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Oh! SONY's New Xperia 1 II borrows Alpha camera tech for the photographer’s Android - 02-24-2020, 06:47 PM












The Sony Xperia 1 II is a second take on the photography-first Android smartphone. Fresh on the heels of last year’s unusually-shaped Xperia 1, this “Mark II” version takes a leaf out of Sony’s camera business to try to gain an edge in 2020’s fiendishly competitive phone segment. Along the way, it taps some of Sony’s unique talents – and falls victim to some of the company’s perennial missteps.

It’s all about the camera


Perhaps sensibly, what with its interchangeable lens cameras having a more than solid reputation right now, the Xperia 1 II doubles down on its photography talents. On the rear there are four sensors: a 16mm 12-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 lens, a 70mm 12-megapixel f/2.4 3x zoom, and a 24mm 12-megapixel f/1.7, along with a 3D iToF. They’re combined with Sony’s Exmor RS for Mobile and BIONZ for Mobile, plus Zeiss optics. An 8-megapixel front camera lives up in the narrow bezel by the earpiece.

Sony’s 16mm and 24mm cameras use a Dual Photo Diode (Dual-PD) sensor. There’s on-sensor autofocus, too, covering approximately 70-percent of the sensor on the 24mm camera; Sony combines that with 3D time-of-flight, to improve autofocus performance. You also get Real-Time Eye AF, which can recognize both humans and pets. A tap switches between them.

As you’d expect, there’s a standard camera app which delivers the basics in an easy-to-use way. Sony, however, has combined that with its new Photo Pro interface, effectively bringing a version of the Sony Alpha camera UI to the phone. That includes mode switches, more precise AF control, and other settings.

The talents are more than screen-deep, too. The Xperia 1 II borrows its camera cousin’s burst mode, distilling tech from the Sony Alpha 9 to do things like a 20 fps burst mode (with the 23mm lens) with AF/AE tracking.

On the video side of things, you don’t get 8K but Sony is counting on you not caring about its absence. Instead, the Xperia 1 II offers 4K 24/25/60 fps with HDR; the old Xperia 1 only offered 24p. Video gets Touch AF and manual white balance controls, along with an exposure meter. There’s also an intelligent wind filter to more cleanly cut out background noise.

Big screen, fast chipset, and a headphone jack


Like the Xperia 1 before it, the Xperia 1 II uses Sony’s current aspect-ratio-of-choice, a 21:9 CinemaWide OLED panel. It’s still 6.5-inches and 4K HDR, but for 2020 Sony is adding white balance control to adjust color temperature. There’s also a Creator Mode, powered by CineAlta, and a motion blur system that Sony says provides the equivalent of a 90Hz refresh rate.

A tough case and a weird 5G decision


Sober and crisp are probably the best way to describe the Xperia 1 II aesthetic. Sony’s phone measures in at 166 x 72 x 7.9 mm and 181 grams, a sandwich of Gorilla Glass 6 front and back. It’s IP65 and IP68 rated for things like dust and water.

There’s a fingerprint sensor on the side – integrated into a push-button – and a USB-C port on the bottom. The Xperia 1 II is compatible with Sony’s DualShock 4 PlayStation controller, too.

In the US, the Xperia 1 II will top out at 4G LTE, with no 5G option. That, the company says, is a reflection of where the career market is in the US with 5G deployments. Outside of the country, though, there’ll be 5G versions, though Sony hasn’t said where or when, or indeed which carriers they’ll be compatible with.



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