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

Nancy J. Delong

The Sony Xperia one 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 occur to assume from Sony, it packs in the attributes, but it is really pricey even offered the major-end specifications. Last year’s Xperia one fees £849 (inc. VAT) or $799.ninety nine in the US, but the Xperia one II moves into 4 figures at £1,099 or $one,199.ninety nine. Which is a whole lot of money for a smartphone, and when there are some truly excellent attributes listed here, it is really going to have to be pretty much excellent to justify the cost. Let’s see.

The Xperia one II appears to be very unique many thanks to its tall, slender layout housing a display that adopts an uncommon ‘cinematic’ 21:nine component ratio. It is really the exact same component ratio we saw on final year’s Xperia one (in truth, the display is the exact same measurement and has the exact same pixel rely also — far more on this under).

This will make for a cell phone that is an uncomfortable fit for numerous pockets. It is really not unduly wide while, and is very slender. The Xperia one II’s dimensions are 72mm wide by 166mm deep by seven.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.


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

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The layout is very much in the Sony mould. A flat instead than curved display, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass six back is black and mirror-shiny. Regretably it enjoys fingerprints and is instead slippery.

Which is even far more of an situation with an extra tall handset, in particular when seeking to work one-handed, which I frequently uncovered extremely challenging. I uncovered sweeping notifications away, tapping at backlinks in website internet pages, and even working by means of my twitter feed all instead tricky to do one-handed. Generally it felt as while I was unbalancing the cell phone when working one-handed, and in danger of dropping it on the floor, and that slippery back was no help at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a offer-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is created into the a little recessed electrical power button on the proper-hand facet.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony carries on to use a facet-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is found midway down the proper edge, created into the electrical power button. I uncovered it very economical. The button is a little recessed, in distinction to the volume rocker earlier mentioned it and camera shutter to the bottom. Sure, camera shutter: the Xperia one II majors on its display and camera set up, and that physical button has an vital aspect to play. A press launches the camera application, a half-press focuses, and a extended press requires an impression.

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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 raise the internal storage. You will find a USB-C port on the bottom edge, when the major edge has a exceptional matter for a 2020 flagship cell phone — a 3.5mm headset jack. This is a sturdy handset, rated IP65/68 for dust and water resistance.

There are no noticeable speaker grilles on the edges of the cell phone simply because the stereo speakers are discreetly concealed in the bezels earlier mentioned and under the display. Which is the excellent site: the speakers throw audio proper at you, and avoid staying protected by palms when the cell phone is held in landscape orientation. Sound good quality is pretty respectable, and Sony has provided ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with final year’s Xperia one. You can set the handset to vibrate to the beat of audio, with various ranges of intensity. The controller is an on-display slider that sits beside the volume control. I did not imagine much of it the very first time spherical and I am even now not a lover, but you never have to use it if you never want to.  


The six.5-inch 21:nine OLED display occupies eighty four% of the entrance of the chassis, which has stereo speakers embedded in the major and bottom bezels.

Picture: Sony

As mentioned previously the display is the exact same six.5-inch measurement, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:nine component ratio as final year’s Xperia one. It is really an OLED panel with HDR 10-bit support. Those people speaker-housing bezels signify that the display-to-physique ratio is a somewhat minimal eighty four%.

Sony does not provide a super-large refresh rate choice, 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 major and bottom bezels are somewhat wide, at minimum there’s no require for an in-display notch or punch-gap for the 8MP entrance camera.

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

The display-similar selections all pay out off. I uncovered viewing online video footage an incredibly gratifying encounter. Colors are wealthy but never have that over-saturated glimpse that from time to time will come with OLED. The refresh rate was great and I am not guaranteed what boosting it would truly include to each day use. Most of the online video I viewed wasn’t in the screen’s 21:nine component ratio, so there were black bars on both facet of the content material. A brief finger-distribute stretch will zoom 16:nine or eighteen:nine online video to fill the display, and it is really commonly completely watchable in this condition.


You can configure the twin application mode applying Sony’s ’21:nine Multi-window’ utility.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Getting two applications open up at the exact same time is a trick that numerous handsets provide, but it is really frequently not very functional. With the 21:nine component ratio producing a taller than usual display in portrait mode, twin application use turns into feasible. To persuade this, Sony provides a utility identified as ’21:nine Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits these types of as YouTube / Chrome sit alongside the choice to choose certain applications from a listing. It is really nicely imagined-out, and would persuade me to make far more use of the break up display mode.

Sony is truly pushing the camera capabilities of the Xperia one II, which can shoot Raw visuals, make speedy autofocus and exposure calculations at up to 60 instances a 2nd, and has eye tracking for individuals and animals that will help with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also much far more usable than tapping on the display. What you will never come across is fancy super-zoom operation that inevitably breaks up as the software package loses its grip — or, in truth, any other arguably gimmicky attributes.

With flagship smartphones sporting 4 or even five cameras at the back these days, a triple-camera set up may feel driving the instances. But the Xperia one II bucks the pattern, and does so very effectively. All a few cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/ (wide-angle), 70mm f/two.four (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/two.two (ultra-wide-angle, 124°) lenses.

The software package is wonderful, also. Turn the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ mode and you get a significantly smart break up display with impression framing on the remaining and different controls on the proper, in addition a nifty pop-out remaining facet wheel for flicking by means of different shooting-mode choices and other options. If you might be geared up to tweak, there’s an awful whole lot you can customise pretty simply, and Sony has finished a excellent position of earning professional mode very available.


Sony’s camera software package will make the ‘pro’ mode options admirably available in landscape orientation.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Geared up with Qualcomm’s major-end Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia one II carried out properly underneath the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark, turning in typical scores of 905 (one main) and 3362 (multi-main). With 12GB of RAM starting to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus eight Pro, the Xperia one II even now delivers comparable Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

You will find 256GB of internal storage, and Sony provides a whole lot of extra bits and parts to Android 10, much of which can be declined at startup if you want. Accepting almost everything on provide will choose up 21.5GB, but that even now leaves 234.5GB cost-free for your own information. 

The four,000mAh battery is on the little facet these days, but it lasted for 10 several hours fifty two minutes underneath the Computer system Mark Operate two. battery rundown take a look at. Looking at online video is one of the critical use conditions for this handset, so I fully charged the battery and remaining a YouTube online video operating for a few several hours, just after which it had fallen to 80%. More anecdotally, I often concluded a day’s typical use with at minimum 30% remaining. This is a substantial improvement on final year’s Xperia one with its 3,300mAh battery, which lasted for just underneath eight several hours when we analyzed it.

Rapidly charging (21W) and wi-fi charging (Qi, 11W) are readily available on the Xperia one II.


Picture: Sony


Sony’s Xperia one II isn’t for everybody — and even those people who are drawn to its attributes and can tackle the kind variable may be place off by the 4-determine cost tag. Following all, there are a lot of properly-specified smartphones that value half as much as this one.
On the in addition facet, there’s a excellent cinematic OLED display and a properly-executed triple rear camera array. Sony also provides a major-end 5G chipset, a lot of RAM and storage, and modern industrial layout. It is really Sony’s most effective cell phone for some time, but cost is probable to be the main situation.

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