REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

The Xperia Z2 is an almost-perfect 10-inch Android tablet, but is it an iPad killer?

Graph for REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

The first thing that strikes you about the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is how thin and light it is. In fact, the Z2 -- not to be confused with Sony’s other flagship, the Xperia Z2 smartphone -- is the thinnest and lightest full-sized tablet on the market, even edging out Apple’s iPad Air. What’s more, the Z2 Tablet  can be submerged in water (up to a depth of 1.5 metres) and is impervious to dust. It also ticks all the boxes when it comes to high end mobile specs, packing a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor and 3GB of RAM inside its svelte frame. So, is the Z2 Tablet the best full-size Android tablet in the market and does it beat the iPad?

Xperia Z2 smartphone upsized

As the name suggests, the Z2 Tablet very much follows the same design language as the Z2 smartphone from the choice of colour palette, to the rounded corners and aluminium banding emblazoned around the edges. One change in the design department is the lack of glass on the back of the device, with Sony instead opting for a lighter polycarbonate plastic.

But where the Z2 Tablet really differentiates itself is in its sleek profile which comes in at only 6.44mm thick and 439 grams in weight. To put this in context, the already featherweight iPad Air tips the scales at 469 grams and while the difference isn’t dramatic on paper, the lighter feel is noticeable in practical day-to-day use.

While using such a thin and light tablet feels great in the hand, Sony’s continued obsession with needlessly thick bezels makes the tablet over an inch taller than the iPad Air and spoils what is an otherwise perfect form factor for a 10-inch tablet. The chunky bezels dominate the borders of the display, giving the Z2 a dated feel that clashes with its otherwise modern aesthetic.

Excellent display letdown by poor outdoor visibility

Despite a few shortcomings, we were impressed overall with the display on the Z2 smartphone in our review and it looks like Sony is using a larger version of the same panel in the Z2 Tablet.

The 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD display uses Sony’s Triluminos screen tech and with the help of blue LEDs and quantum dot technology borrowed from the company’s Bravia line of televisions, the Z2’s panel produces richer, more natural looking colours than the LCD screens found in competing tablets.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to enjoy that great screen outdoors with visibility dropping off dramatically in sunlit environments. It’s disappointing that the screen reflects just about everything in sight as soon as you walk out the door, especially when the tablet is designed to encourage outdoor use with its waterproof and dust resistant design. It’s the same criticism we shared of Sony’s Z2 smartphone, but the issue is amplified on the larger 10.1-inch display.

We also would have like to have seen a higher resolution display. At 1920 x 1200, the Z2 falls short of the norm for a high end 10-inch tablet. In comparison, the iPad Air sports a 2048 x 1536 display while 2560 x 1600 or more displays have become the standard on Samsung’s top end Android tablets.

It is decent enough to use for general tasks, but boot up a document or web page with dense text and you’ll notice the difference in sharpness.

Good battery life and excellent performance

The Z2 will get you through a full work day with our battery rundown test clocking in at 9.03 hours. While this is the one of the best runtimes we have seen on an Android tablet, it still falls noticeably short of the iPad Air’s 12.32 hours.

The Z2 Tablet packs the same internals and runs the same custom version of Android as the Z2 smartphone so it’s no surprise that the performance and feature set is almost identical. Sony’s custom skin adds a few useful features such as the ability to run multiple windowed apps simultaneously and streaming videos wirelessly from the tablet to any network connected television. There’s also a remote control app that uses the onboard IR blaster to turn your tablet into an universal remote, a feature that was strangely absent on the Z2 smartphone.

Overall, Sony’s custom Android skin is fast and responsive with minimal bloat.

The almost perfect 10-inch Android tablet

Sony has maintained its high standards it set with last year’s Sony Xperia Tablet Z with a number of fairly minor improvements.

The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet drives home the premium feel with an even thinner and lighter frame that easily outclasses the Android competition. The display has received a much needed boost from its predecessor with excellent contrast levels and equally impressive colour reproduction. The Z2 is also one of the few Android tablets on the market that is both water proof and dust resistant. Meanwhile an improved processor and more RAM ensures that the Z2 Tablet stands right at the top of the performance tree, at least for now.

However, the Z2 is not without its faults - namely the screen is letdown by high levels of reflectance, resulting in a display that suffers greatly in sunlit environments. The display is also not quite as sharp as other tablets in its price range.

Despite these missteps, the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is still one of the best Android tablets on the market and one that is definitely worth your attention.

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