Is Sony ready to compete with the big boys again?
Sony is a brand that for the last few years have missed the mark with some of its previous handsets. However, its latest flagship, the Sony Xperia 1 II is something else. This could be the device, in my opinion, that brings Sony back to the top table.
The Sony Xperia 1 II comes in at an eye-watering £1,099 in either black or purple. In this current climate, it could scare some buyers away but a brand new Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra comes in at £1,199. So let’s see if the Sony is worth the investment.
Sony has made this device look similar to the Xperia of old. The Xperia 1 II is a sexy looking phone with its flat display on all sides but it does have some curves to aid in the overall look and makes it stand out compared to other phones at this price range.
The main thing you will notice is the size of the display its a massive 21:9 4K HDR OLED Display and it will take some getting used to but the bonus is watching a YouTube video or a Netflix film in full aspect ratio. It helps that the display just rocks, it’s very sharp just like my 4K Sony TV. Turning the screen from portrait to landscape looks fantastic and you also have a creator mode which supports 10-bit HDR colour.
Sony also offers the chance for you to even multitask on the screen with the multi-window tool that lets you use multiple apps at once.
All of the main controls are down the right-hand side of the phone. You have the standard volume slider, and sitting below is the power button that doubles up as a fingerprint reader. It’s quite accurate but I can see this feature may annoy other users and the good news is you can use the phone without this feature if you wish.
Under that is the dedicated shutter button for the camera which is expected for a Sony device as the focus will not only be the display but the camera. A soft press allows you to get focus and a slightly harder press takes the picture. It’s a nice, functional feature.
Sony has also given you a headphone jack at the top of the handset which I do question as if you really need a headphone jack in 2020 with most of us using Bluetooth headphones but its useful feature if you want a wired connection with your headphones or if you’re going to run an external mic for when making youtube videos. The fact that it’s at this price point makes the Xperia 1 II a true outlier, and possibly the only £1,000+ phone to have one now.
Finally, on the left side of the phone, you only have the SIM card/microSD card slot and what makes it unique is there’s no need for the normal SIM card tool – it just slides out when needed.
Last but not least on the bottom of the phone you have the USB-C port and the phone is finished with Gorilla Glass 6 for that protection factor. My overall reaction to the design is it’s perfect for someone with a minimalist lifestyle. Remember, less is more and Sony have nailed it with the design.
Sony has also introduced a front-facing speaker on this phone and it really makes such a difference as the speakers can get loud without distorting and they are some of the best smartphone speakers I have experienced in some time.
6.5-inch 4k HDR OLED 21:9 aspect ratio
Slide Mounted Fingerprint Reader
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
8GB RAM + 256GB storage + microSD card expansion
4,000mAh battery – 6 hours battery life per day
Gorilla Glass 6
Dual Stereo front speakers
Wide: 12MP, 1/2.6-inch sensor, Dual-PD
Main: 12MP, 1/1.7-inch sensor, Dual-PD
Telephoto: 12MP, 1/3.4-inch sensor,
Selfie Camera: 8MP
The Sony Xperia 1 II under the bonnet comes with a Qualcomm snapdragon 865 with 8GB RAM along with 256GB of storage. You can also use a microSD card if you need more space. It is also Qi-compatible which allows for wireless charging. The Xperia 1 II also comes with an IP68 rating that protects the phone from dust, dirt and handles being underwater up to 1.5 meters for up to 30min in freshwater. In benchmark tests, the Sony Xperia 1 II performed very well. When we ran the Speed Test G it resulted in 1:26 which was very fast. The battery life you will get about 6 hours use in a day due to the 4,000mAh battery but this will be less if like me you are taking advantage of its amazing display when watching a film on this phone.
The Sony Xperia 1 II runs on Android 10 and it uses Google apps as defaults which I don’t mind that as I would have used most of this in any case such as Google Phone, Google Photos due to their ability to link up to my work email account and keep everything in the same place. Sony does not try to create its own version of apps and why should it? The only thing you have is Sony’s skin over the top and it’s very lightweight and you won’t even notice it. You also get a Google search bar at the bottom and swipe left and you get a Google feed.
Sony has taken some time with the camera element and it’s packed with tech which allows for a very speedy camera and comes with 3 different cameras on the back of the phone.
Camera 1 is a wide 12MP camera with ½.6 inch sensor with dual-PD autofocus.
Camera 2 is a main 12MP camera with a 1/1.7 inch sensor.
Camera 3 is a telephoto 12MP camera with a ⅓.4 inch sensor with PD autofocus and OIS.
As mentioned, Sony have basically tried to build a professional camera inside a phone that offers a wide range of zoom options (16mm, 24mm & 70mm) and it performs as you would expect. It’s impressive as the Xperia 1 II changes focus 3 times a frame before it picks the focus. It uses a slightly lower resolution sensor which allows for the 20fps burst mode.
The images we have had are full of colour and performs well in low light settings but this can take a few seconds to make sure your shot is ready to take a fantastic and detailed image. When using the telephoto lens you get an amazing colour profile and this could be due to the fact the sensor is smaller at just 1 /3.4 inches however it is softer than the main lens.
Shots with the wide lens can feel a little washed out compared to the other two lenses but the images will still appear very sharp if you were to compare with a rival handset.
This phone also has a selfie camera in the front but it looks terrible in some low light areas and captured lens flares. The camera has an 8MP sensor so it’s no wonder. For these who buy this phone, it will be for the back cameras and the technology built-in that they will invest in.
Sony has a standard camera app on the Xperia 1 II but its the Mode button that has settings that a professional photographer will love such as colour filters. The phone won’t switch to the correct lens when you zoom – you have to tap in one of the three lens options at the bottom of the screen. I would have preferred if this phone transitioned by its self as you zoom.
Where this phone shines and, I feel a professional photographer would be dribbling, is with the Photo Pro & Cinema Pro apps. These offer an incredible amount of control over the phone’s cameras such as giving you a digital zoom ring for each lens. The Cinema Pro app allows controls shutter speed, resolution and angle, for those who love to really set up a perfect shot every time.
Value for Money & Should I buy It?
Considering the fact we are in the middle of a global pandemic it makes me question the £1,099 price tag. However, this phone has every kind feature you would expect for a phone this price such as the Qualcomm snapdragon 865, IP68 rated, 21:9 4K OLED display and a very good camera that if you are into your photography, makes it a must.
However, for most everyday users the camera system might drive you a little mad as it can be very complicated. However, you might want the phone for its amazing display and the use of dynamic vibration that make it feel like having a cinema in your pocket.
This phone also comes with wireless charging even if it’s only at 18W charge which is disappointing as other handsets I have tested come in at 30W charge. The phone also comes with a headphone jack so it has something for everyone.
So I think you should buy this phone as Sony have taken a few times to get right, but with the Xperia 1 II has completely smashed it out of the park. Welcome back Sony!
Design- 5 Stars
Display – 5 stars
Camera – 5 stars
Performance – 5 Stars
Battery life- 4 Stars
Value for Money- 4 Stars
Overall Rating – 4.6 Stars