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Sony Xperia 5 II review: The best Sony phone in years

Introduction

When was the last time that the smaller phone of a high-end pair was the superior one – and not just because you prefer compact handsets? Well, that seems to be the case with the Sony Xperia 5 II we have here for review.

How is it better, you ask? For one, it has a 120Hz display while the Xperia 1 II uses a conventional 60Hz panel. Even though it’s not 4K as the Xperia 1 II, the 450ppi density of the X5II’s screen is more than plenty, so we won’t consider that a downgrade.

The other bit where 5 II is better than 1 II is battery capacity – that’s to say, it’s the same – the smaller size phone comes with a battery that’s just as large as the 4,000mAh power pack in the larger model. It’s probably the first time we’re seeing such absolute parity between two differently-sized handsets from (more or less) the same generation.

The next thing that probably qualifies as an advantage of the 5 II over the 1 II is the introduction of the Google Assistant button on the right side. Mind you, the 5 II has 5 mechanical buttons, in 2020 – we can see people liking it for that alone.

The rest of the 5 Mark II is more or less carried over from the 1 Mark II. The camera system, for example, has the same triple-module configuration – a 16mm-equivalent ultra-wide, a 24mm main cam, and a 70mm tele, all of them producing 12MP images. Sony axed the ToF pair for the small model, however, and we’ll have to see how that affects nearby low-light focusing and portrait mode results.

Two Mark Twos – Xperia 1 II (left) next to the new Xperia 5 II

The Snapdragon 865 powers the Xperia 5 II (not the 865+), and the phone has 8GB of RAM. Unlike the 1 II, which only came with 256GB of storage, the 5 II can be had with either 128GB or 256GB.

Sony Xperia 5 II specs

  • Body: 158x68x8.0mm, 163g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 6), glass back (Gorilla Glass 6), aluminum frame; IP65/IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins); Colors: Black, Gray, Blue, Pink.
  • Display: 6.1″ OLED, 1080x2520px resolution, 21:9 aspect ratio, 450ppi; 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7 nm+): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 585); Adreno 650.
  • Memory: 256/128GB 8GB RAM; microSDXC (shared with SIM slot 2 on dual SIM variants).
  • OS/Software: Android 10.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.7, 24mm, 1/1.7″, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; Telephoto: 12 MP, f/2.4, 70mm, 1/3.4″, 1.0µm, PDAF, 3x optical zoom, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 124˚, 16mm, 1/2.55″, Dual Pixel PDAF. Zeiss optics, LED flash, panorama, HDR, eye tracking.
  • Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide), 1/4″, 1.12µm; HDR.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: [email protected]/25/30/60fps HDR, [email protected]/60/120fps; 5-axis gyro-EIS, OIS; Front camera: [email protected] (5-axis gyro-EIS).
  • Battery: 4000mAh; Fast charging 21W, USB Power Delivery.
  • Misc: Fingerprint (side-mounted), hardware Google Assistant button, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer, compass, color spectrum; NFC; stereo speakers (front-mounted), 3.5mm headphone jack.

A few welcome generational improvements include the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack and the relocation of the bottom speaker to fire towards the front of the phone – both features shared with the 1 II, too.

What’s not shared with the bigger model is the wireless charging capability – you’ll need a cable to top up the 5 II. You can still do that over USB PowerDelivery up to 21W though Sony only ships (and, for that matter, makes) 18W chargers. Speaking of…

Sony Xperia 5 II unboxing

Our Xperia 5 II review unit arrived in a typical Sony white cardboard box with the phone’s name stamped on the front in shiny letters. Inside the box, the minimalist approach continues – you get the phone, the 18W charger we mentioned, and a USB-C-to-C cable to go with it. That’s it.

It’s worth mentioning that the Xperia 1 II had a pair of earbuds in the package and Sony’s had a history of tailoring retail bundles to different markets, so you may end up getting a headset with the 5 II after all.

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