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

The Sony Xperia 1 II is Sony’s 2020 flagship handset, and the initial from Sony to assistance 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we’ve appear to count on from Sony, it packs in the capabilities, but it truly is pricey even specified the prime-close specs. Previous year’s Xperia 1 charges £849 (inc. VAT) or $799.99 in the US, but the Xperia 1 II moves into four figures at £1,099 or $1,199.99. That is a lot of funds for a smartphone, and though there are some truly excellent capabilities below, it truly is likely to have to be very substantially great to justify the rate. Let us see.

The Xperia 1 II seems to be quite exclusive thanks to its tall, slender style and design housing a display screen that adopts an strange ‘cinematic’ 21:9 element ratio. It really is the similar element ratio we saw on last year’s Xperia 1 (in simple fact, the display screen is the similar dimension and has the similar pixel rely also — far more on this underneath).

This will make for a phone which is an uncomfortable fit for lots of pockets. It really is not unduly broad nevertheless, and is quite slim. The Xperia 1 II’s dimensions are 72mm broad by 166mm deep by seven.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.


The six.5-inch Xperia 1 II is Sony’s 2020 flagship phone, functioning on the Snapdragon 865 5G chipset with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of inside storage. It has a triple rear digicam set up, all with 12MP resolution.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The style and design is quite substantially in the Sony mould. A flat fairly than curved display screen, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass six back is black and mirror-shiny. Regrettably it enjoys fingerprints and is fairly slippery.

That is even far more of an difficulty with an additional tall handset, especially when trying to get the job done a person-handed, which I often uncovered exceptionally challenging. I uncovered sweeping notifications absent, tapping at hyperlinks in world wide web internet pages, and even functioning as a result of my twitter feed all fairly challenging to do a person-handed. Generally it felt as nevertheless I was unbalancing the phone when functioning a person-handed, and in risk of dropping it on the floor, and that slippery back was no enable at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a deal-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is developed into the marginally recessed energy button on the proper-hand facet.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony carries on to use a facet-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is found midway down the proper edge, developed into the energy button. I uncovered it quite successful. The button is marginally recessed, in contrast to the quantity rocker above it and digicam shutter towards the bottom. Certainly, digicam shutter: the Xperia 1 II majors on its display screen and digicam set up, and that bodily button has an vital element to engage in. A press launches the digicam application, a 50 %-press focuses, and a long press normally takes an picture.

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The SIM slot sits on the left edge, and unusually these times, only a person SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to improve the inside storage. You will find a USB-C port on the bottom edge, though the prime edge has a unusual thing for a 2020 flagship phone — a three.5mm headset jack. This is a durable handset, rated IP65/sixty eight for dust and h2o resistance.

There are no visible speaker grilles on the edges of the phone because the stereo speakers are discreetly hidden in the bezels above and underneath the display screen. That is the great location: the speakers toss audio proper at you, and prevent being protected by palms when the phone is held in landscape orientation. Seem high quality is very respectable, and Sony has bundled ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with last year’s Xperia 1. You can set the handset to vibrate to the conquer of tunes, with various concentrations of intensity. The controller is an on-display screen slider that sits beside the quantity manage. I failed to assume substantially of it the initial time round and I’m even now not a enthusiast, but you will not have to use it if you will not want to.  


The six.5-inch 21:9 OLED display screen occupies eighty four% of the front of the chassis, which has stereo speakers embedded in the prime and bottom bezels.

Impression: Sony

As observed previously the display screen is the similar six.5-inch dimension, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:9 element ratio as last year’s Xperia 1. It really is an OLED panel with HDR ten-bit assistance. All those speaker-housing bezels suggest that the display screen-to-entire body ratio is a rather very low eighty four%.

Sony does not offer you a super-substantial refresh amount option, so you cannot dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus eight Professional or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for illustration. And whilst the prime and bottom bezels are rather broad, at minimum there is certainly no require for an in-display screen notch or punch-hole for the 8MP front digicam.

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

The display screen-relevant possibilities all spend off. I uncovered looking at video clip footage an particularly fulfilling experience. Colours are prosperous but will not have that about-saturated glimpse that often comes with OLED. The refresh amount was good and I’m not absolutely sure what boosting it would truly insert to day-to-day use. Most of the video clip I viewed was not in the screen’s 21:9 element ratio, so there have been black bars on possibly facet of the content material. A fast finger-unfold stretch will zoom 16:9 or eighteen:9 video clip to fill the display screen, and it truly is usually flawlessly watchable in this state.


You can configure the dual application method utilizing Sony’s ’21:9 Multi-window’ utility.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Acquiring two apps open at the similar time is a trick that lots of handsets offer you, but it truly is often not quite functional. With the 21:9 element ratio producing a taller than common display screen in portrait method, dual application use gets to be practical. To really encourage this, Sony delivers a utility identified as ’21:9 Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits this sort of as YouTube / Chrome sit along with the option to decide on precise apps from a listing. It really is nicely believed-out, and would really encourage me to make far more use of the break up display screen method.

Sony is truly pushing the digicam abilities of the Xperia 1 II, which can shoot Uncooked photographs, make rapidly autofocus and exposure calculations at up to sixty times a second, and has eye monitoring for humans and animals that assists with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also substantially far more usable than tapping on the display screen. What you will never locate is fancy super-zoom performance that inevitably breaks up as the software loses its grip — or, in truth, any other arguably gimmicky capabilities.

With flagship smartphones sporting four or even five cameras at the back these times, a triple-digicam set up may seem guiding the times. But the Xperia 1 II bucks the craze, and does so quite correctly. All three cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/ (broad-angle), 70mm f/2.four (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/2.2 (extremely-broad-angle, 124°) lenses.

The software is pleasant, also. Switch the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ method and you get a seriously intelligent break up display screen with picture framing on the left and different controls on the proper, additionally a nifty pop-out left facet wheel for flicking as a result of different shooting-method preferences and other settings. If you are ready to tweak, there is certainly an awful lot you can customise very quickly, and Sony has carried out a terrific occupation of creating pro method quite obtainable.


Sony’s digicam software will make the ‘pro’ method settings admirably obtainable in landscape orientation.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Outfitted with Qualcomm’s prime-close Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia 1 II executed very well below the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark, turning in average scores of 905 (one main) and 3362 (multi-main). With 12GB of RAM starting to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus eight Professional, the Xperia 1 II even now delivers equivalent Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

You will find 256GB of inside storage, and Sony adds a lot of additional bits and items to Android ten, substantially of which can be declined at startup if you would like. Accepting almost everything on offer you will just take up 21.5GB, but that even now leaves 234.5GB totally free for your personal info. 

The four,000mAh battery is on the little facet these times, but it lasted for ten hours 52 minutes below the Personal computer Mark Operate 2. battery rundown take a look at. Seeing video clip is a person of the key use scenarios for this handset, so I absolutely charged the battery and left a YouTube video clip functioning for three hours, right after which it had fallen to 80%. Much more anecdotally, I normally concluded a day’s average use with at minimum 30% remaining. This is a major improvement on last year’s Xperia 1 with its three,300mAh battery, which lasted for just below eight hours when we examined it.

Fast charging (21W) and wi-fi charging (Qi, 11W) are offered on the Xperia 1 II.


Impression: Sony


Sony’s Xperia 1 II is not for every person — and even those who are drawn to its capabilities and can manage the form aspect may be set off by the four-figure rate tag. Right after all, there are a lot of very well-specified smartphones that cost 50 % as substantially as this a person.
On the additionally facet, there is certainly a excellent cinematic OLED display screen and a very well-implemented triple rear digicam array. Sony also delivers a prime-close 5G chipset, a lot of RAM and storage, and sleek industrial style and design. It really is Sony’s ideal phone for some time, but rate is probably to be the primary difficulty.

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