Sony unveils the Xperia 1 II—Pro features built into a smartphone

The Xperia 1 II (Mark II). (Image: Sony)

There’s no Mobile World Congress 2020. However, Sony still announced its new flagship smartphone yesterday, via an event over the internet.

The Xperia 1 II (Mark II) brings updated specs, 5G support, and photography technology from Sony’s Alpha mirrorless camera line.

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The new smartphone is the successor to the Xperia 1 released in June 2019. The new device sports a similar 6.5-inch, 4K (3840×1644) OLED HDR display to its predecessor. It also bears the same tall, 21:9 cinema-style aspect ratio from before.

There’s no high refresh rate screen in the new Xperia. But Sony claims its Motion Blur Reduction technology yields results like an actual 90Hz display. It would have been nice if Sony used a high-refresh-rate panel in the new phone, much like the new flagship Galaxy devices. We’ll have to wait and see how well their software mimics the real thing.

The 12MP triple camera system. (Image: Sony)

The highlight of the new Xperia 1 II is the new camera system and the included software. Sony pulled many of the features from its professional mirrorless line and packed them into the new Xperia flagship. Its new triple camera system shifted to the left but has the same 12 MP resolutions as the Xperia before. Choose either the 12 MP primary, telephoto, or ultra-wide-angle camera for photos or videos.

ZEISS optics are a new addition to the Xperia flagship line. The new Xperia flagship camera has ZEISS T* coating that should help with contrast and reducing reflections. Sony also included a 3D indirect time of flight sensor that supposedly assists with focussing in low light situations.

Pro-camera features brought to the smartphone

The Xperia 1 II also has several features that Sony pulled from its professional DSLM cameras. Firstly, there’s real-time eye autofocus for both humans and animals. That means the phone camera will lock on to the subject’s eyes even if they’re moving. It also works if only one eye is visible. The result should be a precise focus on the subject’s face.  

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Sony also included 20 fps burst shooting packaged with continuous autofocus and auto exposure, a first on a smartphone. By using algorithms, the smartphone calculates focus and exposure up to 60 times per second. That technology is perfect for capturing during fast-moving scenarios like sports (or a running toddler).

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There’s also a whole lot on the video capture side as well. Aside from the usual 4K HDR video at 24/25/30 or 60 fps, there’s 2K video recording at 120 fps. Xperia 1 II has a “Cinematography Pro” mode. It gives users greater, granular control over things like shutter speed, exposure, and white balance. They also added eight colour pre-sets to the mix for cinematic-looking footage.

Look! A headphone jack. (Image: Sony)

Powering all this photo and video magic is Sony’s BIONZ X mobile engine, a larger 1/1.7-inch, Exmor RS sensor, as well as Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 865 chipset. The phone runs Android 10. Other specs include 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage. The device is also IP68 rated for dust and water resistance.

Thankfully, there’s a substantial 4000mAh battery inside along with wireless charging to serve the massive screen. Happily, there IS a 3.5mm headphone jack on the new Sony phone. No dongles over here. 🙌🏾

The new Xperia has dual front-facing speakers. (Image: Sony)

The Xperia 1 Mark II is also 5G compatible, although Sony didn’t include the faster mmWave technology. The company plans to release an Xperia Pro phone with the mmWave tech in the future as well as an HDMI port for connecting to Sony cameras.

Though Sony hasn’t had the best sales results in its smartphone department, the new Xperia 1 Mark II raises the bar for both content creation and consumption. Yes, it has a confusing name, but with modern specs, it’s an excellent alternative to the more popular iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.

The Xperia 1 II will be released sometime in Spring of 2020.