Sony Xperia 1 II overview: Stand out from the gang

“The Xperia 1 II stands aside from different high-end smartphones on the market, however its particular options are just a bit too area of interest for large enchantment”

Stunning, high-resolution display screen

Compact design that is simple to carry

Digicam takes nice photographs

Wonderful audio

Fingerprint sensor is weak

No 5G within the U.S.

Sony is doing its utmost to make units that don’t conform with the 2020 smartphone guidelines. The Xperia 1 II (sure, that’s “one two,” as within the sequel to the Xperia 1) isn’t a curvy all-screen telephone, it doesn’t have an in-display fingerprint sensor, and to get essentially the most from the digicam, it expects you to know your digicam tech already. It does observe the herd with the worth although, coming in at a hefty $1,200.

It’s refreshing to make use of a telephone that’s not a clone of one other this yr, however whereas Sony will get lots proper, the route it takes in its effort to make the telephone stand out is somewhat too area of interest. Let’s take a look at it in additional element.


The Xperia 1 II’s look will cut up opinion, however I feel it appears to be like wonderful. It makes use of a 21:9 side ratio display screen, giving it an elongated, more-tall-than-wide fashion, and has square- off sides for a boxy, monolithic form. The black, high-gloss end on my overview telephone is elegant if somewhat faceless, and the construct high quality and development are very good.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

You’d count on that, proper? After all, however it stands out right here. Whereas the perimeters of the telephone are flat, the glass on the back and front has a 2D curve on all sides, and it fantastically and seamlessly blends into the chassis. It’s just like the telephone has been expertly hewn from a single block of black glass.

On the again is a vertical digicam lens module within the left nook. It’s so densely filled with sensors that two wouldn’t match inside, spilling out onto the physique itself. Down the right-hand facet is a quantity rocker, and an influence button that additionally homes the fingerprint sensor. Beneath it is a two-stage devoted digicam shutter button. Extra on these later.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

On the alternative facet is Sony’s easy-open SIM card tray. It doesn’t want a particular software to extract from the physique, making it simpler to reside with for individuals who repeatedly change SIMs or MicroSD playing cards on the transfer. It’s additionally significantly safer than the one I used on the Xperia 10 Plus, which was too simple to drag out of the telephone.

Light-weight at 181 grams and slim at 7.9mm, the Xperia 1 II doesn’t have the curves of the OnePlus eight Professional, or the slick type of the Huawei P40 Professional, however it does have consolation, grip, and sophistication. The 21:9 side ratio means the physique isn’t too large to carry and use with one hand, the glass isn’t slippery, and there’s a cool simplicity to the design meaning it’ll nonetheless look good in a yr’s time.

Display screen

What an absolute magnificence the display screen on the Xperia 1 II is — precisely what you’d count on from an organization that makes a few of the greatest televisions on the market. (Have you ever seen the brand new A8H 4K OLED? It’s very good.) The Xperia’s display screen measures 6.5-inches and is an HDR-capable OLED panel with an incredible three,840 × 1,644 pixel decision. That’s a pixel density of 643ppi — for comparability, even the attractive iPhone 11 Professional solely manages 458ppi.

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To name it merely sharp is an understatement. It’s wonderful in methods a smartphone display screen doesn’t actually should be. I experimented with wallpapers, movies, and pictures on-line and from my very own gallery, and it by no means upset. From the inky blacks — set the Darkish Mode to actually respect its depth — to its unwillingness to indicate even a single pixel, and viewing something and all the things is a pleasure. That is additionally the place the flat display screen pays dividends, because the display screen seems to be proper on the floor of the glass.

Dig into the settings and you may change the white stability or activate Creator Mode, which tunes the visuals by means of a particular coloration gamut and 10-bit HDR. It’s created with the assistance of Sony’s CineAlta group, which is normally busy engaged on video cameras that shoot the most recent blockbuster motion pictures. Sony has additionally added a video enhancement mode and a movement blur discount mode. Each are efficient, however the look gained’t be for everybody. Movement blur, for instance, does certainly easy out video playback on YouTube, however on the expense of realism.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Carfection’s 4K decision video overview of the Alpine A110S on YouTube actually performs to the Xperia 1 II’s strengths. The extent of element is incredible, proper all the way down to studying the tire model and sizes even at a distance, and the colour stability is exemplary. If I’ve a criticism, it’s that the palette is sort of cool, so whites will be reasonably stark at excessive brightness, however activating Creator Mode can enhance this.

Colourful, vibrant, and intensely customizable, it’s in all probability the very best telephone display screen I’ve seen. What an excellent disgrace it doesn’t have a 90 or 120Hz refresh charge, a characteristic many would think about a staple on any 2020 flagship telephone.


Right here’s a rundown of the cameras on the Xperia 1 II. You get a regular 12-megapixel sensor with optical picture stabilization (OIS), a 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor, and a 12-megapixel telephoto with OIS. It has a 3D time-of-flight sensor, a flash, a photograph gentle, and Sony’s extremely correct eye-tracking tech. Digicam skilled Zeiss gives the lenses, and there’s a three× optical zoom, HDR, 4K HDR video recording at as much as 60 frames per second (fps), and a 20 fps burst mode, too.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Sony has additionally preinstalled two customized digicam apps, Cinema Professional and Photograph Professional, which emulate the consumer interface and options discovered on Alpha cameras such because the Sony A9 and Sony A7 III. Sony has continued to make the most of experience from inside, and desires its smartphone cameras to be an extension of its pro-level gear, offering an analogous degree of versatility in a compact, moveable gadget. As a method, it makes good sense; in actuality, it’s nonetheless one thing that common telephone patrons could by no means become familiar with.

Take the Cinema Professional app. It offers you full management over the way you shoot video on the Xperia 1 II, from the main target to the shutter velocity, the white stability, the ISO, and even the general look of your footage. I’ve little question that in case you’re well-versed in utilizing a pro-level digicam to shoot video, the options will likely be clear and also you’ll be capturing top-quality video instantly. If you happen to’re like me, somebody who leaves the digicam on Auto, then the training curve may be very steep and also you’ll shoot a number of garbage video earlier than arriving at one thing midway respectable. The factor is, you possibly can simply shoot utilizing the conventional digicam app and reduce out all of the sweat and swearing that comes from attempting to wrangle Cinema Professional’s settings accurately.

Photograph Professional and Cinema Professional are too advanced for normal telephone patrons, however it’s nice to see Sony working to distinguish its units from others by using its huge inner experience, and there will likely be a piece of the shopping for viewers that loves the granular management supplied by these apps. Does it affect the usability of the conventional digicam on the Xperia 1 II? Fortunately, no. You’ll be able to confidently use the telephone’s common digicam app and take great-looking, shareable photographs in most environments.

It’s not too heavy-handed with the saturation, so photographs seem pure however have sufficient pop that you just’ll wish to share them with out enhancing. There’s loads of versatility with the wide-angle and three× optical zoom too, and the bodily, two-stage focus/shutter launch button works brilliantly. I did discover some haloing in vibrant daylight in some photographs, and it’s not nice in low gentle. The selfie digicam may take washed-out, lifeless photographs as well. For essentially the most half, the digicam is nice, however I feel it’s worthwhile to actually perceive pictures and will study to make use of the Professional apps to get the very best from it.

Right here’s the place Sony begins to lose factors on the basics. The app is poorly designed for a begin. For instance, the button to flip to the selfie digicam is hidden within the menu on the high of the display screen, so you need to seek for it. It’s additionally somewhat sluggish: There’s a noticeable pause when switching between lenses and when snapping a photograph. That is fundamental stuff, and irritating on a high-end telephone from an skilled producer. Switching to a greater digicam app may assist.

Efficiency, connectivity, and software program

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and 8GB of RAM energy the Xperia 1 II, with 256GB of space for storing and a slot for both a MicroSD card or a second SIM in that useful, quick-release tray on the facet. The telephone additionally has UFS for quick reminiscence entry (in layman’s phrases, it means storage efficiency is nearer to SSDs, however with longer battery life). That is all in keeping with what we’d count on from a flagship smartphone, and it was as quick and easy as you’d count on.

Geekbench 5: 895 Single Core/3287 Multi Core

3DMark Sling Shot Excessive: 6,062 (Vulkan)

These scores are somewhat decrease than the OnePlus eight Professional, and decrease on 3DMark than the Exynos-powered Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, though the Xperia does beat it on Geekbench 5. I didn’t discover any efficiency deficit. I like gaming on the Xperia 1 II. I performed largely informal video games, spending approach an excessive amount of time on Hill Climb Racer, largely as a result of the telephone may be very snug to carry in panorama orientation. The widescreen 21:9 side ratio appears to be like nice, the display screen is extremely sharp, and I didn’t actually miss a better refresh charge both. When taking part in extra graphically intensive video games like Actual Racing three, the telephone copes fantastically and by no means will get scorching.

Sony Photograph Professional app Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Sony Cinema Professional app Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Regardless of the Sony telephone having a 5G-ready Snapdragon 865 processor, 5G is disabled within the U.S. It’s lively within the U.Okay. model, however I couldn’t check the characteristic out resulting from 5G not being out there in my space. Not having 5G in a telephone at this value does affect its long-term enchantment. Calls all sounded good, though reception was barely problematic, with the telephone not pulling in a robust sign in comparison with others. The telephone additionally tends to get fairly scorching when on longer calls, however towards your palm reasonably than your face.

My overview telephone has Android 10 with the July 1 Android Safety Patch put in. It additionally has Sony’s personal consumer interface excessive, which is similar to Google’s Pixel-branded software program. Gestures work nicely, there’s an efficient Darkish mode, and the notification shade and app drawer are the place you count on them to be. I didn’t have any issues with velocity, however I used to be generally annoyed by apps taking some time to shut after swiping to exit.

There are just a few too many preinstalled apps, together with LinkedIn, which ship prompts to make use of them while you begin utilizing the telephone. That is additionally true of Sony’s personal apps, comparable to its Information Suite app, which isn’t very enticing and is populated by too many sponsored tales to be helpful. Many different producers have deserted this follow, or at the least present the choice of preinstalling these moneymaking really useful apps throughout setup. It’s annoying Sony doesn’t do the identical.

Battery and sound

The four,000mAh battery lasts for about 5 to five-and-a-half hours of display screen time every day. This meant outdoors of very heavy days of use, it managed a full eight a.m. to midnight stretch earlier than needing a recharge. It’s acceptable, however not nice. The fingerprint sensor is identical — acceptable however not nice. It’s unreliable and fairly awkward to make use of, as a result of it’s smaller than the facet sensors used on earlier Sony telephones. It doesn’t like moist fingers both. All that is made extra annoying by the dearth of face unlock to fall again on.

Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies

Sony has put stereo front-facing audio system on the Xperia 1 II, and so they’re wonderful, with a full, deep, and interesting sound. Audio is enhanced with a characteristic referred to as Dynamic Vibration, which makes use of haptic motors so as to add a vibration to media performed on the telephone. It operates in lots of apps together with YouTube and Twitter, and is surprisingly efficient. It may possibly get somewhat an excessive amount of throughout music movies, the place it simply continually vibrates, however is sort of enjoyable on motion pictures. Better of all, you’ll be able to modify the depth or flip it off fully in case you don’t prefer it, proper from the quantity panel.

The superb audio efficiency mixed with the gorgeous display screen make the Xperia 1 II an excellent multimedia telephone.

Value, guarantee, and availability

The Xperia 1 II prices $1,199 within the U.S. and is offered now from Sony, Amazon, and different retailers. Within the U.Okay., the Xperia 1 II prices 1,099 British kilos.

Our take

The Sony Xperia 1 II is one thing somewhat totally different, and that immediately makes me heat to it. The display screen is without doubt one of the greatest within the enterprise, the digicam takes some nice photographs, and the standard of the telephone itself is excellent. I additionally respect Sony’s makes an attempt to make the Xperia 1 II stand out from the gang. However the advanced, pro-level digicam apps have very area of interest enchantment, and the choice to not embrace 5G within the U.S. fashions is as baffling as it’s unlucky.

Is there a greater different?

Sure. If you’d like a top-spec Android telephone with an excellent digicam, we suggest both the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus or S20 Extremely, relying in your price range, or recommend you go check out the Galaxy Be aware 10 Plus or the brand new Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely. The OnePlus eight Professional can also be extremely really useful, and is significantly cheaper. If you happen to’re within the U.Okay. or don’t thoughts importing, then the Oppo Discover X2 Professional can also be wonderful.

Our different suggestion right here is to purchase an iPhone 11 Professional or 11 Professional Max. The digicam is superb, and in order for you pro-level instruments. there are numerous apps out there within the App Retailer to duplicate Sony’s Cinema and Video Professional app performance. You’re getting our advice of the very best total telephone you should purchase at the moment as a bonus, however remember that it too doesn’t include 5G. For that, you’ll have to attend for the iPhone 12, which arrives within the fall.

How lengthy will it final?

The Xperia 1 II has an IP68 water and mud resistance score, giving it an excellent likelihood of survival if issues take a flip for the damp, and the Gorilla Glass 6 each back and front is sturdy. My overview mannequin did decide up a few faint scratches on the display screen just by spending a comparatively quick period of time in pockets and luggage. A display screen protector and a case could be advisable.

Whereas the dearth of 5G within the U.S. model isn’t an enormous deal for everybody proper now, it can turn into an more and more fascinating characteristic over the subsequent two years, which is the minimal period of time we’d count on you to maintain this telephone, and never having it as an choice could also be an issue. We advise you to think twice whether or not you’re more likely to need 5G within the close to future, and buy accordingly.

Sony has not mentioned when Android 11 will arrive on the Xperia 1 II. After we checked about ongoing software program updates extra usually, we have been informed, “Sony Cell is offering common and well timed safety upgrades. Whereas telephones can’t be upgraded indefinitely, we offer safety upgrades inside the trade commonplace on our units, relying on areas and carriers.”

Must you purchase it?

No. Regardless of its strengths, you should purchase a telephone with related options that has 5G on board and is prepared for the long run. If you spend $1,199 on a telephone, you count on it to have the very newest tech to ensure longevity. Within the U.Okay., the place the telephone does have 5G, the Xperia 1 II turns into a more sensible choice.

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