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Sony Xperia 1 II Review: Flagship Device Crammed With Top Specs And A Headphone Jack

by : Matt Weston on : 13 Aug 2020 10:53
Sony XperiaSony

Sony are back again with another flagship they hope will topple the biggest names in the smartphone world. They’ve thought outside of the box with this particular phone and for a select few, this device will be absolutely perfect for them.

The Japanese company’s Xperia 1 II is said out loud as Sony Xperia 1 Mark 2. I wouldn’t dwell on the name too much as it doesn’t really make much sense. Instead, let’s focus on how Sony has managed to fill all of the top specs into this unique design.

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The first thing to note is the phone has a super-tall 21:9 display. It’s a similar design to the original Xperia 1 and it has its pros and cons. The size is great for watching videos or playing games horizontally. But if you’re using the phone upright, the chances are you will need to adjust your grip in order to use functions at the top of the phone. As I got used to using the phone over time, I didn’t mind this as much. If you think that a lot of smartphones on the market are too big, the chances are this takes that feeling to a whole new level.

The display itself is a 6.5-inch 4k HDR OLED. From a technical perspective that is a fantastic display. I found that movies and games look great whilst using the device, especially in the 16:9 ratio. Colours look fantastic, brightness is excellent and the whole setup seems immersive. If you’re wanting to watch movies on a smartphone in really good quality, it doesn’t get much better than this Sony. While many premium phones in its price range are now running at 90 or 120Hz, the 1 II is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate. I’m sure for most people that are used to using top-spec phones, they would have preferred to have seen a device with a higher refresh screen than a higher resolution. Like I said this phone won’t be for everyone, but if you’re a movie buff that is constantly watching Netflix on a commute, this phone was made for you.

Sony opted for a Snapdragon 865 processor for the phone, the same one used by the top-spec devices that have come out this year. I found that it blew through any tasks thrown at it; effortlessly opening apps and at no point did I feel like the phone was lagging behind or struggling to keep up with my usage.

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I also found that battery life on this machine was absolutely fantastic. I found that I could easily get to the end of the day and have plenty of power left. Considering this phone uses a 4K display, I expected that a 4,000mAh may have struggled to cope but I was pleasantly surprised. Sony have done a fantastic job by not overpowering the phone.

One of the things that Sony smashed out the park was the triple camera setup it has on the back of the phone. It’s not very often that I’ve found all three of the cameras to be of great quality and useful.  The 12MP primary, a 12MP 3x telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide is a pretty solid setup and there’s a good camera app which I found great to use. If you’re a strong advocate of mobile photography but want to take your manual game on the device to the next level, there are apps installed that can help meet your needs. I’m sure if you have a good knowledge of Sony cameras and general photography, you can probably take some incredible snaps. For most people though, the automatic mode will suffice.

Instead of making a notch or hole-punch for the selfie camera, they instead opted for bezels which has left me with mixed feelings. Under any normal circumstances, I would be feeling like this wasn’t groundbreaking or cutting-edge. But due to the fact that Sony don’t want to hinder a user’s viewing experience and have used the opportunity to add front-facing speakers on this phone, I think this is a justified reason for sticking with the tried and trusted bezels.

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Other notable things include that this phone is the only flagships that still has a headphone jack. With Sony being one of the biggest manufacturers of wired and wireless headphones in the world, it makes total sense to still offer its users the chance to plug in a listening device. It was a pleasant surprise that the relic was still on the brand-new phone, even if I had personally upgraded to wireless already.

The Sony Xperia 1 II runs Android 10 and uses a lot of Google apps as defaults, rather than trying to make their own versions of applications that already exist. If you can’t beat them, use the exact same software and apps! You’ll find with this device that Sony has not tried to change or fiddle with Android too much to make a “Sony experience” of Android. I sometimes wish that more phones did this.

Now the final thing that needs noting is the price. All of these features and specs have not been cheap, with prices for the phone starting at £1,099 ($1,199). The majority of people won’t be prepared to pay this much for a brand that doesn’t dominate the smartphone market. The phone has everything you could need and more, but it’s a very hard sell trying to get people to pay that much money for a phone that isn’t an Apple or Samsung device.

Overall, I really hope that this phone doesn’t get overlooked because it offers something very unique compared to the other premium devices on the market. If you’re the type of person that watches movies and plays a lot of games on your phone, look no further than the device with the 21:9 dimensions and 4K display. Smartphone cameras don’t get much better than the Xperia 1II setup as well, with the option of manual, professional photo modes built into the device. I guess the one downside is that for most people that just want a device that will perform simple tasks at a reasonable price, this model may seem a little bit like overkill.

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There’s definitely a market for it and it’s great to see that Sony are still trying to change the smartphone game. Here’s hoping that the Xperia 1 III can build on this and hopefully bring the cost down without compensating and removing some of their best features.

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Matt Weston

Matt Weston is a lover of electric cars, artificial intelligence and space. From Cornwall, he's a UCLan graduate that still dreams of being a Formula One driver in the very near future. Previous work includes reporting for regional newspapers and freelance video for the International Business Times.

Topics: Technology, Review, smartphone, Sony