By Taylor Martin | January 30, 2014 8:03 PM
Sony’s current flagship, the Xperia Z1 (or the Z1S here in the States) may only be a few months old, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from already pouring out word of its successor.
The Xperia Z2 is said to be a lot of things – bigger, better, more powerful, and the rest of the typical hype-mongering buzzwords – and we’re hearing rumors that is just might show its face as early as next month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
So what do we want from Sony’s next flagship? Where did the last go wrong? Take a gander below to find out!
Fine tune the display
If Sony was lambasted for one thing in 2013, it was display quality – by far.
The Xperia Z and Xperia ZL were part of the first batch of smartphones, and while colors were nice (and even boosted by the Mobile Bravia Engine 2), the blacks were very milky and viewing angles were atrocious. At some angles, information on the display would completely wash away.
The Z Ultra seemingly changed that with the Triluminos display with the X-Reality Engine. When I reviewed the Z Ultra, the phone was running old software and no official update had been released for that specific model. It had neither the X-Reality software and suffered many of the same issues its predecessors did, though the quite verbal commenters disagreed, blaming the source of my discontent on the shatterproof protective layer. But let’s be honest, Sony’s smartphone displays are terrible at producing deep blacks and have been under severe scrutiny for the last 11 months.
A promising note was the Xperia Z1 Compact we saw at CES, which had a seemingly clearer display, but we reserve our final opinions until we get our hands on the miniature smartphone and take a closer look in different lighting.
Sony is no stranger to great displays, though. Its televisions are among some of the best, and its mobile displays have gradually improved over time. Here’s to hoping it gets the display right in the Xperia Z2. I won’t hold my breath though, as the rumors suggest Sony will bump the Z2′s display to QHD.
Pack in the milliampere-hours
The Xperia Z1 is no slouch when it comes to battery power. It’s 3,000mAh battery puts it up there with some of the best. But if, like the rumors claim, the Z2 does have a 2K display and the Snapdragon MSM8974AB SoC, it will also need the additional battery to help keep it powered through the day.
One source is saying the Z2 will come fitted with a 3,300mAh battery while another is putting the number at 3,700mAh. Of course, we’re rooting for the latter option, even if it means the Z2 might be a little chunkier than its older sibling.
Sony, meet OIS
At the Sony pre-show press event at CES, Tony, Michael, Marques Brownlee, Austin Evans, and yours truly couldn’t help but chuckle each time Sony attempted to brag about its smartphone’s image sensing prowess. CEO Kazuo Hirai kept calling it “the best camera experience [pause] on a waterproof smartphone.”
Needless to say, that narrows down the competition … a lot. And the Xperia Z1′s image sensor failed to impress Tony in our review. It produced washed-out images, was quick to produce noise and artifacts, and colors were rather dull.
This is also rather befuddling. Sony, although many different entities under one umbrella brand, has talent in so many areas. One of those areas is image sensing. My daily driver camera is a Sony NEX-5N. So it Jaime’s. Michael uses an NEX-F3. And Tony uses a Sony Handycam to shoot videos. And the only reasonably priced camera I want to upgrade to is the Alpha A7.
Still, there isn’t much anyone could do to convince me to buy a Sony smartphone, based on camera performance.
The likely problem, at least with the 20.7-megapixel sensor is the size of the corresponding pixels on the sensor. They’re tiny and have trouble with light. Pair that with OIS, and you might have a winner. Here’s to hoping Sony connects those dots for its 2014 flagship.
Sapphire screen and back panel
No, those phones aren’t exactly ergonomic (I’m looking at you, Z Ultra). They’re basically flat, bare-bones slabs of glass. And while that makes them nice to look at (not necessarily to hold), it also makes them far more prone to shattering and scratching than something that … isn’t just guts sandwiched between two glass panes.
Personally, I’ve never had a problem with shattering phones. To date, I haven’t shattered or cracked a single smartphone or tablet display. (Knock on friggin’ wood.) And earlier this week, I pitted sapphire against Gorilla Glass 3. There’s still some debate about how brittle Sapphire may be, but one thing is certain: sapphire will be incredibly difficult to scratch.
Both the Xperia Z and Xperia Z Ultra I reviewed scratched on day one, no thanks to the shatterproof film, which scratches if you blow on it too hard (joking … sort of) but holds everything together if the scratch-proof glass beneath cracks or shatters. There is so much wrong with how Sony handles scratches and shattering glass on its smartphones.
Suffice it to say, sapphire may be the solution to the problem.
Finally, software. Sony actually isn’t terrible at software. It’s custom Android build is fairly lightweight and comes with a handful of useful features which remain out of the way until you need them. They’re not jumping out at you at every scroll or page flip to say, “HEY! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!” But it gets the job done with flying colors.
Visually, it’s a little bland and PS3-esque. It could use a minor makeover, and its multitasking features could use a little more inspiration. That said, I could live happily with Sony’s software with few to no complaints. It’d just be nice to see a new take on Android from Sony.