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 1st from Sony to guidance 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we have arrive to count on from Sony, it packs in the characteristics, but it really is expensive even given the prime-finish specs. Final year’s Xperia one costs £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 lot of money for a smartphone, and while there are some genuinely superb characteristics listed here, it really is going to have to be rather a lot best to justify the price. Let’s see.

The Xperia one II appears to be like very exclusive many thanks to its tall, slim design and style housing a screen that adopts an abnormal ‘cinematic’ 21:9 component ratio. It is the identical component ratio we observed on previous year’s Xperia one (in fact, the screen is the identical size and has the identical pixel rely too — extra on this down below).

This tends to make for a cell phone that’s an uncomfortable in shape for quite a few pockets. It is not unduly extensive even though, and is very thin. The Xperia one II’s proportions are 72mm extensive by 166mm deep by seven.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.

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


Illustrations or photos: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The design and style is very a lot in the Sony mould. A flat relatively than curved screen, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass 6 back again is black and mirror-shiny. Regretably it enjoys fingerprints and is relatively slippery.

That is even extra of an situation with an excess tall handset, especially when hoping to operate one-handed, which I normally located exceptionally complicated. I located sweeping notifications absent, tapping at one-way links in web internet pages, and even doing work through my twitter feed all relatively challenging to do one-handed. Frequently it felt as even though I was unbalancing the cell phone when doing work one-handed, and in risk of dropping it on the ground, and that slippery back again was no aid at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a deal-breaker.

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The fingerprint sensor is created into the slightly recessed energy button on the correct-hand aspect.


Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony continues to use a aspect-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is situated halfway down the correct edge, created into the energy button. I located it very successful. The button is slightly recessed, in distinction to the volume rocker earlier mentioned it and digital camera shutter to the bottom. Certainly, digital camera shutter: the Xperia one II majors on its screen and digital camera set up, and that bodily button has an critical section to play. A push launches the digital camera app, a 50 %-push focuses, and a very long push normally takes an picture.

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The SIM slot sits on the remaining edge, and unusually these days, only one SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to improve the inner storage. There is a USB-C port on the bottom edge, while the prime edge has a unusual point for a 2020 flagship cell phone — a three.5mm headset jack. This is a tough handset, rated IP65/sixty eight for dust and h2o resistance.

There are no obvious speaker grilles on the edges of the cell phone mainly because the stereo speakers are discreetly hidden in the bezels earlier mentioned and down below the screen. That is the perfect site: the speakers throw audio correct at you, and avoid remaining covered by palms when the cell phone is held in landscape orientation. Audio excellent is rather respectable, and Sony has bundled ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with previous year’s Xperia one. You can set the handset to vibrate to the conquer of new music, with various amounts of intensity. The controller is an on-screen slider that sits beside the volume management. I did not imagine a lot of it the 1st time round and I’m still not a lover, but you do not have to use it if you do not want to.  

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The 6.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.


Image: Sony

As famous earlier the screen is the identical 6.five-inch size, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:9 component ratio as previous year’s Xperia one. It is an OLED panel with HDR ten-little bit guidance. Individuals speaker-housing bezels signify that the screen-to-entire body ratio is a fairly minimal eighty four%.

Sony does not provide a super-higher refresh price selection, so you can not dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus eight Pro or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for instance. And whilst the prime and bottom bezels are fairly extensive, at the very least there is no want for an in-screen notch or punch-gap for the 8MP front digital camera.

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

The screen-associated decisions all pay off. I located looking at movie footage an exceptionally fulfilling expertise. Colours are loaded but do not have that in excess of-saturated glimpse that sometimes comes with OLED. The refresh price was wonderful and I’m not confident what boosting it would genuinely insert to day to day use. Most of the movie I watched wasn’t in the screen’s 21:9 component ratio, so there have been black bars on possibly aspect of the information. A swift finger-distribute extend will zoom sixteen:9 or eighteen:9 movie to fill the screen, and it really is typically completely watchable in this state.

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


Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Acquiring two apps open at the identical time is a trick that quite a few handsets provide, but it really is normally not very realistic. With the 21:9 component ratio generating a taller than standard screen in portrait mode, dual app use gets practical. To encourage this, Sony provides a utility termed ’21:9 Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits this kind of as YouTube / Chrome sit alongside the selection to select precise apps from a record. It is nicely imagined-out, and would encourage me to make extra use of the split screen mode.

Sony is genuinely pushing the digital camera abilities of the Xperia one II, which can shoot Raw photographs, make rapidly autofocus and exposure calculations at up to sixty moments a next, and has eye monitoring for individuals and animals that allows with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also a lot extra usable than tapping on the screen. What you would not obtain is extravagant super-zoom features that inevitably breaks up as the application loses its grip — or, in truth, any other arguably gimmicky characteristics.

With flagship smartphones sporting four or even five cameras at the back again these days, a triple-digital camera set up may perhaps look at the rear of the moments. But the Xperia one II bucks the trend, and does so very correctly. All three cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/one.seven (extensive-angle), 70mm f/two.4 (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/two.two (extremely-extensive-angle, 124°) lenses.

The application is pleasant, too. Switch the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ mode and you get a very seriously smart split screen with picture framing on the remaining and different controls on the correct, plus a nifty pop-out remaining aspect wheel for flicking through different taking pictures-mode preferences and other options. If you are prepared to tweak, there is an awful lot you can customise rather simply, and Sony has performed a terrific occupation of making pro mode very accessible.

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Sony’s digital camera application tends to make the ‘pro’ mode options admirably accessible in landscape orientation.


Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Geared up with Qualcomm’s prime-finish Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia one II executed effectively beneath the Geekbench five CPU benchmark, turning in ordinary scores of 905 (one main) and 3362 (multi-main). With 12GB of RAM setting up to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus eight Pro, the Xperia one II still delivers equivalent Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

There is 256GB of inner storage, and Sony provides a lot of excess bits and parts to Android ten, a lot of which can be declined at startup if you wish. Accepting almost everything on provide will choose up 21.5GB, but that still leaves 234.5GB free of charge for your possess data. 

The 4,000mAh battery is on the tiny aspect these days, but it lasted for ten hours 52 minutes beneath the Personal computer Mark Get the job done two. battery rundown check. Looking at movie is one of the key use situations for this handset, so I fully charged the battery and remaining a YouTube movie jogging for three hours, right after which it experienced fallen to 80%. More anecdotally, I often completed a day’s ordinary use with at the very least 30% remaining. This is a important enhancement on previous year’s Xperia one with its three,300mAh battery, which lasted for just beneath eight hours when we examined it.

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

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Image: Sony

Conclusions

Sony’s Xperia one II is just not for everyone — and even those people who are drawn to its characteristics and can deal with the type element may perhaps be put off by the four-figure price tag. Soon after all, there are a lot of effectively-specified smartphones that value 50 % as a lot as this one.
On the plus aspect, there is a superb cinematic OLED screen and a effectively-implemented triple rear digital camera array. Sony also provides a prime-finish 5G chipset, a lot of RAM and storage, and sleek industrial design and style. It is Sony’s greatest cell phone for some time, but price is likely to be the most important situation.

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