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Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review

Small and powerful

Interface and reliability

  • Runs Android Oreo overlaid with Sony's interface
  • Lots of pre-installed apps
  • Taking a photo stops audio

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact runs Android 8.0 Oreo with a custom Sony interface on top.

Sony’s used to be one of the less invasive UIs, but these days it’s quite different from standard Android. Google’s interface has a scrolling vertical apps menu. This one uses pages you flick through with left and right swipes.

Like previous versions of the Sony UI, you can re-skin this one with themes. Quite a lot of these cost money, but a handful are included.

Sony has also loaded up the XZ2 Compact with a handful of unwanted apps, the most intrusive of which is the AVG virus protection suite which continuously tries to upsell you a paid version of the service. 

Other third party apps that come pre-installed include Prime Video and Amazon Shopping. Kobo reader is pre-installed. It’s an alternative to the Amazon Kindle store.

There's also quite a few Sony apps such as Lounge (an app packed with promotional offers) and Xperia Assist, which is a help wizard dressed up as a digital assistant. And finally, there are Sony media apps, common to every recent Sony phone.

As the apps menu uses folders, the extent of these additional apps is not too apparent when you actually use the phone. General performance is excellent too.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact feels fast and responsive. Only one thing annoys. When you take a photo with the camera, any audio playing seems to stop, and doesn’t re-start automatically. That’s just about the only issue we’ve encountered.

Movies, music and gaming

  • Decent speaker
  • Great gaming performance
  • But no small screen phone is that great for games

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is as good a movies and games machine as a 5-inch phone can be. Let’s break it down.

First, it has a good amount of storage. There’s 64GB, leaving you with tens of gigabytes to fill with games and non-streamed films. A microSD slot in the SIM tray lets you add cards of up to 400GB.

The Snapdragon 845 chipset is extremely powerful too. While even mid-range chipsets perform well with 1080 x 2160 screens like this, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact gets rid of any slight frame rate hitches in high-end games.

For a small phone the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact also has fairly good speakers. There’s a front-facing driver right at the bottom of the screen’s glass, and the earpiece works as a speaker too.

Compared to most other small phones, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact has thicker mids. This makes podcasts sound better. The speakers are not bass masters, though. Sound is decent, not exceptional.

The limits of gaming and movie-watching come down to the screen size. If you play games all the time or stream video on the way to work, it’s worth considering a bigger phone like the Samsung Galaxy A8. But that phone is 5mm wider and almost 15mm longer.

This highlights the odd contradiction of the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact. In many ways it’s a phone for demanding phone users, but its main appeal also limits how enjoyable things like gaming and movie-watching are.

Performance and benchmarks

  • Excellent benchmark performance
  • Snapdragon 845 is a top performer
  • Gigabit internet ready

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact has a Snapdragon 845 chipset. It has eight Kryo cores, in the standard arrangement. Four are performance cores, four are lower-clocked for everyday use. Along with that, you get 4GB of fast dual-channel DDR4 RAM.

It scores 8,371 in Geekbench 4 which is comparable with the Samsung Galaxy S9. Many more phones are expected to use this chipset in 2018, including the HTC U12 and LG G7.

The Snapdragon 845 also has a 1.2Gbps modem. This is handy if you live in an area with incredibly fast 4G mobile internet. But in most places it doesn’t mean a great deal.

Abbas has been living and breathing technology before phones became smart or clouds started storing data. He also has commitment issues towards mobile phones.

Driven by tech and passion, he has successfully negotiated into bringing the largest gaming and tech publications to the Middle East that include IGN, CNET and TechRadar.