Every phone has a thing. The iPhones thing is simply that it is an iPhone. The Pixels thing is that its the hardware tip of Googles giant software iceberg. Samsungs Galaxy can synthesise a grotesque cartoon version of your head and animate it like a dead-eyed sock puppet.
OnePlus is the plucky indie outsider and critical darling, like a pop-up food stall with a queue around the block. Huawei is the weird kid who glowed up over summer break and came back to school in September with a notch. You can squeeze an HTC phone, for some reason.
The Xperia XZ2 stands out by letting you create a full 3D scan of your own face, which the software appears to gradually sculpt out of a virtual ball of throbbing green clay. Once youve captured your soul inside the device, you can view your face from any angle you please, rotating it and zooming in and out as though you were inspecting a vintage Pog. Its strange, but undeniably a feature thats unique to this phone. Well done Sony, I think.
What else does it do that no other phone does? How about something Sony calls Dynamic Vibration, which makes your phone pulse, tingle and rumble like a DualShock controller during games, music and movies. If you suspect all that vibrating would feel like having a cracking Jacob Rees-Mogg tweet go viral while youre trying to watch Westworld, youd be totally correct. Dynamic Vibration is sometimes irritating, always unnecessary, and got my battery anxieties all flared up.
But its once you get past the look-at-me novelty features that Sonys latest flagship starts to impress. It has a decent enough still camera, but envelope-pushing 4K HDR video recording capabilities. Thats actually a higher resolution than the phones screen is capable of displaying, so youll need a big telly to watch your videos back in all their super-crisp glory.
Its slow-motion camera, pioneered on last years XZ Premium, has an improved resolution too, shooting at a super-slow 960 frames per second in Full HD (thats 1080p, beating out the Galaxy S9s 720p).
The XZ2 is definitely too slippery to hold, threatening to fly from your hand and out the nearest window at any moment.
Design-wise, Xperia phones have always been one or two laps behind the competition. Whereas rivals have gone full screen, previous Xperia handsets have embraced the bezel, celebrated it even, by making them big, bold (and optionally gold). With the XZ2 it feels like the worst of both worlds. The bezels are still there, but muted, and diminished, as though ashamed of themselves in this new and superficial bezel-averse world. But its still a slick, neat looking phone up front.
The swollen, curved glass back feels dated however – place it on a table and you can spin it like a top – and the XZ2 is definitely too slippery to hold, threatening to fly from your hand and out the nearest window at any moment.
And for £699, there are better Android phones around. You could have a notched Huawei P20, with a better display and camera. This is likely why Sony were handing out free PlayStations with pre-orders, an offer thats sadly no longer available to new customers.
Alternatives aside, the XZ2 is still a confident phone that wont disappoint, and is absolutely the phone to go for if you really need to see what your head looks like from behind.