Sony Xperia 1 ii Review- A Brilliant Flagship Smartphone

Image credit: phonemantra.com

Last year’s Sony Xperia 1 was a beast of a flagship phone that offered a lot of features that you couldn’t find elsewhere.  Now a year has passed and it’s time for part two, literally. I’m Pankaj for Techloggico and this is our review for Xperia 1 ii.

Design And Feel

Before we do anything else let’s get this name straight. Now, this isn’t a monarch called Xperia 1 ii. Officially it’s the Xperia 1 Mark ii. Though the 1 (ii) also has sort of a ring to it. 

Its looks are typical of a Sony phone, its tall and narrow, straight-edged and angular. It’s made from Gorilla Glass 6 with an aluminium frame.  The edge of the phone is sharp and bold and offers some nice grip. You get full ip68 dust and water protection too. So if you accidentally drop the Xperia 1 in the water you could breathe easy. 

Also check out: iPhone SE: The most compelling smartphone of 2020

Display

Sony’s top-end flagships are the only ones out there with 4k displays. This one is a 6.5 inch OLED with a cinematic 21 by 9 aspect ratio and rather than a cutout for the selfie cam, it’s housed within a wider top bezel. With a 643 PPI pixel density, you won’t find a crisper looking display out there and you get deep blacks typical of an OLED.

Xperia 1 ii OLED Display
Xperia 1 ii OLED Display

The Xperia 1 ii is missing one of the hottest features among flagships this year though, a high screen refresh rate. This one is a normal 60 Hertz panel but colours can be tuned to be quite accurate. 

As far as colour settings go there’s a special creators mode that can make sure that the videos you watch even streaming ones will look as their creators intended without unnecessary colour or contrast boosting and there is support for HDR content from all major sources but we found something quite odd. 

Despite the screens, 4k resolution content from platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime is capped at 1080p. This may be solved in future software updates.

As far as brightness goes we got 317 it’s maximum with a manual slider and a boost of up to 600 nits when in auto mode, not the brightest we’ve ever seen but not bad.

Fingerprint Sensor

Many phones with OLED screens make use of an under-display fingerprint reader. What sony is sticking with a side-mounted one here housed within the power button is well placed and fully functional unlike on some previous Sony devices.

Xperia 1 ii fingerprint sensor
Xperia 1 ii fingerprint sensor

The Xperia 1 ii has another feature that you don’t see much of these days in flagships. There’s a notification LED up in the corner to let you know when to check the phone continuing with quote-unquote retro features.

Audio

Well, the Xperia has a stereo speaker setup and both speakers are front-facing and have been increased in size. The top one doubles in your piece for calls. Quality here is quite nice. With the onboard Dolby Atmos feature turned on we measured very good loudness and lively mids and highs though not March as far as bass goes.  

Xperia 1 (ll) front facing speakers
Xperia 1 ii front facing speakers

The Mark ll has a good old 3.5-millimetre headphone jack which after a couple of years absence has made it back into the design sony claims stereo crosstalk here is 20% less than with a USBC adapter. 

Xperia 1 (ll) 3.5mm headphone jack
3.5mm headphone jack

Storage/Features

You can keep plenty of music or other media on the device thanks to the 256 GB of UFS 3.0 storage onboard which is expandable. The Xperia 1 ii interfaces pretty much stock Android 10 with some Sony enhancements in proprietary apps here and there.

Most of the functions are provided by Google including the gallery and the video player however the Sony music player is still here. Other custom apps include the brand new photography pro app which acts like a souped-up manual mode for the camera.

Xperia 1 ii photography app
Xperia 1 ii photography app

It gives you control over an array of camera features and they promise raw shooting is coming with an update and the cinematography Pro app has been upgraded it gives you in-depth controls over your video recording and now includes a 25 FPS mode. A level meter, an intelligent wind filter and a new 2k HDR slow-motion mode at 120 fps.

Cinematography Pro app
Cinematography Pro app

Another one of the updated features is the game enhancer app. It acts as a hub for all of your games and provides control over things like screen recording, touch area customization, and notification controls. 

Also check out: Motorola Razr Review: Impressive Design But Sloppy Hardware

Performance

As a new flagship, it’s no surprise that the Xperia 1 ii is powered by the latest Snapdragon 865 chipset as such it has excellent CPU and GPU performance and support for 5g network speeds. Benchmark scores are pretty typical for a flagship these days, maybe just a tad behind competitors due to the higher-res screen.

Xperia 1 ii handle high end games with ease
Xperia 1 ii handle high end games with ease

The phone does tend to heat up during prolonged sessions and we saw a bit of thermal throttling but nothing too significant.  The Xperia 1 ii comes with a 4000 mAh battery which is not particularly large for the class. There’s support for Qi wireless charging which is convenient and was missing on the last Xperia 1

The Mark ll ships with an 18 watt wired charger in the box but support USB power delivery up to 21 watts.

18 w charger of Xperia 1 ll
18 w charger

With a bundled adapter we were able to charge the phone from 0 to 46 per cent in half an hour charging to 100% however was not very competitive taking almost two hours with the provided adaptor. 

Camera

Let’s move on to the cameras the main cam is 12 megapixels and resolution. Sony has opted to use a relatively low-resolution sensor on the main cam to optimize readout speed. There’s also a 12 megapixel telephoto with three times zoom. A 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with autofocus and a 3d TOF sensor.

Tri-cam setup of Xperia 1 (ll)
Tri-cam setup of Xperia 1 ii

In daylight, the main camera captures some of the best photos we’ve seen from a phone. They have vibrant true-to-life colours, natural-looking fine detail and well-controlled noise. 

The way this camera renders fine details is a joy to observe at a hundred per cent magnification. Dynamic range is also good though by default the photos are a bit too contrasty for their own good.

Daylight shots from Xperia 1 ii
Daylight shots from Xperia 1 ii

Portrait shots are taken with the main cam and they have fairly good subject separation with the occasional glitch here and there. Dynamic ranges have been narrow in these shots so watch out if you have a backlit subject. The ultra wide cams images are a close match to the main ones in terms of overall rendition including colors and dynamic range.

It’s not quite there when it comes to noise performance but detail levels are excellent for an ultra wide camera. This ultra wide also has auto focus and that lets you get close to subjects and still capture sharp images while getting that wide perspective. It isn’t meant for macro shots or anything though.

Outdoor shot by Xperia 1 ii
Outdoor shot by Xperia 1 ii

Now on to the 20 megapixel telephoto which outputs 12 megapixel photos probably because there is some cropping involved when zooming. Oddly these are a bit soft and hazy with faraway subjects but in closer range it produces photos which are nice and sharp. Color reproduction is consistent with the other two cameras and dynamic range is excellent. 

In low-light, the Xperia 1 ii has some very competent performance. Shots from the main camera are again sharp and excellently detailed with nice colour saturation and low noise. The contrast is quite high though meaning you do get some blown highlights here and there and shadows come out way too dark.

If you want to get better output the photo Pro app without AUTO HDR enabled is the way to go here. It’s not strictly a night mode but it does give you a boost in shadows and midtones. There’s no saving those highlights though and there is some penalty and sharpness.

Even without using the special app, the ultra-wide-angle can do really well at night with detailed, well-exposed shots that have nice colour saturation.

If you zoom in low lights the telephoto camera is always used and you get sharp and detailed shots with low noise and nice colors 

The Xperia 1 ii is selfie cam is 8 megapixels with fixed focus. The same as we saw previously from Sony. It takes nice photos though. They’re detailed with accurate skin tones, dynamic range is a bit narrow though.

Selfie by Xperia 1 ii
Selfie by Xperia 1 ii

4k video at 60fps isn’t supported in the regular camera app but you can achieve it with the main cam if you switch over to the cinema Pro app and everything that entail. Still the quality is great 

Now let’s move on to the ultra-wide cam which captures well detailed 4k footage at 30 FPS with likeable colours and wide dynamic range. Zoomed 4k clips are visibly soft though they do maintain pleasing colours in fairly good dynamic range. Stabilization is available in all major modes on all three cameras. Its excellence smoothed out walking and panning.  

Final Thoughts 

So that’s the Sony Xperia 1 ii – it’s a really nice package with an elegant and waterproof design, a high-res OLED screen, front-facing stereo speakers, a flagship-grade chipset and a powerful camera system. But does the Sony Xperia 1 ii offer enough to stand out from his flash of compatriots?

I think yeah it does. There are a few neat picks here and there like the screens lack a high refresh rate and just average brightness and the slowest charging. But there are plenty of features here that you just won’t find anywhere else. The Mark ii is definitely a worthy successor to last year’s Xperia 1 and deserves a recommendation especially if you can find a better deal than the launching price of 1200 euros. 

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