Sony packs eight million pixels into the Xperia XZ2 Premium

Samsung dual-wields its popular Galaxy S and Galaxy Note handsets to defend its dominant position in the realm of high-end Android smartphones. That one-two punch hasn't stopped rivals like Sony from trying to dethrone the Korean electronics manufacturing juggernaut, though. The Trinitron-maker's latest volley, the Xperia XZ2 Premium, combines the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC that also cycles away inside Samsung's Galaxy S9 with a 5.7" 3840×2160 HDR LCD display.

For comparison's sake, the Galaxy S9 has to "make do" with a 2960×1440 AMOLED panel, though the S9's bezels are noticeably smaller that those of the XZ2 Premium. Those with long memories will recall that Sony has been shoehorning 4K displays into high-end Android phones since all the way back 2015. That ludicrously-high-res screen (772 PPI according to our napkin math) is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 5, and Sony says the phone boasts IP65/68 water-and-dust resistance.

The Xperia ZX2 Premium pairs Qualcomm's latest smartphone SoC with 6 GB of memory and 64 GB of UFS internal storage. Users can store more data on a microSDXC card as large as 400 GB, too. Photo freaks should find plenty to like in the XZ2. The user-facing camera is a 13-megapixel unit with a 22-mm wide-angle lens with an f/2.0 aperature. The world-facing camera setup is a two-sensor snapper with a color 19-MP photo-taker and a 12-MP black-and-white sensor that Sony says helps take better pictures in low-light scenarios. The manufacturer says the main camera setup can capture with the ISO set as high as 51,200 for still photos and 12,800 for video.

The phone's body measures 6.2" tall, 3.1" wide, and 0.5" at its thickest point (16 cm x 8 cm x 1.2 cm) and tips the scales at 8.3 oz (236 g). Some portion of that mass is doubtless due to the integrated 3450 mAh battery pack. The phone comes from the factory running Android 8.

The manufacturer says users can put the XZ2's display to good use right away with its ability to stream 4K content from both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, feats that continue to frustrate users on the PC. Sony additionally notes that the XZ2 Premium's speakers are the loudest of any Xperia phone so far, but headphone users will need to carry the included USB-C-to-3.5-mm dongle around with them in order to listen to music privately. Gamers might appreciate the phone's PS4 Remote Play capabilities.

Sony didn't provide pricing or availability information about the Xperia XZ2 Premium, though we do know the phone will come with black or chrome silver finishes for its curved glass back. An imported Xperia XZ2 with a 1920×1080 display costs almost $800, so we'd expect the primo model to land somewhere north of that figure. The "vanilla" Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact are scheduled to officially launch in the US on May 6, so we'd imagine buyers pining for the version with a 4K screen will have to wait at least until then.

Comments closed
    • strangerguy
    • 2 years ago

    Reasons to buy this over S9 or the countless China phones:

    • rechicero
    • 2 years ago

    I like this absurd flagship models with oversized PPI and RAM that only do one thing: drain the battery faster. That means cheaper models have what you actually use.

      • kvndoom
      • 2 years ago

      But… but… bigger numbers means better!

      Just like they said with megapixels. We saw how that turned out.

        • Chrispy_
        • 2 years ago

        The phone industry is confused. They keep giving us needlessly bigger screens, higher PPI, and higher prices, but they keep reducing the battery life, thickness (and strength), number of useful ports, bezels and other things that are of genuine importance.

        Still waiting on my stock-android, half-inch-thick, 5″, 720p IPS, rubberised, waterproof phone with mediocre performance at <$200.

        Having a 6″ phone in my shorts means that it jabs me in the lower abdomen every time I sit down or climb stairs, and whether you’re watching a movie or playing a game on a 4.6″ or 6.5″ device, it’s still going to be an unpleasant experience irrespective of the screen size.

          • meerkt
          • 2 years ago

          Come on. Why would anyone want anything but an ideal phone that is 6″ 1200dpi, 4mm thick, with a lovely notched screen, a protruding camera lens, no 3.5mm socket, no SD slot, a 2.8Ah nonremovable battery, and a shiny slippery scratch-prone fingerprint-magnet back?

          BTW, that Sony is actually 12mm thick, which is a surprise.

          • DancinJack
          • 2 years ago

          Still waiting on my stock-android, half-inch-thick, 5″, 720p IPS, rubberised, waterproof phone with mediocre performance at <$200.

          lol OK Chrispy. I suppose it could happen, but don’t hold your breath, dude.

            • Chrispy_
            • 2 years ago

            I stopped holding my breath years ago; Phone manufacturers keep making worse phones, the trend’s not even moving in the right direction for me to get my wish.

      • blastdoor
      • 2 years ago

      Yup — market segmentation strategies designed by robots are awesome!

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    My first Android phone was a Sony Xperia Sola back when Android was still in its gingerbread days so I could forgive how crappy it was but since then my two phones after that weren’t Sony. I’ve always considered Sony even when buying other electronics but it seems, at least on the spec sheet and materials used on the phone, the bang for your buck isn’t very compelling. I dunno. Maybe they compensate with better software support?

    • Derfer
    • 2 years ago

    I am so dumbfounded by these latest xperia phones. They look hideous in large part due to their inability to color match the fingerprint reader to the rest of the already cheap looking phone body, an issue I’d expect to see on some sub $100 Chinese phone from 10 years ago. It’s pretty astounding.

    • DreadCthulhu
    • 2 years ago

    Shame that they didn’t include a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Skipping a basic hardware feature like that, when the market-leading high end Android cellphone (Galaxy S9) has it, is just stupid. Dongles break and get lost easily, not being able to charge the phone and listen to music at the same time is dumb, and bluetooth audio still sucks.

      • NovusBogus
      • 2 years ago

      This is just stupid, especially coming from the company that created the legendary Walkman and MDR-V6/7506 headphones. I like my Z1 Compact but they sure aren’t giving me many reasons to want to upgrade.

    • brucethemoose
    • 2 years ago

    Not bad. Despite the silly PPI, in theory 4K is better than 1440p, since you can do sharp 1080p rendering to save power or go 4K for super-sharp text and native 4K streaming. IIRC there’s a way to force nearest-neighbor scaling in Android, which would give you “perfect” 1080p scaling.

    Shame that it’s an LCD instead of OLED though. There’s no way it has enough contrast for HDR (unless they intend to catch the phone on fire with the backlight), and it eats up a lot more battery.

    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    The only use for a screen beyond about 350 PPI is VR headsets, where magnification lenses are used. No human vision needs more than 350 PPI, even at nose-to-screen distances with bonus squinting for luck. It’s certainly overkill for the more useful ‘about 18″ from your face’ that most people use for their phones.

    My eyes are still good (better than 20/20, even if they’re not as good as they once were) and I can’t even resolve individual pixels on a 6″, 1080p screen. My 1440p phone gets run at 720p because the battery lasts longer and it’s honestly not that often that I put my nose to my phone and look for pixel aliasing; Unsurprisingly, I have better things to do with my life (such as shouting at the internet and finding somewhere to charge my wafer-thin phone’s incontinent battery)

    Obviously I’m talking about RGB stripe displays. Pentile displays are fine too as long as we’re talking about the diagonal PPI since for all but 255 of the 16.7m colours, the diagonal grid is the true pixel grid. The dot pitch of pentile is obviously 1.41x higher, which results in a 30% lower PPI and resolution than claimed, if you take the manufacturer’s green-subpixels-only claimed resolution:

    Pentile 4K = 2732 x 1536
    Pentile 1440p = 1820 x 1024 full-colour pixels.
    Pentile 1080p = 1366 x 768

    So, uh, if this 4K display is pentile it’s really not much better than an IPS 1440p display and that rotated pixel grid actually makes it often seem like a 50% lower resolution (instead of the 29% lower resolution that it actually is) because common straight lines in text characters, interface elements, webpages, tables, and borders etc – they are not on the skew at 45 degrees.

      • DavidC1
      • 2 years ago

      Searching says this is 4K IPS LCD. So no downgrading is necessary.

      The problem still exists for VR doesn’t it? How much content is true 4K VR? Even among identical resolutions there’s still the bitrate difference, which accounts for a great deal. Then there’s the importance of phone VR having low refresh rates which affect quality too.

        • Chrispy_
        • 2 years ago

        Yeah, I’ve played with an IPS 1440p phone in a Google Cardboard before (1280×1440 per eye) and that’s definitely nicer than the 1200p (1080×1200 per eye) of the CV1 or Vive, but the issue is that phones simply don’t have the processing or bandwidth to make the experience good.

      • DisplayGeek
      • 1 year ago

      I’m sorry to have to tell anyone this, but I feel I must. You are quite wrong on your analysis of how Pentile architecture works and performs. Far from reducing the resolution it simply makes it more information effecient, in that it it only requires two subpixels per pixel ON AVERAGE to reconstruct the same image that an RGB Stripe architecture requires three subpixels per pixel. Consider that the checkerboard pattern of the R & B subpixels allows one to reconstruct lines and spaces in both the horizontal and vertical as shown below where I use g to make the smaller green subpixels and R & B to make the larger Red and Blue subpixels respectively:

      R B R B R B R B
      g g g g g g g g
      B R B R B R B R
      g g g g g g g g
      R B R B R B R B
      g g g g g g g g
      B R B R B R B R
      g g g g g g g g

      Now, If we use the symple “-” to represent a subpixe row l that is turned “off”:

      R B R B R B R B
      g g g g g g g g


      R B R B R B R B
      g g g g g g g g

      We can see that it sustains the resolution with only two subpixels per pixel ON AVERAGE in the vertial axis… by examination, one can see that if one rotates the layout 90 degrees, the result is the same. Thus the horizontal resolution is also maintained with only two subpixels per pixel. Color image reconstruction is more complex using subpixel rendering algorithms but the result is the same to the human eye. Resolution is maintained (or increased on a per subpixel basis – the flip side of the same mathematical coin of increased subpixel information efficiency).

      Full Disclosure… my name and title:

      Candice H. Brown Elliott, CEO Nouvoyance (and the original inventor of the PenTile Display).

    • DavidC1
    • 2 years ago

    I don’t know what’s more silly, a 5.7″ 3840×2160 display,

    or

    the content required to take advantage of 4K is only available for Smartphones with that tiny display and not on PCs with 27″ ones?

    I could even add a 3rd. Streaming all that over a Data plan.

      • kvndoom
      • 2 years ago

      I wonder how much 4K video it takes to use up the 22GB “unlimited” cap.

      • EndlessWaves
      • 2 years ago

      How about streaming fixed brightness HDR content designed for 5 nits surrounding illumination (home theatre lighting) [i<]on a phone[/i<]? Does this even support relative brightness HDR standards?

    • DancinJack
    • 2 years ago

    The manufacturer says the main camera setup can capture with the ISO set as high as 51,200 for still photos and 12,800 for video.

    lol yeah OK. 51,200 ISO on that tiny sensor. Good luck with that Sony. You make some good mirrorless cameras, but c’mon now.

      • Zizy
      • 2 years ago

      Eh, tons of cheap cameras do 25600, even though pushing them beyond 1600 produces crappy image and almost nothing is even visible through all the noise beyond 6400.

      Even their own alpha 5100 somewhat works just with 3200 and is crap beyond.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        “doing” is one thing. getting usable results is another entirely.

        • DancinJack
        • 2 years ago

        Yeah I don’t really mean “do.” My DSLR can “do” ~50K ISO but it looks like dog poop most the time. That’s how it works, and on that’s on an APS-C sensor.

        Just don’t expect photos without insanely high levels of noise out of this thing at any of those higher ISO.

      • Blytz
      • 2 years ago

      Remember they also had a camera that could do 960fps (for around a 1/10th of a second)

      I’m sure that’s useful too for almost 3 or 4 users worldwide.

        • DancinJack
        • 2 years ago

        AT LEAST FIVE people, dude.

        • EndlessWaves
        • 2 years ago

        Actually I’ve used it quite a lot.

        2-3 times the length would be nice but proper slow-mo definitely has it’s uses.

    • Captain Ned
    • 2 years ago

    Looks like no CDMA, so no VZW. Damn, that 400 GiB SD card would finally give me a way to make my portable music lossless.

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