Sony Xperia 5 II Review: A Stone’s Throw From An Excellent Smartphone

The successor of the first Xperia 5 of the name released a year ago, the Sony Xperia 5 II was formalized in September 2020, followed by marketing this fall. Here is our test.

Sony Xperia 5 II

Full HD + OLED screen, 120 Hz refresh rate, Snapdragon 865, triple rear photo sensor, 5G: for sure, the Sony Xperia 5 II has strengths to showcase on paper, which benefits from several improvements over its predecessor launched in September 2019. But if sold for 100 dollars more, is this high-end smartphone worth it? And above all, can it block the fierce competition of this end of the 2020 vintage?

We tested it, and here is our verdict.

Sony Xperia 5 II Data Sheet :

Model Sony Xperia 5 II
OS Version Android 10 Q
Manufacturer interface Android Stock
Screen Size 6.1 Inch
Definition 2520 x 1080 pixels
Pixel density 449 PPP
Technology OLED
SoC Snapdragon 865
Graphics Chip (GPU) Adreno 650
Internal memory (flash) 128 GB
Camera (back) Sensor 1: 12 Mp
Sensor 2: 12 Mp
Sensor 3: 12 Mp
Camera (front) 8 Mp
Video Recording 4K@120 IPS
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 6 (ax)
Bluetooth 5.1
Supported bands 2100 MHz (B1), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 700 MHz (B28)
Fingerprint sensor Yes
Ports (Inputs/Outputs) USB Type-C
Battery 4000 mAh
DAS 0.28
Dimensions 68 x 158 x 8mm
Weight 163 grams
Colors Black, Blue, Gray
Price 749 $


Design: The War Of The Buttons :

Once is not customary, let’s start the description of a phone by feeling in hand. Because this is the real highlight of the Sony Xperia 5 II’s design: its 21:9 ratio combined with a contained width of 68 mm (the same as on the Xperia 5) makes it very pleasant to handle. This is a change from the imposing smartphones regularly encountered on the market: a real breath of fresh air that feels good.

If its length remains unchanged with respect to its predecessor, its thickness is reduced by 0.2 mm to drop to 8 mm. Another major asset: the 164 grams on the scale, a measure lower than the general average. The rounded corners and edges come to improve the whole, for successful handling which should appeal to a wide audience.

The front of the Sony Xperia 5 II

The Japanese brand continues to stand out from other manufacturers with the absence of any notch or punch. Instead, Sony opts for the good old top border to integrate the one and only front sensor. An obsolete provision, but visibly assumed. The chin of the phone seems as thick as the forehead, in contrast to the side edges which benefit from always welcome thinness.

So much for the front panel.

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At the rear, the glass coating makes sense in view of its premium positioning, as does the Gorilla Glass 6 protective glass, which is very useful against bumps and scratches. The back nevertheless catches a lot of fingerprints. Also invited to the party is a rounded photo module placed vertically, and equipped with three sensors. The flash is positioned just above.

Overall, the back cover of the Xperia 5 II plays the card of sobriety and elegance, all sprinkled with a discreet marketing touch materialized by the name of the brand in the middle of the mobile device.

The back of the Sony Xperia 5 II

Let’s continue with the annoying subject: the right side edge of the phone. Sony has not learned from its mistakes from one iteration to the next by maintaining downright bad ergonomics. This defect had already been criticized, but it is clear that conservatism has taken over.

Explanations. This famous right edge is composed of four buttons, placed as follows (from top to bottom): the volume buttons, the power button (with a fingerprint sensor below), a button to activate the Assistant, and another to take a picture.

The last two mentioned are unnecessary: the Google Assistant can be activated with a swipe of a finger on the phone, and the location of the dedicated button very regularly leads to mishandling. Example: your phone is lying flat, you try to grab it from the bottom … then you activate the Assistant without doing it on purpose. Annoying, in the long run.

Four buttons on the same slice: that's a no

Of course, deactivating it is possible … but a window offering to reactivate the functionality appears when you press the button. The one dedicated to the camera is meanwhile located far too low for vertical shots: the maneuver is almost perilous when using it to capture a shot because using the thumb makes the shot unstable from the phone. At your peril. Horizontally, it doesn’t have to be very relevant, as it doesn’t spare you some two-handed manipulation to take a photo. In addition, during a game session, your right index finger is also placed on it …

Its only use is secondary: a long press on it opens the camera. And again: a double press on the power button also offers this function. In short: this right edge clearly deserves to be reviewed to optimize the user experience and make the design of this phone excellent in terms of the observed strengths.

Because of the strong points, there are many others: starting with the presence of a 3.5 mm jack (on the upper edge), a dual SIM drawer and a MicroSD card for the storage expansion (up to 1TB) removable by hand, IP68 certification to resist water and dust, two speakers for stereo sound, NFC chip, and output USB-C.

OLED And 120 Hz, What Else?

The Sony Xperia 5 II benefits from a 6.1-inch OLED screen, with a 21:9 ratio and a definition of 2520 x 1080 pixels. Its resolution is 449 pixels per inch. In addition to these rather flattering elements for the phone, which therefore benefits from infinite contrast thanks to the OLED, our measurements highlight other more precise results.

By default, the phone is set to standard mode – and Cool in White Balance settings. From these settings, the Sony Xperia 5 II covers 141% of the RGB space and 95% of the larger and more demanding DCI-P3. But the device seems to activate it only when it needs to. Because in fact, the screen displays a good variety of colors, but OLED, it could do better. A result to be slightly tempered, therefore.

Infinite contrast thanks to OLED display technology

The average Delta E on the DCI-P3 meanwhile is close to 4.65, a figure too far from the benchmark which turns more around 3. Consequences: some colors displayed tend to deviate considerably from reality. In the case of the Sony Xperia 5 II, this difference is observed at the level of whites, several shades of blue, and the color of cyan.

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The temperature of 7670 K tends too much toward blue. Admittedly, this trend observed on a good number of telephones gives a boost to the screen, but we would have preferred a result around 6500K, synonymous with good color balance. So do not hesitate to add a little temperature to re-balance everything.

White people stray too far from reality

I did not experience any day-to-day brightness problems, even in direct sunlight, despite a relatively low score obtained during the test protocol. On this point, the phone meets your expectations. The terminal has a “Creator” mode: this function allows you to have an image faithful to that filmed by the director of a film and is automatically activated on Netflix, for example. But personally, I haven’t noticed any big differences …

Finally, note the excellent refresh rate of 120 Hz, which is however not activated by default in the settings. Do not forget to configure it manually for the perfect fluidity that will delight your peepers every day. A pure delight enjoyed, which, on the other hand, pumps up more energy than usual.

Android Stock, Or Nearly: An Interface To Build Up:

Based on Android 10, the interface of the Sony Xperia 5 II is very close to Android Stock, a version of Android that Google designed it. Today, the majority, if not all manufacturers add on top of a software interface developed in-house, which provides a relatively different experience, but above all specific to the brand.

In the case of the Sony phone, the result is mixed: we have indeed experienced a better degree of customization, both in the in-depth settings of the terminal and in the notifications panel, for example. The latter only accommodates nine icons on the first page, then three on the second, compared to a good fifteen on other interfaces. Few additional choices are offered to enrich them.

For example, we would have liked to access the native dark mode directly from this panel (and not via the parameters of the said panel). There is also one unique way to enjoy gesture navigation: sideways to go back, bottom to top to return to the home screen. Being able to customize this element more in-depth would have been interesting.

The side detection bar – much like Oppo and Realme can do – also has too many apps: nine in total, which match predictions based on our usage patterns. Add to that three quick settings (Wi-Fi, power saver, and Bluetooth) and three additional options (including one-handed mode).

In short, the menu is too busy and therefore loses its meaning, in my opinion. Especially since it is impossible to remove apps to unclog this interesting sidebar. You also can’t change the shape and size of app icons or remove all background apps all at once.

Application groups, on the other hand, deserve to be reviewed in depth: the outlines of the bubble intersect the apps present and only display a maximum of four on the main interface. In settings, the large number of sub-tabs sometimes tends to get confused, while some functions (font size, for example) are found in two different places.

The fingerprint sensor under the power button is having difficulty working properly here and there: several times I had to use it to unlock my phone. Rest assured, there are positives too, such as practical setup suggestions when using the mobile device for the first time.

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The latter still benefits from a number of customization, a one-handed mode for little fingers and a manual setting for the white balance. But you shouldn’t ask too much of it either. More good news: The phone is ready to play HD content on SVOD platforms like Netflix and Disney +, as it takes advantage of Widevine DRM at the L1 (highest) security level.

Several applications remain preinstalled from the start: the Cinema Pro and Photos Pro app in this case, which we will come back to in the photo section, but also Game Optimizer, which allows you to refine your in-game settings. We will focus on this in the Performance part.

A Camera Too Well :

The Sony Xperia 5 II uses the same number of rear sensors as its predecessor, three in total, compared to just one upfront. Below, please find their respective characteristics:

  • 12-megapixel main sensor, 24 mm equivalent, 82 ° FOV (f/1.7).
  • Ultra wide-angle 12 megapixels, 16 mm equivalent, 124 ° FOV (f/2.2).
  • 12 megapixel x3 telephoto lens, 70 mm equivalent, 34 ° FOV (f/2.4).
  • 8-megapixel front camera, 84 ° FOV (f/2.0).

The triple rear photo sensor of the Sony Xperia 5 II

The main sensor of the device offers a very satisfactory score in good condition. Its good sharpness brings detail to the image, the colorimetry remains overall balanced with a more than correct color reproduction (a slightly pronounced and barely visible contrast sometimes points to the tip of its nose), and the management of strong light sources – the sun in this case – suitable for not overexposing part of the shot to the extreme.

Dynamics management could nevertheless have been improved (photo of the roundabout), given the foreground which is far too dark compared to the rest of the image. But overall, the result is appreciable.

Then comes the time for different focal lengths: an ultra-wide angle, wide angle, and 3x optical zoom. The first name does not suffer from any particular frills in landscape format (photo n°1 of the first series), with an absence of overly pronounced distortions that one can usually see in this type of shot. However, the camera tends to blur the photo slightly, but nothing really obvious.

In zoom x3, the background lit by the sun is burnt: the beautiful blue sky seen in the previous photos even completely disappears in favor of a sparkling white sky. This zoom, however, provides a very good level of detail and sharpness.

In the second series below, the famous deformations are more noticeable in ultra-wide-angle with a never-pleasant “fisheye” effect. In 3x optical zoom, the sky is again overexposed despite the absence of intense sun that day.

Also, the x1 zoom (the base focal length) offers digital zoom up to x3, while the x3 optical zoom can also go up to digital zoom x3. However, opt for the optical zoom to keep the maximum detail and sharpness in your image. Below, is the first series in x1 and its different digital zooms (x2 and x3).

The Sony Xperia 5 II also has a panorama mode and several other options in the device settings: self-timer, automatic capture, soft skin effect, grid lines, burst, and creative effects (filters). Setting the color temperature and brightness directly from your interface is also a possibility, as is switching from 4:3 (default) to 16:9 and 1:1.

For shots in a night environment, it will be necessary to be satisfied with the classic mode, for lack of night mode. A detrimental lack for a smartphone sold at 900 dollars. The result is correct, but nothing more. By zooming in on the pictures, a blur quickly appears, while overly powerful streetlights tend to create a luminous halo. Better managed, image n°3 is no less attractive.

Mode Night Night Mode Night Mode

If you enjoy capturing moments in portrait mode, you will probably feel a little bit of disappointment with the Sony one. The effect lacks precision and does not always succeed in fulfilling its role.

Selfies get a good rating, with an interesting level of detail and good color reproduction outdoors. Be careful, however, to the sky sometimes slightly too overexposed.

As mentioned earlier in this test, the Sony Xperia 5 II seeks to reach a more specialized audience thanks to its Photo Pro and Cinema Pro applications, which offer great fine-tuning for photos and videos. The user can for example intervene on the aspect ratio (4:3, 16:9, 1:1 and 3:2), the file format (JPEG, RAW), the dynamic range, the focus ( manual or automatic), the focus area or the shooting mode (Auto, Program, Speed, Manual).

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For video, the phone, capable of recording in 4K, can manage resolution, number of FPS, ISO, shutter, white balance, focus, choice of lens, and Look (opaque, bright, warm, intense, clear, soft, soft monochrome). Of course, this host of features is promising on paper, but wouldn’t an audience more specialized in these areas want to turn to a semi-pro camera?

Yes, “the best camera is the one you always have in your pocket”, to quote a colleague’s saying, but at a price of 900 $, will the Sony Xperia 5 II really succumb? consumers for these two specialized applications added in addition? Knowing that with this amount, acquiring a semi-professional device is possible.

A Powerful Snapdragon 865 :

Does the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor still need to prove itself? Not really. The second most powerful chip from the American manufacturer – this since the introduction of the Snapdragon 865+, soon to be dethroned by its successor – meets all needs without any obvious difficulty. What’s more when paired with 8 GB of RAM.

From multitasking to internet browsing through gaming, the Sony Xperia 5 II is as versatile as it is efficient. It has nothing to envy the OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G, which are equipped with the same SoC, but is logically a bit less muscular than the Asus Zenfone 7 Pro, with the 865+.

Modèle Sony Xperia 5 II OnePlus 8 Pro Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Asus Zenfone 7 Pro
AnTuTu 8 551141 584217 576410 629173
AnTuTu CPU 179351 N/C 170630 183666
AnTuTu GPU 207960 N/C 222250 242192
AnTuTu MEM 79922 N/C 92350 107333
AnTuTu UX 83908 N/C 91180 95982
PC Mark 2.0 11606 11364 11421 15082
3DMark Slingshot Extreme 7217 7089 7304 7457
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Graphics 8132 8103 8448 8938
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Physics 5178 4929 4956 4719
3DMark Wild Life 3700 N/C N/C N/C
3DMark Wild Life framerate moyen 22.2 FPS N/C N/C N/C
GFXBench Aztec Vulkan/Metal high (onscreen / offscreen) 1468 / 1293 FPS 18 / 20 FPS 30 / 21 FPS 32 / 22 FPS
GFXBench Car Chase (onscreen / offscreen) 2365 / 2975 FPS 26 / 51 FPS 46 / 52 FPS 46 / 55 FPS
GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 (onscreen / offscreen) 6129 / 7365 FPS 59 / 123 FPS 109 / 127 FPS 89 / 128 FPS
Sequential read / write 1443 / 227 Mo/s 1731 / 754 Mo/s 1546 / 683 Mo/s 1729 / 771 Mo/s
Random read/write 46534 / 44791 IOPS 52800 / 50000 IOPS 57796 / 57711 IOPS 62338 / 61672 IOPS


Very greedy, the game Fortnite: Battle Royale is able to run at 30 FPS (the maximum offered by the application), in “Epic” graphic quality (the highest), and with a 3D resolution pushed to 100%, without any difficulty. . I didn’t notice any IPS drop in the 25-minute session.

On the other hand, the phone tends to heat up quickly. On Call of Duty Mobile, everything works perfectly in very high graphics quality with FPS stuck on “Max” mode. In short, the Sony Xperia 5 II is a beautiful racing animal that has it under the hood.

Fortnite: Battle Royale on the Sony Xperia 5 II

Finally, let’s mention the “Game Optimizer” feature, materialized by a floating window on your screen: this system allows you to free up RAM, take screenshots, record your screen during a session, and even your ganache. with a selfie mode. The user can also choose from different game modes: performance privileged, tie, battery life privileged, and personalized.

A True Gap Of Autonomy :

While Sony has not learned from its mistakes in the multiplication of physical buttons on the right edge of its phone, the manufacturer has made real efforts to significantly improve the battery life of its product. Finished the small battery of 3140 mAh used on the first Xperia 5 of the name, and placed to a more imposing accumulator of 4000 mAh. For a more than satisfactory result.

Over a full 24-hour day, the battery dropped 95 to 5% with nine hours of the screen on for ultra-heavy use. During this time, count 3h30 of Netflix, 2h30 of YouTube, 1 hour of rather greedy benchmark tests, twenty downloaded applications, internet browsing, and a few percentages lost during the night.

In other words, the Xperia 5 II can more than last a day and a half with mixed and moderate use. Note that these results were obtained with the 120 Hz refresh rate activated, which consumes more than other frequencies. By removing it, autonomy can significantly increase. In Fortnite: Battle Royale, the battery lost 7% in 25 minutes of play, which is very decent.

The Sony Xperia 5 II USB-C output

The 18 W charger provided in the box fulfills its role in a basic way without recharging the terminal in record time: allow 30 minutes to climb from 5 to 50%, 30 additional minutes to touch 80%, then 50 minutes to more to finally reach 100%. For a total charging time of around 1h50. An average result that does not place it at the top of the basket.

To grab a few extra minutes when your phone is almost dead, an energy-saving mode called Stamina helps extend your usage time.

Sony Xperia 5 II Network And Communication :

The Sony Xperia 5 II apprehends the next standard of mobile telephony and does indeed have the right to 5G compatibility. It also supports the frequency bands n1, n3, n8, n28, and n78.

At the 4G level: the phone takes advantage of all the European frequency bands dedicated to this standard, from B1 (2100 MHz) to B3 (1800 MHz) via B7 (2600 MHz), B20 (800 MHz) and B28 (700 MHz). So you will have no trouble receiving, regardless of your operator.

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The mobile device also offers Wi-Fi 6 (ax), Bluetooth 5.1, and an NFC chip which is always practical for contactless payments and dematerialized transport tickets. A little extra that sets high-end Android phones apart from the rest. GPS does indicate common sense in general but is subject to a few small inaccuracies from time to time.

If you are making a phone call with the Sony Xperia 5 II, then expect the other person to hear you perfectly. No compression, audible and perfectible voices, ambient noise (work, cars) correctly attenuated: the phone is doing with honors. Only a police siren was heard by my colleague during our test. But overall, it’s still very good.

Price And Availability Of The Sony Xperia 5 II:

The Sony Xperia 5 II is available on the manufacturer’s official website at a price of 949.99 dollars, in black, blue, or gray, with a configuration of 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. This purchase includes a branded pair of true wireless headphones.

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