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
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 

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

Adreno 650 @ 587MHz
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°
Extra 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) -
Front Camera 8MP 1.12µm
8MP 1.12µm
Storage 256GB
128 / 256GB
3.5mm headphone jack
Cellular - -
Wireless (local)    
IP Rating IP65 & IP68
Other Features Dual Speakers
Dual-SIM 1x nanoSIM + microSD 
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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  • Hrel - Saturday, October 10, 2020 - link

    This argument is silly and dumb, but 68mm wide should be the WIDEST PHONE ON EARTH! Anything wider than that should legally be required to be called something else, and legally prevented from being called a "phone" as it cannot be used in one hand. 68mm with a decent case is still a 2 handed device. This is not a "small phone".

    Where's the 60mm wide phones? 64mm, 66mm?

    Peach, diagonal screen measurements aren't a valid way to compare tech, the 5.3" Samsung is much wider than modern 6" phablets. Also thicker.

    I just really want one handed devices that support all LTE bands on T-mobile in the USA. Currently the ONE AND ONLY AFFORADABLE PHONE to offer this is a phablet, called the LG V30, a fairly old phone already. I want more options, and I want them to be smaller, thinner, LESS WIDE than the LG V30, which even my giant Scandinavian 6'4" ass has to use 2 hands to use properly. Thing is a solid 33% wider than I would like it to be. But I literally have no choice, no option, no way to obtain something that would work better for me.

    The market has utterly FAILED to provide the option.

    Vertical resolution should never exceed 1080, so I'm glad to see Sony at least keep some small piece of sanity here.
  • azrael- - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    Since when is width the only determining and important factor when it comes to smartphone size? The height is equally as important. And sorry to break it to you, 15.8 cm is NOT small.

    I'm currently using the Sony XZ1 Compact, which is truly the last Sony, or even Android-based, phone that can be considered small (or small-ish). To be honest, even a phone of this size I cannot use one-handed and I have pretty big hands.

    Also, there's a reason the iPhone SE (old and new) is so popular. Considering how much I dislike Apple it really irks me that there's no longer anything comparable based on Android.
  • nicolaim - Thursday, September 17, 2020 - link

    The article should mention Sony's software update policy...
  • Findecanor - Friday, September 18, 2020 - link

    Rumours say that it will get Android 11 in October, and then up to Android 13.
    Shame that the lower-spec'd sibling Xperia 10 II will only get updated to Android 11 though.
  • azrael- - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    You mean like the XZ1 Compact barely got Android 9 because Sony decided it needed to shove the XZ2 Compact out the door? And it's been over a year since I've gotten *any* Android patches at all.
  • Peskarik - Friday, September 18, 2020 - link

    It appeals to me like nothing else, but the price makes me sad. I wait for Pixel 5 as well.
  • tkSteveFOX - Friday, September 18, 2020 - link

    The 5 II sounds like the perfect phone in every aspect but charging speed.
    Keeping the 4000mAh battery and reducing the size and weight is just making this phone stand in a league of its own!
    Price may be high but can you really say that when Fold 2 and even the vastly underpowered Razr 2 are $1500+? Microsoft Surface for $1300 anyone?
  • nicolaim - Friday, September 18, 2020 - link

    It's not in a league of its own, because the S20 is comparable.
  • Findecanor - Friday, September 18, 2020 - link

    The S20 is not comparable: It does not have a headphone jack!
  • yetanotherhuman - Friday, September 18, 2020 - link

    I don't care how narrow you make it, 158mm tall is not compact or small. Get that height down to 130-140mm, add a bit more thickness to eliminate the camera bump (seriously, we're still doing camera bumps??) and use that thickness to add more battery and/or a wireless charging coil.
    Then drop the price a bit, make all camera features available when the bootloader is unlocked, and I'll buy it.

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