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 to assistance 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we’ve come to assume from Sony, it packs in the features, but it’s pricey even provided the top-conclude technical specs. Final year’s Xperia one charges £849 (inc. VAT) or $799.ninety nine in the US, but the Xperia one II moves into four figures at £1,099 or $one,199.ninety nine. That is a whole lot of cash for a smartphone, and although there are some definitely wonderful features listed here, it’s likely to have to be rather a great deal perfect to justify the value. Let us see.

The Xperia one II seems extremely distinctive thanks to its tall, narrow design housing a display that adopts an unconventional ‘cinematic’ 21:nine facet ratio. It is the exact facet ratio we observed on last year’s Xperia one (in simple fact, the display is the exact dimension and has the exact pixel rely way too — extra on this underneath).

This will make for a phone that is an uncomfortable in good shape for many pockets. It is not unduly huge although, and is extremely thin. The Xperia one II’s dimensions are 72mm huge by 166mm deep by 7.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.


The 6.5-inch Xperia one II is Sony’s 2020 flagship phone, jogging on the Snapdragon 865 5G chipset with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of inside storage. It has a triple rear digicam setup, all with 12MP resolution.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The design is extremely a great deal in the Sony mould. A flat relatively than curved display, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass 6 back is black and mirror-shiny. Sadly it loves fingerprints and is relatively slippery.

That is even extra of an issue with an added tall handset, especially when seeking to perform a single-handed, which I frequently discovered extremely complicated. I discovered sweeping notifications absent, tapping at one-way links in world wide web web pages, and even doing the job through my twitter feed all relatively challenging to do a single-handed. Frequently it felt as although I was unbalancing the phone when doing the job a single-handed, and in risk of dropping it on the ground, and that slippery back was no support at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a deal-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is designed into the a little recessed electrical power button on the right-hand aspect.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony proceeds to use a aspect-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is situated halfway down the right edge, designed into the electrical power button. I discovered it extremely productive. The button is a little recessed, in distinction to the volume rocker earlier mentioned it and digicam shutter in direction of the bottom. Of course, digicam shutter: the Xperia one II majors on its display and digicam setup, and that bodily button has an significant portion to perform. A push launches the digicam app, a fifty percent-push focuses, and a extended push normally takes an image.

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The SIM slot sits on the still left edge, and unusually these days, only a single SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to enhance the inside storage. There’s a USB-C port on the bottom edge, although the top edge has a scarce matter for a 2020 flagship phone — a three.5mm headset jack. This is a durable handset, rated IP65/68 for dust and h2o resistance.

There are no noticeable speaker grilles on the edges of the phone mainly because the stereo speakers are discreetly hidden in the bezels earlier mentioned and underneath the display. That is the suitable place: the speakers toss seem right at you, and stay clear of becoming coated by palms when the phone is held in landscape orientation. Seem quality is rather first rate, and Sony has involved ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with last year’s Xperia one. You can established the handset to vibrate to the defeat of audio, with various concentrations of intensity. The controller is an on-display slider that sits beside the volume command. I did not feel a great deal of it the initially time round and I’m nonetheless not a admirer, but you do not have to use it if you do not want to.  


The 6.5-inch 21:nine OLED display occupies 84{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd} of the entrance of the chassis, which has stereo speakers embedded in the top and bottom bezels.

Impression: Sony

As mentioned before the display is the exact 6.5-inch dimension, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:nine facet ratio as last year’s Xperia one. It is an OLED panel with HDR ten-little bit assistance. Individuals speaker-housing bezels suggest that the display-to-body ratio is a comparatively minimal 84{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd}.

Sony does not present a super-significant refresh fee selection, so you are not able to dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus 8 Professional or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for case in point. And while the top and bottom bezels are comparatively huge, at the very least there is certainly no need to have for an in-display notch or punch-hole for the 8MP entrance digicam.

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

The display-related possibilities all shell out off. I discovered viewing video clip footage an extremely gratifying working experience. Colors are abundant but do not have that around-saturated seem that in some cases arrives with OLED. The refresh fee was wonderful and I’m not guaranteed what boosting it would definitely increase to day to day use. Most of the video clip I viewed was not in the screen’s 21:nine facet ratio, so there have been black bars on both aspect of the written content. A fast finger-spread stretch will zoom sixteen:nine or 18:nine video clip to fill the display, and it’s typically properly watchable in this state.


You can configure the dual app mode employing Sony’s ’21:nine Multi-window’ utility.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Getting two apps open at the exact time is a trick that many handsets present, but it’s frequently not extremely practical. With the 21:nine facet ratio creating a taller than regular display in portrait mode, dual app use gets practical. To encourage this, Sony presents a utility called ’21:nine Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits this kind of as YouTube / Chrome sit alongside the selection to choose precise apps from a checklist. It is nicely believed-out, and would encourage me to make extra use of the break up display mode.

Sony is definitely pushing the digicam abilities of the Xperia one II, which can shoot Uncooked pictures, make fast autofocus and exposure calculations at up to 60 instances a second, and has eye monitoring for human beings and animals that will help with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also a great deal extra usable than tapping on the display. What you won’t find is fancy super-zoom features that inevitably breaks up as the program loses its grip — or, without a doubt, any other arguably gimmicky features.

With flagship smartphones sporting four or even 5 cameras at the back these days, a triple-digicam setup may well look powering the instances. But the Xperia one II bucks the pattern, and does so extremely properly. All a few cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/one.7 (huge-angle), 70mm f/two.4 (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/two.two (ultra-huge-angle, 124°) lenses.

The program is pleasant, way too. Flip the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ mode and you get a very seriously good break up display with image framing on the still left and numerous controls on the right, moreover a nifty pop-out still left aspect wheel for flicking through numerous taking pictures-mode preferences and other options. If you’re well prepared to tweak, there is certainly an awful whole lot you can customise rather easily, and Sony has carried out a great task of earning pro mode extremely accessible.


Sony’s digicam program will make the ‘pro’ mode options admirably accessible in landscape orientation.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Geared up with Qualcomm’s top-conclude Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia one II done very well beneath the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark, turning in average scores of 905 (solitary core) and 3362 (multi-core). With 12GB of RAM starting to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus 8 Professional, the Xperia one II nonetheless provides comparable Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

There’s 256GB of inside storage, and Sony adds a whole lot of added bits and pieces to Android ten, a great deal of which can be declined at startup if you would like. Accepting every thing on present will consider up 21.5GB, but that nonetheless leaves 234.5GB cost-free for your possess data. 

The 4,000mAh battery is on the modest aspect these days, but it lasted for ten hours fifty two minutes beneath the Computer Mark Function two. battery rundown take a look at. Seeing video clip is a single of the important use conditions for this handset, so I completely billed the battery and still left a YouTube video clip jogging for a few hours, immediately after which it experienced fallen to 80{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd}. A lot more anecdotally, I generally finished a day’s average use with at the very least 30{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd} remaining. This is a major advancement on last year’s Xperia one with its three,300mAh battery, which lasted for just beneath 8 hours when we analyzed it.

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


Impression: Sony


Sony’s Xperia one II is not for everybody — and even people who are drawn to its features and can manage the form variable may well be place off by the four-determine value tag. Immediately after all, there are a lot of very well-specified smartphones that expense fifty percent as a great deal as this a single.
On the moreover aspect, there is certainly a wonderful cinematic OLED display and a very well-executed triple rear digicam array. Sony also presents a top-conclude 5G chipset, a lot of RAM and storage, and smooth industrial design. It is Sony’s ideal phone for some time, but value is likely to be the principal issue.

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