iPhone 8 vs Sony Xperia XZ2
At MWC 2017, Sony announced its first serious attempt at a phone with an 18:9 screen aspect ratio: the Xperia XZ2. It's got a revamped design from the XZ1 released in the second half of 2017 (including ditching the headphone port, Apple-style), and an impressive array of camera specs and features. But how does it compare to the iPhone 8?
In this article we compare the two phones for design, build quality, features, tech specs and pricing. We've had limited hands-on time with the XZ2, so we'll update this comparison review once we've had some serious lab time with review samples.
Design & build quality
It's not a radical redesign by any means, but the XZ2 sees a number of significant changes from last year's XZ1 as part of a new design language that Sony calls, mysteriously, Ambient Flow.
The screen, most obviously, now has an aspect ratio of 18:9, a ratio made popular in 2017 by flagships such as the LG G6, Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X. And the giant bezels at top and bottom have been replaced by... slightly less giant bezels. It's an improvement, but many handset manufacturers are offering all-screen phones and this is not that.
Ambient Flow is also about breaking up straight lines: the XZ2 has a subtle curvature on the front edges and a more noticeable bulge on the back. The curved glass looks stunning when it catches the light, but it's unsurprisingly a fingerprint magnet.
Still, if the XZ2 is conservative, the iPhone 8's design is positively reactionary.
Other than a glass back (allowing for wireless charging), it's the same as 2016's iPhone 7; other than the removed headphone port and solid-state Home button it's the same as 2015's iPhone 6s; in fact in most respects this is the same design we got in the iPhone 6 in 2014. In phone design terms this is half classic and half antique: it still looks elegant but the rest of the market (including the 8's own sibling, the iPhone X) has moved on to edge-to-edge screens and more modern aspect ratios.
Note that neither phone has a headphone port: you can listen to music via their Lightning and USB-C ports respectively, or buy a pair of wireless headphones.
The iPhone's rear-facing camera is on the righthand side (as you take a photo), whereas the XZ2's camera is in the middle of the back, with the fingerprint scanner below it. We prefer the Apple way (and particularly having the fingerprint scanner on the front of the device where we can see it), but there are fans of both approaches.
Indeed, aesthetics in general are subjective, so here are photos of the two devices so you can make up your own mind which look you prefer.
iPhone 8 in pictures
Sony Xperia XZ2 in pictures
You've got three options for the iPhone 8: gold, silver and Space Grey. The XZ2 is available in Liquid Black, Liquid Silver, Petrol Blue and Ash Pink.
More important than what they look like, what can these phones do?
The iPhone 8, while denied the twin rear-facing lenses of the 8 Plus and X, has a solid photographic setup. (If you'd like to make the most of it, take a look at our iPhone camera tips.) But the XZ2 has some new tricks.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S9, the XZ2 has a super slow-mo video mode up its sleeve (something Sony pioneered). It's still an immense 960fps - for comparison the decent enough slow-mo on the iPhone 8 tops out at 240fps - but the resolution has been bumped from a maximum of 720p to 1080p.
What's more, this is the first smartphone from any manufacturer capable of recording 4K HDR video footage. The iPhone 8 does capture 4K video, but the HDR element (which stands for high dynamic range) should make for more dramatic and 'poppier' footage.
Neither device can do a Bokeh-effect portrait mode; they each have a single-lens setup on the rear, and cannot create a Bokeh effect via software alone (something the Pixel 2 does very capably indeed).
The iPhone 8 has stereo speakers, although we generally point out that the paired speakers are close together at the same end of the phone, so the stereo effect is limited. Still, audio is decent enough.
The Sony has something called Dynamic Vibration System, which analyses audio and vibrates the phone to match. It's the same tech you get in PS4 DualShock 4 controllers, and a bit of a gimmick, to be honest. But it could be a fun addition to games and movies.
The XZ2 also has louder front-facing speakers than its predecessor, with a slightly improved frequency range, and there's still support for high-resolution audio. Our first impression was that the phone sounded seriously impressive.
Both phones are capable of charging wirelessly via any Qi-certified charging accessory.
Let's look at the internal components in a bit more detail.
iPhone 8 specs
- A11 Bionic processor chip with 64bit architecture, Neural engine, Embedded M11 motion coprocessor
- 2GB RAM
- 64GB or 256GB storage
- 4.7in Retina HD LCD screen, 1334 x 750 resolution at 326ppi, IPS, 1400:1 contrast ratio (typical), 625 cd/m2 max brightness (typical), True Tone, 3D Touch
- 12Mp rear-facing camera, ƒ/1.8, Quad-LED True Tone flash, 5x digital zoom, OIS, panorama up to 63Mp, 4K video recording (up to 60fps), slow-mo 120fps or 240fps at 1080p
- 7Mp front-facing camera, ƒ/2.2, 'Retina Flash' screen feature
- 1821 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery, claimed life up to 14 hours (wireless talk time), 12 hours (internet use); fast charge up to 50% in 30 minutes (claimed); wireless charging with Qi-certified chargers
- Touch ID fingerprint scanner in Home button
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, Lightning port, no headphone port
- IP67 water- and dust-resistant
- iOS 11
- 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm; 148g
Sony Xperia XZ2 specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB of storage, plus microSD card slot
- 5.7in Full HD+ HDR 18:9 touchscreen, 2160 x 1080 resolution at 423ppi, IPS
- 19Mp rear-facing camera, f/2.0, 1/2.3in Exmor RS, video up to 4K HDR, 960fps super slow-mo at up to 1080p
- 5Mp front-facing camera, f/2.2
- 3190mAh non-removable battery; wireless charging with Qi-certified chargers
- Fingerprint sensor (on rear)
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB-C (USB 3.1) port, no headphone port
- IP65/68 water- and dust-resistant
- Android Oreo 8.0
- 153mm x 72mm x 11.1mm; 198g
The iPhone 8 was unveiled in September 2017, and went on sale shortly after. The Sony XZ2 is expected to arrive in April 2018, but that hasn't been confirmed.
We haven't got a price for the XZ2 yet. However, the XZ1 cost £599/$699 at launch, and the XZ £549/$699, so it's fair to assume that the XZ2 will cost a similar amount - albeit perhaps with a slight increase in line with other flagship phones.
Nobody is going to mistake either of these phones for a groundbreaking experimental design: even after a revamp the XZ2 still feels dated, while Apple has stuck with virtually the same design since 2014. (If you want a modern-looking iPhone, go for the iPhone X.)
But while not radically modern, both phones remain smart and elegant (and well made, of course); while in terms of internal hardware, cameras and performance neither will let you down.
We don't have pricing for the XZ2 just yet, but we'd expect it to be a cheaper option, albeit not by much. If you're keen to try an 18:9 phone without breaking the bank, this could be the choice for you - and you get a great camera thrown in, even if we find it puzzling to see a single-lens camera in a flagship device.
The iPhone 8 doesn't offer much for those upgrading from an iPhone 7, but makes a sensible (and far cheaper) upgrade than the 8 Plus or X if you're switching from Android or upgrading from a 6s or older. Many of us prefer iOS to Android so strongly that we're happy to get less bang for our buck in terms of tech specs, and the iPhone 8 is a good all-rounder.