January 19, 2021


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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 initially from Sony to help 5G (in Europe, but not in the US). As we’ve occur to be expecting from Sony, it packs in the characteristics, but it really is expensive even given the leading-end requirements. Previous year’s Xperia 1 costs £849 (inc. VAT) or $799.ninety nine in the US, but the Xperia 1 II moves into 4 figures at £1,099 or $1,199.ninety nine. That is a great deal of cash for a smartphone, and while there are some truly exceptional characteristics below, it really is heading to have to be pretty significantly best to justify the cost. Let’s see.

The Xperia 1 II seems quite distinct many thanks to its tall, slender layout housing a monitor that adopts an uncommon ‘cinematic’ 21:9 component ratio. It truly is the exact same component ratio we saw on past year’s Xperia 1 (in simple fact, the monitor is the exact same dimensions and has the exact same pixel depend also — much more on this under).

This can make for a cell phone which is an awkward in good shape for many pockets. It truly is not unduly broad nevertheless, and is quite thin. The Xperia 1 II’s proportions are 72mm broad by 166mm deep by 7.9mm thick, and it weighs just 181g.

The 6.5-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.

Photos: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The layout is quite significantly in the Sony mould. A flat somewhat than curved monitor, with rounded corners but flat edges. The Gorilla Glass 6 back again is black and mirror-shiny. Sad to say it enjoys fingerprints and is somewhat slippery.

That is even much more of an challenge with an more tall handset, in particular when trying to operate a single-handed, which I typically observed exceptionally difficult. I observed sweeping notifications away, tapping at backlinks in internet webpages, and even performing by means of my twitter feed all somewhat difficult to do a single-handed. Often it felt as nevertheless I was unbalancing the cell phone when performing a single-handed, and in threat of dropping it on the floor, and that slippery back again was no enable at all. For a £1,000 handset, this could be a deal-breaker.


The fingerprint sensor is crafted into the somewhat recessed electric power button on the right-hand side.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony carries on to use a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is found halfway down the right edge, crafted into the electric power button. I observed it quite successful. The button is somewhat recessed, in distinction to the volume rocker higher than it and digicam shutter in the direction of the bottom. Sure, digicam shutter: the Xperia 1 II majors on its monitor and digicam setup, and that actual physical button has an critical portion to perform. A push launches the digicam application, a half-push focuses, and a very long push can take an image.

Major ZDNET Critiques

The SIM slot sits on the remaining edge, and unusually these days, only a single SIM is accommodated. The slot will also accommodate a MicroSD card if you want to increase the inside storage. There is a USB-C port on the bottom edge, while the leading edge has a scarce point for a 2020 flagship cell phone — a 3.5mm headset jack. This is a sturdy handset, rated IP65/68 for dust and drinking water 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 higher than and under the monitor. That is the ideal location: the speakers toss seem right at you, and stay away from remaining lined by palms when the cell phone is held in landscape orientation. Sound high quality is pretty respectable, and Sony has incorporated ‘dynamic vibration’ just as it did with past year’s Xperia 1. You can established the handset to vibrate to the defeat of songs, with different amounts of depth. The controller is an on-monitor slider that sits beside the volume command. I failed to consider significantly of it the initially time round and I’m still not a admirer, but you really don’t have to use it if you really don’t want to.  


The 6.5-inch 21:9 OLED monitor occupies 84% of the entrance of the chassis, which has stereo speakers embedded in the leading and bottom bezels.

Picture: Sony

As noted before the monitor is the exact same 6.5-inch dimensions, 3840-by-1644 pixel resolution and 21:9 component ratio as past year’s Xperia 1. It truly is an OLED panel with HDR ten-bit help. Individuals speaker-housing bezels imply that the monitor-to-body ratio is a comparatively reduced 84%.

Sony does not offer you a super-significant refresh level selection, so you are unable to dial up to 120Hz as you can with the OnePlus 8 Pro or Realme X3 SuperZoom, for illustration. And though the leading and bottom bezels are comparatively broad, at the very least you will find no require for an in-monitor notch or punch-gap for the 8MP entrance digicam.

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

The monitor-connected choices all spend off. I observed watching video footage an really satisfying expertise. Colours are abundant but really don’t have that over-saturated seem that from time to time comes with OLED. The refresh level was high-quality and I’m not certain what boosting it would truly incorporate to day to day use. Most of the video I watched wasn’t in the screen’s 21:9 component ratio, so there were black bars on possibly side of the written content. A quick finger-distribute extend will zoom sixteen:9 or eighteen:9 video to fill the monitor, and it really is usually flawlessly watchable in this state.


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

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Obtaining two apps open at the exact same time is a trick that many handsets offer you, but it really is typically not quite practical. With the 21:9 component ratio producing a taller than regular monitor in portrait mode, dual application use becomes viable. To really encourage this, Sony provides a utility named ’21:9 Multi-window’. Pairs of pre-configured splits these kinds of as YouTube / Chrome sit together with the selection to pick unique apps from a record. It truly is properly considered-out, and would really encourage me to make much more use of the break up monitor mode.

Sony is truly pushing the digicam capabilities of the Xperia 1 II, which can shoot Raw illustrations or photos, make rapid autofocus and exposure calculations at up to sixty periods a next, and has eye tracking for individuals and animals that can help with autofocus. The aforementioned shutter button is also significantly much more usable than tapping on the monitor. What you would not come across is extravagant super-zoom performance that inevitably breaks up as the software package loses its grip — or, in truth, any other arguably gimmicky characteristics.

With flagship smartphones sporting 4 or even five cameras at the back again these days, a triple-digicam setup may perhaps feel at the rear of the periods. But the Xperia 1 II bucks the trend, and does so quite properly. All 3 cameras have 12MP sensors, and there are 24mm f/1.7 (broad-angle), 70mm f/two.four (telephoto, 3x optical zoom) and 16mm f/two.two (extremely-broad-angle, 124°) lenses.

The software package is nice, also. Turn the handset into landscape orientation and pitch into ‘pro’ mode and you get a seriously clever break up monitor with image framing on the remaining and various controls on the right, as well as a nifty pop-out remaining side wheel for flicking by means of various taking pictures-mode choices and other configurations. If you might be organized to tweak, you will find an awful great deal you can customise pretty simply, and Sony has completed a terrific work of earning professional mode quite available.


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

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Geared up with Qualcomm’s leading-end Snapdragon 865 5G chipset and 8GB of RAM, the Xperia 1 II done properly below the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark, turning in normal scores of 905 (one core) and 3362 (multi-core). With 12GB of RAM starting off to crop up in flagship handsets like the OnePlus 8 Pro, the Xperia 1 II still delivers equivalent Geekbench scores (the OnePlus managed 907 and 3375). 

There is 256GB of inside storage, and Sony adds a great deal of more bits and parts to Android ten, significantly of which can be declined at startup if you desire. Accepting everything on offer you will consider up 21.5GB, but that still leaves 234.5GB absolutely free for your personal facts. 

The four,000mAh battery is on the compact side these days, but it lasted for ten hrs 52 minutes below the Pc Mark Work two. battery rundown exam. Looking at video is a single of the vital use scenarios for this handset, so I thoroughly billed the battery and remaining a YouTube video functioning for 3 hrs, soon after which it had fallen to 80%. A lot more anecdotally, I generally finished a day’s normal use with at the very least 30% remaining. This is a sizeable advancement on past year’s Xperia 1 with its 3,300mAh battery, which lasted for just below 8 hrs when we examined it.

Quick charging (21W) and wi-fi charging (Qi, 11W) are accessible on the Xperia 1 II.


Picture: Sony


Sony’s Xperia 1 II is just not for everybody — and even individuals who are drawn to its characteristics and can tackle the form factor may perhaps be put off by the 4-determine cost tag. Following all, there are plenty of properly-specified smartphones that price tag half as significantly as this a single.
On the as well as side, you will find a exceptional cinematic OLED monitor and a properly-applied triple rear digicam array. Sony also provides a leading-end 5G chipset, plenty of RAM and storage, and sleek industrial layout. It truly is Sony’s very best cell phone for some time, but cost is possible to be the primary challenge.

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