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Sony Xperia 5 II Review: The Right Tool for the Right Job

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The Sony Xperia 5 II feels more like a tool than any other smartphone I’ve used this year. Not only is it a very understated design (which definitely does), Sony’s overall approach is to give you as much control over your phone as possible. Control the look and sound and take photos and videos.

However, like any other tool, you’ll get more out of it when you’re ready to take advantage of the Xperia 5 II. After all, good craftsmen do not blame the tool. However, most people who pay $ 949 (799/899) for their phones are probably ready to meet along the way and are looking for a device that can handle most of the work with defaults or auto-configuration. That’s what I want to see if the Xperia 5 II is feasible.

The Xperia 5 II will be available in the US on December 4th and will be available in Europe this week.

7.5 out of 10

Good 120Hz Display Manual Camera Option Headphone Jack Bad Bad 5G None in USA Too many buttons No wireless charging

I can’t exaggerate how much I like the design of the Xperia 5 IIs. Combining Sony’s trademark 21: 9 aspect ratio with a 6.1-inch display, which is slightly smaller than the larger Xperia 1, it fits snugly in your hand without feeling cramped. Mobile phones will be realized. The screen this time is only 1080p, but at this size you wouldn’t want to increase the resolution.

At the top and bottom of the display are bezels that are slightly larger than the bezels that many other flagships have recently selected. That is, there are no notches or hole punch cutouts. Get a competent front speaker stereo pair with less echo than competitors that fire downwards.

There is a headphone jack at the top. It’s rarely included in modern premium-priced smartphones and is almost unprecedented. Behind it is a discreet camera bump that houses the phone’s main lens, ultra-wide-angle lens, and telephoto lens. If you want a phone that is guaranteed not to turn your head, this is probably it. As I said, it’s a tool.

In addition, the headphone jack is on top.

In addition to the volume control and side-mounted power and fingerprint sensor combo buttons, the side of the phone has both a dedicated camera shutter and a Google Assistant button. Given Sony’s photography ambitions for the 5 II, it allows physical shutter control, but I find the Google Assistant button unnecessary, especially in positions that are too low to be convenient to press.

The screen aspect ratio of the Xperia 5 IIs makes it difficult to reach the top of the screen when used with one hand, but many apps such as Twitter and Gmail can get a much more convenient screen area. Personally, I like getting enough space to display the Aeropress recipe generator app and the stopwatch app for making coffee in split screen, but probably only Im is doing that. Beyond aspect ratio, HDR compatible OLED screens are bright, colorful and fun to watch videos. Also, a refresh rate of 120Hz means it’s smooth and responsive to use.

Internally, in addition to the increasingly rare expansion of microSD storage, the Snapdragon 865 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage (256 GB version is also available, but for Asia only) are typical of the price. There is an array of specifications. And 4,000mAh battery. Wireless charging is not supported and there is a hassle omission at this price. 5G is also not supported when purchasing a phone in the US (Europe offers support below 6GHz, but millimeter waves are not supported).

No wireless charging or 5G in the US

Given the current state of 5G coverage, the advice is that if a cheaper phone fits your needs, it’s not worth the extra charge for 5G. But on the contrary, if you’re paying $ 949 for your phone at this point in 2020, it seems a bit ridiculous not to support 5G. The phone has specs to handle most of the work you’ll need it now, but the lack of 5G in the US means it can be delayed soon. ..

There were no battery issues with the Xperia 5 II. The phone was easy to work from home with plenty of Twitter, Slack, Gmail, and YouTube, with about 40-50% charge when connected at night.

Sony’s adoption of Android 10 is limited and consists primarily of providing additional settings for tweaking. (The company couldn’t confirm when the Android 11 update would arrive.) For example, Sony has a great deal of control over the white balance settings on the phone display. If desired, there is a Dolby Atmos EQ menu in the settings. Adjust how the phone sounds. There are many things you can customize to make your Xperia 5 II a tool that suits your needs.

But I didn’t like the number of apps pre-installed on the phone. This includes apps that can be disabled, such as LinkedIn, but cannot be easily uninstalled. It’s especially annoying when many of the Xperia 5 II are designed to give control to your hands.

There are too many buttons on the right side of the phone. 21: 9 displays have more split screen options.

There are two approaches to Sony’s smartphone photography. First, if you leave it to your own device, you tend to prioritize accuracy over vibrant and colorful photos. This often results in less punchy images than most phones, but you can always fine-tune the image when you edit it after the fact.

The Xperia 5 II has three rear cameras: main, ultra wide, and telephoto.

If you want to do things completely your way, Sony is ready to forgive you too. Its professional photography mode gives you a great deal of control over how you take your photos, giving you an experience modeled after a stand-alone mirrorless alpha camera. There are plenty of controls to dig into as needed, but it can seem too complicated for anyone who just wants to call a group of friends and take nice pictures.

However, let’s talk about hardware first. The Xperia 5 II includes three rear cameras. A main camera equipped with a large 1 / 1.7 inch sensor, an ultra-wide-angle camera with a 124-degree angle of view, and a telephoto camera with a 3x optical zoom. The nice thing here is that they are all the same resolution, 12 megapixels. This means that when you switch between them, you don’t see any noticeable changes in detail.

Grid view

Detailed pictures can be obtained in sunlight, but these may look a little flat. Its accuracy for excitement. Oddly enough, the exception to this seems to be someone who wants Sony phones to lighten and smooth their skin even when the camera’s skin effect option is turned off. Even when using the standard camera app, the highly responsive eye autofocus system and burst shooting up to 10 fps are possible. Especially for pet photography, I thought the combination of high-speed eye track autofocus and burst photography was the best.

Low-light photography is where Sony’s approach to photography is most obvious. By default, the camera app doesn’t brighten night shots that much, so it looks like it was taken in the sun. Instead, you get an accurate photo that the camera takes a little time to process each time. Unlike smartphones like the Pixel 4, tapping the shutter button allows you to take crisp, bright photos right away, even at night.

Professional photography mode gives you a lot of control.

Switching to advanced photo mode opens up a wealth of options. With a wealth of white balance, autofocus, exposure, burst photography, flash, and HDR settings, you can control almost every aspect of your photo. If you’re ready to work, including making night shots look as clear as daytime, it’s enough that you can get almost every look of your photo. However, the whole process can be a bit complicated. It’s frustrating for anyone who wants to take out their phone and ensure they get crisp, clear shots every time.

The same level of control is possible for video recording, with the option to record in slow motion up to 120fps in 4K. I was particularly impressed with the focus pull setting. However, in most cases, most people will be happy with recording video with a regular camera app.

You can take good pictures from your Sony Xperia 5 II, but you may have to work to get it to look the way you want. The camera is a powerful tool, but they aren’t going to work for you.

It’s not a head-turning phone. Using the phone with one hand can make it difficult to reach the top of the screen.

Sony has a very special idea about the type of phone they are looking for in the Xperia 5 II. It is comparable to many major competitors in terms of specs, but the most interesting feature surrounds the amount of control it provides. With advanced camera features and audiovisual modes, you can tailor your experience to your needs.

However, I think these advanced settings are needed to justify the relatively high $ 949 price tag for the Xperia 5 II in the United States. At that price, it really should include 5G support and wireless charging. These trade-offs may be more valuable at lower prices, but not at price tags close to $ 1000. In Europe, with 5G support, the 899/799 price would make a lot more sense, but the lack of wireless charging remains.

The Sonys Xperia 5 II feels like a very capable tool, but it’s expensive and you may work to get the most out of it. Therefore, it is a tool suitable for many jobs, but it is not always a tool suitable for smartphone work.

Photographed by Jon Porter / The Verge

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