Design, display and durability
The Xperia 5 II has the traditional Sony aesthetic: it’s long and thin with smooth edges. It measures 6.2 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.8 ounces. The 6.1-inch OLED display with a size of 2,520 x 1,080 is sharp, has excellent color accuracy and, thanks to its refresh rate of 120 Hz, is suitable for everything from Netflix to games.
The back of the phone is made of glossy black glass that looks sleek but quickly attracts fingerprints and smudges. There is a vertical stack of cameras in the upper left corner, while the Sony and Xperia trademarks are in the center and bottom. A USB-C charging port is at the bottom while a headphone jack is at the top. On the left side there is a SIM slot, on the right side the volume rocker, the power supply, Google Assistant and the camera shutter release. The power button acts as a responsive fingerprint sensor.
The durability is solid. The Gorilla Glass 6 display and the back of the Xperia 5 II should be able to withstand the occasional drop or dent without major damage. With an IP65 / 68 rating, it can handle water spray, although Sony warns against submerging it completely. As always, you should invest in a suitcase to be on the safe side.
Connectivity and audio
The Xperia 5 II will be activated and will work on all major US carriers with support for LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/19/20/25/26/28 / 29/32/34/38/39/40/41/46/48/66. However, it doesn’t support 5G and it lacks Band 71, a must have for rural T-Mobile customers
We tested network performance in Chicago on T-Mobile and Verizon and got poor results with both carriers. T-Mobile was only 10.8 Mbit / s lower and 6.4 Mbit / s higher on average. Verizon was a bit better at 17.2 Mbit / s down and 8.2 Mbit / s up, but is still well below what we have experienced on the network with a Google Pixel 5, the incredible 5G speeds of up to recorded at 1.6 Gbit / s. While the Xperia 5 II can’t achieve such speeds without 5G, we believe the poor 4G performance could be due to a firmware issue that will hopefully be fixed before the phone hits shelves in December.
The Xperia 5 II also supports dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1 and NFC.
The call quality in the T-Mobile network was good. The earbud’s maximum volume is 88dB, which is loud enough to hear on a busy street, and the noise cancellation worked smoothly.
The two front speakers have a peak power of 93 dB and are equipped with Dolby Atmos. Overall, the sound quality for the phone is excellent. The timbre is strong, with well-defined mids and even some bass.
Hardware and performance
The Xperia 5 II is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset with 8 GB of RAM. That’s a little less than the 12GB of RAM in the Samsung Galaxy S20, but it’s more than enough to get the job done. Our test device was equipped with 128 GB of storage (a 256 GB version is also available), of which 110 GB were immediately available.
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We were able to multitask with dozens of apps and Chrome tabs open without delay. The gaming performance is also solid. We played Alto’s Odyssey for over an hour without losing frames or slowing down, even though the battery was drained by more than 20 percent during that period.
The Xperia 5 II achieved a single-core (SC) score of 922 and a multi-core (MC) score of 3,396 on Geekbench 5, a series of benchmark tests that measured raw computing power. That’s between the 918 (SC) and 3,280 (MC) of the Galaxy S20 and the 1,333 (SC) and 3,455 (MC) of the iPhone 11 Pro.
The 4,000 mAh battery of the Xperia 5 II lasted 9 hours and 18 minutes in our battery drain test, in which HD videos are streamed at full brightness via WiFi. That’s fine, but a couple of hours before the Galaxy S20 FE and Pixel 5. It supports fast charging over USB Power Delivery 3.0. Wireless charging isn’t available, an odd omission for a flagship phone, especially at this price point.
On the back of the Xperia 5 II is a 12MP f / 1.7 primary camera, a 12MP f / 2.2 ultra wide angle lens, and a 12MP f / 2.4 telephoto lens. There is an 8-megapixel selfie camera with a f / 2.0 lens on the front of the phone.
In good light, all of the cameras on the Xperia 5 II can take solid pictures. The rear lenses always took razor-sharp images with excellent depth of field and color accuracy during testing. The front-facing camera did a fine job too, although fine details were occasionally lost.
The Xperia 5 II’s primary and ultra-wide lenses perform well in low light. All of our test shots look natural and have a solid depth of field. However, the telephoto camera can’t take in enough light to get a decent shot and doesn’t even try to take photos in low light unless you opt for Sony’s Photo Pro app.
Portrait mode with the rear camera benefits from real-time eye auto focus, a feature only found on Sony mirrorless cameras. All of our test shots were spot on, and the bokeh looks a bit more natural than the overly aggressive background blur you’ll find on most other smartphones. The front-facing camera does a great job even in low light, but we noticed some loss of background detail and a flattening of the images in our test shots.
In addition to a Pro camera mode, the Xperia 5 II also has a Video Pro app that has been optimized by CineAlta. The app gives you more granular control over the sensors and lets you change color, white balance, focus and ISO, for example. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it works well once you are up to date. We tested it in both 2K and 4K modes. Our test videos were sharp, had a solid depth of field and no noticeable dropouts. In short, it’s a huge improvement over the Xperia 5’s video mode.
The Xperia 5 II ships with Android 10, with Sony’s custom skin running on it. Sony’s user interface isn’t clumsy in and of itself, but it’s definitely a departure from standard Android. Notifications and app icons look different, and you get some extra features like Cinema Pro, Photo Pro, and Side Sense.
In addition to the productivity apps from Sony and the cameras, the Xperia 5 II also comes with bloatware. It’s disappointing to see an unlocked phone have redundant apps, but luckily there aren’t that many and all of them can be uninstalled.
Sony has confirmed that the Xperia 5 II will receive an Android 11 update in the future, but has yet to provide a schedule. The company doesn’t make any promises even after Android 11, so it’s a bit of a risk considering that Google and Samsung guarantee multi-year software upgrades.
The Sony Xperia 5 II offers excellent build quality, solid cameras and a fast processor. But it lacks 5G and wireless charging, two features we’d expect from a phone that sells for nearly $ 1,000. If you’re a huge Sony fan or are seriously interested in the cinematography capabilities of the camera, the Xperia 5 II might be worth it. For everyone else, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has similar hardware, plus wireless charging and 5G for $ 250 less.
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