyond, no make that way beyond the levels of reflection seen in XZ Premium, and that one was basically a mirror!
so.. lets begin ....
(sidenote: worth mentioning now, Unfortunately the XZ2 Premium is NOT available at O2, Largely thanks to the gits at EE for having network exclusive.)
Here's ya box:....
Here's ya Box contents:
2. Sony UCH12w fast charger
3. USB-C cable
4. Paperwork that everyone reads. always
5. Some funny
dongle adapter converting USB-C to 3.5mm (I dunno if Apple own the tm to the word Dongle, so not risking it)
that's the fella there, obviously every manufacturer that removes the headphone jack, obviously provides customers with the equipment required to still use their existing headphones, right?
And most importantly, the Xperia XZ2 Premium:
yes, that's correct, as with both the Z5 Premium and the XZ Premium, this thing is an absolute sod to take pictures of, basically, it looks like this behind some glass, well the front does.
Memory and storage
64GB UFS internal memory
microSDXC support (up to 400GB)
Google Android™ 8 Oreo
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845
Water resistant (IP65/68)
Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5
Qnovo Adaptive Charging
Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.03
USB power delivery
Wireless Charging (Qi)
5.8", 4K (2160 x 3840) HDR display
TRILUMINOS™ Display for mobile
X-Reality™ for mobile
Dynamic Contrast Enhancer
Dynamic Vibration System
Motion Eye™ Dual camera 19MP and Black & White 12MP
Motion Eye™ 19MP camera
1/ 2.3” Exmor RS™ for mobile memory-stacked sensor
Pixel Pitch 1.22μm
25 mm wide Sony’s award-winning G Lens F1.8
Black and White camera
Black & White 12MP camera
1/2.3" Exmor RS™ for mobile image sensor
Pixel pitch 1.55μm
G Lens F1.6
AUBE™ fusion image signal processor
BIONZ™ for mobile image-processing engine
960 fps Super slow motion video (FHD/HD)
Predictive Capture (motion / smile)
x8 Digital Zoom
4K HDR Movie recording
Quick Launch & Capture
Low-light photo: ISO 51200
Low-light video: ISO 12800
Predictive Hybrid Autofocus
Triple image sensing technology
SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization)6
Bokeh effect (picture)
Monochrome effect (picture and video)
1/ 3,06” Exmor RS™ for mobile
22mm wide angle lens F2.0
Low-light photo: ISO 3200
Low-light video: ISO 1600
SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization)
High-Resolution Audio (LPCM, FLAC, ALAC, DSD)
Stereo speaker with S-Force Front Surround
Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio
Automatic Headphone Optimisation
USB Type-C™ to 3.5mm Audio Jack Adapter in the box
Apologies for all that, but I do like to be thorough.
It surely is a beauty, that's for sure, following on the Ambient flow design, the screen curves seamlessly into the sides of the device which in turn meets the rear panel of the same Gorilla glass 5 that protects the front, except the rear panel curves into the palm of your hand, this eases the feeling of holding a more ''slab like'' device and as mentioned before, it really does help the XZ2 Premium feel quite ergonomically friendly. Well, as economically friendly as a 5.8'' 16:9 display can. it doesn't ''feel'' any larger than XZ Premium, even with it being wider. The aforementioned rear panel has obviously been polished by the same guys that polish the Hubble space telescope mirror, you'll notice in the ''in the box'' photo, I'd already stuck a case on it, through fear of getting some kind of scuff on it, its ridiculously shiny, and I went for the black one!! heaven help those with chrome silver. As said, mine is chrome black, so called because its very much black, yet also chrome, its wierd, but the colour name is spot on as the colour shifts with even the slightest angle difference.
The XZ2 Premium is powered by Qualcomms Snapdragon 845 system on chip, paired with 6GB of LPDDR4x Ram and 64GB of UFS storage, this can be added to with Micro SD storage up to 400GB.
The specs are more than enough to power pretty much every task you can throw at it, editing video, photos and the most demanding games, are simply done with ease on the 845 platform, which also comes with such features as 24bit audio for Hi Res audio support and the fastest 4G modem, allowing gigabit+ download speeds (network dependant). The 845 is also paired up with the Adreno 630 GPU, with 30% more power than its predecessor, can run today's most demanding games, and most demanding video files, with ease. All in all, its a beast, a beautiful, shiny 4k beast.
There's not much point putting this one off so let's just talk about it now and look into sony's first dual camera setup.
the Aube fusion powered Motion eye Dual
that's it /\, comprising of a 19mp motion eye camera, behind a new f1.8 Sony G lens, and a 12mp monochrome sensor, behind an f1.6 G lens. These two cameras can work independently, or together using the Aube image signal processor to fusion the images together, creating multiple layers of imaging data, which then outputs as a final image, comprising of luminance data from the monochrome sensor and colour data from the motion eye. This process allows images to be taken in really, really, REALLY dark environments allowing pictures with an iso level of up to 51200. The same process can also be used for video recording, allowing video to be recorded at up to iso12800, again. we're talking dark situatiuons, not just low light, but dark.
like some stairs that for some reason go sideways, this was taken at roughly midnight, with all lights off.
or a picture frame, the light coming in from the door being slightly open, rest of the room being pitch black.
same scene with Note9 f1.5 lens
The low light capabilities does have limits though, any close than 1m and the two sensors images wont bind, creating a ghosting effect where the colour info isnt aligned correctly.
you can see, the colour sensors information is just a bit to the left, creating monochrome deatils on the right.
but in general dark scenarios, it can boost just enough or immense amounts whilst the colour sensor provides the colour, the monochrome also polishes out any noise from shooting at ultra high iso levels.
in fact, by selecting the monochrome sensor alone, you can shoot brilliant black and white images with great ranges of grey levels.
(faces purposefully blurred)
of course the camera can do all the usual stuff including bokeh mode and manual burst shooting as well as predictive auto capture seen in previous models.
it's hard to take more pics without breaking some EU rule about privacy so.. yeah.
The camera also has one super cool feature and that comes in the video department, as with the XZ2, the XZ2 Premium can record HDR video natively in 4K using the HLG standard.
HLG or Hybrid Log Gamma was intended for use in the broadcasting field, all your BBC HDR Streams, HLG, all your footie, HLG. its a great way to compress masses of data in a much smaller bitrate using the h.265 codec in HEVC (High efficiency video coding) when watching the video, HDR compatible devices unpack all the luminance data and white point data that is stored along with the video, the devices then take this data and know which parts of the frame to make darker, and which parts to keep bright.
watching these videos on non hdr devices wil show a bleached out video, with really low contrast... example:
the resulting video maintains colour and details, even in high contrast scenes.
HLG HDR is also supported natively in Youtube, meaning uploaded videos maintain their HDR Qualities.
As with Every flagship Xperia since Z2, the XZ2 Premium supports Hi Res audio in various formats, this ability wasnt lost with the headphone jack, sadly Digital noise cancellation was, but the increased range of wireless noise cancelling earphones, which also support Hi Res through Sony's LDAC wireless codec, means massive audio options are available and of course if you have a set of wired headphones you love and want to keep using, Sony include the adapter in-box, meaning you can still use them in the USB-C socket.
Music is as rich as ever, with, in my opinion, a louder ability for earphones (as with previous models when using USB-C port) than before. The speakers have also been tuned much louder than previous models, I'd say a good 30% louder than my XZ Premium and much cleaner sounding too, activating S-force front surround and DSEE HX will give a great audio experience, you can even partner that up with the dynamic vibration system, which can be set up to vibrate along with any loud explosions or other noise. its one of those features that can be annoying in some scenarios, but also can be really immersive especially if gaming or watching movies on the 4k display...
I've talked before about the display on the premium range, so youd thing theres not much more to say, well except its a different panel completely. the old displays used to alternate between 4k and 1080p by combining pixels laid out in a zig-zag formations allowing both resolutions to appear almost natively.
well the new display is much more like a standard stripe RGB display, meaning pixels are cleaner, sharper, and without any noticeable gating that could sometimes be seen before diagonally. example
that there is XZ Premium pixel array, you can see the zig zag formation and how the edges of details such as rounded edges can have a wavy pattern at the edge.
Whilst that above on the right is the XZ2 Premiums new 4k array, cleaner and sharper, densely packed pixels. for resolution comparison.. on the left is a Note9. showing just how many pixels are packed in a 4k display.
the display is also very bright whilst maintaining great contrast for an LCD Display, comparable to many oled based devices out there, the Premium series have always had the benefit of native 4k output really reducing the artifacts of compressed 1080p or 1440p extended to 4k, this is also backed up with sony's Bravia upscaling, meaning ALL video content is either native 4k or upscaled to 4k, the dynamic contrast enhancer, as well as its Video enhancer also upscales to near HDR output too, the video equivalent of what DSEE HX does for music.
you can see the better colour accuracy than the previous Premium model.
its HDR enhancing abilities also output lost details and clearer images than most other displays, examples on this image, the cliffs in the background and the underside of the neares arch, lost on the note9 due to it having to crop a 1440p image to achieve fullscreen.
balancing blown out areas, whilst maintaining details in dark areas is exactly the benefits of HDR upscale, the XZ Premium on the right cannot balance both areas without losing some detail in the dark.
It's hard to fault the XZ2 Premium, but I've always eljoyed the benefits that come with a 4k display, native 4k HDR movies as well as the benefits whilst editing photos without as much screen scaling have made the 3 premiums so far my favourite Xperias to date, Ive loved the Z5, XZ and now XZ2 Premium and each one has bought its own uniqueness to the lineup and XZ2 Premium is no different. It clearly is mostly about the camera,and its something that i think will benefit other Xperia devices along the way, opening abilities for phones that was unheard of or even unfathomable a few years ago. and as sony supply pretty much every camera sensor out there, as long as devices such as the Premiums keep showboating new camera innovations, the whole market of consumers are the ones that benefit.
the future is bright, .....even in the dark.......
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