Apple solves battery issue for iPhone 6

The incoming iPhone 6 is reportedly larger, slimmer, and much more like an iPad or iPod in form factor. That slim profile, which is said to be around 6mm thin, has reportedly been causing issues for Apple in sourcing a battery. Samsung and LG both thought they had Apple’s problem handled, but it seems a new player has emerged victorious.


Taiwan’s Economic Daily News is reporting that Apple has turned to Simplo Technologies for the battery on their incoming flagship device(s). Their report suggests neither Samsung or LG — both of whom have slimmer, curved smartphones — could produce a battery thin or flexible enough. It’s worth noting that while Samsung and LG both put devices into production with curved batteries, only LG’s G Flex was sold on a wide scale.

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The report doesn’t note if the 4.7-inch model or 5.5-inch model saw issues, though. It was likely an issue dogging both handsets, but there’s no way to know based on this report.

If Apple has a major component issue solved, the iPhone 6 could be well on it’s way to that rumored September 19 launch date we keep hearing about. We’re still not clear if both handsets will come at the same time, or if Apple will have a staggered release.


iPhone 6 Could Have Sapphire Protected Display

iPhone 6 Sapphire Protected Display Gorilla  Glass

Apple has recently sent the first shipment of sapphire components from the manufacturing plant in Arizona to the final assembly line in China. This seems to support previous rumors that the next iPhone will be equipped with sapphire panels. A few months ago, Apple and GT Advanced Technologies opened a plant in Arizona to produce specific sapphire components. The facility runs about a hundred sapphire furnaces in Q1 2014 and hundreds more will be operational later this year.

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Sapphire panels are an alternative to Corning Gorilla Glass panel and it could protect specific parts of the iPhone from scratches. At the moment, the iPhone 5S has its home button and camera lens protected by sapphire; but not its display. Sapphire is tougher to break and less prone to physical damage compared to toughened glass.

Rumors also run rampant about additional implementations of sapphire panels. It has been suggested that sapphire will be usable for solar panels.  This should allow iPhone to recharge with sunlight. The alleged Apple iWatch could also use sapphire and only time will tell what other implementations the company will do. After all, sapphire is the second toughest material after diamond.

Microsoft To Abandon The Bastard Child Of Windows Phone In Two Months

Remember Windows Phone 7.8? Microsoft built it as a stop-gap measure to lessen the ire of Windows Phone 7.5 users, a group technologically precluded from making the leap to Windows Phone 8. If you had forgotten about it don’t worry, Microsoft is about to do the same.

Mary Jo Foley today detailed the coming death-dates of a number of Microsoft products, including Windows Phone 7.8. As it turns out, 7.8′s moment of expiration has been known for some time: September 9th.

Today Microsoft published — and then retracted, it seems — a note to computing users concerning the end of support for a number of its products. The list included a note that Windows Phone 7.8 would lose “mainstream support” in September.

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It wasn’t clear what that meant. According to the company’s general life cyle page, consumer products generally receive a two year period of updates and support, after which they are no longer supported. There isn’t “extended support” for such products, as there is for versions of desktop Windows, for example.

Windows Phone 7.8 is being axed after a mere 18 months. The official verbiage: “Microsoft will make updates available for the Operating System on your phone, including security updates, for a period of 18 months after the lifecycle start date.” In short, if you are on Windows Phone 7.8 you have a few months left before your phone won’t update ever again.

How many Windows Phone 7.8 users are left? About 17% of the larger Windows Phone market, so it’s no small tally.

Windows Phone 7.8 was never more than a band-aid. Microsoft decided that Windows Phone needed to join the larger Windows family, and the original Windows Phone 7, 7.1 7.5, and 7.8 devices could never share in that future. Thus, to see Microsoft walk quickly away from the product is hardly surprising.

What does it gain from its support? Aside from honoring the implicit promise to not leave users behind when providing them with a platform to by into, little.

Strategically, that is, Windows Phone 7.8 is moot.

The App Store, Six Years Later

Happy birthday, iTunes App Store. Apple‘s App Store turns six today, and now offers consumers over 1.2 million apps, which have been downloaded 75 billion times, according to the most recent official data shared by the company.

But the business can sometimes be tough for app developers, and new numbers out this morning from two different analytics companies help prove this point. More than 21 percent of the apps that entered the App Store since its debut are now “dead,” notes one firm, while another is seeing a trend it calls “app burnout” now emerging. This latter trend indicates, perhaps, that many apps are seen as disposable by users – they’re things we play with until we get bored, finish a task, or until the next great new thing comes along.

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Dead Apps & Burnout

Unlike the days of boxed software, app developers today don’t have to just make sales. They have to find and retain loyal users, keep engagement high, consider a variety of revenue models including also mobile advertising and in-app purchases, and work to maintain a highly ranked position in the App Store’s charts, which are managed by sometimes inscrutable and ever-changing algorithms.

According to analytics firm Adjust, to date, over 1,601,413 total apps have been uploaded to the App Store over the years, but currently only 1,252,777 apps are available.

Most of the “dead” apps that have exited the App Store since its debut are in the Books (27%), Entertainment (25%) and Utilities (25%) categories, it says.

Meanwhile, the App Store continues to grow, with as many as 60,000 new apps added monthly. Adjust sees no sign of that slowing down. The company predicts by App Store’s 7th birthday, another 578,000 apps will have been added to its ranks.

And by January 2016, it expects that another 952,977 will have gone live.

Those numbers seem about right. Based on figures Apple itself has previously shared, the App Store’s growth has not yet begun to taper off. The company added 250,000 iOS applications to the store from 2012 to 2013, in between its annual WWDC announcements. The year before, it had added 225,000 applications (between 2011 and 2012), and before that, some 200,000 new apps had arrived.

There are now some 9 million registered developers building for iOS, up 47 percent over last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said. Last year, the company did $10 billion in sales, and through its revenue-sharing agreements with developers, has paid out $15 billion to date. Consumers are downloading 800 apps per second, Apple says, with over 75 billion downloads to date.

But amid this growing crowd of mobile applications, many apps never see the light of day. Adjust refers to the longest of the long tail as “zombie apps” – apps that don’t attract enough attention to regularly receive rankings in the App Store’s top lists.

Specifically, the line between a living app and a zombie app was set conservatively, Adjust says – an app had to rank on any of the 39,171 App Store top list on two out of three days over the month.

Over the years, the number of “zombie apps” has grown, the firm found: by last month (June 2014), there were 79.6 percent zombies (953,387 out of 1,197,087), up from 77 percent in May 2014. And these figures are up from last year (June 2013), when 70.4 percent of all apps were zombies.

App Discovery Challenges

What that means for app developers is that the large majority cannot count on the App Store’s top lists for discovery.

Apple has been addressing this problem, in recent days, with changes arriving in iOS 8. The iOS 8 App Store introduces more subcategory lists, app bundling, search improvements including related search suggestions and search trends section, and more. And most notably, iOS 8 also brings the App Store directly into the mobile operating system itself. Now, when you pull down on the homescreen to search across your device via Spotlight Search, you may be shown app suggestions from the App Store in your results.

Loyal Users On The Decline

Meanwhile, a related report from Localytics also out today, points not to the problems with app discovery, but rather the issues around retaining users – or “app stickiness,” as the firm calls it. Overall app stickiness – an average of an app’s Power Users and Loyal Users which takes into account both engagement and loyalty – remains at 22 percent, it says.

Media and Entertainment apps have the highest stickiness while “technology apps” (e.g. a timer, a calculator) and games have the lowest, at 16 percent and 19 percent respectively as of Q2 2014.

Power users, who go into apps 10 or more times per month, are now 32 percent – which is the first time iOS has been even with Android on this metric. (Previously, Android had more Power Users). Loyalty, however, is better on iOS at 24 percent versus Android’s 21 percent.

But Localytics also points to an emerging trend referred to as “app burnout.” Since 2011, the percentage of Power Users has always been greater than Loyal Users, and now those figures are diverging even more, the firm says. From Q1 to Q2, Power Users increased by 1 percent while Loyal Users decreased by 2 percent.

In Q2, the 25,000 apps Localytics measured had an aggregate of 26 percent of Power Users and 17 percent of Loyal Users, which could be an issue for app developers because Power Users will often use an app heavily in a short period of time, then stop using the app entirely when they reach an “engagement ceiling” – like completing a game, a task or specific function.

Many apps are used like this from utilities to games, but even other apps – like photo-sharing, shopping or social apps – are seeing burnout trends that indicate some users don’t necessarily “finish” with the app, they just stop using it for some reason.

As the App Store continues to grow, the challenges developers face today will grow, as well. The top charts are already difficult to break into, and so far, Apple has not yet deeply embraced the power of social networking as a way to share apps among friends and other larger audiences. This leaves room for Facebook to swoop in with App Install ads and make a killing.

As the App Store expands, developers will need to figure out new ways of getting their apps found, not only via Facebook, but through other advertising and marketing initiatives. And once installed they need to work at keeping their current users engaged.

Samsung Steps Up Its App Game With ‘Galaxy Apps’ Rebrand

Watch out, Google. Samsung is pushing a new Android app store, and it’s not Google Play.

The Korean-based company announced Galaxy Apps, a new and rebranded version of its app store on Friday in an apparent attempt to challenge Google’s dominant Play Store.

See also: 25 Best Free Android Apps

The company says the new Galaxy Apps, previously known as Samsung Apps, will offer users customization options, discounts and other promotions not available in the Play Store.

The new storefront, which will be available to anyone with a Samsung smartphone or tablet, is divided into three main sections: Best Picks, Top and For Galaxy. Best and Top surface recommended and popular apps, which users can filter by date, popularity and price. The For Galaxy section includes premium and business-centric apps specifically for Galaxy devices and those created using Samsung’s software development kits.

This isn’t the first time Samsung has made efforts to push its own app deals outside of Google’s Play Store. The company’s most recent flagship, the Galaxy S5, ships with more than $500 in premium app subscriptions and Samsung offered similar deals with past phones and tablets.

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Samsung and Google have battled over apps in the past. The Korean manufacturer agreed earlier this year to tame its own apps, often labeled as bloatware, in favor of a cleaner and more unified Android experience.

Samsung currently leads its competitors with 39.5% of the global Android market share, according to IDC, so it’s not surprising the company would want to cut into Google’s app profits.

Galaxy Apps is rolling out now and will eventually be available to users around the world.

 

Apple iPhone 6 Rumors Japan Display

Apple iPhone 6 Rumors: Japan Display Develops 5.5-Inch Quad HD Display; Will It Be Featured In Next-Gen iPhone In September?

At a time when Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next-generation iPhone, dubbed the “iPhone 6,” is rumored to come in two screen sizes, the timely development of a 5.5-inch display panel by one of the company’s longtime component suppliers has provided yet another boost to consumer hopes that a larger iPhone is indeed on its way.

On Thursday, Japan Display Inc. (TYO:6740), a major supplier of iPhone displays, announced that it had developed a new 5.5-inch-wide Quad HD, or WQHD, display with a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560 pixels (538 ppi) for “leading-edge smartphones.” And, according to a report from CNET, there is a chance that the new display could make its way to the upcoming iPhone 6.

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Tokyo-based business publication Nikkei reported on Friday that Apple’s next iPhone iteration would be released in two variants with different screen sizes, including 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays. The report also stated that Sharp Corporation (TYO:6753), Japan Display, and LG Display Co Ltd. (NYSE:LPL) will produce the iPhone 6’s Retina display.

CNET said that the timing of Japan Display’s announcement of the development of the 5.5-inch WQHD display and the news from Nikkei about a bigger iPhone 6 may not be a coincidence.

According to CNET, the Nikkei report included two other data points that could coincide with Japan Display’s announcement — first, mass production of the display panels would begin in the April-June quarter; and second, the iPhone 6’s display resolution could be “significantly higher than that of current models.”

The CNET report also cited Paul Semenza, a senior vice president at NPD DisplaySearch, who said that the newly developed Japan Display screen could be used in the iPhone 6.

However, Semenza also said that a 4.7-inch display with a resolution of 1600×900 pixels also seems to be another possible spec.

“As always, Apple runs parallel development programs to test out which is the best approach or just to try to confuse the rest of the world,” Semenza said.

While leaked details about the iPhone 6 and its features are fairly scarce and inconsistent, many reports have suggested that Apple could release the next iPhone sometime in September. The Nikkei report in question also stated that suppliers of LCD panels for the iPhone 6 are expected to ramp up production soon, “in line with a timetable for a worldwide launch as early as September.”

Schematic-Like Drawing Of iPhone 6 Surfaces

Meanwhile, an alleged schematic-like drawing of what is said to be the next-gen iPhones surfaced Friday on a popular Japanese magazine called MacFan. The drawing showed two different handsets, one with a 4.7-inch display and the other one with 5.7-inch display.

According to MacRumors, the two devices in the image were referred to as “iPhone 6c” models. Although it may sound odd for many that Apple could offer two iPhones with multiple screen sizes, the rumor did correspond to previous tidbits about the device.

In addition to a larger, higher-resolution display, the iPhone 6 is likely to sport a thinner design, three new sensors, an improved 8-megapixel camera, sapphire cover glass and iOS 8 among many other new features and upgrades.

Apple Officially Announces iOS 8.0

Apple has recently announced its latest mobile software version, the iOS 8, which adds more than a few new features compared to earlier builds. The iOS 8 is built upon the functional iOS 7 with its long-awaited Control Center. Apple latest software version offers an enhanced form of notifications, which allow users to swipe down and perform relevant action, such as replaying to social network posts or text messages. We could do this right from the lockscreen and a simple swipe may unlock certain app-specific option sets.

Apple-Officially-Announces-iOS-8.0

It is also interesting to note that the iOS 8 will finally feature widgets, but they won’t work similarly to what we see on Android devices. Instead, widgets on iOS 8 devices would be located only on the Today tab, within the notifications bar. During the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference), Apple demo’d some real time functionality, including bidding on eBay and watching game scores.

The much-loved Siri now includes some welcome upgrades and like Google Now, users could wake her up by saying “Hello Siri”. The personal assistant supports Shazam’s song recognition, improved iTunes purchases and controls for smart appliances at home, using the new HomeKit API. Siri could also now speak 22 additional languages.

iPhone 6 Could Be Thinner Than 7mm

It has been a while since first alleged component of iPhone 6 came straight from the assembly lines in China. The latest leak seems to show us the rear part of the upcoming 4.7-inch handset and it appears to be quite similar to early dummy units. There a couple of separated areas at the top and bottom. Overall, the photo indicates a larger device. This time, the alleged iPhone 6 seems to be constructed completely of metal material, eschewing the metal-glass structure of previous iPhone models.

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To maintain the current aspect ratio and pixel density of iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6 could have 1704 x 906 screen resolution. Other things to expect are improved cameras, more powerful A8 64-bit processor and smoother implementation of TouchID fingerprint scanner.

As we can see, the iPhone 6 could be somewhat thinner compared to current iPhone models and rumors on an Apple smartphone model with sub-7mm thickness could become a reality. The slim iPhone 6 may arrive on September this year, followed by a phablet like model with 5.5-inch display. Overall, both devices should be ready for sale during the peak of holiday season this year. At the same time period, we would see the release of multiple Quad HD Android smartphone models.

7 Business Apps Every Professional Should Download

Smartphones have given today’s mobile workers the ability to not have to worry about having everything they need before they get moving. Which is great, until they end up in a conference, airplane, or other no-reception zone without the crucial One Thing I Need. Good smartphone and tablet tools don’t just provide access – they think ahead and plan for contingencies, like a personal assistant. They’re the tools that can make your job a whole lot easier.

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1. TripIt

TripIt is a personal assistant for travel, especially if you give it access to your email inbox and let it scan for tickets and itineraries. Afterward, you literally don’t have to do anything except open the app to see all the details: your confirmation number, your departure time, the address of your hotel, the distance to the conference center, and the website of the restaurant you’re supposed to eat at Friday night. Open it up at least once before you journey and TripIt will hold your travel details for offline viewing, in case you don’t want to spring for WiFi on the plane. (iPhone/iPadAndroid)

2. QuickOffice

There are all kinds of mobile business apps that claim to work well with Microsoft Office documents, but only so many offer only read-only access. Those that do offer editing tools often want to tie you into their own cloud storage schemes. Not QuickOffice. This app was recently acquired by Google, but it still works as a utilitarian open, edit, and save solution for quick views and adjustments. We’ve talked about the importance of information mobility, and this app provides a great way for mobile workers to access documents on the go. (iTunesAndroid)

3. Pocket (or Instapaper)

Which app looks and works better is a matter of taste, but both Pocket and Instapaper do their jobs remarkably well. That job: take blog posts, news articles, and other content on the web (including everything at WorkIntelligent.ly – shameless plug), strip it down to just the text and necessary images, and save them to your device for reading when you have time. Big offices used to have such “clipping services” way back when, but they didn’t let you choose your favorite font. (Pocket: iTunesAndroid; Instapaper: iTunesAndroid)

4. Agenda (or Fantastical)

It’s odd how unhelpful the default calendar on an iPhone or Android can be. With how much design has gone into the OS of each, how can something as simple as a calendar cause so many headaches? Why can’t you just get an agenda view of everything that’s happening today when you start it up? Why does entering the time and date of an event feel like unlocking a bank vault? My own fix is Agenda Calendar 4, which makes smart guesses about when you want to schedule things, shows your day in a well-designed glance view, and generally gives you more information and links from an event than Calendar. If you frequently use the iPhone’s Reminders function, you might instead try Fantastical 2, which ties directly into the iPhone’s alerts and reminders systems. (Agenda: iTunesAndroid; Fantastical: iTunes)

5. Chrome

Chrome is Google’s own browser. Your iPhone already has the Safari browser, and your Android phone likely has its own default browser. So why would you bother to install a browser that shows the same web pages as either of these? One big reason: if you use Chrome on a desktop computer and sign in on both your desktop and phone with your Google account, you can see and open any tab you had open on your desktop browser when you left it. Or just start typing in a few words from the page you already went to into Chrome’s search bar, and Chrome should come up with it. It feels magical (and maybe a bit creepy). (iTunesAndroid)

6. CloudCube (Android only)

Maybe you already feel backed up, cloud-connected, and ready to grab your files from anywhere. So cloud-connected, in fact, that you sometimes have a hard time remembering in which cloud you stored that certain file, and where you have room to put that next big one. CloudCube works with all the notable syncing services: Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box, SugarSync, and more. Move files between clouds, see what’s inside each account, and even sync folders between your Android device and your services of choice. (Android)

7. IFTTT (If This Then That) (iPhone only)

Wouldn’t it be neat if every time you took a screenshot of your iPhone, that screenshot was automatically saved to where you want it? Or if every time you completed a Reminder on your phone, it emailed the appropriate person to let them know, automatically? Or if you could see, on your phone, every photo you’ve been tagged in from Facebook? With IFTTT (short for If This Then That), that kind of two-step, non-thinking action is entirely possible. The hardest part is thinking up the “recipes” that you want for your phone, but after playing with the website a bit, you should get a real sense of just how many things can be done without your having to even think about it. Be sure to install this iPhone app so you can take full advantage of that set-and-forget productivity. (iTunes).

Sony Xperia Z2

The Good The Sony Xperia Z2 has a glorious screen, tonnes of power, a great camera and a beautiful design. It’s waterproof too, so it won’t conk out when you drop it in the bath.

The Bad It’s expensive, its regular autofocus adjustments during shooting can spoil videos, and the camera resolution is throttled when using the full automatic mode.

The Bottom Line Sure, it costs a bundle, but the Sony Xperia Z2 is everything you should expect from a top-end phone. Its impressive performance rivals the Samsung Galaxy S5 for smartphone top dog, but the Z2’s slick glass and metal design trumps the S5’s plastic body. If you’re looking for both style and substance from a phone, you’ve come to the right place.

Sony-Xperia-Z2

The Sony Xperia Z2 is the latest flagship super-phone from Sony, replacing the Xperia Z1 released last year. The new phone keeps the same aluminium-edged design, sexy glass front and back, Full HD display, quad-core processor and impressive 20.7-megapixel camera. Like its predecessor, it’s completely waterproof.

You might wonder, then, exactly what is new on the Z2?

Well, it has a slightly larger 5.2-inch display, a slimmer bezel around the edge, a marginally faster 2.3GHz Qualcomm processor, the latest Android 4.4.2 KitKat software and a camera capable of capturing 4K video. Although those are only marginal upgrades, the Z1 was already a smashing piece of kit, and it might be slightly too soon for a full overhaul, given that it was only released in September last year.

It’s available to preorder in the UK and wider Europe now for an eye-watering price of £600 (€700). The company is yet to confirm if it will ever get a US release, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up — the Z1 never got a proper release in the States, and the Z1S was announced at CES earlier this year as a US variant of the older phone. It’s listed as “coming soon” on Sony’s Asia site (with no pricing given), but there’s no sign of it yet for Australia.

Design

The Xperia Z2 is physically very similar to its predecessor, but that’s by no means a criticism. It has the same glass front and back and aluminium band running around the edge. It looks stunning and feels extremely luxurious to hold. It certainly feels more premium than the lightweight, plastic-bodied Samsung Galaxy S5.

The HTC One M8, with its all-metal body, feels similarly luxurious. It’s entirely down to personal preference whether you like the smart glass and metal of the Z2 or the industrial milled metal of the M8. I personally can’t pick a favourite — I think they both look superb — but the M8’s curved back makes it more comfortable to hold in one hand.

The Z2’s glass panels do make it rather more susceptible to scratches from keys in your pocket, so if you want to keep it looking pristine — which I imagine you will, given how much you’ve paid for it — you should pop it in a case. Like its siblings, the Z2 is completely waterproof, but the waterproof rating has been slightly increased. It’s IP55 and IP58 rated which basically means you can completely submerse it in up to 1.5 metres of water for up to 30 minutes at a time.

Not only does that mean it won’t break the first time you accidentally drop it in the toilet, it also lets you get snap-happy with the camera underwater — that’s great news for snorkelers. The screen won’t register your taps when wet, but there’s a dedicated camera shutter button on the edge to help with those snorkelling shots.

The screen size has been increased from 5 inches to 5.2 inches. Thanks to a slimmer bezel however, the phone’s body hasn’t increased too much, but it’s still a big phone. If you’re more used to the 4-inch iPhone 5S, it probably won’t be to your taste, but the 4.3-inch Xperia Z1 Compact has a cracking lineup of specs and is much more pocketable, so may be a suitable compromise between size and performance.

Around the edges you’ll find a microSD card slot and a micro-USB port hidden under a waterproof flap, a flap-free 3.5mm headphone jack and the same sticking-out power button you’ll see on all of Sony’s recent phones. There’s also a little hole in the edging allowing you to pop in a lanyard to make it slightly more secure to hold up when you’re taking pictures. Sony doesn’t actually provide a lanyard in the box, so you’ll have to try and find one on an old camera you’re not using.

The speakers now sit on the front of the phone at the top and bottom. Like the HTC One and One M8’s BoomSound speakers, they’re designed to direct the sound towards you, rather than away. They’re much smaller than the One’s though, so don’t provide as big a sound, but their position means it doesn’t get muffled when you lay it flat on a surface.

Display

The 5.2-inch display packs the same 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution as the previous Z1. As the Z2 is marginally bigger, the screen has a slightly lower pixel density — 423 pixels per inch against the Z1’s 440 — as the same number of pixels are being stretched over a larger area. In reality though, it’s not a difference you’re ever likely to notice.

The IPS display is extremely crisp, with small text on Web pages, icon edges and high definition photos looking pin sharp. Sony boasts that the display uses the same “Triluminous” technology as its Bravia TVs, which makes it more vivid. Whatever Sony has done, it’s worked, as the Z2’s display is absolutely superb. It’s not only very bright, it has rich, vibrant colours with plenty of contrast and excellent viewing angles to boot.

It’s a brilliant screen for watching glossy Netflix shows like “Breaking Bad” or even for just flicking through your sunny holiday snaps — my shots from Tuscany looked glorious on the Z2. You’re also able to tweak the colour balance in the settings if you prefer things to look a little warmer, but I personally found the automatic mode to look the most natural.

Software and processor

The Z2 arrives running the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 4.4.2 KitKat. You’d be right to expect the latest version of software on new launches, but Sony does have a habit of using older Android iterations — the Z1 Compact launched only recently with the ageing Jelly Bean — so it’s refreshing to find the latest software on board as standard.

Sony has thrown its usual software tweaks into the mix. Although it functions in much the same way as any Android phone, with multiple homescreen panels, a multitasking carousel and an app tray, you’ll also find a customisable app menu, Sony’s own image and video galleries as well as access to its Music and Video Unlimited streaming subscription services (though these will cost you extra).

Hop into settings and you can change the theme of the phone. It comes preloaded with standard colour palette options, but you can download extra themes that drastically change the interface to give a nautical wood effect, for example, complete with compass icon for the home button. It’s hardly a killer feature, but if you like putting your own stamp on your technology it’s fun to play around with.

It’s all powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor clocked in at 2.3GHz, backed up by a very generous 3GB of RAM. That’s a seriously potent lineup of specs so I wasn’t at all surprised that it gave a very strong performance. It achieved an impressive score of 3,822 on the Geekbench 2 benchmark test, easily rivalling both the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.

Navigation was swift and lag-free with no noticeable delays when switching between open apps, diving into menus or flicking around the notifications panel. It handled demanding gaming extremely well too. Riptide GP 2, Asphalt 8, Dead Trigger 2 and GT Racing 2 all played with high frame rates for smooth, enjoyable gameplay.

Camera

Around the back of the phone is the same 20.7-megapixel camera you’ll find on both the Z1 and the Z1 Compact. It’s an impressive amount of megapixels, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee better pictures. To see what it’s capable of, I took it for a spin around an unusually sunny London.

Immediately I hit a snag. You aren’t able to shoot in intelligent auto mode — or use any of the scene modes or HDR modes in manual — when at the full 20-megapixel resolution. You’ll need to knock it down to 8 megapixels in order to use those modes. Luckily then, the settings it chooses when shooting at full resolution can still be superb.