======= Summary =======
The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is an awesome phone that is powerful, fast, battery-efficient, compact, and an utter delight to use. Its compact size that allows for easy one-handed use like in the old days of smartphones before everything became BIG and phablet-like. With Sony's minimal Android skin - the Xperia UI - the phone is blazing fast & buttery smooth. And Sony's 19 MP Motion Eye camera takes great pictures. If I had to sum up my entire experience with the Xperia XZ2 Compact in one word, it's the word "Refreshing." It's a fantastic phone with good looks, good size, powerful internals, great battery life, fast & efficient software, and a great camera.
======= Phone Design =======
Prior to receiving my Xperia XZ2 Compact, I had decided that I didn't like the design that much because it looked so chunky in pictures and videos. Once I unboxed the phone and held it in my hands and looked at it with my own eyes, I quickly found myself with a different opinion. The phone looks great~! Despite having a Samsung Galaxy S9+ with its big, beautiful Infinity Display with super-minimal bezels and an all glass & metal design, I still find the Xperia XZ2 Compact to be attractive and eye-catching in its own right.
I like its symmetrical bezels, its metal sides, clicky buttons, metallic finger print sensor (FPS), and the nearly-flush camera module on the back. No unslightly camera bulges or distracting notches here! The matte, metallic sides offer good grip and feels very durable.
Some say the XZ2 Compact feels cheap on the back but I disagree. Although it's not glass or metal, the "frosted-look" plastic backcover feels very nice, smooth, and dense. It's high-quality plastic unlike older Samsung phones' glossy and smear-prone slippery plastic backcovers. The only time I actually felt that the backcover was kind of "cheap" was when I tapped on it with my fingernails. Depending on where on the backcover you tap your fingers on, the phone makes a hollow "plasticky" sound.
With that said, actually using the phone in your hands is a great experience. I have medium-size hands and I have had no issues whatsoever using the phone fully one-handed - all of the time. My thumb can easily reach the top of the phone to pull down the Notification Panel. No need for finger and hand gymnastics here.
Typing is much easier as well because keys on the keyboard that are further away such "Q" or "1" are much easier to reach and press on a smaller keyboard.
With its smooth rounded corners and a curved backside, the Xperia XZ2 Compact is an extremely comfortable phone to hold and use, even for long periods. The phone naturally snuggles in the palm of your hand and there are no uncomfortable pokes from sharp corners.
The fingerprint sensor is ease to find and reach as it is underneath the camera module a good distance away. This phone is a complete ergonomic win from Sony.
======= Hardware - Display =======
I like the XZ2 Compact's 18:9 5.0" Full HD+ screen with its 483 ppi density. The display is very crispy and bright and watching stuff under direct sunlight here in sunny California is no problem. The only thing I didn't like initially was Sony's default "Color Gamut and Contrast Setting" which was set to "Standard mode." With that setting, I found pictures and videos to appear overprocessed and a bit unnatural. Changing the mode to the "Professional mode" setting corrected everything. I left all other display settings at their default such as "Adaptive Brightness" and "Video Image Enhancement" to "On."
Comparing directly to my Galaxy S9+, I expected the XZ2 Compact to fall short by a noticeable margin. This isn't the case at all. I really like the display and how crisp, bright, and well-calibrated it is. The whites are bright and white and the blacks are dark and inky. Even as I switch back-and-forth between the Galaxy S9+ and the Xperia XZ2 Compact, the only difference I notice is just the smaller 5" screen size on the Sony. Both phones' displays look fantastic and the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact doesn't lose any ground in this department in my opinion.
======= Hardware - Audio =======
The front stereo speakers sound great and they blow away pretty much all other phones that only come with a single back-firing or bottom-firing speaker setup. The volume, even at its maximum, has no distortions and media continues to sound loud and clear. Sony offers granular control over how audio is delivered. Inside the Sound settings, one can choose from eight predefined Equalizer settings (8 choices + 1 custom + 2 User-defined). You can also set the Clear Bass level (-10 to +10) and activate the "S-Force Front Surround" that virtually reproduce realistic surround sound. Additional sound settings are available to fine-tune your music when listening via headphones.
I noticed a boost in audio quality - in the form of tighter sound & increased sound stage - after I activated the "S-Force Front Surround" and set Clear Bass to +3.
Some people might bemoan the loss of the 3.5 mm audio jack but for me, personally, it doesn't bother me at all. I prefer wire-free Bluetooth headphones and I have a Sony 1000XM2 headphones that I thoroughly enjoy using. I always struggled with wires and get easily annoyed by them.
======= Performance =======
With the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 from the Galaxy S9 & S9+, the Xperia XZ2 Compact simply soars~!! Everything is just so fast, snappy, and smooth - opening and launching apps, playing games, watching high-resolution videos, taking pictures, moving files around, and more. I give major props to Sony for outfitting the smaller XZ2 Compact with the same Snapdragon 845 found in its bigger sibling, the regular XZ2.
With the Snapdragon 845, 4GB of RAM, and fast UFS internal storage, the XZ2 Compact won't become obsolete for a very long time. In other words, it's very future-proof and its performance potential is probably overkill for most people except for the very demanding hardcore gamers.
======= Camera =======
The 19 MP Motion Eye camera is another strong point of this phone. It takes very crispy, detailed, and color-accurate photos the majority of the time and Sony's "Superior auto" mode works very well and is easy to use and navigate. Shutter speed is fast, dynamic range is very good, and the photo quality is consistent. And I really love the dedicated hardware camera shutter button.
The only time the camera feels a little bit lacking is during very low-light photography. Using the auto mode, I found the camera to overexpose too much and blow out the highlights, causing some distortion artifacts and taking not true-to-life colors. Shutter speed also slows down dramatically as well during very low-light photo sessions. If you find yourself taking lots of very low-light photography and it is very, very important to you, then I would recommend buying another phone. But if very low-light photography takes up less than 25% of all your photo-taking, then the Motion Eye camera will serve you just fine. In other scenarios, the pictures come out wonderful, sharp, and with good dynamic range and color gamut.
Recording video is another strong positive of the Xperia XZ2 Compact. Samples I took using the 4K and Full HD (60 FPS) modes came out nice-looking and well-stabilized. Dynamic range and color accuracy were also good and satisfactory.
If there is one sort of glaring weakness with the camera, it is the relatively low-resolution 5MP selfie camera. The pictures look noticeably softer and blurrier. Turning off the "Soft skin effect" brings back more detail but 5MP is 5MP and in this department, the Xperia XZ2 Compact falls short compared to other flagship phones.
Overall, I like the camera of this phone and I trust it to take consistently good photos and videos. Just don't expect a lot in very low-light scenarios.
======= Software =======
I loved the simple and efficient Initial Setup process. I could choose - I could choose~! - what NOT to install. That was refreshing and a pleasant surprise not having bloatware forced upon me.
Upon booting to the Home Screen, there were already some updates applied for me automatically - the Sony Support app (3.8.8) & Xperia Intelligence Engine (1.2.A.0.30). Android version preinstalled on the phone was 8.0.0 Oreo.
The phone came with 75% free space left (16.63 GB used of 64GB total size). System used up 14GB out of the box.
The phone is smooth, snappy, and fast. And it's consistent. I experienced no weird janks, stutters, or hiccups.
I hope Sony continues to maintain their software reputation and provide timely OS and security updates for the Xperia XZ2 Compact.
======= Battery Life =======
OMG, the battery life is SOOOOO good~!! After 6 hrs & 48 mins of being taken off the charger, my phone still had 95% battery life left (drain of 0.7%/hr). Screen-On-Time (SOT) was just 5 mins & 54 seconds though.
I took a second measurement when the phone had been off the charger for 15 hrs & 50 mins. I had 50% battery left (drain of 3.2%/hr and my SOT was 3 hrs & 11 mins.
Sony did an EXCELLENT, FANTASTIC job at controlling Android and optimizing for great battery life and endurance. Bravo, Sony~!
======= Misc Stuff =======
Other functions worked very well such as quick & accurate GPS positioning, great call & mobile data reception, and loud & clear voice calls. The finger print sensor responds quickly and works well consistently.
======= So, is it any good? =======
Not only is this phone good, it's excellent. It has so many strengths - easy one-handed use, excellent ergonomics, quality camera, good display, great speakers, lean software, and superb battery life. This refreshing phone from Sony has made me a fan.