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 aid 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we have arrive to assume from Sony, it packs in the attributes, but it is really expensive even offered the best-conclusion technical specs. Past year’s Xperia 1 charges £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. That’s a good deal of revenue for a smartphone, and when there are some genuinely wonderful attributes below, it is really likely to have to be rather a great deal great to justify the price tag. Let us see.

The Xperia 1 II appears to be very exclusive many thanks to its tall, slender style housing a screen that adopts an unconventional ‘cinematic’ 21:9 aspect ratio. It really is the identical aspect ratio we saw on past year’s Xperia 1 (in reality, the screen is the identical size and has the identical pixel depend much too — additional on this beneath).

This can make for a cell phone that is an uncomfortable healthy for quite a few pockets. It really is not unduly broad even though, and is very slender. The Xperia 1 II’s proportions are 72mm broad by 166mm deep by 7.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.


The six.five-inch Xperia 1 II is Sony’s 2020 flagship cell phone, functioning 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.

Photographs: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The style is very a great deal in the Sony mould. A flat fairly than curved screen, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass six back again is black and mirror-shiny. Regrettably it enjoys fingerprints and is fairly slippery.

That’s even additional of an situation with an extra tall handset, in particular when making an attempt to perform one particular-handed, which I generally located extremely complicated. I located sweeping notifications away, tapping at one-way links in internet internet pages, and even working via my twitter feed all fairly challenging to do one particular-handed. Generally it felt as even though I was unbalancing the cell phone when working one particular-handed, and in danger of dropping it on the flooring, and that slippery back again was no help at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a deal-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is crafted into the marginally recessed electric power button on the appropriate-hand aspect.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony carries on to use a aspect-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is located halfway down the appropriate edge, crafted into the electric power button. I located it very successful. The button is marginally recessed, in contrast to the quantity rocker previously mentioned it and digicam shutter toward the base. Of course, digicam shutter: the Xperia 1 II majors on its screen and digicam setup, and that actual physical button has an vital part to play. A push launches the digicam app, a half-push focuses, and a lengthy push can take an graphic.

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The SIM slot sits on the left edge, and unusually these days, only one particular SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to enhance the inside storage. There is certainly a USB-C port on the base edge, when the best edge has a uncommon matter for a 2020 flagship cell phone — a 3.5mm headset jack. This is a tough handset, rated IP65/68 for dust and h2o resistance.

There are no visible speaker grilles on the edges of the cell phone mainly because the stereo speakers are discreetly hidden in the bezels previously mentioned and beneath the screen. That’s the perfect area: the speakers toss seem appropriate at you, and stay away from currently being coated by palms when the cell phone is held in landscape orientation. Sound top quality is rather good, and Sony has involved ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with past year’s Xperia 1. You can established the handset to vibrate to the conquer of new music, with varying amounts of depth. The controller is an on-screen slider that sits beside the quantity handle. I didn’t believe a great deal of it the initial time spherical and I am even now not a admirer, but you you should not have to use it if you you should not want to.  


The six.five-inch 21:9 OLED screen occupies 84% of the front of the chassis, which has stereo speakers embedded in the best and base bezels.

Impression: Sony

As observed earlier the screen is the identical six.five-inch size, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:9 aspect ratio as past year’s Xperia 1. It really is an OLED panel with HDR 10-little bit aid. People speaker-housing bezels indicate that the screen-to-overall body ratio is a fairly low 84%.

Sony does not provide a tremendous-higher refresh charge solution, so you can’t dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus 8 Professional or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for illustration. And despite the fact that the best and base bezels are fairly broad, at the very least you will find no need for an in-screen notch or punch-hole for the 8MP front digicam.

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

The screen-similar possibilities all pay out off. I located seeing online video footage an very enjoyable working experience. Colours are loaded but you should not have that above-saturated search that occasionally arrives with OLED. The refresh charge was high-quality and I am not absolutely sure what boosting it would genuinely insert to everyday use. Most of the online video I watched wasn’t in the screen’s 21:9 aspect ratio, so there had been black bars on both aspect of the information. A rapid finger-spread extend will zoom sixteen:9 or 18:9 online video to fill the screen, and it is really typically properly watchable in this point out.


You can configure the twin app mode employing Sony’s ’21:9 Multi-window’ utility.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Having two apps open at the identical time is a trick that quite a few handsets provide, but it is really generally not very practical. With the 21:9 aspect ratio making a taller than standard screen in portrait mode, twin app use gets to be viable. To encourage this, Sony presents a utility named ’21:9 Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits these as YouTube / Chrome sit together with the solution to pick distinct apps from a record. It really is properly believed-out, and would encourage me to make additional use of the split screen mode.

Sony is genuinely pushing the digicam capabilities of the Xperia 1 II, which can shoot Raw images, make quick autofocus and publicity calculations at up to sixty instances a second, and has eye monitoring for humans and animals that can help with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also a great deal additional usable than tapping on the screen. What you is not going to obtain is fancy tremendous-zoom functionality that inevitably breaks up as the computer software loses its grip — or, indeed, any other arguably gimmicky attributes.

With flagship smartphones sporting 4 or even five cameras at the back again these days, a triple-digicam setup may perhaps feel guiding the instances. But the Xperia 1 II bucks the pattern, and does so very successfully. All three cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/1.7 (broad-angle), 70mm f/2.four (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/2.2 (ultra-broad-angle, 124°) lenses.

The computer software is great, much too. Turn the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ mode and you get a significantly good split screen with graphic framing on the left and different controls on the appropriate, moreover a nifty pop-out left aspect wheel for flicking via different taking pictures-mode preferences and other configurations. If you happen to be well prepared to tweak, you will find an dreadful good deal you can customise rather effortlessly, and Sony has accomplished a wonderful work of generating professional mode very obtainable.


Sony’s digicam computer software can make the ‘pro’ mode configurations admirably obtainable in landscape orientation.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Outfitted with Qualcomm’s best-conclusion Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia 1 II done perfectly beneath the Geekbench five CPU benchmark, turning in normal scores of 905 (single main) and 3362 (multi-main). With 12GB of RAM setting up to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus 8 Professional, the Xperia 1 II even now delivers equivalent Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

There is certainly 256GB of inside storage, and Sony adds a good deal of extra bits and parts to Android 10, a great deal of which can be declined at startup if you want. Accepting every little thing on provide will choose up 21.5GB, but that even now leaves 234.5GB totally free for your individual knowledge. 

The four,000mAh battery is on the small aspect these days, but it lasted for 10 hrs 52 minutes beneath the Laptop Mark Get the job done 2. battery rundown test. Watching online video is one particular of the essential use situations for this handset, so I totally billed the battery and left a YouTube online video functioning for three hrs, following which it experienced fallen to 80%. Much more anecdotally, I constantly finished a day’s normal use with at the very least thirty% remaining. This is a important improvement on past year’s Xperia 1 with its 3,300mAh battery, which lasted for just beneath 8 hrs when we analyzed it.

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


Impression: Sony


Sony’s Xperia 1 II isn’t really for anyone — and even these who are drawn to its attributes and can cope with the kind component may perhaps be set off by the 4-figure price tag tag. Soon after all, there are a good deal of perfectly-specified smartphones that value half as a great deal as this one particular.
On the moreover aspect, you will find a wonderful cinematic OLED screen and a perfectly-carried out triple rear digicam array. Sony also presents a best-conclusion 5G chipset, a good deal of RAM and storage, and sleek industrial style. It really is Sony’s finest cell phone for some time, but price tag is most likely to be the principal situation.

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