Xperia 1 II review – Simply the best Sony phone in years…if you ignore the price

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Xperia 1 II review – Simply the best Sony phone in years…if you ignore the price

Sony Xperia 1 II review (Image: SONY)It's been a very, very long wait for the Xperia 1 II but boy has it been worth it. This is officially the be

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Sony Xperia 1 II review

Sony Xperia 1 II review (Image: SONY)

It’s been a very, very long wait for the Xperia 1 II but boy has it been worth it. This is officially the best phone Sony has made in a while and those patient enough to wait for its release are in for a real treat.

We’ve been putting the Xperia 1 II (that’s mark 2 if you’re a little confused by the name) to the test for the past few weeks there’s no question that there are a plethora of features that make this a worthy choice for your pocket.

From the minute you remove this latest Sony flagship from its box you just know it’s going to be good.

To start with, this ultra-premium device looks sensational with its all-glass finish bringing a touch of real class. Sony has also somehow managed to make the new Xperia 1 feel incredibly well built but surprisingly light.

In fact, it weighs considerably less than both the iPhone 11 Pro Max and Galaxy S20 Ultra and Sony has managed to achieve this feat without making it feel at all cheap and nasty.

The rear camera bump is also subtle – something that can’t be said for most of its rivals – and you also get Sony’s unique 21:9 aspect ratio design.

READ MORE: New Sony Xperia 1 finally released: Five reasons to buy it and one reason to avoid it

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Sony Xperia 1 II has a stunning 4K HDR screen (Image: SONY)

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Sony Xperia 1 II review (Image: SONY)

That makes this device long and slender and it’s really nice to hold in your hand plus you never get the feeling that this very expensive phone (yes it costs over £1,080) is going to slip through your fingers.

Along with that unique widescreen being perfect for the ultimate movie binge, it’s also one of the brightest and sharpest displays we’ve seen this year.

That’s because the 6.5-inch screen features 4K, HDR and OLED technology which is all powered by Sony’s world-famous Bravia brand.

This display really is something special with colours bursting through the panel and blacks looking dark and rich.

Sony Xperia 1 II review

The Sony Xperia 1 II includes a triple rear camera set-up (Image: SONY)

Of course, to get the best experience you’ll need to find some 4K HDR content which isn’t always easy but we can’t knock Sony for something that is out of their control and there’s no question that the Xperia 1 II offers a truly dazzling viewing experience that really is hard to beat.

Along with that beautiful screen, the other big update comes to the rear camera.

Sony has spent a lot of time focusing on the quality of its new snappers and there’s certainly plenty to like about the three lenses that grace the rear case of this device.

On the Gorilla Glass panel is an updated triple-lens camera which offers photographic treats such as continuous autofocus technology for high-speed shots and three focal lengths including 16mm, 24mm and 70mm.

There’s a wide-angle and zoom modes available as part of the set-up which is now pretty standard on all Android phones.

Along with getting all of the usual automatic settings, Sony has included an in-depth Photo Pro mode which turns this phone into a fully manual camera.

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Sony Xperia 1 II camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Sony Xperia 1 II camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Sony Xperia 1 II camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

If you’re into photography then you’ll love this feature as you can dig deep into the settings and change everything from exposure and ISO to white balance and auto focus. It’s a nice touch and budding image takers will love manual adjusting the camera in a bid to grab the perfect snap.

Overall the quality from the camera is really good with images looking sharp and packed with detail. Some the photos we managed to take on the Xperia 1 II really do look incredible but that’s not the case for everything we shot.

The auto mode definitely has its quirks with some images looking too dark or overexposed – not ideal for such an expensive phone.

There’s lots to like about the Xperia 1 II’s camera but wouldn’t say it’s any better than any other premium smartphone we’ve tested this year.

In fact, in some situations, we possibly prefer images shots taken on the iPhone, Galaxy S20 and P40 Pro.

Unlike most of those rivals, there’s also no dedicated Dark Mode option which is something we think Sony should have included. The Xperia 1 II will take images in low light but its nowhere near as impressive as the iPhone 11 Pro’s Night Mode. Check out our Dark Mode comparison below.

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Night mode comparison – how the Xperia 1 II compares to the iPhone 11 Pro (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Both images were shot at the same time in very low light without a flash (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Along with photos the camera can also record video in full 4K HDR which is a nice option as long as you have plenty of storage on the phone as this mode does eat into the memory pretty significantly.

If you like a photo of your face then the Xperia 1 II does a great job of selfies and there’s a good portrait mode plus fun effects to add some style to these Instagram-ready shots.

So that’s the new camera but what else has been added?

Perhaps the next biggest change arriving on the Xperia 1 II is the introduction of 5G data speeds.

This new technology is the future of phones as it offers owners the chance to download files and movies at over 300Mbps.

It’s a good move from Sony as it makes sure this device is fully future-proofed. However, before you get too excited, 5G is still in its infancy and despite testing this device just a few miles from the centre of London we’ve found no 5G network in our area which is more than a little frustrating.

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Sony Xperia 1 II features a 3.5mm headphone port (Image: SONY)

Sony Xperia 1 II review

Sony Xperia 1 II review (Image: SONY)

Other nice extras on the Xperia 1 II include the welcome return of the popular 3.5mm headphone port.

This could be a big selling point for the Xperia 1 II as this is one of the only new devices on the market that features a physical plug for those wired headphones you own and means you can, once again, plug them in without needing a dongle.

Another thing that comes back to the Xperia brand is wireless charging which allows owners to refill the device without needing any cables.

Sony ditched this refilling technology on some of its previous flagships and it’s nice to see it making a comeback.

Other things to note about the 4,000mAh battery is that it will see you through a full day of usage and you can fast-charge it when it runs out of juice.

The final piece of good news about this new Xperia device is a that it’s powered by the latest Qualcomm 865 processor which brings a supremely slick experience, especially when using this phone to play your catalogue of PS4 titles via Remote Play.

Sony Xperia 1 II review

The screen and power make it perfect for PS4 fans (Image: SONY)

There’s plenty of positives about the Xperia 1 II but what can’t be overlooked is the price.

This phone will set you back a whopping £1,099 and we just can’t help thinking that’s way too much.

The smartphone competition is growing by the day and devices such as the Galaxy S20, OnePlus 8 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro all offer similar specs and features at a lower price.

For example, the Galaxy S20 comes with a fast 120Hz screen and 30X Space Zoom yet it costs £200 less.

Sony is trying to soften the blow with incentives such as free headphones and a new deal which offers vouchers towards other Sony tech when you buy the Xperia 1 II and trade in your old phone.

But even with these incentives, you can’t overlook that this phone is simply way too overpriced.

Sony Xperia 1 II review

The Xperia 1 II is nice to hold in your hand despite its large size (Image: SONY)

XPERIA 1 II VERDICT

Let’s get one thing straight. The Xperia 1 II is the best phone Sony has made in a very long time and we’d happily have one in our pocket all day…every day. The design is stunning, the screen sublime and there’s plenty of bonus extras such as 5G, stereo speakers and a quick side-mounted fingerprint scanner.

It’s also extremely powerful and the new rear camera will please budding photographers who want to dig deep into the settings in search of the perfect shot.

If you’re a huge Sony fan and have very deep pockets then you really won’t be disappointed with this device but that high price does give us a real dilemma.

Despite all of its great features, there are simply phones that are just as good that cost a huge amount less. As we mentioned earlier, devices such as the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 all cost less.

We can’t help thinking Sony has made a huge error asking consumers to pay over £1,000 for this new phone and we wouldn’t blame you for being put off by that price.

If the cost had bee lower, this could well have received the full five stars but, at its current price, we simply feel there’s better value for money on the market right now.

That said, Sony is finally getting back to its best and if they can get the pricing right, its rivals should certainly be sitting up and taking notice.



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