Today Sony is following up on one of its newer form-factors that the company had introduced last year with the Xperia 5. The new Xperia 5 II (read as mark two), follows up on the smaller flagship sibling device, retaining its form-factor, but also substantially improving its design as well as maintaining an almost complete feature-parity with the bigger Xperia 1 II.

The new phone also sets out to differentiate itself from other Sony offerings: the company seemingly has focused on the more gaming-centric usability of the device even though externally it does not have the flair of a gaming phone. With a new internal heat dissipation system and a 120Hz refresh rate OLED and 240Hz sample rate touch input, the Xperia 5 II punches above its weight when it comes to fluidity.

Sony has achieved this all whilst retaining the form-factor and weight of the Xperia 5 – even cramming in a new 4000mAh battery just by virtue of improved internal engineering. This is Sony’s seemingly most competitive package in years, let’s go over the details:

Sony Xperia Series
  Sony Xperia 1 II
 
Sony Xperia 5 II
(NEW)
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 

1x Cortex-A77 @ 2.84GHz
3x Cortex-A77 @ 2.42GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.80GHz

Adreno 650 @ 587MHz
DRAM 8GB
Display 6.5" OLED
3840 x 1644 (21:9)

 
6.1" OLED
2520 x 1080 (21:9)

120Hz Refresh w/ 240Hz Touch
Size Height 166 mm 158 mm
Width 72 mm 68 mm
Depth 7.9 mm 8.0 mm
Weight 181 grams 163 grams
Battery Capacity 4000mAh

18W USB-PD Adaptive Charging
Wireless Charging Yes -
Rear Cameras
Main 12MP 1.8µm Dual Pixel PDAF
1/1.7" sensor

24mm / 
f/1.7 with OIS
Telephoto 12MP 1.0µm PDAF
1/3.4" sensor

70mm /  / 3x zoom
f/2.4 with OIS
Wide 12MP 1.4µm Dual Pixel PDAF
1/2.6" sensor

16mm / 130°
f/2.2
Extra 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) -
Front Camera 8MP 1.12µm
f/2.0
8MP 1.12µm
f/2.0
Storage 256GB
+microSD
128 / 256GB
+microSD
I/O USB-C
3.5mm headphone jack
Cellular - -
Wireless (local)    
IP Rating IP65 & IP68
Other Features Dual Speakers
Dual-SIM 1x nanoSIM + microSD 
or
2x nanoSIM
Launch Price $1099 / £ / 1199€ $949 / £799 / €899

At the core of the phone we find a Snapdragon 865 SoC which allows the device to have excellent performance. Although the SoC is quite conservative in terms of its power draw, the Xperia 1 II did have some very slight throttling under sustained workloads such as gaming. In order to alleviate this, Sony has developed an improved thermal dissipation system inside the phone, mostly thanks to a new large graphite pad that is able to transfer heat from the SoC to the larger footprint of the screen panel. This should help the device achieve almost indefinite sustained performance under normal circumstances.

Memory wise we still see a reasonable 8GB of DRAM and storage capacities at 128 and 256GB, extendable with microSD cards.

In terms of design, the Xperia 5 II takes queues from the Xperia 1 II as it features and almost identical front and back design. On the front, this means that there’s still two top and bottom bezels instead of more modern notches or hole-punch cameras, however this comes at the benefit of having two surprisingly good and what Sony claims to be much better balanced stereo front speakers than what we see in other competitor smartphones.

One change in the ergonomics of the phone is the fact that the Xperia 5 II comes with a rounded side-frame design rather the more rectangular and boxy design of that of the 1 II – in this sense the phone seems to be more similar to the Xperia 1, and frankly that’s a positive as I think that gives a much better in-hand feel and ergonomics than the 1 II.

This is still a rather small phone by today’s standards (And today’s standards are big phones!). At 68mm width it’s narrower than the smallest Galaxy S20, and still only weighs a reasonable 163 grams. Sony has been able to increase the battery capacity from the original Xperia 5 from 3110mAh to a new 4000mAh unit at the same time through reengineering the internals of the phone and reorienting the motherboard and using a multi-stack design. The battery compartment also uses a wider footprint inside the phone and maximises the space used in the frame.

The display of the Xperia 5 II is totally new for Sony. It’s a 2540 x 1080 resolution OLED screen, but this time around it introduces a 120Hz refresh rate, and even features a 240Hz touch input sample rate. That’s a big jump from not only the Xperia 5, but also this year’s Xperia 1 II. I’ve never been a fan of Sony’s choice to chase after 4K displays in their Xperia 1 line-up as frankly it’s complete overkill at comes at a great cost to battery life. A 120Hz refresh rate at FHD+ such as on the Xperia 5 II is a much better choice for the user experience, and the resolution loss shouldn’t be that bad on this 6.1” display as it’s quite smaller than the norm today so PPI is still reasonably high.

The rear camera design is extremely similar to that of the Xperia 1 II. In fact, it’s essentially an identical camera setup in terms of the modules:

A main 24mm equivalent module with a 12MP 1/1.76” sensor with 1.8µm pixels and an f/1.7 optics system with OIS serves as an excellent primary camera. This is augmented by a 70mm equivalent 3x optical zoom 12MP 1.0µm f/2.4 module with OIS acting as the telephoto camera, and also a 16mm equivalent 12MP 1.4µm f/2.2 module as the ultra-wide angle unit.

The one thing missing from the Xperia 5 II that’s present on its bigger sibling is the time-of-flight depth sensor – not that big of a loss for photography.

Sony’s camera experience has never been that of hardware, but rather their approach to software processing. The company has a more hands-off approach to pictures, more like their digital camera or mirrorless systems – which isn’t always successful in the smartphone space as you do need more computational photography to counteract the negatives of having a smaller camera sensor on a phone. In that regard while the Xperia 5 II looks great on paper, don’t expect an as great daily experience as on an iPhone or Galaxy.

The phone is only 8.0mm thick, which is still extremely usable given its narrow width.

Sony this year brought back the 3.5mm headphone jack, and in the Xperia 5 II they even claim to have improved audio quality by improving cross-talk and the audio signal path. It’s great to see companies admit that removing this port was a mistake and revert their past choices – it really now gives the Xperia 5 II quite a differentiating advantage over the competition as almost nobody else features this capability.

With IP68 water resistance, it looks like the Xperia 5 II is ticking almost every single feature check-box of what you’d want in a phone in 2020, which is highly unusual, and extremely unexpected from Sony.

As an overall package, the phone looks incredibly competitive, and I haven’t been able to say that of a Sony phone in ages, if ever.

The real only caveat of the device is its pricing: at $949 or €899, it’s still a bit pricy compared to other flagships in 2020, especially this late into the generational cycle. In Europe, the Xperia 5 II will be available in October, while the US again gets it quite late with availability only starting December 4th – which is extremely late and at that point you’d be better off waiting for the 2021 spring refreshes from the competition.

Still, it’s been a long time I’ve been excited for a Sony phone in this way, and it’s a definite positive for the company’s new path in the mobile space.

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  • YB1064 - Saturday, September 19, 2020 - link

    A fool and his money are soon parted. Reply
  • khanikun - Monday, September 21, 2020 - link

    or people with different values, value things differently. It costs what? $150-200k to raise a kid to adulthood. Are they fools to spend money to have kids?

    Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't spend $1000 on a cellphone, but I won't consider those that do to be fools either.
    Reply
  • YB1064 - Monday, September 21, 2020 - link

    I've never seen anyone compare a child to a cellphone. Sign of the times? Reply
  • khanikun - Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - link

    Item A can be compared to Item B. What those items are, doesn't matter. In other words, you can compared whatever you want to something else. Course the comment already shows the lack understanding in the comparison, so no point trying to enlighten fools. Reply
  • Sharma_Ji - Thursday, September 17, 2020 - link

    Didn't understand how 5II is cheaper even when going for a expensive panel than 5II.
    It means sony was overcharging for its 1II.
    Reply
  • MrPhilo - Thursday, September 17, 2020 - link

    Probably because its a smaller device. Reply
  • Mobile-Dom - Thursday, September 17, 2020 - link

    yields were likely awful for the screen on the Xperia 1 and 1 II which makes sense as to why stock was always low despite never selling all that many. lower res at higher refresh still likely works out cheaper for Sony. Reply
  • dotjaz - Friday, September 18, 2020 - link

    What did you not understand? HRR panels are way cheaper than 4K. Packing more pixels add two dimensional yield issues. There're more pixels that can fail, AND smaller pixels are way more prone to defects. 120Hz panels is that, high refresh rate, panels that doesn't meet the requirement can still be sold as 60/90Hz panels. Reply
  • Xex360 - Thursday, September 17, 2020 - link

    Now that's a phone, with no stupid comprises, no awful useless ugly dead pixels that prevent the enjoyment of the screen, headphone jack to enjoy better quality and freedom of having both wired and wireless headphones, SD card to expand the storage and not be limited by the storage. Reply
  • Jens R. - Thursday, September 17, 2020 - link

    I was interested until I saw this phone costs a thousand dollars. Reply

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