Sony Xperia Z2 overview: Revised model takes first place in Mobile rankings

In 2017 the DxOMark Mobile test protocol has been updated to cover zoom, bokeh features, very low light performance, motion in the scene and other new test criteria. Image quality testing for this review was still undertaken using the original DxOMark Mobile test protocol from 2012. The results are not directly comparable to the new protocol but this article will still give you a very good idea of the test device's camera performance.
79
DxOMark Mobile

Introduction

Supplanting the Nokia 808 Pureview at 77 points and achieving the new number 1 position, the Sony Xperia Z2 achieved the highest DxOMark Mobile score to date of 79 points. Although the new Xperia Z2 takes the coveted top spot by just two points it’s a significant achievement nonetheless. 

Following in the footsteps of the Xperia Z and Z1, the revised Z2 crams a larger than average 1/2.3-inch type BSI CMOS sensor with a 20.7-Mpix resolution and high-grade Sony G-type 27mm equivalent f/2.0 in a waterproof shell measuring just 8.2mm at its thinnest.

Z2 UW Selfie

At first sight this seems a similar spec to the Z1, however, the new model offers significantly upgraded movie capabilities with 4K (3840 x 2160) video over its predecessor (please note that only the default video mode was evaluated, not 4K mode). 

In our industry-standard benchmarking tests, the revised Z2 impresses with its color and detail preservation, both outdoors and in more challenging lighting, and it retains the fast autofocus of the Z1 while improving its precision. Noise levels remain low with none of the objectionable chroma noise found on some rivals; only some fine-grained luminance type noise is noticeable at times. 

Although the Z2 is ranked number one overall, it is in fact in joint first place with the Nokia 808 Pureview for stills image quality, ahead of the Apple iPhone 5S, Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the that category.  

While the Xperia Z2 can’t boast the best video score it is still impressive, more so when you consider the 4K capability, coming in 3rd place in our database, just behind its predecessor and the GoPro Hero3 action-camera.

chart

The Sony Xperia Z2 is the current leader in our combined (stills and video) mobile benchmark tests

The Sony Xperia Z2 is the best performing cameraphone in our database for stills. It employs clever pixel down-sampling, like the Nokia Pureview models to reduce noise levels and for smaller; more easily shared 8-Mpix equivalent photos.

Detail retention is excellent, and superior to the majority of rivals. In addition, users can choose the native 20.7-Mpix output if required.  but they’re obviously more cumbersome to upload, and may cost more in data charges, depending on individual contracts.

Yellow-bias

Sony Xperia Z2 shows some slight white-balance inaccuracies indoors (at 20 Lux).

Noise levels are suitably low in all lighting conditions, and what noise can be seen is a barely distracting fine-grained monochrome speckling. Outdoors the Z2 has good exposure accuracy and pleasing color in various conditions. White-balance erred slightly with a yellow bias under slightly brighter indoor lighting (20 lux) and occasionally with a slight blue bias outdoors. Despite the different biases, colors remained pleasing.

Detail-

Fine detail rendition is very good across the image frame and is an improvement over the majority of rivals at 8-Mpix.

Color shading is a typical issue with camera-phones, one that its predecessor suffered from, and although there’s some evident under certain indoor lighting (tungsten, 100 lux), outdoors it’s barely noticeable. Not that there aren’t any downsides.

Depending on the conditions, some images show fringing on high-contrast edges, while ringing and maze type artifacts may also be visible at times. Flare is also an occasional problem but that’s not unexpected given the unshielded lens. 

While the previous Sony Xperia Z1 is still the highest rated camera-phone for video capture, the new Z2 model still impresses and has the added benefit of Ultra HD 4K recording. (it is worth noting that 4K was not evaluated)

While the image quality is good particularly regarding texture reproduction and noise levels, Sony hasn’t yet implemented step-less AF for smooth changes in focus position, which is distracting at best. Clips also revealed visible color shading, a curious presence after the near total removal in stills. There were also some white balance errors when large areas of grass and foliage were included in scenes.

Overall then, the Sony Xperia Z2 is strong on stills quality and only slightly less so when it comes to video capture. That’s unlikely to make users pause for thought given the obvious attraction that 4K has, though don’t forget you’ll need a suitably equipped TV to benefit fully. 

Those that aren’t tempted by video, however, but regularly use their phones for stills won’t be left wanting. 

81
DxOMark Mobile
photo
73
DxOMark Mobile
video

Photo Pros

  • Impressive detail preservation outdoors. In low light, a high level of details remains visible even if a loss is noticeable compared to outdoors.
  • Reasonable noise levels in all conditions. No chroma noise and fine grain size.
  • Fast and responsive autofocus with limited errors.
  • Good overall exposure.
  • Pleasing colors in all conditions.
  • Good overall flash performance: exposure, color, white balance, noise and detail.

Video Pros

  • Good stabilization, especially during walking motion.
  • Good texture reproduction.
  • Low noise levels.

Photo Cons

  • Occasional white balance inaccuracies indoors. Outdoors, a slight blue tint is noticeable in certain images.
  • Slight color shading noticeable with tungsten lighting.
  • Noticeable fringing, ringing and maze artifacts.

Sony Xperia Z2 still image: impressive quality 

XZ2: high end video smartphone

Video Cons

  • Good stabilization, especially during walking motion.
  • Good texture reproduction.
  • Low noise levels.