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Hands-On: Sony Xperia Z2 and M2

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Feb 24, 2014, 4:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Here is a first look at Sony's new flagship and mid-range Android smartphones. Both are thin and light and loaded with all things Sony.

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Xperia Z2 

Sony unwrapped the Xperia Z2 in Barcelona today, a successor to last year's Z1/Z1S. It is nearly indistinguishable from its predecessors, but the improvements are real indeed.

The Z2 has a round profile , which makes it comfortable to hold and use. The rounded edges aside, it is still a big phone. It is impressively thin, but it is wide and tall to accommodate the 5.2-inch display. It is also very light. The Z1/Z1S was light, too, and Sony did a good job packing the device with features while also keeping the weight down. In fact, it almost feels too light for such an expensive piece of hardware.

The screen looks really nice. It uses Sony's mobile Bravia engine, in addition to what Sony calls TriLuminos and X-Reality technologies. It Basically, it is bright and sharp and incredibly colorful. The phone uses LEDs to illuminate the display, and Sony says it has the widest color range of any smartphone. It looks fantastic. The bezel surrounding the screen is slightly smaller than on the Z1/Z1S. Sony managed to keep the overall footprint of the device the same while stretching the screen out another 0.2 inches.

Z2  

The phone has a bevy of buttons and hatches placed along the edges. The hatches are to protect the Z2 from water ingress. The device is "more waterproof" than last year's phones, and has an ingress protection rating of IP58 for water. Sony says it can sit in up to 4.9 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. I find the hatches make day-to-day use annoying, though most people may not notice them other than when plugging their device in to be charged. They cover the memory card and microSD card slots, in addition to the USB port. The headphone jack is waterproof, though, and it does not require a hatch.

The screen lock button has Sony's signature look, which it calls Omnibalance Design. The button is large, round, and chrome colored. It stands out nicely along the side of the phone and has good travel and feedback. There's also a volume toggle and dedicated camera button - all along the right edge of the phone. The volume toggle is quite miserable, as it is far too small.

There are holes for the speakerphone drilled into the bottom edge.

The Z2's user interface runs Android 4.4 KitKat and has Sony's custom look and feel. There are a handful of new features for the camera that make it more fun to use. The Xperia Z2 is Sony's "hero" smartphone device for the world, and it will ship in April. Sony didn't announce any specific plans to sell it in the U.S., but it is likely that either AT&T or T-Mobile will offer it before summer.

Xperia M2 

The Xperia M2 is a slightly smaller, somewhat cheaper variant of the flagship Z series devices. It is meant to fill the mid-market slot in Sony's lineup and it loses some of the luster associated with Sony's top-of-the-line hardware.

The M2 uses the same Omnibalance Design as seen on the Z2. That means it has a polycarbonate frame sandwiched between two glass panels and an over-sized power button on the right edge. It looks like a Z2 Mini more than it does a unique device. It is certainly classy for a mid-ranger, and comes off with a lot more appeal than what Samsung offers in the class of device. The M2 is very thin and light, but you can tell that the materials aren't as high quality as the Z2. The polycarbonate frame isn't as cool as the aluminum one of the Z2, but it has the same set-up with hatches and buttons and such. The M2 is also not waterproof, nor dustproof.

The screen measures 4.8 inches across the diagonal and offers qHD (960 x 540) resolution. You can tell it has far fewer pixels than the Z2. The M2's screen looks good, but it is not as impressive as a full HD screen would be. I found it to be bright and relatively sharp. It befits the class of device the M2 is.

M2  

The button placement is OK. The power button, volume toggle, and dedicated camera button are all on the right edge. The power button feels great, but the other two are horrible. The volume toggle is much too small and offers barely and travel and feedback at all. The camera buttons isn't too bad. As with Sony's other phones, the microUSB port is covered by a hatch on the left edge, and the memory card / SIM card slots are covered by a hatch on the right edge. The headphone jack is on top.

The M2 runs the exact same user interface offered on the Z2 and comes replete with Sony and services, such as Walkman and PlayStation.

The M2 will be made available globally in April. No U.S. carriers have voiced plans to sell the M2, but it's not unreasonable to believe it will show up eventually.

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About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.

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MWC 2014
Sony
Android
 

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