Sony latest flagship smartphone, the Sony Xperia ZX2 Premium, was announced today. The phone brings us Sony’s usual combo of high-end specs and low-end design that hasn’t changed since 2013.
The spec sheet looks fine with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage plus a MicroSD slot, a 3540mAh battery, and Android 8.0 Oreo. The rear camera setup combines a 19MP main camera with a secondary 12MP black-and-white camera, while the front has a 13MP camera.
The standout feature is the 5.8-inch, 3840×2160 LCD in an old-school 16:9 aspect ratio. This is Sony’s third flagship with a 4K display, after the first XZ Premium and the Z5 Premium. I’ve seen a few of these displays in person, and you definitely hit the realm of diminishing returns with the 760PPI display. These tiny 4K displays are very, very dense, but they’re overkill for a smartphone, especially when you consider the effect it will have on battery life. Just like the XZ2 Premium, the display supports HDR.
Sony, which makes many of the camera sensors in other smartphones, talks up the video capabilities of the XZ2 Premium in its press release. This model can take 4K HDR video, which will be great for playback on that ludicrous screen. Sony also says it has the “world’s highest ISO 12800 sensitivity for video recording in a smartphone.” It also supports 960FPS video, just like last year’s model.
The downside with any Sony device is that Sony never, ever modernizes its design. While the rest of the industry works toward ever-slimmer bezels that maximize screen space, Sony’s ZX Premium 2 has giant top and bottom bezels that look severely dated. In fact, from the front you’d have a hard time differentiating the XZ2 Premium from the Xperia Z, a phone that was released five years ago.
The front and back of the phone use Gorilla Glass 5, while the frame is aluminum. Somehow, the whole package weighs 236 grams, which makes it one of the heaviest devices on the market. The phone’s dimensions of 158×80×11.9mm show just how uncompetitive Sony’s design is. Something like the Samsung Galaxy S9+ manages to fit a larger screen in a smaller, lighter, thinner body.
The back of the XZ2 Premium takes on a new rounded shape, which probably works well in the hand but won’t work so well on a desk. In contrast to most modern phone designs with always-on screens that show you the time and any notifications, Sony’s press materials show the phone face down on a desk, because the face is the only flat surface. Also on the back is a pretty odd component arrangement, which features camera lenses and a fingerprint reader that sit very low on the device. In fact the fingerprint reader is almost vertically centered on the back, which should make for some interesting ergonomics.
Other specs include a USB-C port, IP68 water resistance, wireless Qi charging, and dual front-facing speakers. Sony neglected to announce a price, but the Xperia XZ Premium was $700 last year.
Since 2014, Sony’s Mobile division has seen revenue decline every year and has been a continual drag on the company’s earnings. With new Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida taking the reins earlier this month, you’ve got to wonder if Sony Mobile will be around for much longer.