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The best Review of the Sony Xperia 1 II

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Sony Xperia 1 II: is it worth your purchase?

Punctuation: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings

Pros:

  • Excellent 4K panel
  • Professional video recording
  • Endless performance

Cons:

  • Photographic results to improve
  • Lack of facial recognition
  • Dimensions not to everyone’s taste

Well, beautiful and not cheap, the Sony Xperia 1 II is the ideal mobile for video lovers, whether it is when recording or streaming content .

Retail price (RRP)

$ 1199

The best Review of the Sony Xperia 1 II

Sony debuted the Xperia 1 in mid-2019. A year later, its successor made it, which the Japanese company called Xperia 1 II. The name may not seem very original, but it is a nod to the “Mark II” cameras and that already says a lot about this smartphone .

Although the Xperia 1 II’s cameras are not perfect, its video capabilities are among the best we’ve seen on a mobile phone at PCWorld.com. I started using it after trying the Sony ZV-1 camera for several days and at first I hardly noticed the difference.

Obviously, yes there is, but in this review we are interested in focusing on the possibilities offered by the Xperia 1 II as a smartphone as a whole, where the panel and performance have a lot to say too (and for good).

Design: elegance personified

I confess: I am an Apple girl. But that, in this case, says a lot in favor of Sony. Despite being very much in line with all its models (will you ever bet on a mobile that is not rectangular and elongated?), It has been a while since you tried such an elegant Android.

If you don’t like the Sony style, forget it, although I advise you give it a try. You will have in your hands an elegant, fine, discreet design, despite having unusual dimensions in the mobile phone market.

I like that the company opts for single-color mobiles, as I personally find it more refined than the mother-of-pearl finishes of other flagships that have become fashionable in recent years.

Sony is still betting on a 21: 9 screen, which means that you will need a little time to get used to its handling. Precisely that slim body makes it hold your hand well, although you will have to use the other to reach certain parts of the screen.

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The layout of the buttons is also surprising (they are on the right side, ideal for left-handers), although not much if you have already used the original Xperia 1. The main difference is that the on / off button and the finger reader are now the same.

The dedicated camera button is not a must and would also change the location of the 3.5mm port, although I’m glad Sony hasn’t gotten rid of it. I also like that to open the SIM card slot you don’t need to use a pin.

In the next section, we will analyze your panel more closely, but from an aesthetic point of view, we see that Sony has not opted for a notch or holes in the screen. The front camera is still housed in a top black stripe, but is very discreet.

It should be noted that, in addition to beautiful, the design of the Xperia 1 II is also resistant. Specifically, Sony gives this phone an IP65 / 68 rating with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on both sides, although, as always, we recommend the use of a protective case .

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A movie screen

Now yes, let’s go for the screen. It is a 6.5 ”4K HDR OLED panel and an aspect ratio of 21: 9 (CinemaWide). It will be difficult for you to find its refresh rate, since Sony does not promote it. It is 60Hz, well behind the 120Hz of the Excellent Review of the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom.

The screen-body ratio is below others by not betting on a notch , retractable camera or holes in the panel. Although this gives it a less “modern” air, the screen manages to stand out a lot thanks to its quality.

Speaking of quality, it is spectacular in practically all situations. In good lighting conditions, you will have sharp, clear images and good contrast, ideal features for playing movies and series (especially 21: 9 content).

As is often the case, that quality decreases on sunny days. The truth is that answering a message, consulting a question on the Internet or seeing what you portray on sunny days is almost impossible.

In those cases, I recommend playing with the brightness (despite having the automatic brightness activated). If you prefer, you can also change the screen settings easily, although as it comes in the box it will be more than enough for the average user.

Beyond interacting with the mobile through the touch screen, you can also do it with the side sensors, which are activated by double tapping at the point where the panel and the lateral axis of the smartphone are .

So you don’t go crazy touching one side and the other, remember that they can be activated on one side and the other whenever you touch right in the middle of the panel or where the first quarter of the screen would end. It sounds more complex than it actually is.

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Cameras: video beats photo

In addition to the panel, the Xperia 1 II’s strong point is its cameras, but I have already advanced before that this statement has its nuances. I recently tested the Sony ZV-1 and the similarities and differences were perhaps not what I expected.

There is no doubt that the video recorded with the Xperia 1 II cameras is of a quality that is difficult to find on a smartphone . It is noted that Sony has collaborated with the engineers of its Alpha 9 series cameras (in fact, you can use the mobile as a remote screen).

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Let’s look at the technical specifications. It is a triple rear camera with a 12MP (f / 1.7) Sony EXMOR RS main lens, a 12MP (f / 2.4) Sony EXMOR RS wide-angle and a 12MP (f) telephoto lens. / 2.2).

To that is added a ToF sensor. Perhaps just looking at the number of megapixels you would not expect great quality from these cameras, especially considering that for some brands the trend is to offer a higher number every time.

Although it is true that the photographic quality of the Xperia 1 II is below that of video, it should be said that the automatic mode offers sharp, clear images, with good contrasts and colors very faithful to reality. It fails more in difficult light situations, but that’s no surprise.

Yes, it has surprised me more that Sony does not bet on a night mode, like many of its rivals. In this case, you have to play with the settings of the Photo Pro app or trust the built-in ZEISS optics, designed especially to minimize reflections in difficult light conditions such as twilight.

Sony Xperia 1 II

With the photos in our Flickr gallery you can get an idea of ​​the results you can achieve with the Sony Xperia 1 II, also when using the wide angle and telephoto. I have been very positively surprised, since the quality difference is minimal.

The main lens allows you to zoom up to 3x, which takes you the same distance from the telephoto lens, which in turn can also zoom up to 3x (in this case digital). Obviously, the quality is lost the more you zoom and the more adverse the light conditions are. 

What stands out the most about the cameras is the autofocus. After getting used to the high quality of the Sony ZV-1’s AF, I was afraid to notice a difference with the Xperia 1 II and the truth is that it was not.

The so-called Eye Autofocus allows the focus to always be on the person or animal’s portrayed eyes and to always appear sharp and focused in front of the camera even when they are on the move. This also facilitates bursts of up to 20 images per second. 

A similar result is found in the automatic exposure, surprisingly smart thanks to the 3D iToF sensor. Although the quality of the images in low light can be improved (especially at night), it is true that the exposure adjusts very well when you go from shadow to sun quickly.

Portrait mode leaves a bit to be desired. First of all, you have to activate it expressly, while on other mobiles it is automatically detected. We could leave this behind if the results were up to the task, but this is not the case.

It seems that it is difficult for him to detect which object or person you want to portray with the background blurred, since he often ends up also blurring parts of the portrayed subject. When portraying objects, it is much better to rely on macro mode. 

I have already said that, in my experience, the results have been much better with video than with photography. The ability to shoot in 4K says it all, resulting in richly detailed, color-rich clips and enviable sharpness.

In fact, you can record in that resolution with any of the rear lenses, although I hope that in the future Sony will allow to change from one lens to another while you are recording. Again, yes, the video quality drops considerably at night.

As will be seen in the video (available soon), the video stabilization is also good enough, although obviously you will have better results if you use an accessory for a more stable grip on the phone. 

The Cinema Pro app allows you to make manual adjustments of controls such as framing, exposure, white balance, shutter speed … If you can understand the app, you will have good results, although it seems too complicated for someone who doesn’t have experience with a professional video camera. 

The same goes for the Photo Pro app, designed for those with a somewhat more advanced level of photography. Some people will find the standard app too simple, but it will be the most recommended for beginners and for you if you trust automatic mode.

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One aspect where it seems that Sony has not put much effort is the front camera. Personally it doesn’t bother me much not being a person who takes selfies often, but more could be demanded considering the price of the Xperia 1 II.

Returning to our Flickr gallery, you will see that the results have a lot of room for improvement. The 8 MP (f / 2.0) lens achieves decent results only in good lighting, but also thanks to the flash at night . Portrait mode also leaves something to be desired and cropping is inaccurate.

Performance and battery: one of its strengths

With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor inside, and although it “only” has 8 GB of RAM (other brands such as Samsung or OnePlus are already betting on 12 GB), the performance is what you could expect: excellent.

A chip with these characteristics allows you to carry out any task without any type of problem: from the most basic ones such as surfing the Internet to more demanding ones such as graphically demanding video games. 

To this processor and this RAM memory is added an Adreno 650 graphics card and 256 GB storage. There is only a single space configuration, but this can be expanded with a microSD of up to 1TB. More than enough.

These specifications can be adjusted in the ‘Game Optimizer’ app, which we will see in more detail in the section on software . For practical purposes I have hardly noticed the difference, but that speaks in favor of an excellent gaming smartphone . 

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Perhaps the biggest difference has been in the heating of the device, more evident with the factory settings. When it costs more to get rid of this overheating is when playing videos, although it does not influence the performance of the mobile itself.

Now let’s see how the Xperia 1 II compares with other smartphones launched in the last year. The Sony mobile is the big winner of the benchmarks with the Geekbench 5 app, although it is closely followed by the OnePlus 8 Pro and the iPhone 11 . 

We also see the differences with the previous model, the Sony Xperia 1 . In this case, the graph compares the performance of both flagships according to the results achieved with Geekbench 4: 11,067 and 13,198 points in favor of the 2020 model. 

It is interesting to analyze the battery capacity, although we should always rely more on our own experience and on the daily use we make of the mobile. My experience has been very positive and I have not had the need to carry it during the day.

Sony ensures that you can charge the Xperia 1 II 50% in 30 minutes. In my case I managed to charge its 4000 mAh battery at 46% in half an hour. As you can see in the graphic above, it is far behind the OnePlus 8 Pro. 

In Geekbench 4 app battery tests, it got a result of 10 hours and 41 minutes, but that’s when it’s subjected to continuous heavy use. With the PCMark app, the result was 11 hours and 57 minutes, which is not bad. 

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Connectivity and audio

The processor of the Sony Xperia 1 II is 5G, which gives the flagship compatibility with this technology. We have not been able to test it, but considering that its full potential has not yet been reached, we cannot expect great results.

Honestly, it still has to be a while before we can enjoy the high-performance 5G and until a smartphone designed to watch 4K videos and high-resolution images can benefit from its very fast speeds. 

As for the audio, it is important that it is up to the task on a mobile where video is so important. I must say that I was not disappointed at all with its stereo sound, although being Dolby Atmos I would have expected it to be even more immersive.

The audio quality is high, although in open spaces I would always recommend using helmets (either wireless headphones or not). And not only for not disturbing, but especially because the volume does not become too high.

Unlike other brands, Sony has decided to keep the 3.5mm jack port , although its position at the top of the screen is not the best if you want to use the headphones while using the Xperia 1 II vertically.

In a more common position we do find the charging port, in this case a USB-C, which we find at the bottom of the mobile. As said, on the right side there is the slot for a single SIM card and the microSD for more storage.

I do not understand very well why Sony has not wanted to bet on facial recognition as a method of unlocking the phone. Thus, you will have to settle for the fingerprint reader on the side button, which works very fast.

In this section it should be added that, although once you have registered your fingerprints, the scanner almost never gives an error, the process of adding a fingerprint is irregular. Personally I would have preferred an embedded reader on the screen, although it is true that the position of the reader is ideal in a mobile phone that narrow.

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Software: little to highlight

There is not much to highlight about the Android 10 used in the Xperia 1 II. Its design does not stand out for better or for worse: it is simple, discreet, rather traditional. In its favor, it must be said that you can choose to install bloatware or not .

If you’re used to having apps you install appear directly on the Start screen, you’ll need to drag them from the app gallery onto the screen. Personally it has given me a little annoyance, but it is not the end of the world. 

Although the ‘Multi-window’ feature is no longer surprising as it was with the first generation, it is still just as useful. If you are one of those who cannot watch a series without surfing the Internet like me, this function will come in luxury. 

Another useful feature is the side sensors, which are activated by double-tapping the edge of the screen. Maybe it’s hard for you to get it right: try placing your finger right on the edge, not on the panel. Doing so will vibrate the phone.

I recommend that you use them, as it will speed up your use with the Xperia. You will be able to access various apps, functions and mobile settings. Being compressed to the side of the panel, it also facilitates one-handed operation, whether you are right-handed or left-handed. 

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The most outstanding apps on this smartphone are Photo Pro and Video Pro, although they are honestly not the easiest or most intuitive to use. Although the standard camera app is somewhat simple, it is smart enough to give you good results.

Sony has included a game optimizer that allows you to turn off notifications while gaming and change performance settings so you get the most out of the Xperia 1 II as a gaming mobile . 

From this app you can also access a list of all your games, something you will like if, like me, you like to have all the apps organized. In it you can also check if your games have been balanced or not. 

Beyond that, the Android 10 on this Sony also allows you to use the dark theme (recommended at night), STAMINA mode for smart energy saving, digital well-being or parental control, which always comes in handy but isn’t nothing new. 

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Price and availability

You have to be honest. What will attract you most about this smartphone is not its price. The Sony Xperia II has a recommended price of € 1,199 in Spain, which brings it closer to other models such as the 64 GB iPhone 11 Pro (€ 1,159). 

Instead, there are other more affordable, than not cheap, phones this year that have shown similar performance to the Xperia II. This is the case of the OnePlus 8 Pro (€ 909) or the Samsung Galaxy S20 + of 128 GB (€ 1,009).

While those who live in Latin America will have to import this mobile from abroad, in Spain its availability is also somewhat limited. For example, it is not available at the moment on Amazon, Fnac, MediaMarkt or PcComponentes, only on the Sony website . 

Instead, you will find the previous generation in these electronic stores. For the vast majority, the Sony Xperia 1 will be more than enough (although you will give up better cameras) and can be purchased from Amazon for € 679.

Verdict 

Sony is true to itself, and it shows that it continues to bet on a similar design model after model. The elongated and narrow size of the Xperia 1 II will not appeal to everyone, but it is necessary to enjoy full screen 21: 9 content.

In fact, its 4K screen is one of the most worthwhile elements of this flagship. It has not disappointed me at any time (perhaps only when it is very sunny) and I find it ideal for gaming lovers and subscribers of platforms like Netflix.

The Xperia 1 II also highlights its cameras, although it is necessary to qualify. They are perfect for those who want to create video with this phone, although it is true that other phones offer better performance in the photographic department. For the front camera, forget it.

Lastly, the Snapdragon 865 processor does its job very well and you won’t have any power issues. If you settle for a phone without a fingerprint reader and a standard charging speed at a price of more than € 1,000, the Xperia 1 II is a good option. 

Specifications list

  • Operating system: Android 10
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G
  • Graphics card: Adreno 650
  • RAM memory: 8 GB
  • Storage: 256GB (expandable with microSD up to 1TB)
  • Display: 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED (3840 x 1644, 21: 9)
  • Rear camera: 12 MP (f / 1.7) + 12 MP (f / 2.4) + 12 MP (f / 2.2) triple camera
  • Front camera: 8 MP (f / 2.0) camera
  • Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, jack port, USB-C port, wireless charging
  • Water resistance: IP65 / 68
  • Battery: 4000 mAh
  • Dimensions: 166 x 72 x 7.9 mm
  • Weight: 181g

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