Sony Xperia Z2 And Lifeband Australian Hands-On: The Best Shot Yet

Whoever said that the sequel is never better than the original, hadn't been hands-on with the Xperia Z2 like we have.

The Sony Xperia Z family got a new member at Mobile World Congress this with the new Sony Xperia Z2, and it's awesome.

The Xperia Z2 is packing a 1920x1080p, 5.2-inch Full HD screen with both TRILUMINOUS Display technology and Sony’s proprietary X-Reality engine from its BRAVIA TV line for better colour and image reproduction. It’s also got a 20.7-megapixel camera with a mobile CMOS sensor and the ability to capture 4K video.

Unlike a lot of Android handsets being released these days, the Z2 is mercifully running Google Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. Sony will likely still throw its own Android skin at the device, however. Which is still fairly cumbersome with live updating Google Play widgets telling you what to buy.

On the inside you’ve got a 2.3GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor keeping everything ticking over, with a whopping 3GB of RAM and a 3200mAh battery to keep everything ticking.

Recently we've noticed that Sony has been smartening up across the board, but a business unit showing particular promise when it comes to products is the camera business. It's the same camera business that Sony Mobile tapped to help out with the shooter in the Z2, and from our initial hands-on, it looks freaking amazing.

Camera customisation modes are often something you forget about in favour of just shooting in auto on your smartphone, but those wanting to shoot more intelligently will love what the Z2 is carrying. You've now got an entire smart guide of camera modes and features, as well as effects you'll actually use to make your shots look better.

Handy modes include a beefed up Superior Auto mode that sets everything to awesome before you press the capture button, Manual mode for switching around all of your settings, Background Defocus for a shallow depth of field look behind your subject and Creative Effect full of cheesy filters. There's also Timeshift Burst for getting a few images at once and selecting the right one and Sweep Panorama. This thing really wants to take mobile shooting to the next level.

Video shooting modes are also impressive, with a 4K video shooting mode, slow-motion video mode in Timeshift Video and a dedicated Vine mode.

It's the same 20.7-megapixel camera we saw in the last model, and it looks gorgeous once again. No matter what you're shooting, the Z2 will make it look stunning.

The phone is still waterproof, but this time it comes with the IPX-5 rating, which means it’s protected against “water jets” rather than just splashes. It’s also still dust protected too.

Sony continues to draw on its many different businesses and their products to throw cool stuff into the Xperia devices. For example, the phone now has digital noise cancelling tech from the audio business which purports to let users listen to music even in high-volume external environments. The audio business has also kicked in a new stereo microphone for high-quality sound recording on videos. Given Sony’s push towards high-resolution audio, it comes as no surprise that it’s lifting the standard for audio across the company.

The Z2 is great, but at the same time it's a little unsettling. Sony has introduced the concept of life-tracking with the Z2 via an app called Lifelog and an accessory called the Lifeband. The band tracks the usual stuff: walking, running, sleeping. The scary part comes when it integrates into the phone app which counts and displays time spent doing all sorts of things: messaging, playing games, watching movies, browsing the web, as well as displaying it alongside a map of where you did it. Even more troubling is that the Z2 and its Lifelog app uploads all of that to Sony's cloud. Cue screaming. Sure, phone manufacturers can probably see all this data anyway without your knowledge, but the fact that it's blatantly flashing that information catalogue on your mobile life in front of your face is just a little bit unsettling.

Otherwise, the Z2 looks like a brilliant improvement on an already near-perfect device. We can't wait to review it.

Both Telstra and Vodafone will carry the device locally. We’ll have more info about an Australian release soon. Stay tuned.

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