Sony Xperia 5 II Assessment: The Unconventional Flagship

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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 might appear a curious failure for the corporate behind one of the vital in-demand consoles in historical past, a model which is recognised globally for its TVs and audio gear.

For its 2020 telephones, Sony has taken inspiration from one other of its key income streams – mirrorless cameras. As such, the successor to final yr’s Xperia 5 is called the Xperia 5 II (or mark 2). It appears to be like like an enormous improve on paper, however how does that translate to real-world utilization? Right here’s our full assessment.

Design and display screen

The design of the Xperia 5 II is in contrast to any telephone I’ve tried this yr, which is spectacular going. It’s one thing of a fusion of previous and new: legacy options corresponding to the three.5mm headphone jack and notch-less show mix with a stunning display screen and premium construct high quality. It really works as a whole bundle for my part, and could be very satisfying to carry.

The telephone feels much more compact than the 6.1in show may recommend, due partially to the tall and slim 21:9 facet ratio. That’s one thing we additionally noticed on final yr’s Xperia 5, nevertheless it’s nonetheless comparatively uncommon and so seems like a standout characteristic. The identical issues nonetheless apply right here – it is virtually not possible to succeed in the highest of the telephone one-handed, however many movies look gorgeous with out letterboxing.

The display screen itself is Full HD (1080×2520) AMOLED panel, essentially 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 out there on the costlier telephone – a 120Hz refresh fee. I’m absolutely conscious that this isn’t a precedence for most individuals, however I’d argue the identical may very well be mentioned for 4K on a display screen this measurement. Confronted with a selection between the 2, I’d go for the 120Hz each time.

It’s onerous to elucidate what profit this supplies in case you’re used to 60Hz screens, however all the things feels that bit slicker and smoother. Informal customers may discover this most on infinite scrolling social media apps like Twitter, however the important thing efficiency increase can be seen in gaming. You may discover a slight hit to battery life, however I feel it’s greater than value it.

The glass again of the telephone 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 telephone feels.

It’s comparatively slippery although, and infrequently apprehensive about it sliding off a desk or out of a pocket. The protruding digicam module additionally made it practically not possible to make use of the gadget whereas face-up on a flat floor, so I’d advocate throwing on a case. That vertical module homes three lenses: 12Mp vast, 12Mp ultra-wide, 12Mp telephoto – an equivalent setup to the Xperia 1 II. On the entrance, you additionally get the identical 8Mp selfie digicam. 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 so far, 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 instrument. There’s USB-C, as you’d count on, in addition to two additional bodily buttons on the suitable facet of the gadget. One launches Google Assistant and the opposite acts as a shutter button for the digicam, 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, nevertheless it’s nonetheless good to see it right here. Efficiency is predictably wonderful, breezing by way of net searching, social media and multitasking with out concern.

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 vital graphically demanding video games on the Play Retailer. That is the place the 120Hz refresh fee, 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 among 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 neglected 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 in a position to check out how properly it really works.

Software program and options

The Xperia 5 II comes operating Android 10, though an replace to Android 11 is within the works and anticipated quickly. Sony sometimes retains its Android pores and skin fairly mild, and that’s no completely different right here – it is comparatively near the so-called ‘inventory’ model you’ll discover on Pixel telephones.

That being mentioned, there are numerous smaller software program tweaks dotted across the consumer interface. Chief amongst these are the ‘Cinema Professional’ and ‘Photograph Professional’ apps, which supplies granular management over the best way you seize images and movies utilizing the Xperia 5 II. The ‘Professional’ title is justified right here: you’ll be able to’t simply choose up these apps and begin utilizing with out a minimum of 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 sometimes consider as bloatware, they usually could also be broadly utilized by individuals who purchase this telephone. I simply suppose Sony may have a minimum of offered the choice to take away them from the gadget. A minimum of you don’t have to fret about it taking on an excessive amount of of your storage, with the telephone supporting microSD card storage growth.

There are a variety of smaller software program tweaks dotted across the consumer interface. ‘Aspect sense’ is on the far-right facet of the show which lets you rapidly launch sure apps or begin multitasking. It’s much 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 often called ‘STAMINA’, whereas in show settings ‘Creator mode’ offers 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 Photograph Professional app permits you to customise picture settings to your liking, similar to you’ll on certainly one of Sony mirrorless cameras. It’s one thing I’d advocate in case you’re severe about taking images utilizing this telephone, because the auto mode within the default digicam app was extraordinarily hit-and-miss.

Publicity was the principle space it appeared to wrestle 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 wonderful dynamic vary.

Regardless of the dearth of macro lens, close-up photographs have been very spectacular, whereas it was additionally good and capturing element on buildings. I did like that the principle digicam app makes use of AI to routinely detect which kind of scene you’re in and regulate the picture accordingly, saving you from biking by way of menus to seek out the choice you need. That features evening mode, which does a superb job of brightening the shot however did lose some element.

Photographs from the 8Mp selfie digicam are spectacular total, providing a superb degree of element and correct colors. Curiously, it tends to do a fairly good job with publicity.

The Xperia 5 II can also be in a position to 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 digicam round.

Battery life

The telephone comes with a 4000mAh battery, equivalent to the Xperia 1 II and an enormous enhance over the 3140mAh cell on final yr’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 telephone for an prolonged interval, these really feel fairly correct – I used to be comfortably in a position to get a few days of reasonable utilization earlier than reaching for the charger, even at 120Hz. 

I did discover it wrestle barely for standby time although – I might typically come again to the telephone after a few hours and spot that the battery had depleted by fairly a couple of per cent.

The telephone helps quick charging at 21W, however there was solely an 18W adapter included within the field. This nonetheless acquired me 48% in 30 minutes from off, so that you’re little over an hour for a full cost.

One of many huge compromises you’re making when in comparison with the Xperia 1 II is the dearth of wi-fi charging. This wasn’t an enormous deal for me, however I perceive the prevalence of wi-fi chargers lately might make it a dealbreaker for some. We definitely shouldn’t be speaking about this being a lacking characteristic on an £800 telephone, notably when it’s out there on telephones 1 / 4 of the 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 inside storage, and it’s uncommon to see the disparity between UK and US pricing.

It’s a £100 enhance on what final yr’s Xperia 5 value at launch, leaving us in little doubt that it is 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 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 shopper.


In a world the place so many smartphones look related, I’ve to admire Sony’s need to be completely different. Having a notch-less show and three.5mm headphone jack is virtually extraordinary in 2020, however after utilizing the Xperia 5 II I want they have been nonetheless on extra telephones.

There are lots extra highlights right here, which make it an enormous improve over final yr’s mannequin. The gorgeous 21:9 OLED show is now 120Hz a characteristic you gained’t discover on even the costlier Xperia 1 II. Efficiency is great 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 prepared to mess around within the Photograph Professional app, whereas a shocking quantity of bloatware taints an in any other case wonderful software program expertise. There’s additionally no wi-fi charging, a serious omission at this value level.

There’s positively a marketplace for the Xperia 5 II, nevertheless it’s unlikely to contribute to a sudden enhance in Sony’s slice of the smartphone pie.

Try How we check: Smartphones for extra info on what goes into certainly one of our opinions. 

Sony Xperia 5 II: Specs

6.1in 1080×2520 21:9 ‘CinemaWide’ OLED show, 120Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor
128GB storage
microSD expandable as much as 1TB
12Mp f/1.7 24mm vast digicam w/ OIS
12Mp f/2.4 70mm telephoto digicam w/ 3x optical zoom + OIS
12Mp f/2.2 16mm ultrawide digicam
8Mp f/2.zero front-facing digicam
Android 10
Stereo audio system
3.5mm headphone jack
Gorilla Glass 6
IP65/68 licensed
4000mAh battery
21W fast-charging
Wi-fi charging
Bluetooth 5.1
163 grams

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