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

Matthew N. Henry

The Sony Xperia one II is Sony’s 2020 flagship handset, and the initial from Sony to assist 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we have appear to be expecting from Sony, it packs in the capabilities, but it can be dear even offered the top-finish requirements. Last year’s Xperia one fees £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. That’s a whole lot of cash for a smartphone, and although there are some truly outstanding capabilities below, it can be going to have to be fairly much perfect to justify the rate. Let’s see.

The Xperia one II appears to be incredibly unique thanks to its tall, slim structure housing a display screen that adopts an unusual ‘cinematic’ 21:9 facet ratio. It really is the exact same facet ratio we noticed on previous year’s Xperia one (in point, the display screen is the exact same measurement and has the exact same pixel count as well — a lot more on this beneath).

This makes for a phone that’s an awkward healthy for many pockets. It really is not unduly vast even though, and is incredibly skinny. The Xperia one II’s dimensions are 72mm vast by 166mm deep by seven.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.


The 6.five-inch Xperia one II is Sony’s 2020 flagship phone, running on the Snapdragon 865 5G chipset with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of inside storage. It has a triple rear digital camera setup, all with 12MP resolution.

Pictures: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The structure is incredibly much in the Sony mould. A flat alternatively than curved display screen, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass 6 again is black and mirror-shiny. However it loves fingerprints and is alternatively slippery.

That’s even a lot more of an difficulty with an further tall handset, in particular when trying to perform a single-handed, which I generally identified exceptionally complicated. I identified sweeping notifications away, tapping at one-way links in world-wide-web internet pages, and even doing work via my twitter feed all alternatively tough to do a single-handed. Typically it felt as even though I was unbalancing the phone when doing work a single-handed, and in threat of dropping it on the ground, and that slippery again was no assistance at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a deal-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is designed into the slightly recessed power button on the appropriate-hand side.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony continues to use a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is positioned halfway down the appropriate edge, designed into the power button. I identified it incredibly efficient. The button is slightly recessed, in distinction to the volume rocker above it and digital camera shutter in the direction of the bottom. Certainly, digital camera shutter: the Xperia one II majors on its display screen and digital camera setup, and that physical button has an crucial element to participate in. A press launches the digital camera app, a 50 percent-press focuses, and a extended press can take an picture.

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The SIM slot sits on the still left edge, and unusually these times, only a single SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to enhance the inside storage. There is a USB-C port on the bottom edge, although the top edge has a scarce factor 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 seen speaker grilles on the edges of the phone because the stereo speakers are discreetly hidden in the bezels above and beneath the display screen. That’s the excellent place: the speakers toss sound appropriate at you, and stay clear of getting protected by palms when the phone is held in landscape orientation. Audio top quality is fairly first rate, and Sony has included ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with previous year’s Xperia one. You can established the handset to vibrate to the beat of music, with varying concentrations of depth. The controller is an on-display screen slider that sits beside the volume handle. I did not think much of it the initial time round and I am nevertheless not a enthusiast, but you do not have to use it if you do not want to.  


The 6.five-inch 21:9 OLED display screen occupies 84% of the front of the chassis, which has stereo speakers embedded in the top and bottom bezels.

Graphic: Sony

As famous before the display screen is the exact same 6.five-inch measurement, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:9 facet ratio as previous year’s Xperia one. It really is an OLED panel with HDR 10-bit assist. Individuals speaker-housing bezels suggest that the display screen-to-human body ratio is a relatively low 84%.

Sony does not provide a tremendous-higher refresh amount option, so you can not dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus eight Professional or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for instance. And whilst the top and bottom bezels are relatively vast, at minimum there is no require for an in-display screen notch or punch-gap for the 8MP front digital camera.

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

The display screen-associated possibilities all pay back off. I identified observing video clip footage an really fulfilling encounter. Colours are abundant but do not have that about-saturated glance that at times comes with OLED. The refresh amount was fine and I am not positive what boosting it would truly include to every day use. Most of the video clip I watched was not in the screen’s 21:9 facet ratio, so there had been black bars on both side of the material. A speedy finger-spread extend will zoom sixteen:9 or eighteen:9 video clip to fill the display screen, and it can be typically perfectly watchable in this condition.


You can configure the dual app manner working with Sony’s ’21:9 Multi-window’ utility.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Having two applications open up at the exact same time is a trick that many handsets provide, but it can be generally not incredibly practical. With the 21:9 facet ratio creating a taller than regular display screen in portrait manner, dual app use gets to be viable. To inspire this, Sony delivers a utility identified as ’21:9 Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits these kinds of as YouTube / Chrome sit along with the option to choose certain applications from a listing. It really is nicely thought-out, and would inspire me to make a lot more use of the split display screen manner.

Sony is truly pushing the digital camera capabilities of the Xperia one II, which can shoot Raw illustrations or photos, make rapidly autofocus and publicity calculations at up to 60 situations a second, and has eye tracking for human beings and animals that helps with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also much a lot more usable than tapping on the display screen. What you will not likely find is extravagant tremendous-zoom functionality that inevitably breaks up as the program loses its grip — or, without a doubt, any other arguably gimmicky capabilities.

With flagship smartphones sporting 4 or even five cameras at the again these times, a triple-digital camera setup may perhaps seem to be behind the situations. But the Xperia one II bucks the pattern, and does so incredibly productively. All a few cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/ (vast-angle), 70mm f/two.4 (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/two.two (extremely-vast-angle, 124°) lenses.

The program is pleasant, as well. Flip the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ manner and you get a very seriously clever split display screen with picture framing on the still left and several controls on the appropriate, as well as a nifty pop-out still left side wheel for flicking via several taking pictures-manner tastes and other settings. If you happen to be well prepared to tweak, there is an awful whole lot you can customise fairly quickly, and Sony has carried out a wonderful job of creating professional manner incredibly accessible.


Sony’s digital camera program makes the ‘pro’ manner settings admirably accessible in landscape orientation.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Equipped with Qualcomm’s top-finish Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia one II executed nicely beneath the Geekbench five CPU benchmark, turning in typical scores of 905 (single main) and 3362 (multi-main). With 12GB of RAM commencing to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus eight Professional, the Xperia one II nevertheless delivers comparable Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

There is 256GB of inside storage, and Sony adds a whole lot of further bits and items to Android 10, much of which can be declined at startup if you want. Accepting almost everything on provide will get up 21.5GB, but that nevertheless leaves 234.5GB free of charge for your own details. 

The 4,000mAh battery is on the little side these times, but it lasted for 10 hrs 52 minutes beneath the Computer system Mark Get the job done two. battery rundown take a look at. Observing video clip is a single of the critical use cases for this handset, so I fully billed the battery and still left a YouTube video clip running for a few hrs, after which it had fallen to eighty%. More anecdotally, I constantly completed a day’s typical use with at minimum thirty% remaining. This is a considerable improvement on previous year’s Xperia one with its three,300mAh battery, which lasted for just beneath eight hrs when we analyzed it.

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


Graphic: Sony


Sony’s Xperia one II is just not for all people — and even people who are drawn to its capabilities and can manage the form aspect may perhaps be put off by the 4-figure rate tag. After all, there are lots of nicely-specified smartphones that price tag 50 percent as much as this a single.
On the as well as side, there is a outstanding cinematic OLED display screen and a nicely-implemented triple rear digital camera array. Sony also delivers a top-finish 5G chipset, lots of RAM and storage, and smooth industrial structure. It really is Sony’s most effective phone for some time, but rate is probably to be the most important difficulty.

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