Sony Xperia 1 II Evaluation: A Surprise Struck

The last time I saw a Sony Xperia phone in the wild was when I went to Japan in 2018. A sea of Xperias, iPhones, and the periodic Nintendo Change stood apart in Tokyo’s dynamic (and prompt!) City train. I do not believe I’ll ever see such a sight anywhere else on the planet, which’s a pity. I state that since Sony now owns less than 1 percent of the international smart device market share, yet the brand-new Xperia 1 II is (up until now) among my preferred phones of the year.

If you informed me in January that I’d compose the tail end of that sentence, I’d have chuckled. However hey, 2020 has actually been filled with shock and surprise. After years of screening Sony phones that didn’t rather click, what makes this one so unique? Well, it’s a total bundle—from an incredibly cinematic screen, strong battery life, and a strong cam system, to reputable construct quality and basic software application. This is the very best smart device Sony has actually ever made.

However—and there’s constantly a however—it’s not without defects. I imply, can we speak about the name? For clearness, it’s noticable Xperia “One Mark 2,” following the calling structure of things like Sony’s own A9 II cam or Iron Male’s matches). That does not stop me (and undoubtedly, many people) from calling it the Xperia One 2. Likewise, it’s $1,200—an extremely high asking cost even if we weren’t in an environment where more than 40 million Americans run out a task.

Video Camera Synergy


  • Sony Xperia 1 II portrait mode. This is one of the few shots portrait mode shots I really like. Often the software makes...

  • Sony Xperia 1 II Photography Pro app. The granular controls in this app give you more freedom to take the photos you...

  • Sony Xperia 1 II main camera. The Xperia may have a simple 12megapixel camera but you often get great colors and...

Photo: Julian Chokkattu

Sony Xperia 1 II, picture mode. This is among the couple of shots picture mode shots I truly like. Typically, the software application makes mistakes when using the blur result around the overview of a topic.


If you reward the cam experience on a phone above whatever else, it deserves taking a look at the Xperia 1 II. Its finest qualities depend on its cam system, which was co-developed with Sony engineers that make its popular Alpha 9 mirrorless video cameras. Many people simply wish to point their phone at a subject and tap a button to get an image. And you can do that with the Xperia 1 II, however Sony is clearly targeting the picture lovers and experts, individuals who like to by hand play with their cam settings to manage every element of a shot.

There are 3 12-megapixel video cameras: a zoom, an ultrawide, and the primary cam, which has a big, 1/1.7-inch image sensing unit (that’s larger than the one in the iPhone 11 Pro). A bigger sensing unit offers it the capability to take in more light for much better night images.

This is among my preferred cam systems considering that the Google Pixel 4; in truth, the Xperia often exceeds the Pixel in image quality. Pictures snapped throughout the day are incredibly abundant in information and color, and regardless of no devoted night mode, the Xperia 1 II handles to create remarkably well-lit images with little sound in the evening. That even reaches the zoom and ultrawide-angle video cameras, though to a somewhat lower degree.

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The faults begin to reveal when you shoot high-contrast scenes. You can see a contrast with the Pixel 4 in the picture gallery (the picture of the woman and the pet dog), where Google’s phone is a lot more efficient in keeping the entire scene exposed properly, whereas the Xperia records a frame that’s blindingly white on one side. The Xperia 1 II’s devoted picture mode can often snap something wonderful like the example in the gallery of my pet dog, where you can see all the pores in my pet dog’s extremely boopable nose. More frequently nevertheless, picture mode can miss out on by making bokeh mistakes around a topic.

More notably, the cam is less flexible than phones like the Pixel when it pertains to cam shake. This is especially real in low-light scenes—keeping the phone stable as much as possible goes a long method to guaranteeing a blur-free outcome. It implies the Pixel 4 is the more constant entertainer of the 2, as I normally needed to retake an image, tap on the screen, or fiddle around with something on the Xperia.

A Pro Play Ground

This is around 85 images sewn together, caught with the Xperia 1 II’s constant autofocus and autoexposure burst mode. My pet dog performed at me and every picture remained in concentrate on his face. The initial is much greater quality, however transforming it to a GIF and after that publishing it to our video gamer compresses it. A lot. Video: Julian Chokkattu

A few of the disparities I discovered in the default cam app, like often over-exposed images, can be prevented by changing to Sony’s Photography Pro app, which comes pre-installed on the phone. It uses even more granular controls than what you get on many other smart devices—even those with devoted manual modes in the cam app. You’ll discover a user interface that’s extremely comparable to the one on Sony’s expert video cameras, permitting you the alternative to set things like the shutter speed, ISO, focus location, car or manual focus, auto-exposure lock, and constant shooting mode.

This app simulates the feel of utilizing an expert cam, however it can’t rather match the ergonomic experience of twiddling with an electronic camera’s physical knobs and buttons (though there is a physical shutter button on the edge of the phone). Still, I can’t reject that the Xperia 1 II comes close to the genuine thing. I have actually taken even more images with this phone than numerous others I have actually evaluated this year since it makes me feel more innovative, which is exactly what I desire from my equipment.

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What makes taking images on this phone enjoyable are functions like Eye Autofocus (AF), a technique pulled from Sony’s expert video cameras where the cam can acknowledge a topic’s eyes and keep them in focus. It deals with individuals and family pets, and it normally does an excellent task of tracking and keeping focus instantly. The cam likewise understands what it must concentrate on when you utilize AF-ON in Picture Pro, and this is most obvious in the constant burst shooting mode. Simply press and hold the shutter, and it snaps 20 frames per 2nd and preserves direct exposure and focus throughout. It works like an appeal, focusing precisely on all 85 images I snapped of my pet dog as he ran towards me.

Pictures are saved as JPEGs today, however Sony states RAW assistance is on the method. When that shows up, it will offer you higher control when you’re modifying them in apps like Adobe Lightroom.

Another app that comes pre-installed is Cinematography Pro, which I deem I had a little bit more enjoyable with. It shoots in 4K with a widescreen 21:9 element ratio and at 24 frames per 2nd, making all your clips appear like they’re from an indie movie. You can likewise contend 120 fps for some cinematic-looking sluggish movement, in addition to tweak settings like shutter speed, and even pull manual focus. Not to discuss the pre-loaded “appearances” you can contribute to your video footage for a color-graded result.

If you’re severe about shooting video, you ought to match this phone with some kind of smart device gimbal or tripod, as its image stabilization system might be much better. I likewise observed autofocus isn’t as strong in video as it remains in images. Still, I had a blast shooting videos with this Xperia. Samsung and Apple’s phones may be able to catch a few of the technically finest and skillfully supported videos, however Sony will let you have a good time along the method.

Pinnacle Xperia

And the rest of the phone? I do not have much to grumble about. I enjoy the method it beings in my hand. It’s extremely narrow—since of the 6.5-inch screen’s 21:9 element ratio, it seems like you’re holding a TELEVISION remote. My hands have the ability to twist around it, and I can reach most parts of the screen quickly (though I have big hands so you may have more problem). Plus, the finger print sensing unit is on the best edge of the phone, and it’s shown to be much faster and more precise than many in-display finger print sensing units on other phones today.

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The 4K HDR OLED screen is a visual reward, providing delectably stunning colors in movies like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on Netflix. Paired with the front-facing stereo speakers, it produces an outstanding method to see anything when you’re far from your TELEVISION. My only problem about the screen? It’s too darn dim in warm conditions outdoors.

I have actually had no problem with the battery—the 4,000-mAh cell frequently lasts me the whole day with heavy usage—and the Snapdragon 865 chip with 8 gigabytes of RAM inside keeps efficiency buttery smooth. The software application experience is an uncluttered type of stock Android too with little to no bloatware, and Sony states it normally tries to use 2 years of software application updates, which is excellent to hear.

I have actually experienced a couple of small bugs, like how throughout call the screen often does not shut off when it depends on my ear, so my cheek winds up striking the mute button. And the phone likewise maintains the traditional Sony characteristic of being method too slippery. I’ll confess, I’m amazed I have not shattered the screen or glass back with the number of times this phone has moved off surface areas (or out of my pocket while I’m sitting), however it has actually suffered some scuffs around the edges. I highly recommend you get a case.

However in general, I marvel at just how much I have actually delighted in utilizing this Xperia—a lot so that I didn’t wish to change back to another phone, which is really a very first for me when it pertains to Sony phones. Oh, did I likewise discuss you get a earphone jack, cordless charging, 256 GB of storage, a MicroSD card slot, and IP65/68-ranked water resistance?

The Holdout

Photo: Sony

A lot of phone makers mention 5G, the next-gen mobile network, as a factor for greater costs. Sadly, the Xperia 1 II does not support 5G in the United States, though it does support it globally. Usually I would not care, as 5G networks are nascent and do not use much worth yet, however the absence of its existence here makes the $1,200 price a little bit of a head-scratcher. The phone does not go on sale up until July 24, however if you pre-order the gadget from merchants like B&H, you can get Sony’s outstanding WF-1000XM3 earbuds bundled in free of charge. Those buds are usually $200, that makes the high expense of the phone a bit more stomachable.

I believe this phone is finest matched to tinkerers—folks that do not mind messing around with settings to get the screen adjusted precisely right, messing the equalizer to tune the audio to their taste, or futzing with the cam manages to get a much better shot. If that’s not you, want to phones like the Pixel 4 or iPhone 11, which have similarly terrific video cameras that do not need you to do as much work to get a sensational outcome. We likewise have lots of other choices in our Finest Android Phones and Finest Inexpensive Phones guides.

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