This is one flagship smartphone that manages to deliver across all fronts.
Retailing at £799.99, the Sony Xperia 5 II is a flagship smartphone that finds itself in the same ballpark as other premium devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S20, the OnePlus 8 Pro, and the iPhone 12 (6.1-inch model). It prides itself on being a premium gaming device and is even credited with being the official smartphone of the Call of Duty®: Mobile World Championship Tournament 2020. Competition may be steep at its price point, but we think that this is one device that you should at least consider if you're due an upgrade.
The first thing that really stood out about the device was how comfortable it fits within my hand. The phone is long and slender with a 21:9 display, and it's awfully light with a total mass of 163g. This made texting and web browsing using just one hand a complete breeze, as it was easy to access all of the keys I needed by using my thumb. I was also a huge fan of its minimalist design at first glance - the screen covers 83% of the device's surface, its corners have been smoothly rounded off, and its various side buttons don't stick out at all.
The Xperia 5 II has a 6.1-inch OLED display, which has a resolution of 1080 x 2520. It may not be in 4K like the Xperia 1, but I still found its colours to be vivid and it provided an admirable performance whether I was playing games, editing video, or watching movies on Netflix. The display also features a refresh rate of 120hz, which is on par with what the best premium smartphones have to offer and allows for smooth image changing on-screen.
Being the clumsy person that I am, I was pleased to learn that the device is IP65/IP68 dust and water-resistant. I wasn't able to test this personally, for obvious reasons, but I have been informed that the phone should function after being submerged in water for up to thirty minutes. I wouldn't personally recommend taking it to the pool, but at least if you do, you'll know that you are somewhat protected. I should mention too that the screen is comprised of Corning Gorilla Glass 6, which is designed to protect the screen from scratches and drops from up to 1.6 meters. Again, I didn't test this particular feature, but it is an appreciated one.
It also has a 4,000mAh battery which easily lasted me for a full day when I left the device charging overnight. For its price point, it's on par with the battery found in the Samsung Galaxy S20 but falls behind the 4,500mAh battery found in the OnePlus 8 Pro. The device supports fast charging and wireless charging, but it only includes a fast charger in the box and you'll need to pay out extra for the convenience of wireless charging. An impressive feature behind the battery is that fast charging enables your phone to get to 50% after 30 minutes of charging. This is perfect for those moments where you have to dash out of the house and realise that the plug wasn't actually turned on at the wall.
On the inside of this very slender device is 8GB RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 system chip, and an Adreno 650 GPU. In terms of internal storage, it comes with both 128GB and 256GB options and can be upgraded to as much as 1TB, which is great for those who plan to take plenty of 4K videos and store them locally. Performance-wise I didn't notice any slow down from applications, even when I forgot to close down the ones I wasn't using (this happened more frequently than I would like to admit!). Also, it was capable of flawlessly handling any games I threw at it and this included PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 Legends.
Perhaps still being a little old fashioned, one thing that I was pleased to see was that the device hadn't completely done away with the 3.5mm jack slot. This means that you won't just be limited to Bluetooth operated devices and will be able to use a much broader range of accessories as a result. Also, speaking of audio, I found its front-facing stereo speakers to really pack a punch and deliver an ample volume level overall. I did find, however, that once I edged the volume over 90% that things started to sound distorted and lacked clarity. This wasn't noticeable for watching movies or playing video games at a moderate level, but due to this it could by no means be an alternative to a Bluetooth speaker, for example.
Playing titles like Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile, I found the 21:9 aspect ratio screen to be a really comfortable fit for both thumbs, as I had ample room when using one side of the screen for shooting and the other for moving myself around with the direction wheel. The display I found to showcase a broad field of action around me and its 240hz touch scanning rate allowed for really precise inputs during intense moments where quick reflexes mattered. There's even the option here to hook up a DualShock 4 and use that as an alternative to touch controls when playing selected titles on the device, which is a neat feature.
We can't talk about a smartphone without talking about cameras, and fortunately, the Xperia 5 II holds up within this area too. The device is fitted with three 12MP cameras (16mm/24mm/70mm) on its rear side and upfront it has a single 8MP camera. In terms of appearance, I found both to be really discrete, as the front-facing camera doesn't just look like it's been hole punched, and the three rear lenses don't poke out too much. When shooting photos and videos you can, of course, utilise all three lenses and there's the capability here to shoot slow-motion videos in 4K at 120FPS - if you're into that kind of thing.
Just from booting up the handset and diving headfirst into the camera, the photos that I took were incredibly sharp, and I found it captured colours boldly from across the spectrum. I was particularly impressed with the front-facing camera, as it didn't feel leagues apart from the photos that I took with the much more powerful rear lenses. A minor annoyance that I had, however, was that the photos I took could not be viewed fully in landscape mode. Instead, the image occupied the middle of the screen and there were black bars annoyingly on either side.
I found the Sony Xperia 5 II to be a quality smartphone that delivered a solid performance regardless of whether I was gaming, watching videos, or capturing photos. Its 21:9 display is comfortable for one-handed use and offers ample room for gaming commands, and I was impressed especially with the clarity from its front-facing camera. I was also a big fan of its clean and minimalist design and ran into no issues with regards to its overall performance. I did, however, encounter a few minor issues such as its speaker distorting at higher volumes and landscape photos not occupying the full screen, but that said, this was a gadget that I was very sad to part with once I had completed my full review.
9 / 10
It's 21:9 display is great for gaming and one-handed use, it can shoot video in 4K at 120FPS, I never noticed any performance dips even when forgetting to close applications.
It's speaker distorts at louder volumes, photos can't be viewed full screen in landscape mode.