Sony Xperia 1 II review: Cinematic 4K screen, 5G and better battery life, but the price is high Review

The Sony Xperia one II is Sony’s 2020 flagship handset, and the initially from Sony

The Sony Xperia one II is Sony’s 2020 flagship handset, and the initially from Sony to assistance 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we’ve arrive to assume from Sony, it packs in the characteristics, but it can be expensive even offered the top-stop technical specs. Final year’s Xperia one costs £849 (inc. VAT) or $799.99 in the US, but the Xperia one II moves into 4 figures at £1,099 or $one,199.99. Which is a good deal of money for a smartphone, and while there are some genuinely exceptional characteristics here, it can be likely to have to be really substantially perfect to justify the price tag. Let us see.

The Xperia one II appears to be extremely exclusive thanks to its tall, narrow style housing a display that adopts an unconventional ‘cinematic’ 21:nine component ratio. It’s the similar component ratio we saw on last year’s Xperia one (in truth, the display is the similar measurement and has the similar pixel count too — more on this underneath).

This helps make for a phone that’s an awkward in good shape for lots of pockets. It’s not unduly wide however, and is extremely thin. The Xperia one II’s dimensions are 72mm wide by 166mm deep by 7.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.


The six.5-inch Xperia one II is Sony’s 2020 flagship phone, operating on the Snapdragon 865 5G chipset with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of inside storage. It has a triple rear camera set up, all with 12MP resolution.

Pictures: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The style is extremely substantially in the Sony mould. A flat somewhat than curved display, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass six again is black and mirror-shiny. Sad to say it enjoys fingerprints and is somewhat slippery.

Which is even more of an issue with an further tall handset, in particular when seeking to operate one particular-handed, which I often observed exceptionally hard. I observed sweeping notifications absent, tapping at one-way links in internet webpages, and even functioning by way of my twitter feed all somewhat tricky to do one particular-handed. Frequently it felt as however I was unbalancing the phone when functioning one particular-handed, and in hazard of dropping it on the flooring, and that slippery again was no assist at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a offer-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is built into the marginally recessed electric power button on the proper-hand side.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony carries on to use a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is located halfway down the proper edge, built into the electric power button. I observed it extremely effective. The button is marginally recessed, in distinction to the volume rocker earlier mentioned it and camera shutter toward the bottom. Yes, camera shutter: the Xperia one II majors on its display and camera set up, and that actual physical button has an critical component to engage in. A press launches the camera application, a 50 %-press focuses, and a prolonged press requires an graphic.

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The SIM slot sits on the left edge, and unusually these times, only one particular SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to raise the inside storage. There is certainly a USB-C port on the bottom edge, while the top edge has a uncommon point for a 2020 flagship phone — a three.5mm headset jack. This is a tough handset, rated IP65/sixty eight for dust and drinking water resistance.

There are no seen speaker grilles on the edges of the phone due to the fact the stereo speakers are discreetly concealed in the bezels earlier mentioned and underneath the display. Which is the best spot: the speakers toss seem proper at you, and prevent staying included by palms when the phone is held in landscape orientation. Audio quality is really respectable, and Sony has involved ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with last year’s Xperia one. You can set the handset to vibrate to the beat of songs, with different degrees of depth. The controller is an on-display slider that sits beside the volume command. I didn’t imagine substantially of it the initially time round and I am even now not a fan, but you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.  


The six.5-inch 21:nine OLED display occupies eighty four% of the front of the chassis, which has stereo speakers embedded in the top and bottom bezels.

Graphic: Sony

As famous before the display is the similar six.5-inch measurement, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:nine component ratio as last year’s Xperia one. It’s an OLED panel with HDR ten-little bit assistance. People speaker-housing bezels suggest that the display-to-system ratio is a relatively reduced eighty four%.

Sony does not provide a super-high refresh price alternative, so you won’t be able to dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus eight Professional or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for example. And whilst the top and bottom bezels are relatively wide, at the very least there is certainly no need for an in-display notch or punch-hole for the 8MP front camera.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (cost-free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The display-similar selections all pay out off. I observed looking at online video footage an exceptionally gratifying practical experience. Colors are prosperous but don’t have that in excess of-saturated search that sometimes comes with OLED. The refresh price was great and I am not confident what boosting it would genuinely incorporate to day to day use. Most of the online video I viewed wasn’t in the screen’s 21:nine component ratio, so there ended up black bars on possibly side of the content. A quick finger-distribute stretch will zoom sixteen:nine or 18:nine online video to fill the display, and it can be generally flawlessly watchable in this point out.


You can configure the dual application method making use of Sony’s ’21:nine Multi-window’ utility.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Possessing two apps open at the similar time is a trick that lots of handsets provide, but it can be often not extremely simple. With the 21:nine component ratio creating a taller than typical display in portrait method, dual application use turns into feasible. To persuade this, Sony gives a utility referred to as ’21:nine Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits these types of as YouTube / Chrome sit alongside the alternative to choose specific apps from a record. It’s properly assumed-out, and would persuade me to make more use of the split display method.

Sony is genuinely pushing the camera abilities of the Xperia one II, which can shoot Raw illustrations or photos, make quick autofocus and exposure calculations at up to 60 occasions a next, and has eye monitoring for individuals and animals that helps with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also substantially more usable than tapping on the display. What you is not going to uncover is fancy super-zoom performance that inevitably breaks up as the software loses its grip — or, in truth, any other arguably gimmicky characteristics.

With flagship smartphones sporting 4 or even 5 cameras at the again these times, a triple-camera set up may well look at the rear of the occasions. But the Xperia one II bucks the pattern, and does so extremely successfully. All 3 cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/one.7 (wide-angle), 70mm f/2.4 (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/2.2 (ultra-wide-angle, 124°) lenses.

The software is wonderful, too. Turn the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ method and you get a very seriously good split display with graphic framing on the left and different controls on the proper, plus a nifty pop-out left side wheel for flicking by way of different taking pictures-method choices and other configurations. If you might be well prepared to tweak, there is certainly an terrible good deal you can customise really simply, and Sony has accomplished a wonderful task of creating professional method extremely available.


Sony’s camera software helps make the ‘pro’ method configurations admirably available in landscape orientation.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Geared up with Qualcomm’s top-stop Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia one II executed effectively underneath the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark, turning in ordinary scores of 905 (single main) and 3362 (multi-main). With 12GB of RAM starting to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus eight Professional, the Xperia one II even now delivers similar Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

There is certainly 256GB of inside storage, and Sony adds a good deal of further bits and parts to Android ten, substantially of which can be declined at startup if you desire. Accepting every thing on provide will acquire up 21.5GB, but that even now leaves 234.5GB cost-free for your have details. 

The 4,000mAh battery is on the tiny side these times, but it lasted for ten several hours 52 minutes underneath the Pc Mark Perform 2. battery rundown check. Watching online video is one particular of the vital use instances for this handset, so I completely billed the battery and left a YouTube online video operating for 3 several hours, right after which it experienced fallen to 80%. Extra anecdotally, I always completed a day’s ordinary use with at the very least 30% remaining. This is a significant advancement on last year’s Xperia one with its three,300mAh battery, which lasted for just underneath eight several hours when we analyzed it.

Rapid charging (21W) and wi-fi charging (Qi, 11W) are accessible on the Xperia one II.


Graphic: Sony


Sony’s Xperia one II isn’t for absolutely everyone — and even people who are drawn to its characteristics and can tackle the type component may well be set off by the 4-figure price tag tag. Following all, there are lots of effectively-specified smartphones that expense 50 % as substantially as this one particular.
On the plus side, there is certainly a exceptional cinematic OLED display and a effectively-implemented triple rear camera array. Sony also gives a top-stop 5G chipset, lots of RAM and storage, and modern industrial style. It’s Sony’s greatest phone for some time, but price tag is likely to be the main issue.

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