Sony announces the Xperia Z2, a modest successor to the Z1

Though the Sony Xperia Z1 was only announced in September, and its predecessor barely eight months earlier, today we’re seeing the latest creation from the Japanese company in the form of the Xperia Z2.

On paper, the smartphone appears very similar to its predecessor: a large 1080p display; a 20.7MP rear camera; a fast Snapdragon processor; an abundance of entertainment-focused apps. But Sony is emphasizing the subtle improvements here, and those may be enough to convince Canadians to choose the Z2 over the inevitable onslaught of Android devices released this quarter.

First, the Xperia Z2 has a larger 5.2-inch screen than its 5-inch predecessor. While the resolution stays the same, Sony has made improvements to both the viewing angles and colour reproduction on this screen, powered by the same Live Colour LED technology as the newly-announced Z2 Tablet.

Like its tablet compatriot, it offers digital noise-cancellation with a compatible pair of headphones, a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM. Its 3200mAh battery is bigger than its predecessors, and Sony is promising longer uptime with an improved Stamina Mode in Android 4.4 KitKat.

What differentiated the Xperia Z1 will also likely impress here: the Xperia Z2 boasts the same 1/2.3-inch 20.7MP camera sensor in a thinner 8.2mm body, but this time can shoot 4K video. What debuted on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is quickly becoming an industry standard: 4K is four times the detail of 1080p video, but Sony’s deployment pairs it with digital image stabilization for less judder and distortion.

The new camera experience extends to Timeshift video, a new slo-mo mode that pairs 120fps video capture with simple editing. There’s also a Background Defocus mode, which simulates depth of field.

While a few cameras can do these things already, Sony’s new Xperia Z2 smartphone can do all these under water. Like the Xperia Z, Z1 and Z Ultra, the Xperia Z2 is IP55 and IP58 certified, for dust resistance and waterproofing.

Of course, many of these features will become available to the Xperia Z1 when it is updated to Android 4.4 in the coming months, so it will be interesting to see how Sony justifies the replacement of a five month-old flagship with another so similar. It may be slightly slimmer, a modicum faster and sharper, but it’s very much from the same family as its predecessor and may risk alienating customers who just invested in the “latest and greatest” Sony device.

The Xperia Z2 launches alongside the Z2 Tablet in March. No word on Canadian carrier availability, but we’ll get that as soon as we can.