April 23, 2024


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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 very first from Sony to support 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we have arrive to assume from Sony, it packs in the functions, but it is pricey even provided the prime-stop specs. Previous year’s Xperia 1 fees £849 (inc. VAT) or $799.99 in the US, but the Xperia 1 II moves into 4 figures at £1,099 or $1,199.99. Which is a good deal of revenue for a smartphone, and although there are some actually wonderful functions right here, it is heading to have to be very a lot ideal to justify the selling price. Let us see.

The Xperia 1 II seems really exclusive many thanks to its tall, slim style housing a screen that adopts an strange ‘cinematic’ 21:9 element ratio. It really is the identical element ratio we saw on final year’s Xperia 1 (in fact, the screen is the identical dimension and has the identical pixel depend too — extra on this under).

This makes for a telephone that is an awkward healthy for quite a few pockets. It really is not unduly vast although, and is really slender. The Xperia 1 II’s proportions are 72mm vast by 166mm deep by 7.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.


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

Photographs: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The style is really a lot in the Sony mould. A flat alternatively than curved screen, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass six again is black and mirror-shiny. Unfortunately it loves fingerprints and is alternatively slippery.

Which is even extra of an concern with an extra tall handset, in particular when hoping to operate just one-handed, which I generally identified extremely difficult. I identified sweeping notifications away, tapping at one-way links in internet web pages, and even performing via my twitter feed all alternatively difficult to do just one-handed. Usually it felt as although I was unbalancing the telephone when performing just one-handed, and in risk of dropping it on the flooring, and that slippery again was no aid at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a deal-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is designed into the a bit recessed electrical power button on the appropriate-hand facet.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony carries on to use a facet-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is situated midway down the appropriate edge, designed into the electrical power button. I identified it really efficient. The button is a bit recessed, in contrast to the volume rocker earlier mentioned it and digicam shutter to the bottom. Of course, digicam shutter: the Xperia 1 II majors on its screen and digicam set up, and that actual physical button has an crucial section to perform. A push launches the digicam app, a fifty percent-push focuses, and a lengthy push normally takes an picture.

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The SIM slot sits on the left edge, and unusually these days, only just one SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to enhance the internal storage. There is a USB-C port on the bottom edge, although the prime edge has a scarce issue for a 2020 flagship telephone — a 3.5mm headset jack. This is a strong handset, rated IP65/68 for dust and water resistance.

There are no obvious speaker grilles on the edges of the telephone because the stereo speakers are discreetly hidden in the bezels earlier mentioned and under the screen. Which is the best area: the speakers toss audio appropriate at you, and stay clear of currently being lined by palms when the telephone is held in landscape orientation. Seem good quality is very respectable, and Sony has involved ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with final year’s Xperia 1. You can established the handset to vibrate to the conquer of songs, with various levels of depth. The controller is an on-screen slider that sits beside the volume management. I didn’t feel a lot of it the very first time round and I am however not a enthusiast, but you do not have to use it if you do not want to.  


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

Picture: Sony

As pointed out previously the screen is the identical six.five-inch dimension, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:9 element ratio as final year’s Xperia 1. It really is an OLED panel with HDR 10-bit support. Those people speaker-housing bezels imply that the screen-to-human body ratio is a rather low eighty four%.

Sony does not offer a super-substantial refresh amount selection, so you are unable to dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus 8 Pro or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for illustration. And whilst the prime and bottom bezels are rather vast, at minimum there’s no require for an in-screen notch or punch-hole for the 8MP front digicam.

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

The screen-connected selections all pay off. I identified viewing online video footage an really fulfilling expertise. Colours are abundant but do not have that around-saturated glance that often will come with OLED. The refresh amount was good and I am not certain what boosting it would actually insert to everyday use. Most of the online video I viewed wasn’t in the screen’s 21:9 element ratio, so there have been black bars on both facet of the content. A brief finger-distribute stretch will zoom sixteen:9 or 18:9 online video to fill the screen, and it is typically properly watchable in this state.


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

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Having two apps open at the identical time is a trick that quite a few handsets offer, but it is generally not really practical. With the 21:9 element ratio making a taller than usual screen in portrait manner, dual app use will become practical. To stimulate this, Sony supplies a utility termed ’21:9 Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits these as YouTube / Chrome sit alongside the selection to decide certain apps from a checklist. It really is properly assumed-out, and would stimulate me to make extra use of the break up screen manner.

Sony is actually pushing the digicam abilities of the Xperia 1 II, which can shoot Uncooked images, make quickly autofocus and publicity calculations at up to sixty instances a second, and has eye tracking for humans and animals that aids with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also a lot extra usable than tapping on the screen. What you won’t uncover is fancy super-zoom operation that inevitably breaks up as the computer software loses its grip — or, certainly, any other arguably gimmicky functions.

With flagship smartphones sporting 4 or even five cameras at the again these days, a triple-digicam set up could appear to be guiding the instances. But the Xperia 1 II bucks the craze, and does so really productively. All 3 cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/1.7 (vast-angle), 70mm f/two.4 (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/two.two (extremely-vast-angle, 124°) lenses.

The computer software is wonderful, too. Turn the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ manner and you get a significantly smart break up screen with picture framing on the left and a variety of controls on the appropriate, plus a nifty pop-out left facet wheel for flicking via a variety of capturing-manner tastes and other options. If you might be ready to tweak, there’s an dreadful good deal you can customise very very easily, and Sony has completed a wonderful task of producing professional manner really available.


Sony’s digicam computer software makes the ‘pro’ manner options admirably available in landscape orientation.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Outfitted with Qualcomm’s prime-stop Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia 1 II done nicely below the Geekbench five CPU benchmark, turning in normal scores of 905 (single core) and 3362 (multi-core). With 12GB of RAM beginning to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus 8 Pro, the Xperia 1 II however provides equivalent Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

There is 256GB of internal storage, and Sony provides a good deal of extra bits and items to Android 10, a lot of which can be declined at startup if you desire. Accepting everything on offer will get up 21.5GB, but that however leaves 234.5GB free of charge for your individual details. 

The 4,000mAh battery is on the smaller facet these days, but it lasted for 10 several hours 52 minutes below the Computer Mark Work two. battery rundown test. Seeing online video is just one of the key use circumstances for this handset, so I totally billed the battery and left a YouTube online video managing for 3 several hours, after which it experienced fallen to eighty%. Much more anecdotally, I generally concluded a day’s normal use with at minimum 30% remaining. This is a sizeable advancement on final year’s Xperia 1 with its 3,300mAh battery, which lasted for just below 8 several hours when we analyzed it.

Fast charging (21W) and wireless charging (Qi, 11W) are obtainable on the Xperia 1 II.


Picture: Sony


Sony’s Xperia 1 II isn’t really for anyone — and even individuals who are drawn to its functions and can manage the form component could be put off by the 4-figure selling price tag. Just after all, there are plenty of nicely-specified smartphones that price fifty percent as a lot as this just one.
On the plus facet, there’s a wonderful cinematic OLED screen and a nicely-carried out triple rear digicam array. Sony also supplies a prime-stop 5G chipset, plenty of RAM and storage, and smooth industrial style. It really is Sony’s most effective telephone for some time, but selling price is likely to be the major concern.

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