Sony is nothing if not consistent. Not even the cancelation of MWC could stop the storied hardware maker from releasing a new phone today. Consistently, it comes with Sony hallmarks like a tall 4K display, a slightly dated design, and even a confusing name.
The Xperia 1 II (officially read “Xperia 1 Mark 2”) brings an end to a golden age of branding clarity that’s lasted, well, under a year. Following years of contrived combinations of X’s and Z’s, the clean, simple branding of the 2019 Xperia 1 was welcome.
Sony somehow managed to ruin it with the smirk-inducing Xperia 1 II. The company says it’s a nod to the naming conventions of its Alpha DSLR cameras. For what is worth, the phone comes with quite a few Alpha-inspired features.
The Sony Xperia 1 II looks a lot like its predecessor but brings a new camera system, 5G connectivity, and general specs upgrades.
In terms of appearance updates, there’s not an awful lot new. The camera module on the back has been relocated to the side (it was centered on the Xperia 1). The fingerprint scanner is still mounted on the side. The Xperia 1 II will be available in black and purple.
The phone features a 6.5-inch 4K OLED display, in the same ultra-tall 21:9 format we found slightly awkward and impractical in our Xperia 1 review. It’s been updated with Sony’s own motion blurring reduction technology that’s supposed to offer an equivalent effect to 90Hz displays. There’s also a new software setting for white balance, which Sony says should help photographers looking for precise color tuning.
Sony makes a big deal of the supposed cinematic experience offered by the Xperia 1 II. The company says that’s the reason the phone has a “forehead,” rather than a punch hole or a notch camera. It makes for a somewhat dated look, but we doubt you’ll find it a nuisance in your daily use.
All the expected spec bumps are here. The Sony Xperia 1 II features the Snapdragon 865 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Sony’s jumping on the 5G bandwagon with support for sub-6GHz 5G connectivity. The battery received a nice boost up to 4,000mAh, though the Xperia 1 II is still slightly behind the ball compared to the likes of Galaxy S20 Plus or Huawei Mate 30 Pro. Charging is reasonably fast thanks to support for USB Power Delivery at 21W; there’s also 15W wireless charging.
Read more: Sony Xperia 1 II specs explained
Just as Samsung is ditching the headphone jack, Sony is bringing it back. The feature was removed from the 2019 Xperia 1, to the chagrin of some music lovers who pointed out that Sony still sells lots of wired headphones. The jack is back on the Mark 2, and it’s an improved one with less crosstalk. Other audio features include dual stereo front speakers, support for Sony’s 360 Reality Audio standard, and proprietary sound enhancements.
The Xperia 1 II’s camera system sounds impressive on paper, though that hasn’t stopped earlier Xperia phones from underperforming. The phone has three cameras on the rear, plus a time-of-flight sensor. The ultrawide camera has a 16mm focal length, f/2.2 aperture, and a 12MP sensor with dual phase detection autofocus. The “main” camera is also 12MP, with f/1.7 aperture and a 24mm focal length. For zoomed-in shots, the phone will switch to the 70mm f/2.4, 12MP telephoto camera (presumably at 2x optical zoom). The latter two cameras also feature optical image stabilization. All lenses on the rear cameras are Zeiss.
In a world first, Sony claims the Xperia 1 II can shoot up to 20 frames per second in burst mode. The phone runs autofocus and auto tracking calculations 60 times per second. Eye AF now works with pets, not just humans, potentially making it easier to nail those notoriously difficult pet portraits. Sony also added a Photo Pro mode to the camera app that mimics the controls on its Alpha cameras.
Sony also announced “plans to develop” the Xperia Pro, a variant of the Xperia 1 II designed for use by broadcast video production professionals. The Xperia Pro will feature 5g mmWave connectivity for ultra-fast connections and a HDMI (Type D) port, so it can be hooked up to pro cameras and other equipment. It will also have a more rugged construction than the consumer-oriented Xperia 1 II. No details yet on the Xperia Pro’s price and availability.
The Xperia 1 II will be available in Europe sometime in “late spring.” The phone will cost €1,099 in Europe, £1,099 in the UK, and $1,099 in the US. That’s a big jump from the Xperia 1, which started at $949.