Here’s our quick and easy tips and tricks guide to getting started with the Sony Xperia Z2, and unlocking its full potential - including getting longer battery life, making it suitable for older users, and improving your camera footage.
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Fast access to your favourite settings
Quite often we find ourselves turning random features such as Wi-Fi on and off, usually to preserve battery life when they’re not needed.
1. The easiest and quickest way to toggle these settings is to flick down from the top of the screen, revealing your notifications bar, and then tap the ‘Quick Settings’ tab in the top right
2. You’ll see a panel of buttons, including the likes of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and auto-rotate: just tap each one to turn the feature on or off (shaded means the feature is off)
3. A few of our favourite features such as Airplane Mode, Mobile Data and Stamina Mode aren’t in the panel by default - you’ll need to add these yourself. To do so, hit the ‘Edit’ button to the right off the date and time, and then select/de-select any features you want/don’t want
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Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Block out the world
One of the coolest new features of the Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone is its built-in noise cancellation when using earphones. This only works with Sony’s earphones, bundled with the Sony Xperia Z2, so you can’t just plug in any old pair sadly, but the clever cancellation jazz is performed by the phone itself, so the ‘phones don’t require any batteries for the feature to work.
To make sure noise cancellation is turned on, just go to Settings > Sound > Audio accessories, and make sure ‘noise-cancelling headset’ is selected. Then plug in your ‘phones and enjoy the peace.
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Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Tidy up your status bar
See that thin bar at the top of the Sony Xperia Z2’s screen, which shows the time, reception bar etc? That’s the ‘status bar’, and it quickly gets cluttered when you’ve got lots of features turned on. Thankfully it’s quick and simple to tidy the damn thing up.
1. Go to Settings > Personalisation > Status bar icons
2. From this menu, you can select and de-select which icons appear in the status bar
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Simplify your desktop
If you’re not used to smartphones, or you just prefer a simplified, stripped-back interface, you can swap to Sony’s ‘Simple Home’ layout instead. This custom desktop features larger icons, ideal for older users with restricted eyesight or mobility, plus three speed dial buttons.
1. Go to Settings > Home
2. Select ‘Simple Home’. A brief explanation appears, just tap ‘OK’ to proceed
3. Your one-piece desktop will appear, containing only the most useful features plus the speed dial buttons. To exit back to the normal Xperia desktop, go to Settings > Exit Simple Home
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Get longer battery life
We found the Sony Xperia Z2 comfortably lasted a day between charges, providing you aren’t caning it with lots of video streaming and gaming. But if you find yourself stranded often with almost no power left, Sony has a few different features to extend your battery life.
1. Go to Settings > Power Management, where you’ll find a number of different modes - turn on each one you want to by flipping the virtual switches to ‘on’.
2. STAMINA mode extends battery life by turning off Wi-Fi and mobile data when the phone’s screen is off. That means you’ll have to turn your phone on to receive any new emails, social media updates etc. but the battery will barely drain when in hibernation.
3. Low-battery mode activates at a set battery level (e.g. 20 percent by default), and disables certain features (e.g. Bluetooth, GPS) until the phone is charged again. You can select which features are disabled, and at what point low-battery mode turns on - simply tap Low-battery mode in the Power Management menu.
4. Location-based Wi-Fi is worth turning on too - this only activates Wi-Fi when you’re in range of a saved Wi-Fi network, so it doesn’t stay on pointlessly at all times.
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Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Camera interface
When taking a photo, it's helpful to know what the interface buttons do, so let's talk through what you'll see.
- Flash Settings - Use this to change what type of flash mode is being used
- Camera Switch - Switch between the front and back camera
- Photo Settings - Change settings such as the quality of the photo being taken and timer options
- Photo Type - When in 'Superior Auto' mode, the camera will automatically change the type of photo its taking, and let you know here
- Gallery Shortcut - Tap here to go to the gallery and see your snaps
- Shoot/Record Buttons - Tap here to take a photo or start recording
- Camera Mode - The Z2 comes with several different modes you can take photos in. We'll talk through these next.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Camera Modes
One of the things that sets the Sony Xperia Z2 apart from the rest is the addition of camera modes. You can use this menu to change what type of photos or videos your camera takes. We will talk about a few of the modes here, but the best advice we can give you is to play with them all to know exactly what you can achieve with them.
Manual ShotThe manual shot mode is great for any budding photographer who knows their stuff. The manual setting lets you fine tune exactly what kind of photo your Sony Xperia Z2 can take, and it features all the same settings you'd expect to find on the Sony range of DSLR cameras. There hasn't been a stone left unturned here and it's a great way to really get behind what happens to your photos.
Background DefocusFor something slightly different to most smartphones, the Sony Xperia Z2 has also added a mode called Background Defocus. This allows you to take a photo of something and blur the background out to emulate a photo taken by an SLR camera. You can use the sliders and buttons to change the amount and style of the unfocused background. You do need to make sure you're taking a photo with something obvious in the foreground for the camera to pick up, or it won't work, but when done right, the results can be pretty cool!
4K VideoThis does exactly what it says on the tin. The Sony Xperia Z2 is one of the first smartphones to allow full 4K video recording. Just set the phone onto 4K mode, point and shoot and you'll have amazing videos with a quality that will certainly stand the test of time.
Creative EffectsIf you want to start having a bit of fun with your photos you can add creative effects to them. Creative effects allow you to add filters such as a sepia tone, or lets you only add colour to one portion of a picture, and playing around with these can help you capture some really unique images.
Timeshift VideoThe Sony Xperia Z2 has joined the ranks of newer smartphones offering a slow-motion video capture system. Timeshift video allows you to capture a video, and while watching it back, add in and change any number of 'slow-mo' sections that play back at 120FPS instead of the usual 30FPS. This can make for some really awesome videos, as demonstrated by our own Agent King above.
Automatically save snaps to your Evernote accountYou can take snaps that automatically save directly to your Evernote account.
Simply fire-up the camera > select the camera mode button on the bottom left corner > scroll right down to the bottom and select “Evernote”. Any shots taken while in this mode will be automatically saved to your Evernote account along with the option to add text and other comments.
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Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Info-eye
Chances are that you leave the camera on with the default “Superior Auto” mode and snap away, ignoring the “Info-eye” mode tucked away right at the bottom of the camera interface.
But Info-eye is an extremely useful tool that goes well beyond just adding cute effects to pictures. Info-eye can be used to extract contact information from business cards, scan barcodes on products which provide more information about the product including online shopping options in addition to serving as a handy QR (quick response) code reader. Info-eye will even work with books and wines, giving you more information by simply pointing your camera at the item.
Also if you’re visiting a landmark, shooting with Info-eye will provide more information about it right on your screen.
To access Info-eye simply select the camera mode button on the bottom left corner > scroll down and select “Info-eye”. Now simply take a shot of a barcode, QR code, business card or landmark and let Info-eye take care of the rest.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Banish the shaky-cam videos
One of the best new video features of the Sony Xperia Z2 is the ‘SteadyShot’ option, which helps to cut down annoying shaking when you’re shooting video and moving about at the same time.
1. Open the Camera app
2. In the bottom left corner you’ll find an icon that looks like three square dots in a line. Tap this to bring up the camera settings.
3. The menu that springs up has three tabs - camera, video and general settings. Go into the video settings by tapping the movie reel icon.
4. Make sure ‘SteadyShot’ is activated (the switch should be positioned to the right).
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Tap to wake and smart call
The first two features you are going to want to enable is the “tap to wake” (under Settings > Display > check tap to wake) and Smart call motions (Settings > Personalisation > Motion).
Once enabled you can wake the phone by simply double tapping on the screen while “Smart call” allows you to answer calls by simply bringing the phone to your ear. In addition you can reject calls by shaking the device and turn the ringer off by placing the phone face down.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Change the layout of your app drawer
In the vast majority of Android-based phones, the app drawer is a pretty regimented place - everything is laid out in alphabetical order, which can make the process of locating your favourite downloads a little irksome, especially if you're in a rush.
Thankfully, the Sony Xperia Z2 has the solution - when you're viewing the app drawer, simply swipe inwards from the left-hand side of the screen and a menu will appear which allows you to toggle between alphabetical layout, "most used" or "installed" - the latter of which will only show apps you've downloaded yourself.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Add more home screens
Five homescreens not enough for all your lovely shortcuts and widgets? Don't worry, you can always add more.
On any of the homescreens, simply perform a pinch gesture with two fingers and you'll be presented with a menu that allows you to organise your screens and add additional ones. You can have up to seven at once.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Have your music player start up when you plug in some headphones
The Sony Xperia Z2 is so smart that it can detect when you plug in your headphones. To enable this feature, open the Smart Connect application and select the "Events" tab at the top. Switch on "Music on the Go" and when you next connect your cans, your music will play automatically. Even better, when you remove your headphones the current track will pause.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Make you phone go into silent mode when you plug it in at night
Most of us are now comfortable with having to charge up our power-hungry smartphones on a daily basis, and in order to keep them close to us at all times it's not uncommon for handsets to be be plugged in next to your bed overnight. You can configure the Sony Xperia Z2 to automatically switch off its ringer and open the alarm and clock application when it detects a charger being plugged in after a certain time - 10PM at night, for example. Via the Smart Connect app, select "Night" mode and ensure the timing suits your personal sleeping hours by clicking the Edit button at the bottom of the screen,
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Pick and choose what appears in the Z2's status bar
The Android status bar has been with us since day one, and provides handy, at-a-glance info every second of the day. The Sony Xperia Z2 allows you to tinker with what icons are displayed in this area; go to Settings > Personalisation > Status bar icons to see for yourself.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Edit your Quick Settings menu
Most Android phones have a Quick Settings option that can be accessed by sliding down the notifications bar, and the Sony Xperia Z2 is no different. It comes with the added bonus of customization - you can change which options appear so that you can always reach the setting you want with the minimum of fuss. Pull down the Quick Settings menu with a two-fingered swipe from the top of the screen, then tap the Edit button in the top-right corner.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Control your backups
With so much precious data contained on our phones it's a good idea to maintain a regular backup schedule. The Sony Xperia Z2 comes with its own Backup & restore application, which allows you to save data to your SD card or an external USB storage device. It's possible to restore all application data and media files using this system, too.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Enable Developer mode
Developer mode isn't something casual mobile users will want to bother with, but if you're interested in getting the most out of your Sony Xperia Z2 it's worth checking out.
To switch it on, go to Settings > About Phone and scroll down to the "Build Number" section at the bottom. Tap on this several times and you'll eventually be granted Developer access. These advanced options appear in their own sub-menu in the Settings section.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Give you phone an easy speed boost
You'll need to enable Developer mode for this easy hack, so refer to the previous tip if you haven't already. Enter the Developer options menu and scroll down to the "Drawing" section. See those three boxes marked Window, Transition and Animator? Switch those all to "Animation scale .5x" and you'll notice that everything moves a little faster.
Basically, all you've done is to limit the amount of time animations such as page turns and pop-up windows take, but the end result is less waiting and a phone which feels like it has had a turbo boost. If you want to be even more aggressive, you can switch off these animations entirely.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Find you phone if you lose it, or wipe it remotely
The act of losing your phone can generate astonishing levels of worry, but thankfully Sony has included a feature on the Sony Xperia Z2 that allows you to not only track your device, but make it emit a sound so it can be found by passers-by and hopefully returned to you.
Should it fall into the wrong hands you can remotely wipe the handset so that your personal data remains safe. Go to Settings > Security > my Xperia. Click "Activate" and you'll be able to access all of these features by visiting Sony's Xperia site.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Allow the installation of non-Google Play apps
While we highly recommend that you stick to downloading apps from the official Google Play market, there are times when you may wish to install something you've acquired from elsewhere, such as one of the many alternative app stores that are available on Android.
By default, the Sony Xperia Z2 is configured to block installations of non-market apps, but you can fix this by visiting Settings and entering the Security menu. Tick the "Unknown Sources" box and you're done.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Connect a Dual Shock 3 for a true gaming experience
Touch screen gaming is all well and good, but you can't beat a proper controller - and seeing as the Sony Xperia Z2 and PlayStation are both made by the same company, it should perhaps come as no great surprise to learn that it's possible to pair your DualShock 3 pad with your handset. Go to Settings > Xperia Connectivity and select the DualShock 3 wireless controller option. You'll need a special cable to link the two devices initially, but it's plenty worth it.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Control which applications are allowed to bother you
Android's notifications system is the envy of all other mobile operating systems, but there are times when it can be rather annoying to have so many applications fighting for your attention. Mercifully, it's possible to mute apps on a case-by-case basis using the Sony Xperia Z2's "Manage Notifications" option.
You can find it by going to Settings > Personalisation, where you'll be presented with a full list of all your apps. To prevent them from sending you notifications, just untick the box next to the app.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Clear your viewed notifications instantly
If you're a long-time Android user then you'll be aware that notifications are only removed from the status bar when you either view them or tap the "Clear" button. However, the Sony Xperia Z2 comes with a nifty little feature which - once enabled - clears all of your notifications the after you've pulled down the notifications panel. To turn it on, go to Settings > Personalisation and tick the "Clear viewed notifications" box.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Control your calls using gestures
The Sony Xperia Z2 comes with three gesture commands. When you receive a call, you can automatically answer it by putting the phone to your ear. Rejecting a call is as simple as shaking the phone when it's ringing, and you can mute the ringer without rejecting the call by turning it face-down onto any flat surface. To switch all of these gestures on, go to Settings > Personalisation > Motion.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Use the touch screen even when you're wearing gloves
Capacitive touch screens are great because unlike resistive ones, they don't require pressure to work. However, this means that you can't use the display when wearing gloves - at least not on many smartphones, anyway.
The Sony Xperia Z2 is different in that it comes with a feature that increases the sensitivity of the screen, allowing you to don your favourite mittens and still swipe away to your heart's content. Go to Settings > Display and enable "Glove Mode".
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Learn the title of a song using nothing but your phone
Ever found yourself in a shop or bar when a song starts playing and you like what you hear, but frustratingly have no way of finding out what it's called? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you no longer need to worry about such issues - your trusty Sony Xperia Z2 has everything you need.
Fire up the TrackID application and stab the "What am I listening to?" button. Your phone will listen to a few seconds and then report back with the title and artist. You can also find out information about what you're watching on television using the similarly powerful TrackID TV app.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Wake your phone with a double tapBlue line
Like the LG G2, it's possible to activate the Sony Xperia Z2's display just by double-tapping it - but the feature isn't enabled by default. Go to Settings > Display and then tick the "Tap to Wake" button. When you phone's screen is switch off, a quick double-tap will stir it from its slumber.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Keep an eye on your data consumption
Modern phones are data gluttons, downloading and uploading massive chunks of information all day, every day. The issue here is that very few mobile phone contracts come with unlimited data consumption, so you need to keep your handset's activities in check.
Thankfully, you can set warnings to inform you when you're approaching your limit, and even set up a block which disables data connectivity when you go over a certain point - preventing you from incurring any charges. Go to Settings > Data usage and you'll see a screen where you can set warning and limits.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Automatically store your phone's data in the cloud
We're so used to having cameras on our phones it's little wonder that we take most of our personal images on them, but have you ever pondered about what would happen to all those precious selfies if you lost your handset? Don't panic just yet - Google has your back. Fire up the Google application for the first time and you'll be giving the option to switch on cloud storage for all of your images, as well as the chance to upload all of your current photos and videos.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Simplify your experience
Phones are complex beasts, working more like computers than telephones. For some of us, all that power is just confusing and befuddling, but there is an alternative - the Sony Xperia Z2 comes with a "simple" mode that focuses all of the core functionality into a single home screen. If you fancy streamlining your experience, go to Settings > Home and select Simple Home to enable it.
Sony Xperia Z2 tips and tricks - Keep the screen awake when you're looking at it
Whether you're viewing a webpage, reading a book or browsing some photos, it can be really annoying when you phone's aggressive power-saving mode kicks in and turns off your screen to conserve battery.
It's an understandable move - after all, that massive display is one of the biggest draws of power - but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. The Sony Xperia Z2 comes with a built-in feature which overcomes this irksome problem - go to Settings > Display and switch on the "Smart backlight control" option. The phone's screen will stay awake as long as you're holding it.