Just a month and a half ago at Mobile World Congress, Sony teased it was working on a smartphone that could hit 51,200 ISO for photos, and 12,800 ISO for videos. The company claimed the latter would be the world’s highest ISO in a phone. Well, that phone is already here, and it’s called the Xperia XZ2 Premium.
The 5.8-inch XZ2 Premium is the successor to last year’s Xperia XZ Premium, and it currently sits as the flagship of Sony’s 2018 lineup, ahead of the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact releasing this week. The XZ2 looks exactly like the Xperia XZ2, except for the extra camera on the rear. It follows the company’s new redesign, which highlights curves and elegance over the sharp and angular look on the XZ Premium; oh, and there’s a fingerprint sensor on the back. Sadly, it looks as though the Premium has chunkier bezels on the front surrounding the screen. It’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides of the phone, which allows for Qi wireless charging; and it’s IP65/IP68 water-resistant.
But it’s the camera that sets this phone apart from the competition. ISO is a tool available on all cameras that let you brighten an image. It’s handy when you are in low-light situations, but the downside of using it is the increased noise or grain in the photo. The higher the ISO, the grainier the photo. Still, having a high ISO is a good option because it makes the camera more versatile. Sony’s claiming that its incredibly high ISO capabilities with video and photo on the XZ2 Premium will offer up “true professional camera quality.”
The increased ISO is possible thanks to the Motion Eye Dual Camera, along with Sony’s AUBE fusion image signal processor. This is Sony’s first smartphone with a dual-camera system on the rear (the Xperia XA2 Ultra has two cameras on the front). Like Huawei phones, the 12-megapixel camera has a f/1.6 aperture and shoots strictly in black and white, while the 19-megapixel f/1.8 camera shoots in color. The signal processor uses data from both camera sensors, and the end result is a system that offers incredibly high sensitivity for low-light environments. Don’t worry about hitting those high ISO numbers, because Sony said images will be “clean” and “noiseless.” Neither cameras have any kind of optical image stabilization.
Sony said it used Strategy Analytics’ SpecTRAX Service to run through the published specifications of more than 11,800 smartphones. The XZ2 Premium emerged as the winner for the highest ISO in video, as of February 2018.
The camera system also offers a Portrait Mode, which adds a strong blurred background behind a subject, as well as a monochrome mode, when you want to shoot in black and white. Like the Xperia XZ2, you can capture video in 4K HDR, and shoot super slow motion video at 960 frames per second in 1080p. The latter slow-motion feature bests the Huawei P20 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S9, which can only shoot 960fps in 720p. The front-facing camera has 13 megapixels.
Display and specs
The 4K screen (2,160 x 3,840) supports HDR content, bringing color accuracy on the screen closer to what the artist intended. The phone also utilizes Sony’s Dynamic Vibration System, which was first introduced in the Xperia XZ2. This means there’s a stronger vibration motor in the phone, and it’s tuned to offer feedback to various audio changes such as when there’s a gunshot in a film, or when you’re playing a game. There are front-facing speakers on the Premium, which Sony said is its loudest ever, for an even better immersive experience.
The Xperia XZ2 Premium is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and 6GB of RAM. That means it has slight more RAM than the XZ2, and its bigger size means a larger 3,450mAh battery to boot. It comes with 64GB of internal storage, with support for MicroSD cards.
The Premium will be available in the summer, in Chrome Black and Chrome Silver, and it will run Android 8.0 Oreo. It will officially be available for pre-order in China beginning July 2, and we anticipate seeing a U.S. release shortly after.
While pricing has yet to be announced for the U.S. the phone will sell for CNY 5,999 in China. We anticipate pricing in the U.S. to be around $950.
Updated June 14, 2018: Added Chinese pricing and U.S. estimate.