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After virtually three years of regular decline, Sony’s smartphone gross sales have lastly begun to stabilise. Within the three months to the top of September 2020, the corporate shipped round 600,000 Xperia telephones, roughly on par with Q3 2019.
Nonetheless, this nonetheless accounts for a tiny fraction of the worldwide smartphone market. It could appear a curious failure for the corporate behind one of the in-demand consoles in historical past, a model which is recognised globally for its TVs and audio tools.
For its 2020 telephones, Sony has taken inspiration from one other of its key income streams – mirrorless cameras. As such, the successor to final 12 months’s Xperia 5 is called the Xperia 5 II (or mark 2). It seems like an enormous improve on paper, however how does that translate to real-world utilization? Right here’s our full overview.
Design and display screen
The design of the Xperia 5 II is not like any cellphone I’ve tried this 12 months, which is spectacular going. It’s one thing of a fusion of outdated and new: legacy options corresponding to the three.5mm headphone jack and notch-less show mix with a beautiful display screen and premium construct high quality. It really works as an entire package deal in my view, and could be very satisfying to carry.
The cellphone feels much more compact than the 6.1in show would possibly recommend, due partially to the tall and slim 21:9 facet ratio. That’s one thing we additionally noticed on final 12 months’s Xperia 5, but it surely’s nonetheless comparatively uncommon and so seems like a standout characteristic. The identical issues nonetheless apply right here – it is virtually inconceivable to achieve the highest of the cellphone one-handed, however many movies look beautiful with out letterboxing.
The display screen itself is Full HD (1080×2520) AMOLED panel, probably the most noticeable downgrade when in comparison with the flagship Xperia 1 II’s 4K show. Nevertheless, you do get a key characteristic that’s not accessible on the costlier cellphone – a 120Hz refresh price. I’m absolutely conscious that this isn’t a precedence for most individuals, however I’d argue the identical may very well be stated for 4K on a display screen this dimension. Confronted with a alternative between the 2, I’d go for the 120Hz each time.
It’s onerous to clarify what profit this supplies in the event you’re used to 60Hz screens, however every thing feels that bit slicker and smoother. Informal customers would possibly discover this most on countless scrolling social media apps like Twitter, however the important thing efficiency enhance can be seen in gaming. You would possibly discover a slight hit to battery life, however I feel it’s greater than value it.
The glass again of the cellphone is predictably a fingerprint magnet, though the smudges are much less noticeable on the black mannequin I examined. It’s additionally surprisingly sturdy – each the back and front are geared up with Gorilla Glass 6, and it makes an enormous distinction to how sturdy the cellphone feels.
It’s comparatively slippery although, and sometimes apprehensive about it sliding off a desk or out of a pocket. The protruding digital camera module additionally made it practically inconceivable to make use of the machine whereas face-up on a flat floor, so I’d suggest throwing on a case. That vertical module homes three lenses: 12Mp vast, 12Mp ultra-wide, 12Mp telephoto – an an identical setup to the Xperia 1 II. On the entrance, you additionally get the identical 8Mp selfie digital camera. We’ll discover how they carry out intimately later.
Sticking with slim bezels means Sony has discovered room to squeeze in a pair of front-facing audio system, they usually make an enormous distinction to the audio expertise on the Xperia 5 II. The corporate has additionally overcome earlier patent points to construct the side-mounted fingerprint scanner into the facility button. It’s fairly fast and usually dependable, however extra delicate to moisture than rear-mounted equivalents. My expertise with in-display scanners has been underwhelming up to now, so I’m glad Sony caught with a bodily one.
One other good contact is the SIM card tray, which has a bit of lever for releasing it with out an ejection device. There’s USB-C, as you’d count on, in addition to two additional bodily buttons on the suitable facet of the machine. One launches Google Assistant and the opposite acts as a shutter button for the digital camera, though neither are re-mappable.
Hardware and efficiency
The Xperia 5 II is powered by a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 processor, which mixes with an Adreno 650 GPU and 8GB of RAM.
Qualcomm’s flagship processors are certainly not reserved for under the costliest telephones anymore, but it surely’s nonetheless good to see it right here. Efficiency is predictably glorious, breezing by way of internet shopping, social media and multitasking with out situation.
Sony’s confidence within the Xperia 5 II’s efficiency is illustrated by the inclusion of Name of Obligation: Cellular out of the field, recognized to be one of the graphically demanding video games on the Play Retailer. That is the place the 120Hz refresh price, providing ultra-smooth gameplay and no lag.
That’s illustrated within the beneath benchmarks. It’s value noting that some telephones max out at 60fps on a number of the GFXBench exams, so the Xperia 5 II’s efficiency acquire over its predecessor isn’t as big because the outcomes recommend:
Audio high quality is probably missed on trendy smartphones, due partially to the recognition of wi-fi headphones. Nonetheless, sticking with bezels means the Xperia 5 II has room twin front-facing stereo audio system that carry out extraordinarily properly. There’s a richness to the sound and spectacular degree of bass, each stuff you gained’t discover on many handsets in 2020.
The Xperia 5 II additionally provides 5G to its predecessor, however with the expertise nonetheless in its infancy I wasn’t capable of check out how properly it really works.
Software program and options
The Xperia 5 II comes working Android 10, though an replace to Android 11 is within the works and anticipated quickly. Sony usually retains its Android pores and skin fairly mild, and that’s no totally different right here – it is comparatively near the so-called ‘stock’ model you’ll discover on Pixel telephones.
That being stated, there are numerous smaller software program tweaks dotted across the consumer interface. Chief amongst these are the ‘Cinema Pro’ and ‘Photo Pro’ apps, which supplies granular management over the way in which you seize pictures and movies utilizing the Xperia 5 II. The ‘Pro’ identify is justified right here: you possibly can’t simply decide up these apps and begin utilizing with out at the least some experience, therefore why Sony has included them as standalone apps.
Sadly, these aren’t the one apps that may’t be uninstalled. The likes of Fb, Netflix and Name of Obligation: Cellular aren’t what you’d usually consider as bloatware, they usually could also be extensively utilized by individuals who purchase this cellphone. I simply suppose Sony may have at the least supplied the choice to take away them from the machine. At the very least you don’t have to fret about it taking over an excessive amount of of your storage, with the cellphone supporting microSD card storage enlargement.
There are a selection of smaller software program tweaks dotted across the consumer interface. ‘Side sense’ is on the far-right facet of the show which lets you shortly launch sure apps or begin multitasking. It’s just like the Edge panel you’ll discover on Samsung telephones, though doesn’t make as a lot sense on the flat show right here. There’s additionally an excessive battery saving mode referred to as ‘STAMINA’, whereas in show settings ‘Creator mode’ provides the show a extra wealthy, cinematic high quality.
The cameras on the Xperia 5 II are largely unchanged from its predecessor. The triple rear setup is comprised of a 12Mp vast, 12Mp ultrawide and 12Mp telephoto. I’m glad Sony determined to not embrace additional macro or depth sensors, which sound good on paper however not often present any tangible profit.
The Picture Professional app lets you customise picture settings to your liking, similar to you’ll on one in every of Sony mirrorless cameras. It’s one thing I’d suggest in the event you’re severe about taking pictures utilizing this cellphone, because the auto mode within the default digital camera app was extraordinarily hit-and-miss.
Publicity was the primary space it appeared to battle with, typically blowing out the background or dropping element in darker areas of the picture. In wide-open areas it carried out higher, tending to saturate stills barely however providing glorious dynamic vary.
Regardless of the shortage of macro lens, close-up pictures had been very spectacular, whereas it was additionally good and capturing element on buildings. I did like that the primary digital camera app makes use of AI to mechanically detect which kind of scene you’re in and regulate the picture accordingly, saving you from biking by way of menus to search out the choice you need. That features night time mode, which does a great job of brightening the shot however did lose some element.
Photographs from the 8Mp selfie digital camera are spectacular total, providing a great degree of element and correct colors. Curiously, it tends to do a fairly good job with publicity.
The Xperia 5 II can also be capable of seize footage as much as 4K at 120fps. Within the common 1080p mode, the inclusion of OIS means footage could be very secure however does take some time to focus as you progress the digital camera round.
The cellphone comes with a 4000mAh battery, an identical to the Xperia 1 II and an enormous enhance over the 3140mAh cell on final 12 months’s Xperia 5.
That’s mirrored within the benchmarks, as I recorded 12h15 and 15h05 in Geekbench four and PCMark’s battery exams respectively. From utilizing the cellphone for an prolonged interval, these really feel fairly correct – I used to be comfortably capable of get a few days of average utilization earlier than reaching for the charger, even at 120Hz.
I did discover it battle barely for standby time although – I would typically come again to the cellphone after a few hours and spot that the battery had depleted by fairly a number of per cent.
The cellphone helps quick charging at 21W, however there was solely an 18W adapter included within the field. This nonetheless received me 48% in 30 minutes from off, so that you’re taking a look at little over an hour for a full cost.
One of many large compromises you’re making when in comparison with the Xperia 1 II is the shortage of wi-fi charging. This wasn’t an enormous deal for me, however I perceive the prevalence of wi-fi chargers nowadays might make it a dealbreaker for some. We actually shouldn’t be speaking about this being a lacking characteristic on an £800 cellphone, significantly when it’s accessible on telephones 1 / 4 of the associated fee.
Worth and worth for cash
Speaking of value, the Sony Xperia 5 II will set you again £799/US$949. There’s just one configuration on supply, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB inner storage, and it’s uncommon to see the disparity between UK and US pricing.
It’s a £100 enhance on what final 12 months’s Xperia 5 value at launch, leaving us in little doubt that this can be a flagship by way of and thru. To say competitors at this value level is fierce would maybe be understating it – the likes of the OnePlus 8T, Samsung Galaxy S20 and Oppo Discover X2 are all compelling alternate options.
It’s not that the Xperia 5 II is dangerous worth for cash per se, simply that the telephones listed above supply extra bang in your buck for the typical client.
In a world the place so many smartphones look comparable, I’ve to admire Sony’s need to be totally different. Having a notch-less show and three.5mm headphone jack is virtually exceptional in 2020, however after utilizing the Xperia 5 II I want they had been nonetheless on extra telephones.
There are loads extra highlights right here, which make it an enormous improve over final 12 months’s mannequin. The beautiful 21:9 OLED show is now 120Hz a characteristic you gained’t discover on even the costlier Xperia 1 II. Efficiency is excellent throughout the board, whereas the all-too-rare front-facing stereo audio system are a delight.
Nevertheless, it’s not all excellent news. The cameras flatter to deceive until you’re keen to mess around within the Picture Professional app, whereas a shocking quantity of bloatware taints an in any other case glorious software program expertise. There’s additionally no wi-fi charging, a serious omission at this value level.
There’s undoubtedly a marketplace for the Xperia 5 II, but it surely’s unlikely to contribute to a sudden enhance in Sony’s slice of the smartphone pie.
Take a look at How we check: Smartphones for extra data on what goes into one in every of our evaluations.
Sony Xperia 5 II: Specs
6.1in 1080×2520 21:9 ‘CinemaWide’ OLED show, 120Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor
microSD expandable as much as 1TB
12Mp f/1.7 24mm vast digital camera w/ OIS
12Mp f/2.four 70mm telephoto digital camera w/ 3x optical zoom + OIS
12Mp f/2.2 16mm ultrawide digital camera
8Mp f/2.zero front-facing digital camera
Stereo audio system
three.5mm headphone jack
Gorilla Glass 6