Sony Xperia XZ2 review

GSMArena team, 14 March 2018.

Benchmarking the Snapdragon 845 performance

We expected nothing short of chart-breaking performance from the Xperia XZ2 and the shiny new Snapdragon 845 beating inside it, and we weren't disappointed. We are still getting our first tastes of the new generation of flagship silicon and timing couldn't have been better.

After we put Samsung's Exynos 9810 through the paces in the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we now get to see how it compares to the Snapdragon 845 as well.

In our XZ2 review unit, the chipset is coupled with 4GB of RAM, although many markets will be getting even 6GB of memory.

Sony Xperia XZ2 review

Qualcomm's latest chip is based on a 10nm LPP manufacturing process and introduces a new octa-core processor with new Kryo 385 cores. The four high-performance Kryo 385 Gold cores are clocked at 2.7GHz, and their architecture is derived from ARM's Cortex-A75 reference design.<>

On the other hand, the other four power-efficient Kryo 385 Silver cores work at 1.7GHz, and their architecture is based on ARM's Cortex-A55 design.

There is also a new Adreno 630 GPU, 30% more powerful than the Adreno 540 inside the Snapdragon 835. While earlier rumors seemed to give Samsung's Mali solution of choice a bit of an edge over the Adreno 630, the numbers we are seeing have them trading fierce blows, with the latter coming on top, more often than not.

Sony Xperia XZ2 review

Of course, there are some other differences between the two chips as well, like ISP capabilities - where the Exynos 9810 has the upper hand, with 4K@120fps video capture capabilities. Still, the Xperia XZ2 brings a fair share of camera goodies and extra features of its own to the table, so the race towards consumer appeal is very much on. But, more on that in the camera section.

As far as connectivity goes, just like its Exynos rival, the Snapdragon 845 is decked out. It has a new modem - the X20 with 5CA and LTE Cat1.18 downlink of 1.2Gbps. Sony also threw GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, with aptX HD, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, NFC and a USB 3.1, Type-C into the mix. No FM radio, though, in case you were wondering.

With the specs out of the way, let's look at some performance numbers. Our usual warning does still apply though - synthetics are not necessarily representative of real-world performance. Nor are they an exact science and given the early nature of the new generation of chips, there is still a lot of optimization to be done, potential to be unlocked and proper testing scenarios to be designed. Plus, even though our selection of competing devices spans a couple of hardware generations back and all the way down to mid-range silicon, all of the devices on the list will still chew through any task you throw at them.

Sony Xperia XZ2 review

Kicking things off with GeekBench and some pure CPU number-crunching ratings, we can see the Snapdragon 845 fall just a bit short of its Exynos 9810 rival. Still, both chips command an impressive lead over the rest of the devices on the list. And some of them are expensive flagships, which are only a few months old. It seems ARM as a whole still has some impressive leaps forward in its development roadmap.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X
    10215
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    10037
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    8830
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    8466
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    6784
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    6783
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    6759
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    6754
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    6738
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    6719
  • HTC U11+
    6654
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    6629
  • ZTE nubia Z17
    6622
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    6590
  • Nokia 8
    6568
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    6541
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    6428
  • LG V30
    6365
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    6301
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    6234
  • Oppo R11s
    5907
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    5460
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    4215
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    4198
  • LG G6
    4175

However, Apple remains the undisputed king of the hill when it comes to pure CPU prowess.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X
    4256
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    4232
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    3759
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    2454
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    1987
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    1986
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    1974
  • ZTE nubia Z17
    1966
  • HTC U11+
    1939
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    1929
  • Nokia 8
    1925
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    1924
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    1915
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    1915
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    1902
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    1902
  • LG V30
    1901
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    1862
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    1840
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    1836
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    1832
  • LG G6
    1767
  • Oppo R11s
    1614
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    866
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    865

Moving on to the compound benchmarks that take into account many other hardware aspects of its test subjects, we have AnTuTu 7. Once again, the Xperia XZ2 and Samsung Galaxy S9 find themselves neck to neck. This time around, however, Qualcomm takes the gold, and our hunch is, it might just have something to do with GPU performance.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    259244
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    250156
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    212708
  • Nokia 8
    210323
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    209779
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    207072
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    203119
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    201065
  • LG V30
    182374
  • LG G6
    158785
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    89110

Basemark OS 2.0 seems to favor the Xperia XZ2 even more. Still, the iPhone X aside, it's pretty much another cut-throat race between the rest of the flagships on the list. We are dealing with synthetic performance variances here that fade away form a real-life consumer standpoint. Instead, putting the pressure on developers, racing towards better optimized and more fluent user experiences.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X
    4708
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    3859
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    3609
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    3601
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    3578
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3547
  • Nokia 8
    3503
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    3458
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    3425
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    3424
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    3382
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    3379
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    3333
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    3319
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    3298
  • ZTE nubia Z17
    3281
  • HTC U11+
    3257
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    3174
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    3164
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    2986
  • LG V30
    2705
  • Oppo R11s
    2499
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    2386
  • LG G6
    2126
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    1548
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    1545

Moving on the GPU tests, it's the Snapdragon's time to shine. Again, keeping in mind that most of these variances are hard to detect, if at all possible under real-world circumstances. Every good mobile game, worth its salt nowadays is so well optimized that you should be good with pretty much every flagship GPU solution for at least the average service time of a smartphone.

A lot is riding on OpenGL optimization in these tests, with some minor implementation details potentially skewing numbers one way or another. Staring with GFX 3.0 tests, we see the Xperia XZ2 pumping out around 10 frames more, on average, than the Samsung Galaxy S9 and almost 20 over the Huawei's Kirin 970-powered devices.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    85
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    82
  • Apple iPhone X
    81
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    73
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    65
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    65
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    63
  • ZTE nubia Z17
    63
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    61
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    61
  • LG V30
    60
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    59
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    57
  • Nokia 8
    57
  • HTC U11+
    56
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    56
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    54
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    51
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    50
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    50
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    49
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    42
  • LG G6
    41
  • Oppo R11s
    23
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    14
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    14

This is a trend which mostly carries over to the higher OpenGL ES scenarios as well. Of course, we are talking about on-screen rendering performance here, since looking at on-screen numbers introduces other variables into the mix, like the native resolution at which each device renders. This is especially hard to properly take into consideration with the different aspect ratios added on top. Plus, in GFX 3.0 test, at least, reaching the test's upper frame limit cap of 59fps is now a reality.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    59
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    59
  • Apple iPhone X
    59
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    56
  • ZTE nubia Z17
    56
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    55
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    55
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    50
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    50
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    48
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    47
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    45
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    42
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    40
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    37
  • HTC U11+
    36
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    36
  • LG V30
    35
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    34
  • Nokia 8
    33
  • LG G6
    24
  • Oppo R11s
    23
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    15
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    15

With OpenGL ES 3.1 loads things get a little more interesting, not to mention applicable to current and future game engines. Here we can really see the Adreno 630 flex its muscles. Not only does it command a 10 fps lead over the Mali-G72 MP18 inside the Galaxy S9, but it also manages to outpace the Apple GPU inside the iPhone X.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    55
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    46
  • Apple iPhone X
    44
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    43
  • ZTE nubia Z17
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    42
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    42
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    42
  • LG V30
    41
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    41
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    40
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    39
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    39
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    39
  • Nokia 8
    39
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    38
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    38
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    37
  • HTC U11+
    35
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    32
  • LG G6
    26
  • Oppo R11s
    15
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    9.7
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    9.6

Ramping up the test difficulty only seems to make this lead more apparent.

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    35
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    28
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    26
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    25
  • HTC U11+
    25
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    25
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    25
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    25
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    25
  • ZTE nubia Z17
    25
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    24
  • LG V30
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    23
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    22
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    22
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    20
  • LG G6
    16
  • Oppo R11s
    8.7
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    5.5
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    5.4

Of course, it can be observed in on-screen performance numbers as well. But like we said before, looking at those is a double-edged sword that requires factoring in pixel counts and rendering resolutions as well.

Basemark X appears to tell the same overall story, although with what we can only assume is a bit of favoritism towards higher GPU core count, sprinkled in.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    44097
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    43862
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    42645
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    40890
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    40232
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
    39143
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Force
    38615
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    38583
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    38541
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    38507
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    38349
  • HTC U11+
    38315
  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)
    38248
  • Nokia 8
    37593
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    37211
  • LG V30
    36704
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SD 835)
    34951
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    33815
  • ZTE nubia Z17
    33513
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    33499
  • LG G6
    30507
  • Oppo R11s
    20914
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    14328
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    14312

Of course, for the sake of fairness, we can's skip over the Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal numbers either. Mainly to illustrate how throwing Apple's Metal graphics API into the mix disrupts the poll positions quite a bit. Never underestimate the power of proper hardware/software optimization, especially when done on a closely monitored hardware and software ecosystem, such as Cupertino's.

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X
    1854
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    1644
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    1456
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    1268
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    1183
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    1176
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    1111
Owing to the Snapdragon 845 chipset, the Sony Xperia XZ2 is one of the fastest phones available today on both CPU- and graphics-intensive tasks.

While playing the numbers game is good fun, the simple reality is that in real-world terms, the XZ2 is up with the best smartphones Apple, Samsung or Huawei have to offer. Plus, you can be pretty sure the Snapdragon 845 will stay relevant for at least a few years to come.