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Hands on: Sony Xperia 5 II review – TechRadar

Early Verdict

The Sony Xperia 5 II takes a lot of what makes its larger sibling great and distills it into a package that’s much smaller and easier to hold. So if you’re looking for this top-end tech in an easier to hold phone, you’ll struggle to go wrong with the Xperia 5 II.

For

  • Attractive look
  • Great cameras

Against

  • Annoying Google Assistant button
  • No wireless charging

The Sony Xperia 5 II is a Sony flagship phone that inherits most of the top features from the seriously expensive Sony Xperia 1 II, but cuts a few corners to drop the price down to that of most other flagship phones.

It’s a handset that’s streamlined for photography rather than matching the competition perk-for-perk. That said, if you’ve liked the look of Sony’s larger phones in the past but you want a smaller take on them, that’s basically what you’re getting here, albeit with a few cut corners.

Those cut corners include some major specs – for example, the 4K display of the Sony Xperia 1 II is absent here – but if you’re willing to drop those this may feel like a handset that’s made specifically for you.

Sony Xperia 5 II release date and price 

Sony Xperia 5 II

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Sony Xperia 5 II price is $949 / £799, and it comes in a single configuration with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. In the US, T-Mobile and AT&T will support the Xperia 5 II.

We’ve yet to get a specific release date for the Sony Xperia 5 II, but Sony has said it’ll be coming by the end of 2020. We’ll update this in the near future when we hear more about an exact release date.

Design and display

The Xperia 5 II is a smaller version of the Xperia 1 Mark II. It’s got the same narrow 21:9 aspect ratio display, though it’s only 6.1 inches (compared to the Xperia 1 Mark II’s 6.5-inch screen). You’ll feel that smaller size as soon as you pick this phone up, but it’s remarkably easy to fit in one hand considering it still has a 6.1-inch display – which is only small compared to its sibling.

The 21:9 aspect ratio is the trick that’s allowed the company to make a phone that feels easy to hold in one hand despite still having a fairly large display, as it makes the phone narrower than most handsets.

Sony Xperia 5 II

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Xperia 5 II only has a Full HD Plus (1080 x 2520) display, but it does improve on its larger sibling in another way: its display has a 120Hz refresh rate. That allows for a smoother experience when cycling through your social media feed and performing other interactions.

If you own the Xperia 5 or previous Sony phones, you’ll notice how the edges here are more rounded than on earlier devices. This makes the Xperia 5 II feel easier to hold, as it isn’t as square as previous Sony handsets. 

On the right edge of the phone you’ll find volume buttons near the top and, much further down, a Google Assistant button (that can be customized for other functions), as well as a shutter button near the bottom. 

There’s also an enlarged lock button between the volume and Google Assistant keys. This has a fingerprint sensor in it as Sony hasn’t included an in-screen sensor here. That’s a fairly big omission, but we’ve found the fingerprint scanner to work well so far.

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Sony Xperia 5 II

(Image credit: TechRadar)
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Sony Xperia 5 II

(Image credit: TechRadar)
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Sony Xperia 5 II

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The phone’s USB-C port is on the bottom and the 3.5mm jack is at the top, letting you charge the phone and listen to audio at the same time. That’s a major thing for many audiophiles, and the company’s return to the 3.5mm jack is a welcome one for many.

The phone’s back is smooth glass, with the camera block in the top left corner. The Xperia 5 II is set to come in both black and blue, but those seem to be the only shades of the device that Sony will be offering. The handset is also water resistant to depths of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.

Camera

Sony Xperia 5 II

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Xperia 5 II inherits all of its cameras from the Xperia 1 Mark II: its three rear cameras and single front-facing camera. What does that mean? Expect some strong photography chops on this device.

The three rear cameras are all 12MP shooters: a main camera with a 24mm lens, an ultra-wide camera with a 16mm lens, and a telephoto one with a 70mm lens. Our brief testing period with the camera so far has shown some impressive auto mode shots.

Sony also puts a lot of focus on its professional photography modes, where you’ll be able to play around with a variety of other features that many phone cameras don’t allow you to – we’ll let you know how much this adds once we’ve tested the phone more fully. 

There’s a single 8MP front-facing camera. Like other Xperia phones, it’s located in a solid black bar above the screen – that means there’s no notch on the Xperia 5 II. It does mean that the front of the phone isn’t all screen though, which does look a little dated.

Performance and battery 

The Sony Xperia 5 II packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, 8GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. Some markets are restricted to just one variant though, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to buy both versions.

Sony says the device will debut with Android 10 software, and when asked the company wasn’t able to confirm when it will be introducing Android 11 to the handset.

We’ve found the software to be strong on the device so far, but the Google Assistant button on the right hand side can be a little irritating if you knock it by accident, causing it to set off when you’re trying to do something else.

The phone has the same 4,000mAh battery as the Xperia 1 Mark II, and like that phone it also boasts fast-charging capabilities, but to get the very best you’ll have to opt for an additional charger. However, there’s no wireless charging on the Xperia 5 II – which is something its larger sibling does hav

Early verdict 

Sony Xperia 5 II

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Sony Xperia 5 II looks to be a remarkably good handset, and that isn’t such a common thing on smaller phones. It isn’t an absolute top-end handset like its price suggests, but it comes with a lot of features that those who love Sony phones will be after.

The design is refined compared to previous models, it has a 3.5mm headphone jack, the display is super smooth, and the camera seems to be every bit as powerful as its older sibling’s. If you want almost everything great about the Xperia 1 II in a smaller body, this looks to be the phone for you.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews’ are a journalist’s first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it’s like to use, even if it’s only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar’s Reviews Guarantee.

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