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 to start with from Sony to support 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we’ve occur to anticipate from Sony, it packs in the capabilities, but it’s expensive even supplied the leading-end specs. Final year’s Xperia 1 expenses £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 lot of income for a smartphone, and when there are some definitely fantastic capabilities below, it’s likely to have to be pretty much best to justify the rate. Let us see.

The Xperia 1 II appears to be like pretty unique many thanks to its tall, slender style and design housing a display that adopts an unconventional ‘cinematic’ 21:9 component ratio. It is the exact same component ratio we noticed on final year’s Xperia 1 (in reality, the display is the exact same sizing and has the exact same pixel depend as well — additional on this below).

This helps make for a cellphone that’s an awkward fit for several pockets. It is not unduly huge nevertheless, and is pretty slender. The Xperia 1 II’s proportions are 72mm huge by 166mm deep by seven.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.


The 6.5-inch Xperia 1 II is Sony’s 2020 flagship cellphone, running on the Snapdragon 865 5G chipset with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of inner storage. It has a triple rear digital camera setup, all with 12MP resolution.

Photographs: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The style and design is pretty much in the Sony mould. A flat rather than curved display, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass 6 back is black and mirror-shiny. Unfortunately it loves fingerprints and is rather slippery.

That’s even additional of an concern with an excess tall handset, specifically when striving to function one-handed, which I normally identified extremely hard. I identified sweeping notifications absent, tapping at links in net pages, and even doing the job through my twitter feed all rather tricky to do one-handed. Usually it felt as nevertheless I was unbalancing the cellphone when doing the job one-handed, and in threat of dropping it on the ground, and that slippery back was no enable at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a deal-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is designed into the slightly recessed electricity button on the suitable-hand side.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony continues to use a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is located halfway down the suitable edge, designed into the electricity button. I identified it pretty effective. The button is slightly recessed, in contrast to the quantity rocker over it and digital camera shutter towards the bottom. Indeed, digital camera shutter: the Xperia 1 II majors on its display and digital camera setup, and that bodily button has an crucial part to engage in. A push launches the digital camera app, a half-push focuses, and a lengthy push takes an graphic.

Best ZDNET Evaluations

The SIM slot sits on the left edge, and unusually these days, only one SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to enhance the inner storage. There’s a USB-C port on the bottom edge, when the leading edge has a uncommon thing for a 2020 flagship cellphone — a three.5mm headset jack. This is a durable handset, rated IP65/68 for dust and h2o resistance.

There are no obvious speaker grilles on the edges of the cellphone because the stereo speakers are discreetly concealed in the bezels over and below the display. That’s the ideal site: the speakers throw sound suitable at you, and prevent currently being coated by palms when the cellphone is held in landscape orientation. Audio top quality is pretty good, and Sony has included ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with final year’s Xperia 1. You can set the handset to vibrate to the conquer of music, with varying stages of intensity. The controller is an on-display slider that sits beside the quantity manage. I did not believe much of it the to start with time spherical and I’m even now not a admirer, but you you should not have to use it if you you should not want to.  


The 6.5-inch 21:9 OLED display occupies eighty four% of the entrance of the chassis, which has stereo speakers embedded in the leading and bottom bezels.

Graphic: Sony

As mentioned before the display is the exact same 6.5-inch sizing, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:9 component ratio as final year’s Xperia 1. It is an OLED panel with HDR 10-little bit support. These speaker-housing bezels indicate that the display-to-human body ratio is a fairly reduced eighty four%.

Sony does not supply a super-high refresh price alternative, so you can’t dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus eight Professional or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for example. And although the leading and bottom bezels are fairly huge, at minimum there is no need to have for an in-display notch or punch-hole for the 8MP entrance digital camera.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (no cost PDF) (TechRepublic)

The display-linked alternatives all pay off. I identified viewing video footage an very enjoyable expertise. Colours are rich but you should not have that in excess of-saturated seem that in some cases will come with OLED. The refresh price was great and I’m not certain what boosting it would definitely insert to day-to-day use. Most of the video I viewed was not in the screen’s 21:9 component ratio, so there were being black bars on both side of the written content. A fast finger-spread extend will zoom sixteen:9 or 18:9 video to fill the display, and it’s typically perfectly watchable in this condition.


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

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Possessing two applications open up at the exact same time is a trick that several handsets supply, but it’s normally not pretty functional. With the 21:9 component ratio creating a taller than common display in portrait mode, dual app use turns into feasible. To encourage this, Sony offers a utility referred to as ’21:9 Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits such as YouTube / Chrome sit together with the alternative to select certain applications from a checklist. It is properly considered-out, and would encourage me to make additional use of the break up display mode.

Sony is definitely pushing the digital camera capabilities of the Xperia 1 II, which can shoot Uncooked pictures, make fast autofocus and exposure calculations at up to sixty instances a second, and has eye monitoring for human beings and animals that allows with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also much additional usable than tapping on the display. What you is not going to find is extravagant super-zoom performance that inevitably breaks up as the software package loses its grip — or, indeed, any other arguably gimmicky capabilities.

With flagship smartphones sporting 4 or even 5 cameras at the back these days, a triple-digital camera setup might feel powering the instances. But the Xperia 1 II bucks the trend, and does so pretty correctly. All a few cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/ (huge-angle), 70mm f/two.four (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/two.two (ultra-huge-angle, 124°) lenses.

The software package is nice, as well. Switch the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ mode and you get a seriously good break up display with graphic framing on the left and many controls on the suitable, furthermore a nifty pop-out left side wheel for flicking through many shooting-mode preferences and other configurations. If you happen to be well prepared to tweak, there is an awful lot you can customise pretty easily, and Sony has finished a great career of building professional mode pretty obtainable.


Sony’s digital camera software package helps make the ‘pro’ mode configurations admirably obtainable in landscape orientation.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Outfitted with Qualcomm’s leading-end Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia 1 II carried out nicely underneath the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark, turning in typical scores of 905 (single core) and 3362 (multi-core). With 12GB of RAM beginning to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus eight Professional, the Xperia 1 II even now provides similar Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

There’s 256GB of inner storage, and Sony adds a lot of excess bits and parts to Android 10, much of which can be declined at startup if you wish. Accepting anything on supply will acquire up 21.5GB, but that even now leaves 234.5GB no cost for your possess information. 

The four,000mAh battery is on the small side these days, but it lasted for 10 several hours 52 minutes underneath the Personal computer Mark Do the job two. battery rundown exam. Watching video is one of the critical use scenarios for this handset, so I thoroughly billed the battery and left a YouTube video running for a few several hours, soon after which it experienced fallen to eighty%. Additional anecdotally, I always finished a day’s typical use with at minimum thirty% remaining. This is a important advancement on final year’s Xperia 1 with its three,300mAh battery, which lasted for just underneath eight several hours when we tested it.

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


Graphic: Sony


Sony’s Xperia 1 II isn’t for everybody — and even individuals who are drawn to its capabilities and can cope with the sort issue might be put off by the 4-figure rate tag. Following all, there are loads of nicely-specified smartphones that charge half as much as this one.
On the furthermore side, there is a fantastic cinematic OLED display and a nicely-implemented triple rear digital camera array. Sony also offers a leading-end 5G chipset, loads of RAM and storage, and sleek industrial style and design. It is Sony’s ideal cellphone for some time, but rate is very likely to be the major concern.

The latest AND Similar Information

Sony quietly launches its new flagship: Xperia 1 II is to start with Xperia with 5G

Sony Xperia 1 evaluation: Superb cinematic 4K display, but battery life falls quick

Sony Xperia 5, arms on: A compact, huge-display flagship-class handset

10 ideal smartphones not created in China

The 10 ideal smartphones of 2020: 5G powers the leading contenders

Read additional testimonials