Sony Xperia 1 II Review: The Best Surprise of this Summer 2020

0
569
Our Score

With an extraordinary screen, an excellent technical platform, and pleasant handling, Sony Xperia 1 II offers a photo experience that finally really benefits from Sony’s expertise with its Alpha range.

Without a doubt, it is an excellent smartphone that should not be ashamed of competition from Samsung, Xiaomi, OPPO, or Huawei.

For almost 10 years, Sony has not been one of the top five brands in the world of telephony. The Japanese firm is no longer part of the Top 5, while it has long resisted Chinese competitive pressure. But the Xiaomi, OPPO, and Huawei have got the better of the iconic firm, a pioneer in consumer electronics. It must be said that the choices of the brand were sometimes difficult to defend, whether in terms of screen, photo, or design.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

Technical Specifications

The Xperia 1 II (pronounced Mark 2) takes what is good in the Xperia 1. And it erases all the imperfections. Return of the 3.5 mm jack, Better battery (and better autonomy), Wireless charging. Photo application inherited from the Sony Alpha range and with all the possible settings. Video capture in 4K, Autofocus on the wide-angle sensor. More RAM. WiFi compatibility 6.

In short, the Xperia 1 II ticks all the boxes. At least theoretically, as you can see in the technical sheet below. We’ll see throughout this test if this is just theory.

Sony Xperia 1 II
Dimensions166 x 72 x 7.9mm
Weight181g
Screen6.5 inch OLED
21:9
643ppi
3,840 x 1,644 pixels
Corning Gorilla Glass 6
ChipsetSnapdragon 865 (7nm)
OSAndroid 10
RAM8 G
Storage256 G
microSDYes
Main sensor12 MP wide-angle f/2.2
12 MP f/1.7
12 MP telephoto f/2.4
ToF camera
Carl Zeiss optics
Secondary sensor8 MP
Battery4000 mAh
Fast charge 21-watt wireless charging 11 watts
5GOui
ConnectivityJack 3,5 mm
NFC
WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.1
USB 3.1 Type-C
BiometricsEdge fingerprint scanner
Water resistanceIP 68

 

Design

The Xperia 1 II looks a lot like the first Xperia 1 at first glance. You will find in particular this long body dressed in mineral glass on the faces and aluminum on the edges. It’s still Corning Gorilla 6. The front and back of the phone are flat, unlike OPPO, Xiaomi, and Samsung which have chosen a curved shape. We will see later what is the impact of this choice for viewing audiovisual content.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

At the back, an elongated vertical photo frame is still present. But its location has changed. It is now placed in the upper left corner. It is surmounted by two elements. A flash and a light sensor. We will come back to these elements (and those of the block) in the part dedicated to the photo. In addition to the legal notices, you will notice three markings on the back: “Sony”, “Xperia” and the NFC logo indicating where the sensor is placed.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

The slices are also slightly different. Sony here abandons the convex lines of the Xperia 1 for a much straighter design with a bevel that makes the connection between aluminum and glass. Sony is one of the last brands to opt for this kind of slice. Some would say it is outdated. We think it’s just… different.

In these sections, you will find very discreet separations to isolate the antennas (two on the right, three on the left, and two at the bottom).

The technical elements are positioned in slightly different places than on the Xperia 1. USB Type-C and main microphone at the bottom. 3.5 mm jack port and secondary microphone at the top. Volume control, power button with integrated fingerprint reader, and hardware key dedicated to the photo on the right (excellent for experienced photographers). Drawer for SIM and microSDXC on the left.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

Four (very) good ideas and one less good one should be noted. Let’s start with the good ones.

Good idea 1

The SIM drawer can be removed without tools, just with your fingernail.

Good idea 2

And while keeping the phone waterproof (IP68 certification as a reminder).

Good idea 3

The location of the fingerprint reader is ideal here to unlock the phone while keeping a good grip. This historic location at Sony has since been copied by some competitors.

Good idea 4

The speaker on the bottom edge of the Xperia 1 disappears here. And for good reason: now, the two speakers are on the front.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

Less Good idea

Finally, the 3.5 mm jack port is back, for those who bought a Sony headset. And the brand succeeded in obtaining this “aging” jack port an acoustic quality similar to the digital DAC associated with the USB Type-C port (including that of the Xperia 1). The worst idea also concerns the 3.5 mm jack port.

Its position on the upper edge is not good. And this in all situations: whether you put the phone in your pocket (generally upside down, making it inaccessible or inconvenient), whether you hold it horizontal to watch a film (it annoys your fingers) or vertical (the cable falls in front of the screen every second time). It was a rich idea.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

Screen

At the front, we find a large screen (in height), but which remains usable with one hand (notably thanks to gestures that it is possible to perform on the lower part, we will come back to this). The borders around the screen are thinner than those of the Xperia 1. The Xperia 1 II is also more compact since it is smaller, thinner, AND thinner. The ratio between the front surface and the screen has never been so important at Sony: 84%.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

Despite this finesse, you find in the upper border the selfie sensor (no hole, no notch at Sony, no!), The notification LED, the environmental sensors and one of the two speakers, associated with the telephone earpiece. In the lower border, there is also a much larger speaker. The Multimedia side, the choice of the double front speaker is a treat. Especially since the slab is flat. So that the contents are always visible, unlike a Galaxy S20 or Mi 10 Pro.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

The screen of the Xperia 1 II is quite similar to that of the Xperia 1. With a 6.5-inch size in 21:9 format. OLED backlight. Pseudo-4K definition: 1644 pixels in width and 3840 pixels in height. Resolution of 643 pixels per inch. HDR compatibility. Refresh rate at 60 Hz.

The maximum brightness (direct exposure to the sun) is around 600 cd/m2, which is pretty good. It’s as good as the Xperia 1. It’s better than the P40 but not as good as the OnePlus 8 and the Find X2 Pro. The colorimetry is very well respected. And it is possible to customize the temperature if it seems too cold or too hot.

Three remarks.

First, the definition is not quite 4K, since a 16: 9 4K television has 2160 pixels in height and 3840 pixels in width. The XZ2 Premium was truly 4K. However, that’s okay, since the definition is far above the competition, even when faced with a QHD screen of the same size.

Then, the refresh rate could have been better (a choice certainly linked to autonomy and performance). An option in the setting menu reduces motion blur. Theoretically, this could replace the 90 Hz refresh. But the result is not so convincing.

Finally, note that Sony does not pre-install protection above the screen, unlike some Asian competitors.

Performances

Beneath the screen is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 paired with 8 GB of RAM. It’s Sony’s first smartphone with so much RAM. So it’s a real revolution (and it’s not the last, as you’ll see in this review).

Of course, compared to the flagships of certain brands, this seems a bit “light”. Oppo provides 12 GB of RAM in its Find X2 Pro. Samsung also provides 12 GB in all 5G versions of the Galaxy S20.

Likewise with Xiaomi with the Mi 10 5G and Mi 10 Pro 5G and OnePlus with the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro. So that’s not so reassuring.

sony xperia 1 mark 2

What about the real thing? The test results show that the Xperia 1 II is very well optimized. The difference in RAM between Sony’s smartphone and that of opponents is not that great.

Add to that the lack of a high refresh rate, the Xperia reveals itself above the P40 Pro and the Galaxy S20. It is very close to the Find X2 Pro. And a little below the OnePlus 8 Pro and the Mi 10 Pro. Often, this is played out with a few points in the benchmarks. The Xperia 1 II offers very consistent results.

This fluidity is obviously felt with the many gourmet applications that we have installed. You will find below Dead Trigger 2, our benchmark game, which has shown no slowdown, even with the highest level of details offered in the control panel.

We also installed Citra, the Nintendo 3DS emulator, and Dolphin, the Wii emulator. Some of the competitors mentioned above have weakened in the face of these two emulators. The Xperia 1 II, for its part, managed to stay fluid throughout the experiment.

Game on Sony Xperia 1

Dead Trigger 2

Let’s take advantage of this video game interlude to discuss the PlayStation range. The PS4 Remote Play application, available on the Play Store and compatible with the vast majority of phones, is not preinstalled on the Xperia 1 II (while the PlayStation Store application is present by default).

We obviously tested the link between the two systems and it works wonderfully (provided you have good WiFi), both with a DualShock 4 controller and with the touchscreen controls.

Battery

As for RAM, Sony has strengthened the proposal on the battery side. The Xperia 1 II is the first smartphone from Sony with a 4000 mAh model. There is no higher in the brand’s smartphone catalog at the time of writing.

Until now, Sony has always opted for software optimization to reduce energy consumption. But with ever more greedy chipsets, ever more successful panels, and the arrival of 5G (because the Xperia 1 II is also the brand’s first 5G smartphone), it was time to strengthen the battery. And therefore autonomy. Especially since his predecessor did not shine in this exercise.

Sony Xperia 1 mark 2 -Charger

His successor does better. But not much better. The Xperia offers a dozen hours of continuous video playback and a dozen hours of Internet browsing.

In mixed-use, without touching different settings to reduce energy consumption, the phone is largely able to withstand the day. But it will not last a day and a half, like a Find X2 Pro for example. Among the possible optimizations, there are of course the different energy-saving modes and the deactivation of the Always-On screen (even if it seems minimal).

On the charging side, the Xperia 1 II is compatible with fast charging (21 watts) and wireless charging (11 watts). It takes just under two hours to fully charge via the USB Type-C port. Which is rather long. Also note that the charger supplied with the smartphone is a model delivering a power of 18 watts, with which the charge will be a little longer. A small lack of taste in our opinion.

Audio

Let’s talk a little bit about audio since this is one of the highlights of the Xperia 1 II. With its upgraded 3.5mm jack port and two front speakers, Sony’s promise to audiophiles is high. And the result is quite convincing here too. Note at the same time that the Xperia 1 II is delivered with a good wired in-ear headset, with remote remote control.

Let’s first talk about the jack port. The latter extends, according to Sony, its frequency range to provide more depth to the music (because, for films, the difference is negligible). According to the brand, it even offers better sound than the DAC of the USB Type-C port. Is.

For an experienced ear, there may be a difference. During our tests, we had a very good audio experience. From there to say that it is better with a headset jack than with a USB type-C headset, it is difficult to say, because it will depend on the headset. We find, however, that it is undeniably more practical (if he had been better placed, it would have been even better).

Type C ports for Xperia 1 mark 2

Then let’s talk about the speakers. Whether at Sony or Samsung, these components are not always user-oriented. Take the example of Xperia 1. If you hold the smartphone horizontally (the top of the phone is turned to the left), the left earpiece faces you, but the right speaker points to the side.

Here, the two deliver sound to the user, as was the case historically with the manufacturer’s Xperia Z series. A homecoming more than welcome, because the experience offered is excellent, with a clear, detailed, and relatively powerful sound (but not too much either).

Interface :

The Xperia 1 II works with Android 11, of course, dressed here with a slight overlay that looks a lot like the one used by the Xperia 1. Of course, Sony took advantage of the transition to Android 10 to apply some changes, such as the dark theme (used to illustrate these few paragraphs) and the fine management of permissions.

For the rest, nothing new. You will notice that Sony by default activates the navigation buttons of Android, to avoid being lost with touch gestures (which are not yet fully standardized).

Another interesting point: lateral detection. Double-tap one of the two slices (it works best if you tap the bevel between the screen and the phone slice) to bring up a menu with shortcuts to apps and quick settings. Again, this menu is made to improve handling with one hand. And it’s a rich idea (reminiscent to some extent of the side panels of Samsung One UI).

Lateral detection

By delving into the configuration menu, you access a very complete menu. Here the network (GSM, WiFi) and local (Bluetooth) connections are separate. Only one biometric protection is offered: the imprint.

No second zone facial recognition here. The control over the permissions for geolocation is deported in a dedicated menu in order to give them a more prominent place.

The important areas of the overlay are close to the pure Android experience: hosting with Google and system applications, as well as “Pro” applications for photo and video, meaning that this is a priority for Sony. Access to the multi-window mode (shown below) is also on this screen.

On the right screen, you will find some business partners: Netflix, Call of Duty Mobile, Tidal, LinkedIn, Facebook. Curiously, Sony has not chosen to promote Spotify, the firm’s partner on PlayStation, on these phones. Perhaps the two companies have not found a satisfactory agreement?

On the left is the Google news feed. By pulling down, you open the notification area and quick settings (which you can customize as you see fit). By finally pulling up, you open the application drawer, which is far from being the most popular in mobile telephony. Sony plays the simplicity card here, with a beautiful, functional, and fluid interface.

Cinema Pro

In addition to Google applications and those mentioned above, we find a nice range of applications from Sony. Photo Pro and Cinema Pro (see its interface above). News Feed. PlayStation App (of course), but not the PS4 Remote Play.

Imaging Edge Mobile which allows you to connect a Sony Alpha device to the phone. And Game Optimizer which is comparable to the game mode at Oppo or Samsung, for example, optimizes performance, disables notifications, and displays a shortcut for taking videos.

The photographic part of this test could have been worth a dedicated article, there is so much to say about this smartphone. Because, Sony has come a long way in this type of exercise, a shame for a company that also manufactures cameras (compact, bridge, and reflex).

In addition, the Xperia 1 II takes, for the first time, really part of the work of the Japanese firm in the field of professional photo, especially on the software part, since the basic photo application is accompanied here by two other applications: Photo Pro and Cinema Pro whose interfaces and tools were borrowed from the firm’s cameras and cameras.

Picture

The photographic part of this test could have been worth a dedicated article, there is so much to say about this smartphone. Because, Sony has come a long way in this type of exercise, a shame for a company that also manufactures cameras (compact, bridge, and reflex).

Also, the Xperia 1 II takes, for the first time, really part of the work of the Japanese firm in the field of professional photo, especially on the software part, since the basic photo application is accompanied here by two other applications: Photo Pro and Cinema Pro whose interfaces and tools were borrowed from the firm’s cameras and cameras.

Pro Photo

With the Xperia 1 II, Sony is increasing its game with, for the first time in its catalog, a ToF (time-of-flight) camera for calculating distances on the fly, autofocus integrated into the wide-angle sensor, omnidirectional autofocus for the main sensor, optical stabilization in video shooting and even, let’s be crazy, optics signed Carl Zeiss (the same one that provides optics for Nokia).

sony xperia 1 mark 2

The Xperia 1 II sensors are all 12 megapixels Exmor. If theoretically, there are no differences between the sensors of the Xperia 1 and those of the Xperia 1 II, Sony says that these are more recent generation modules. The main sensor analysis is a good example. Compared to that of Xperia 1, that of Xperia 1 II is larger. This means that each photosensitive pixel is also larger and it captures more light for the same exposure time. And it feels.

Main sensor

Now let’s get to the heart of the matter. First of all, note that all the photos here are taken with the default application. Sophisticated purists and photographers will find their happiness with Photo Pro which adds a few practical modes.

Above all, total control over the photographic elements as if you had an SLR in your hand (since the interface is inspired by that of the Sony Alpha). You also have access to the P, M, and S modes that equip the Alpha. Photo Pro makes it easier to switch between the three optics (panorama, main, and telephoto). And you even have a little gyroscope that pops up to make sure you’re straight.

Telephoto. 3x optical zoom. Panoramic sensor main sensor

The default application is not that complete and complex. She does everything by herself. You can choose the zoom (in or out). You can turn off the flash. You can change the ratio of photos (from 4/3 to 16 // 9 or 1/1). And you can activate the background blur (only with the main sensor). For the rest, it’s the machine that decides (hoping it will make good decisions). Note that the app also warns you if you have a finger in front of the lens. It’s detailed. But it counts.

Main sensor, macro mode

The main photosensor provides excellent results, day and night. It’s a real pleasure to find Sony at a good level in photos. When the light is good, the Xperia 1 II makes the right decisions regarding scene mode, white balance, and ISO. The colors are beautiful and natural. The light is bright and controlled.

In rare cases, the decisions made by the application are questionable, especially in terms of brightness. Some will find the photos of the Xperia 1 II less contrasting than some competitors. But we may have become too accustomed to HDR to excess.

One of the points that Sony insisted on during its presentation is the speed of development of the Xperia 1 II, almost equivalent to that of an Alpha. And it’s true: few photos are blurry, even when the subject is moving, like the car here.

Thanks to the time-of-flight camera, the Xperia 1 II manages to capture the moment. Add to that the physical button for shooting (with the focus function by pressing halfway), and you get a sporty digital camera. Finally, if you activate the background blur, the portraits are precise and the faces well contrasted. Again, nothing to complain about.

The wide-angle sensor also offers good results, with beautiful colors and a good mastery of light. And, for once, the photos are bright and contrasted. Often the wide-angle lens opens less, resulting in a less bright result. That’s not the case here. Beware, as always, of optical aberrations. An automatic corrector straightens the image. However, you should not deactivate it.

Finally, the telephoto lens is a little behind. The colors are well reproduced, the contrast is good and the management of the brightness also. But, it is also less bright, not surprisingly, and it does not offer the same sharpness as the other two.

Even with staying on the optical zoom, you quickly lose finesse in grain. Digital zoom is also offered. It is slightly hidden (long press on the zoom icon). He’s doing better overall than others, but it’s not crazy either. A sensor with perhaps a higher definition could have brought to the Xperia 1 II a hybrid zoom equivalent to that of the Galaxy S20, for example.

Let’s talk about the results in night mode for a few moments. One of the advantages to opt for 12-megapixel sensors is to increase the light acquired by the pixels. And that benefits the Xperia 1 II which offers very good results, with many details, good light and textures that stay clean, whether with the main sensor, the wide-angle sensor and even.

In some cases, with the telephoto lens. Be careful, of course, the night mode requires you to hold the break for about two seconds per photo. If the subject moves, it’s done! By exploring the options of Photo Pro, you will have more choices in terms of shooting: aperture, pause time, ISO, etc.

Panoramic sensor. Night mode Main sensor. Night mode

Conclusion

I have tested several flagships in recent months. I find the Galaxy S20 5G excellent by its compactness. I find the Find X2 Pro very elegant and particularly strong in fast charging. I also liked the Mi 10 Pro that I tested to co-create the dossier on the new features of MIUI 12, even if I find it less character than its competitors. And I trust my colleague Bruno as for the quality offered by the P40 Pro and the P40 Pro +, especially in the photo where they seem to excel.

We even have some small faults to blame him. This lack of taste in ergonomics, with the curious position of the 3.5 mm jack port, or that of the wired charger supplied in the box which does not take advantage of the maximum power of the fast charge. But what experience does it offer! On video. In-game. In audio. It is THE multimedia smartphone par excellence. Its interface is elegant and its design is refined. It was a real pleasure to spend a few days with him. And we highly recommend it.

 

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here