Sony Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8


Sony has unveiled its 2018 challenger, the XZ2. So should you buy one, or upgrade to the iPhone 8 instead? We answer this and other big questions.

Price

Sony’s Xperia XZ2 costs £699 and is available to order now, with those who act fast able to pick up a free PS4, PlayStation VR or Sony WF-1000X headphones.

It costs $799 in the US.

The iPhone 8 costs an identical £699/US$699 for the base model, and the iPhone 8 Plus £799/US$799, again for the base model.

Features & design

Apple stuck with the existing design for the iPhone 8, but switched to a glass back to allow for wireless charging.

 Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8

The XZ2 marks a departure from Sony’s previous squared-off design, which many owners loved. Now, there’s a curved glass back and slightly curved front glass, too.

When many flagship phones now have tiny bezels, it’s slightly odd that Sony hasn’t gone down this route: the XZ2’s top and bottom bezels are only a little smaller than before.

Of course, when compared to the iPhone 8, that isn’t a problem since it too has giant bezels top and bottom.

Sony has placed the single camera in the centre on the XZ2 and the fingerprint sensor sits below it. You also get a single camera on the iPhone 8: it’s only if you opt for the bigger iPhone 8 Plus that you get a dual-camera setup.

Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8

Having a glass back looks good – and the XZ2 looks great when the light catches it – but it does add to the risk of expensive damage if you drop it.

Sony has fitted a 3180mAh battery in the phone and the larger-than-average capacity could be one reason why it’s 11.1mm thick. That’s unusually fat for a modern flagship, but it’s no heavier than the iPhone 8 Plus.

Like the iPhone, the Xperia will also charge wirelessly using the Qi standard and is similarly water resistant. Another similarity is that Sony has removed the 3.5mm headphone jack so audio must be output either via Bluetooth or the USB-C port.

A difference is the microSD slot which can be used to expand the on-board storage by up to 400GB. Naturally, the iPhone is not expandable: you choose 64- or 256GB when you purchase.

Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8 Specs Comparison

Here are the key specs in a handy table:

Specification Xperia XZ2 iPhone 8 iPhone 8 Plus
Operating system Android Oreo 8.0 iOS 11 iOS 11
Available colours Liquid Black, Liquid Silver, Petrol Blue, and Ash Pink Gold, Silver, Space Grey, Red Gold, Silver, Space Grey, Red
Display 5.7in (2160×1080, 423ppi) IPS 4.7in Retina HD (1334×750, 326ppi) IPS 5.5in Retina HD (1920×1080, 401ppi) IPS
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Apple A11 Bionic, M11 co-processor Apple A11 Bionic, M11 co-processor
Storage  64GB 64GB/256GB 64GB/256GB
Primary camera 19Mp, f/2.0, 1/2.3in Exmor RS 12Mp, f/1.8, 5x digital zoom, quad-LED flash 12Mp wide-angle, f/1.8 + 12Mp telephoto, f/2.8, optical zoom, 10x digital zoom, Portrait Lighting, quad-LED flash
Front camera  5Mp, f/2.2 7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2, 1080p video 7Mp FaceTime HD, f/2.2, 1080p video
Video recording  4K HDR 4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps 4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps
Fingerprint scanner  Yes, rear TouchID built into Home button TouchID built into Home button
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
NFC Yes Only for Apple Pay Only for Apple Pay
Waterproof  IP65/68 IP67 IP67
Dimensions  72x153x11.1mm 67.3×138.4×7.3mm 78.1×158.4×7.5mm
Weight  198g 148g 202g

Screens

The XZ2 is Sony’s first phone with an 18:9 aspect ratio screen. Resolution is 2160×1080, which isn’t the highest, but is plenty for its 5.7 inches.

It has Sony’s Triluminos branding, which is also used on its TVs, and supports HDR content. Sony says it can up-convert any content to “near HDR” and from our short time with the phone, it certainly looks good.

Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8

Borrowing from another of its products – the PlayStation – Sony has put a Dynamic Vibration System in the XZ2. It’s a bit like the DualShock 4 system but instead of rumbling when there’s a gunshot or car crash, it analyses the music or audio from a video you’re watching and vibrates to let you ‘feel the action in your hand’.

Frankly, it’s hard to view this as anything other than a gimmick, but it might prove compelling for some people.

Completing the entertainment system are the front-facing speakers which are louder before and can produce a slightly wider range of frequencies. We still need to assess these properly in a quiet room before we can compare them to the iPhone 8’s stereo speakers.

As we’ve said, you’re unlikely to buy the iPhone 8 on design as it looks like every other iPhone of the last few years. However, it’s worth noting that both small and ‘Plus’ versions have TrueTone displays, so their colours should look ‘right’ no matter whether you’re outdoors or indoors under artificial lighting.

Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8

They also both have 3DTouch, which is an advantage if you get into the habit of using it. If not, it’s just another feature you’ll never notice.

The bad news is that the 4.7in iPhone 8 still has the same low 750p resolution as ever. And although it’s a decent LCD display, it’s not great considering the high price.

Cameras

If you know anything about recent Sony phones, you’ll know it sells the cameras hard. So it’s strange that yet again there’s just one lens on the rear of the XZ2.

Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8

That means no depth effect for portrait photos with blurry backgrounds, at least in the stock camera app. A Sony representative at MWC rather unhelpfully suggested owners should download another camera app if they want bokeh.

However, the 19Mp camera does have a few tricks to beat the iPhone 8, among other rivals. For one thing, it can shoot slo-mo clips at 960fps. And unlike its predecessor, it can do so at 1080p rather than 720p.

The iPhone 8 manages 240fps at 1080p, and the Plus version has a second lens for 2x optical zoom. This second lens also enables Portrait mode for those DSLR-like shots, plus Apple’s recently introduced Portrait Lighting.

Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8

Although both versions of the iPhone 8 have optical stabilisation, the 4.7in one – like the XZ2 – has no Portrait Mode.

The Xperia XZ2’s second trick is recording 4K video in HDR and a third is that the selfie camera now supports the 3D scanning of the rear camera. Ok, so it’s arguably another gimmick but it’s there nonetheless.

Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8

In terms of actual photo and video quality, it’s too early to say much about the XZ2. Early impressions are good, but we need to test it properly (and not in a poorly lit demo room) to say if it bests the iPhone 8.

The iPhone 8 has fantastic cameras, especially as you get that optical stabilisation even on the small version. Videos look great even if you’re walking while filming, and they sound great too.

Some people get frustrated about the lack of any camera settings on Apple phones, but that’s the beauty really: you need only point and shoot to get reliably great pictures. There’s no need to fiddle around with options.

Performance

There are plenty of 2018 flagship phones which use the new Snapdragon 845, so Sony’s phone isn’t unique there. It means the XZ2 is sure to be a great performer, which is exactly what you’d expect anyway.

The iPhone 8 has the A11 Bionic chip, which is the same used in the iPhone X. Its performance is nothing short of stunning, and iOS 11 runs very quickly indeed with the kind of fluidity you’ve come to expect from the latest Apple phones.

Xperia XZ2 vs iPhone 8

This is despite having half the RAM that you get in the Xperia XZ2, but then again, Android Oreo feels equally responsive and slick on Sony’s handset.

We still need to run our benchmarks on the Xperia, which is when we’ll also find out how it fares when playing games.

Battery life is another area that’s likely to be very similar. We’ve yet to use the XZ2 long enough to get an accurate idea of whether you’ll have to charge it every night. It could end up closer to the longer battery life offered by the iPhone 8 Plus. If you go for an iPhone 8, you’ll be charging it every night unless you use it extremely lightly. 



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