So what has Sony added this time around? Design-wise, it's finally doing something about those bulky bezels, following its competitors in making the front of these devices almost all screen (though the bezels are still significantly bigger than they are on phones like the iPhone X and Galaxy S9).
The end result is a much more modern-looking pair of handsets, and the aspect ratio of the displays is stretched to 18:9 at the same time. The edges are rounded, moving away from the monolithic designs of Sony phones of the past, with the latest Gorilla Glass 5 covering both the front and the back of the XZ2 (the smaller Compact edition uses a polycarbonate finish on the rear).
Qualcomm's 2018 flagship chip, the Snapdragon 845, sits inside both the XZ2 and the XZ2 Compact, and that's paired with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage space. A microSD slot is available if you want to expand that further.
Both phones feature the same 19 megapixel rear-facing camera, and Sony says it has improved the low-light shooting capabilities even further compared with the previous year's models. The phones can shoot video in resolutions up to 4K with HDR enabled, while a 960 frames-per-second slow-motion mode has been added if you scale the resolution down to 1080p.
As for the displays, the Xperia XZ2 features a 5.7-inch screen, while the Xperia XZ2 Compact settles for a 5-inch version. Both phones offer a resolution of 1,080 x 2,160 pixels.
IP68 water and dustproofing comes as standard, something Sony has been doing for a while, and Android 8.0 Oreo is on board. One other interesting touch on the Xperia XZ2 is a Dynamic Vibration system that augments louder noises from music and movies with some extra physical vibrations on the phone itself, though you can switch it off if you don't like it.
Wireless charging is available on the bigger, thinner, more expensive Xperia, to go with the slightly better design, but with the same internals and camera on the Compact there's not a great deal to choose between these two phones.
You can pick from four colors, slightly different for each phone: Liquid Silver, Liquid Black, Deep Green and Ash Pink for the XZ2, and White Silver, Black, Moss Green and Coral Pink for the XZ2 Compact.
Shipping is slated for March but as yet we don't have prices from Sony. While these are two very decent-looking phones on paper, the question is whether they've got enough to tempt people away from Apple, Samsung, Google, and the rest, but they'll certainly please Sony loyalists and continue to keep Sony relevant in the mobile phone market... just about.
The tech giant also had time to tell us more about the Xperia Ear Duo, a follow-up to the Xperia Ear we first saw demoed back in 2016. As with the original, the idea is you have a connected digital assistant in your ear, feeding you alerts, weather forecasts, and other important info without you having to pull your phone out.
It works with Google Assistant and is better at letting surrounding sounds into your ear than its predecessor, Sony says, though it's also a lot larger – so it's going to be very obvious you're wearing one. The Xperia Ear Duo goes on sale in May for US$280.
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