Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact go big on cool camera tech

Sony's flagship XZ2 packs a heap of exciting camera tech, while the XZ2 Compact brings the power but not the size.

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Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
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Andrew Lanxon
2 min read
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Sony appears to have packed its latest flagships, the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact, with every bit of tech it could find lying around its R&D lab.

The 5.7-inch XZ2 is the bigger of the two phones , but while the 5-inch Compact may be smaller, it still shares almost all of the same key specs. Wireless charging is finally available on a Sony phone, but that's limited only to the full-size XZ2.

The rear cameras on both phones not only shoot HDR video for even exposure and rich colours, but do so at 4K resolution. They shoot super slow motion footage too -- something we've seen on Sony's existing phones -- but the resolution has been bumped from 720p to full HD.

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Sony says it developed the camera firmware in partnership with Qualcomm to optimise the images for better low light performance, too. It's also brought the 3D face-mapping feature from the rear camera to the front, allowing you to quickly create a 3D selfie. (Why you'd want to is another matter entirely.)

Beyond the camera, both phones have been given a much needed design update. While previous Xperias had fat bezels that made the screens look squashed in, these new variants stretch the displays right to the edges of the phone. It's particularly important on the XZ2 Compact as it means that 5-inch display fits in a chassis that's extremely comfortable to use with even one hand.

They're made of metal and glass and are waterproof down to 1.5 meters (5 feet) for up to 30 minutes. Realistically, that means they're both safe from spilled drinks or accidental drops in the kitchen sink.

Watch this: Sony's new HDR phones sport new Qualcomm chips, extra rumble, and 3D face selfies

A quirky new feature in the XZ2 only is a vibration function, that pulses to match the action in a movie or game. If you're playing Angry Birds, for example, the phone will vibrate when you send a bird careening into a tower. It's the same idea as the vibration inside Sony's DualShock PlayStation controllers. Whether this is a truly useful feature or just something its rivals don't have remains to be seen.

Sony hasn't yet revealed any pricing for the phones, but you can bet they won't come cheap. That said, with so much top-end tech on board, and a more up-to-date design, that price may be justified.

I find the Compact particularly exciting as it will be the most powerful smaller phone around -- ideal if the idea of wrapping your hand around the giant Galaxy Note 8 doesn't appeal.

Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact key specs

  • 5.7-inch display (XZ2)
  • 5-inch display (XZ2 Compact)
  • 19-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • Android 8.0 Oreo software
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • MicroSD card expandable up to 400GB
  • Fingerprint scanner on the back
  • Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back
  • QI Wireless charging (XZ2 only)

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