Hands-on: Sony Xperia Z2, to be priced at P33,990 in PH

Specs of the Sony Xperia Z2 (Price: P33,990, availability in the Philippines: April 2014):
LTE
IP58-certified body (dust-proof, water-resistant)
2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
Adreno 330 GPU
3GB RAM
16GB internal storage
microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
5.2-inch IPS display (1,080 x 1,920 resolution)
20.7-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
2.2-megapixel front camera
3,200mAh battery
Android 4.4 KitKat

Announced last week in Barcelona, Spain, and now in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Sony Xperia Z2 is the Japanese manufacturer's upcoming flagship phone that supersedes the Sony Xperia Z1, which made its debut in September 2013. Do the math, and you're looking at an upgrade cycle of six months, a short gap between old and new even in the context of consumer electronics.

That Sony didn't wait a few more months to show off the Xperia Z2 shows how confident the company is about its latest signature handset. At the very least, the Z2 should be a marked improvement over its predecessor to justify its existence. Otherwise, what's the point? Consumers can probably wait until the end of the year to upgrade to a decidedly better product.

At this point, it's safe to assume that Sony is aiming at consistency across its Android devices, hence the lack of surprises in terms of the Xperia Z2's hardware design. The company applies the same design elements it introduced in the Xperia Z1, except the Sony Xperia Z2 is a smidge thinner and lighter. Not that it matters a whole lot, as you'll hardly even notice the difference in dimensions and grams.

Still, we're happy to report that the phone feels as good in the hand as it looks in the pictures, and we had no trouble pressing any of the physical buttons on its right-hand side.

In true premium Xperia fashion, it boasts a high water-resistance rating to go along with its stylish but overly fingerprint-friendly glass rear panel and solid aluminum frame. Sony claims its sealed body can withstand a depth of one meter for up to 30 minutes. Quite frankly, having a water-resistant design isn't at the top of our smartphone wish list, but it's a welcome feature nonetheless. 

However, one aspect we're particularly interested in is imaging chops, and on paper, the Sony Xperia Z2 blows most of the competition out of the water. You'll find a 20.7-megapixel camera around the back of the device; a cam that has been improved from the Xperia Z1 to allow 4K video capture at 30 frames per second and slow-motion recording at 120 frames per second.

A fresh set of shooting modes have been added, as well as built-in support for Vine. The front-facing camera has been bumped up to 2.2 megapixels.

Despite offering the same 1080p resolution, the Sony Xperia Z2's 5.2-inch IPS display is vastly superior to the 5-inch TFT panel on the Xperia Z1, and our observation has very little to do with the Z2 gaining (slightly) more real estate for our fingers. Colors are vibrant and, for the most part, spot-on; black levels are deep; and viewing angles tend to be generous. It seems that by introducing a more advanced display technology, Sony has fixed the most common criticism against the Xperia Z1, and by extension, the Xperia Z.

Sony Xperia Z2 (top) vs Sony Xperia Z1 (bottom)

In terms of what's under the hood, Sony has gone all out with the Xperia Z2, choosing not to skimp on specs and fitting its new flagship with Qualcomm's fastest chipset yet, the Snapdragon 801. The quad-core processor clocks in at a cool 2.3GHz and is backed by 3GB of RAM plus Adreno 330 graphics. In our brief test, we found the phone to be a remarkable performer.

Like the Xperia Z1 before it, the phone's internal storage maxes out at 16GB, but is expandable up to 64GB more using a microSD card. A non-removable 3,200mAh battery should keep it up and running throughout the day.

According to Sony, the Xperia Z2 will officially be available in the Philippines for P33,990 starting this April. We're hoping we can get our hands on a review unit before it hits local stores for a full review.

Disclosure: Sony Philippines flew us to Jakarta, Indonesia, to cover the company's Southeast Asia and Oceania product announcement.

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