Sony may be known as a manufacturer of TVs and gaming consoles such as the PlayStation 5. But you may have forgotten that they’re behind some of the great series of phones as well. The Xperia series was one of the premium brands during the advent of the operating system Android. They may have slowly faded from the mainstream, but they are making a comeback. The Sony Xperia 5 II (read as “Mark II”) is one of their prime contenders on the smartphone market right now.
We will take a look at Sony’s latest, the Xperia 5 II. Is this phone worth the purchase? Can it crack the fierce smartphone battle between prominent brands?
Sony Xperia 5 II at a Glance
Before we review the overall performance of this phone, we shall check first the detailed specs of the Sony Xperia 5 II.
|Processors||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|Storage||128 GB UFS 2.1, 8 GB RAM, expandable up to 1 TB|
|Display||6.1” OLED screen, 2520 x 1080 FHD+HDR mode, 21:9 CinemaWide display, 120 Hz screen refresh rate|
|Battery||4,000 mAh with 21W fast charging|
|Cameras||Primary Camera: 12 MP f/1.7 (wide) + 12 MP f/2.2 (ultra wide) + 12 MP f/2.4 (telephoto)|
|Selfie Camera: 8 MP f/2.0|
Sony Xperia 5 II is a compact phone that packs gigantic features that are on par with its bigger brothers like the Sony Xperia 1 II. It may appear a bit pricey, but it’s got a performance that is truly premium. It has sufficient memory for gaming, crisp resolution for video streaming, and a powerful battery for all-day performance.
Sony Xperia 5 II Review
Now, let us dig deeper into what makes Sony Xperia 5 II a potential smartphone for you and why it’s worth your money.
As already indicated in the table above, the Sony Xperia 5 II is priced at $949.99. This is one of the best compact smartphones money can buy. It has got a flagship processor with more than enough storage for your apps, photos, and important files. You also got a premium brand for a smartphone. This increases the value and premium feel of the phone.
Now let’s get to one of the main specs of this compact phone, the cameras. It has got a triple camera setup all equipped with a ZEISS lens. These lenses possess 12 MP each, which captures wide, ultrawide, and telephoto images. With these, you will expect this phone to perform just like your ordinary DSLRs. Sony put up three camera apps for this phone: the native camera app, Cinema Pro, and Photo Pro. The two latter apps are specially made for those who want to further tweak their pictures or videos.
Its camera is where the Sony Xperia 5 II shines out. First, it has got an Eye Auto Focus (AF) that can only be seen on most of Sony’s cameras. It detects the human and even animal eyes through deep-learning-based face detection. This translates to better-looking portrait and selfie shots. It can also capture 4K videos with high-dynamic-range (HDR) at 120 frames per second (fps). You can also save your pictures in RAW format. This means you can dramatically enhance your photos using a photo editing app. With these features, this can serve as your DSLR-like camera that can capture everything beautifully. This also means that photo post-processing is kept at a minimum. If you like your photos and videos as natural as it looks, this is the best camera phone for you.
Software and Processor
The Sony Xperia 5 II has got decent specs under the hood, thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865. It might not be the most powerful chipset out there, but paired with 8 GB of RAM and it enables Xperia 5 II to run complex tasks all at once. The phone loads apps quicker than average without any hitch. It also has Sony’s gaming engine aptly named “Game Enhancer” that adds up to the performance enhancement of this already blazingly fast phone.
In terms of the operating system, Xperia 5 II is running on Android 10. Aside from Google’s pre-installed apps, Sony only added two apps that are mainly focused on your camera. This means bloatware is almost nonexistent in this device, which could sometimes slow down your phone.
Security-wise, it only has a fingerprint scanner that is also acting as your power/lock button. This is located on the right side of your phone. This may be the most secure way of locking your phone, but we wish there was a face unlock option for added security on your phone. You can also accidentally unlock this phone in your pocket because of its button placement. This is a design flaw of this phone.
Overall, this phone’s flagship specs speak truly on paper and in real-life tests. Running and transitioning into apps is not a problem. And even if you run tons of games with it, you’ll never run into frame drops or lags. It’s all because of its top-notch processor.
We all know HD and 4K videos occupy some real “real estate” on your storage. The good thing is that Sony Xperia 5 II can store huge amounts of files and apps. It’s all thanks to its 128 GB of storage. As already mentioned above, Sony’s Android 10 skin is almost as bare as stock Android. This makes your Android experience almost the same as Google Pixel phones. What’s great is that you can expand its storage up to 1 TB via a microSDXC card. We all know expandable storage is a dying feature on flagship phones. This feature is a great addition especially when you want to consume loads of media on your phone. Now, you wouldn’t have to stick to the already large internal storage of your phone just for your videos and photos.
Battery Life and Charging
Another thing we can rave about this phone is its battery life. Its 4,000 mAh promises to deliver a battery life of up to 13 hours of average usage. This includes your routine tasks: social media browsing, typing on your office apps, a little bit of video playback, and some intense gaming.
With all the raves on its battery life, its charging capabilities are not impressive at all. It feels like you are buying a flagship phone from five years ago because of the absence of wireless charging. The 18W charger does not release the full charging potential of this phone. The Sony Xperia 5 II is rated at 21W, which results in a slower charging time. How we wish this could charge a little bit faster if Sony included a 21W charger in the box.
Display and Resolution
Another feature where the Sony Xperia 5 II shines is its display. You’ll get a 6.1” screen that has a 2520 x 1080 full HD resolution. It also has a 120 Hz screen refresh rate that gives you a speedy scroll on your news feed and renders heavy graphic games more smoothly.
Its display makes its bezels virtually invisible, thus gaining that 21:9 screen aspect ratio. This kind of aspect ratio for phones is fairly new to the market. As a result, movies viewed with this kind of screen may appear awkward at first sight. However, you’ll get a wide depth on your games especially when it is placed on landscape mode. This gives you more edge on the games you are playing.
With all the rave this phone receives, it also has its points that need improvement. One of them is the phone’s overall design. You will get a phone that is full of physical buttons. This mistake makes this phone look irrelevant in today’s phone designs. Your physical buttons are all crammed on the right side of your phone. You’ve got yourself your power/lock button, camera shutter button, and the Google Assistant button. Every button is useful, but it can get a bit annoying when you accidentally press the Assistant-dedicated button every time.
To be fair, this flagship phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack in it. It may be antiquated technology, but it is still relevant today. Plugging in your conventional pair of earphones is not a problem with this phone.
Body, Weight, and Dimensions
Svelte and ruggedness do not usually go together. Not with the Sony Xperia 5 II. This phone is made out of aluminum so it adds to that premium feel. You also got Corning Gorilla Glass 6 sandwiched at the front and back. adding another layer of protection. Lastly, it has got an IP68 rating, meaning this phone can withstand water submersion of 5 feet for up to 30 minutes. Now that’s one true rugged phone while looking slick at the same time.
This phone fits the category of “fits right in your hand,” thanks to its compact 6.1” size. Thank goodness for most of the phones today got that ginormous size that cannot fit inside our pockets. It also weighs light at 0.36 lbs, making it feather-light against the competition.
Network Type, Connections, and Communications
2020 is the year of 5G flagship phones. Almost every flagship phone released this year is equipped with 5G connectivity. But Sony got late in the trend and opted to sell the 4G variant on the American market. Yes, you can buy a 5G variant overseas, but that just adds to the hassle of waiting for long times. There also might be compatibility issues when buying the 5G variant overseas. If you are chasing for 5G goodness, there are other 5G phones are readily available in the American market, so do check them out.
Other than this major gripe, you got your usual connectivity devices: WiFi 6, GPS, Bluetooth 5.1, and NFC.
Sony Xperia 5 II vs 10 II: What’s the Difference?
There is another compact phone made by Sony: the Xperia 10 II. It has almost all the same goodies as the Sony Xperia 5 II. But there are key differences that we shall take notice of. These differences make different user experiences with this phone.
|Specs||Sony Xperia 5 II||Sony Xperia 10 II|
|Launch Date||December 4, 2020||February 2020|
|Processors||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865||Qualcomm Snapdragon 665|
|Storage||128 GB ROM UFS, 8 GB RAM||128 GB ROM, 4 GB RAM|
|Display||6.1” screen, 2520 x 1080 FHD+ OLED, 120 Hz refresh rate||6” screen, 2520 x 1080 FHD + OLED|
|Battery||4,000 mAh with 21W fast charging||3,600 mAh with 18W fast charging|
|Cameras||12 MP+12 MP+12 MP Zeiss lens (primary); 8 MP (secondary)||12 MP+8 MP + 8 MP (primary); 8 MP (secondary)|
These two phones from Sony are like brothers. You may say that the Sony Xperia 10 II is like the budget-friendly version of its bigger brother, and we won’t excuse you for thinking like that. However, the user experience between these two phones has a stark difference. For instance, the Sony Xperia 10 II only has a Snapdragon 665 processor. You can play your games decently but expect some frame drops here and there. Its camera also takes some decent shots but its UI is something that is left to be desired. And it may have the same almost-stock Android experience as its bigger brother, but the UI is sluggish giving you that impression that this phone does not fit in the midrange category.
If there is one thing that the Sony Xperia 10 II can be proud of against its more expensive brother, it is the absence of unnecessary buttons on the phone. Sure, the camera shutter can be forgiven on the Sony Xperia 5 II for those precise shots. But the Google Assistant button is something that can be rid of. You don’t really need that clutter when you can do it the same way using your phone’s screen.
Sony Xperia 5 II vs Competitors
The Sony Xperia 5 II may have flagship specs under its hood. But it is fair to say that this phone is somewhat overpriced. If you are on a hunt for your next flagship or compact phone, here is a list of more capable phones that you can buy with a budget of $1,000 or below:
The iPhone 12 has surely rung some bells and whistles, but this phone is still a great contender for its price. For $829, you’ll get a newly-improved Super Retina XDR screen, an A14 Bionic chip, improved cameras, and 5G connectivity. That is a great performer compared with the Sony Xperia 5 II.
Just prepare your charging brick and USB-C cables for you won’t get any of these out of the box. If you are on the hunt for an iPhone 12 charger, a MagSafe charger is your best option today. This is the latest charging technology that can fast-charge your phone magnetically.
Samsung Galaxy S20
When you want to stick to Android, the Samsung Galaxy S20 is the best fit for you. It has got a Snapdragon 865+ processor paired with 12 GB of RAM, a triple camera setup with a 108 MP primary camera, and a 4,500 mAh battery. This phone is like your portable PC, all thanks to these specs. And you can get all these for just roughly $800 on Amazon.
Its main security feature is a little bit off, though. The fingerprint scanner needs a little more improvement due to its laggy recognition. The phone has got some significant heft, too. So watch out for those accidental falls and splash due to its weight.
Google Pixel 5
When you want a fully stock Android experience without breaking the bank that much, the Google Pixel 5 hits right on the spot. Android updates won’t be an issue, thanks to the two-year guarantee of Google updates on any Pixel phone. It is also as compact as the Sony Xperia 5 II with a 6” screen. It also has some quirky but useful camera functions such as the Astrophotography function. Now, you wouldn’t snap on a blank sky trying to capture that once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event.
Yes, it may have that Astrophotography function, but its Night Mode still needs improvement. You also don’t get a telephoto lens in its camera. Zoom-ins may result in grainy pictures. We wish Google would improve its camera on its next iteration of the Pixel.
OnePlus 8 Pro
When you want a flagship phone without breaking the $1000 mark, the OnePlus 8 Pro is one of the finest choices in the market today. You’ll get two options: an 8 GB/128 GB or a 12 GB/256 GB. These specs are good on paper, and it reflects in real-world experience with its OxygenOS. You’ll also get a 120 Hz screen refresh rate with this bad boy, making any movie or gaming experience more pleasurable than before. And don’t worry about accidental water splashes for it has got an IP68 rating. No more worries about playing your tunes while inside the shower.
Their camera sensors have also improved, though it still needs more refinement. Its telephoto lens is still subpar compared to the more affordable Pixel 5. If OnePlus can improve its camera, this is a great contender for the best camera phones in the market today.
Verdict: Is Sony Xperia 5 II Worth Buying?
The Sony Xperia 5 II is one great smartphone for the everyday average user. You’ve got yourself a decent performing phone that can run fast on your everyday tasks. It also has a camera that has astounding features in it. But is the $950 price tag justifiable for its specs and performance?
If you aim to use this phone as a camera phone, this is one of your drooling choices. Its top-notch camera plus its companion apps give you a powerful shooter-phone hybrid. You’ll also get that almost stock Android experience, which gives a slicker overall experience to this phone. And if your phone runs out of storage for your media, you can further expand its storage.
Practical shortcomings are more prevalent than the features packed in this phone. The absence of 5G is one compelling reason why you should avoid this phone. With the gradual improvement of 5G in the country and the continuous release of 5G phones, there are other phones that have 5G in them. Some of them are being sold for lower prices. With this in mind, its $950 price tag is not truly worth it. There are other more affordable and more capable phones out there that can trump the Sony Xperia 5 II.