Today Sony picks up on one of its newer form factors that the company introduced last year with the Xperia 5. The new Xperia 1 II (read as marker two) ties in with the smaller flagship sibling device and retains its shape. Factor, however, also significantly improved its design as well as maintaining an almost complete feature parity with the larger Xperia 1 II.
The new phone is also said to stand out from other Sony offerings: The company has apparently focused on making the device more playful, even though it doesn’t have the flair of a game phone on the outside. With a new internal heat dissipation system and an OLED with a refresh rate of 120 Hz and a touch input with a sampling rate of 240 Hz, the Xperia 5 II beats its weight in terms of fluidity.
Sony achieved all of this while maintaining the form factor and weight of the Xperia 5 ̵
|Sony Xperia 1 Series|
Sony Xperia 1 II
|Sony Xperia 5 II|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
1x Cortex-A77 at 2.84 GHz
Adreno 650 at 587 MHz
3840 x 1644 (21: 9)
2520 x 1080 (21: 9)
120Hz update with 240Hz touch
|size||height||166 mm||158 mm|
|width||72 mm||68 mm|
|depth||7.9 mm||8.0 mm|
|Weight||181 grams||163 grams|
18W USB-PD adaptive charging
|Wireless charging||Yes||– –|
|Main||12MP 1.8 µm Dual Pixel PDAF
1 / 1.7 “sensor
|Telephoto||12 MP 1.0 µm PDAF
1 / 3.4 “sensor
70mm /// 3x zoom
f / 2.4 with OIS
|Wide||12MP 1.4 µm Dual Pixel PDAF
1 / 2.6 “sensor
16 mm / 130 °
|extra||3D time of flight (ToF)||– –|
|Front camera||8 MP 1.12 µm
f / 2.0
|8 MP 1.12 µm
f / 2.0
|128 / 256GB
|I / O.||USB-C
3.5 mm headphone jack
|Cellular||– –||– –|
|IP rating||IP65 & IP68|
|Other properties||Double speakers|
|Dual SIM||1x nanoSIM + microSD
|Starting price||$ 1099 / £ / € 1199||$ 949 / € 899|
At the core of the phone is a Snapdragon 865 SoC that allows the device to achieve great performance. Although the SoC is quite conservative in terms of power consumption, the Xperia 1 II was throttled slightly under sustained workloads such as gaming. To mitigate this, Sony has developed an improved heat dissipation system in the phone, thanks largely to a new large graphite pad that can transfer heat from the SoC to the larger footprint of the screen panel. This should help the device to achieve almost unlimited continuous output under normal circumstances.
In terms of storage, we’re still seeing a reasonable 8GB of DRAM and storage capacities at 128 and 256GB that are expandable with microSD cards.
In terms of design, the Xperia 5 II takes queues away from the Xperia 1 II as it has a nearly identical design of the front and back. On the front, this means that there are still two top and bottom bezels instead of modern notches or pinhole cameras. However, this has the advantage that there are two surprisingly good stereo front speakers that Sony classifies as much more balanced. We see smartphones in other competitors.
One change in the phone’s ergonomics is the fact that the Xperia 5 II comes with a rounded side frame design that is more rectangular and boxy than that of the 1 II – in that sense the phone seems more similar to that of the Xperia 1, and honestly that’s a positive as I think it offers a lot better feel and ergonomics in the hand than the 1 II.
This is still a rather small phone by today’s standards (and today’s standards are big phones!). With a width of 68 mm, it is narrower than the smallest Galaxy S20 and still weighs a reasonable 163 grams. Sony was also able to simultaneously increase the battery capacity of the original Xperia 5 from 3110 mAh to a new 4000 mAh device by redesigning the phone’s internal parts, realigning the motherboard and using a multi-stack design. The battery compartment also takes up more floor space in the phone and maximizes the space required in the frame.
The display of the Xperia 5 II is completely new to Sony. It’s an OLED screen with a resolution of 2540 x 1080, but this time it offers a refresh rate of 120 Hz and even a sample rate for touch input of 240 Hz. That’s a big leap not just from the Xperia 5, but from this year’s Xperia 1 II as well. I’ve never been a fan of Sony’s decision to pursue 4K displays in their Xperia 1 range as it’s, frankly, a complete overkill which greatly affects the battery life. A refresh rate of 120Hz on FHD + like the Xperia 5 II is a much better choice for the user experience, and the loss of resolution shouldn’t be as bad on this 6.1-inch display as it’s significantly smaller than the norm today, so the PPI is still pretty high.
The rear camera design is very similar to that of the Xperia 1 II. In fact, it is essentially an identical camera setup in terms of modules:
A 24 mm main module with a 12MP 1 / 1.76 inch sensor with 1.8 µm pixels and a 1: 1.7 optical system with OIS serves as an excellent primary camera. This is supplemented by a 70 mm equivalent 3-fold optical 12-fold 1: 2.4 module with optical zoom and OIS as a telephoto camera and a 16 mm-equivalent 12 MP 1.4 µm 1: 2, 2 module as an ultra wide-angle unit.
The only thing missing from the Xperia 5 II that is present on its bigger sibling is the time-of-flight depth sensor – not that much of a loss for photography.
Sony’s camera experience has never been that of the hardware, it has been the approach to software processing. The company has a more straightforward approach to images, more likely to digital cameras or mirrorless systems – which isn’t always successful in the smartphone space because you need more computer photography to counter the negative effects of a smaller camera sensor on a phone. In that regard, while the Xperia 5 II looks fine on paper, don’t expect as great a daily experience as you would on an iPhone or Galaxy.
The phone is only 8.0mm thick and still extremely easy to use due to its small width.
Sony brought back the 3.5mm headphone jack this year, and the Xperia 5 II is even claimed to have improved audio quality by improving crosstalk and audio signal path. It’s great to see companies admitting that removing this connector was a mistake and reversing their previous decisions – this now gives the Xperia 5 II a distinct advantage over the competition as almost no one else has this feature.
With its IP68 water resistance, it looks like the Xperia 5 II is ticking almost every single check box for what you’d expect in a phone in 2020. This is highly unusual and extremely unexpected for Sony.
As an overall package, the phone looks incredibly competitive, and I haven’t been able to say that of a Sony phone in ages, if at all.
The device’s only caveat is its pricing: at $ 949 or € 899, it’s still a bit expensive compared to other flagships in 2020, especially late into the generation cycle. In Europe, the Xperia 5 II will be available from October, while the US will not get it until December 4thth – It is extremely late and at this point it is better to wait for the refreshments of the competition in 2021.
Even so, I’ve long been excited about a Sony phone this way and it’s definitely positive for the company’s new path in the mobile space.