Sony’s updated Xperia 1 II retains 4K display, pushes advanced camera skills
Sony has announced an update to its flagship phone and it’s called the Xperia 1 II. That’s Xperia 1 mark 2 for those struggling to figure out the nomenclature, with the company adopting the sort of naming strategy that it uses for its Alpha cameras.
The Xperia 1 II is a flagship in every sense of the word, hanging onto that 21:9 aspect display, measuring 6.5-inches on the diagonal and offering a 4K resolution – a rare things in smartphone displays. Yes, that’s 642ppi, laying waste to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 508ppi or the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s 458ppi.
Having reviewed the Xperia 1 in 2019, this is a great display for consuming content and we’d expect this phone to really deliver when it comes to mobile movies, with HDR support too. Not only that, but the camera on the back will capture 4K HDR video at 60fps – but not the 8K that Samsung is now offering.
You’ll be able to custom set the white balance of the display to your preference and Sony also says it has a motion blur reduction system that will smooth out jerky content. It’s not clear if this is clever software or a true 90Hz system.
At its core is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 along with 5G, although we’re told that this is sub6 only; there could be different variants for differing markets, we’ll try to find out. There’s 8GB RAM and 256GB storage and a familiar design. The fingerprint scanner stays on the side, let’s hope it’s more sensitive than the previous version.
With Gorilla Glass 6 front and back, there’s IP65/68 protection and it comes in black and purple colours, with the surprise addition being the return of the 3.5mm headphone socket. Yes, Sony wants to give you convenience back, having dropped the older connection in 2019.
There’s 4000mAh battery which doesn’t sound huge compared to rivals – but this phone is only 7.9mm thick. It’s actually a little smaller than the previous version, but there’s not much in it.
Sony wants to push the camera and audio side of this phone, with support for 360 Reality Audio (from services like Tidal or Deezer), while there are stereo front speakers, and tuning across the device from Sony Music’s experts.
For the camera, Sony has drawn on experience from the Alpha digital imaging teams. There’s a quad camera on the back, comprised of there 12-megapixel cameras – main, ultra-wide and telephoto, along with a 3D time-of-flight sensor. The latter is designed to boost low light focusing speeds amongst other things.
And focusing speed is one of the aims here. Sony says that the Xperia 1 II will sample at 60 times a second to keep focus accurate, while also being able to shoot bursts at 20fps, with continuous autofocus and auto exposure.
These are tricks that are coming across from the Alpha 9 and there’s a new Photo Pro app that mimics the layout of information you’d find on the display of the Alpha 9 camera too. Photo Pro joins Cinema Pro in wanting to boost the camera experience for those who want to step beyond point and shoot.
While Sony seems to be pushing the display resolution, it’s also not running away with the cameras. Sony manufactures most of the high resolution sensors that are used by rivals, but the camera loadout here more closely reflects the iPhone than some of the Chinese companies chasing the highest resolution they can. In some ways, that seems sensible – we’re just hoping that these camera compete and that Sony is bringing the software AI to boost things too.
We’ve not had the chance to test the phone yet, but we’re expecting to get our hands on it before it launches some time in Spring 2020.