Sony has lifted the lid on two flagship smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018, dubbed the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact.
As with Sony phones we’ve known and loved in the past, they’ve got a suite of features focused on entertainment on the go. But add lush 4K HDR video recording to make your mini movies look multiplex-worthy, as well as 3D selfies and a neat new design.
Here’s what they’ve got to offer…
What else was unveiled at MWC 2018? Take a look at our comprehensive coverage of this year's event.
1) Two phones to choose from. And two sizes.
The Xperia XZ2 is the top-of-the-range option and features a 5.7-inch Full HD x screen with High Dynamic Range (HDR). In keeping with other high-end smartphones, Sony has slimmed down the bezels (the metal edges) that surround the screen.
That means it’s been able to equip the XZ2 with a large screen without super-sizing the device itself. Au contraire, it comes it a pretty pocketable 15 x 73 x 11.1mm and weighs 198g.
With an aluminium frame and Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back, the XZ 2 is billed as the strongest Xperia product so far and features an “anti-bend and anti-twist construction”. We’ll see how that claim bears up when we subject our review unit to some stress tests.
The XZ2 Compact is a smaller affair; the only major change from its bigger brother is that its Full HD, HDR screen comes in at 5-inches. Billed as the ‘world’s most compact 5-inch smartphone”, the Compact is a mite thicker and measures 135 x 65 x 12.1mm, tipping the scales at 168g.
It’s also got an aluminium frame that’s purported to be bend and twist-resistant, but features a hard polycarbonate rear with an anti-scratch coating.
Both phones are water-resistant in up to 1.5m of water for up to half an hour, with fingerprint scanners at the rear-centre of the phone to keep your personal details out of the wrong hands.
The camera modules on both versions models are also in the central part of the back of the phone, a little bit above the fingerprint scanner.
2) Crisp 4K HDR video recording and Full HD super slow-mo too
The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact are the first smartphones to be able to support 4K HDR movie video recording. That means better colour, better resolution, sharper images and a higher dynamic range. So you can indulge your inner auteur.
Both phones also offer super slow-motion video recording in Full HD. We watched back some footage of bubbling, rippling water that was recorded in front of us and the effect was genuinely striking.
3) 3D selfies
If you’ve used last year’s Sony phones, you’ve probably tried out the 3D Creator app.
For those of you who haven’t, it lets you create 3D maps of almost anything using the rear camera. Think: faces, a cake you’re especially proud of, or a pet.
You can then take the resulting 3D image and share it on social media, use it as a live wallpaper, or even print your models using a 3D printer.
The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact go one better by allowing you to make 3D selfies using the front-facing camera. With a single scan, you can capture your head and use it as an avatar or post to Facebook.
Sony has also improved the quality of the 3D images, which are now higher-res.
4) It does on-the-go entertainment with real elan
Movies filmed in 4K HDR look great. But 4K HDR content remains relatively thin on the ground. The Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact get around that by upscaling content recorded in 4K standard dynamic range (SDR) it to HDR in real time, to make it sharper, more colourful and more detailed.
Impressively, this trick isn’t restricted to content that’s pre-loaded on to your phone. The XZ2 phones also upscale content when you’re streaming it on the likes of YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
The high-res audio, has also been upgraded. The redesigned speakers, which make a very decent fist of cinema-style surround sound, are 20% louder than the XZ. And the audio quality has been improved, too.
In a genuinely novel addition for smartphones, the handsets also debut what Sony calls ‘Dynamic Vibration System’.
So what’s when it’s at home?
In a nutshell, it’s technology that analyses the sound accompanying movies, games, or content you’ve created yourself, and then gives you a vibration effect through the phone to suit what’s happening on screen. In so doing, making the viewing experience that much more immersive.
For instance, were you playing Angry Birds and there’s a loud explosion when you’re taking out the green pigs, you’d get a big vibration to match.
Or suppose you’re watching a video and there’s a dramatic scene with a soundtrack that gradually ramps up the tension. In that case, the vibration builds up in increments to intensify the sense of unease.
5) You’ll be able to buy them in April
Both phones are due to go on sale during the first week of April. We don’t know price points right now, but expect to pay between £30-£35 at launch for the XZ 2. And between £25-£30 for the XZ 2 Compact.
Colour options for the standard XZ 2 are black, silver, blue and pink. Want the Compact variant? You can pick from black, white, green and pink.
Can't wait for the XZ 2? Take a look at the best smartphones available right now.