Sony Xperia 5 II has killer features the iPhone 12 can't match

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony's new flagship phone, the Xperia 5 II, may not have the most glamorous name. But it has some compelling features that even the iPhone 12 won't be getting.

As announced by Sony, the Xperia 5 II will join Sony's other flagship phone, the Xperia 1 II, sporting many of the same features but a more compact 6.1-inch size compared to the 6.5-inch Xperia 1 II. It'll cost $949 in the U.S. and £799 in the U.K., with your color options being either black or blue.

Sony Xperia 5 II price and release date

You'll be able to purchase the Xperia 5 II from September 29 in the U.S., with no specific date beyond fall given for the U.K. The $949/£799 price makes it quite an expensive handset, costing more than a OnePlus 8, but it's cheaper than a Galaxy S20.

Sony Xperia 5 II cameras

Sony's put a lot of focus on the phone's cameras in its press release, dropping mentions of technology borrowed from its Alpha DSLR series. The phone also has the ability to act as a wireless monitor for your Sony camera, if you happen to own one of the compatible models.

(Image credit: Sony)

There's a single 8MP camera on the front of the phone, while the rear array consists of three 12MP sensors, which Sony describes as 16mm, 24mm, and 70mm equivalent focal length lenses. In layman's terms, these figure out as the usual trio of main, 3x optical zoom telephoto and ultrawide cameras you see on most flagship phones.

Sony says the Sony Xperia 5 II is the first camera phone capable of recording 120fps video in 4K, which can go to up to 5x slow motion, a seriously impressive claim.

One particular area Sony seems proud of is the Xperia 5 II's ability to take portrait shots and burst shots with continuous auto-focus. We've seen Samsung, probably the biggest player in Android smartphones, struggle with photo focus earlier in the year with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Perhaps that's why Sony's put such a big emphasis on this point.

Sony Xperia 5 II display

(Image credit: Sony)

The Xperia 5 II also continues Sony's tendency for 21:9 displays, taller than the usual phone screen. The 6.1-inch FHD+ HDR OLED panel on this phone is pretty average, if not slightly under par for a flagship phone, but the 120Hz refresh rate is a top-tier feature. Since the iPhone 12 is believed to be sticking with 60Hz across the range, it's a good look for Sony.

Adding to this is a 240Hz motion blur reduction feature, and 240Hz response rate to taps on the screen, which can be set and locked to specific values as you wish. This will be particularly useful for mobile gamers who want crisp graphics and responsive controls when playing Fortnite or something similar. If touch controls aren't good enough for you, then you're able to connect your PS4's DualShock 4 controller for a more precise experience.

Sony Xperia 5 II specs

Driving the Xperia 5 II is a Snapdragon 865 chipset, the gold standard for flagship Android phones, backed up with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. It's unfortunate that it isn't the 865 Plus for the best possible performance, but hopefully it'll still be strong enough to handle any app you need to use,. Plus, the Xperia 5 II still offers 5G connectivity, if that's something you can access where you live.

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony Xperia 5 II battery and charging

The 4,000 mAh battery with 21W charging is a little on the small side, considering phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has 5,000 mAh of capacity and slightly quicker 25W charging.

But Sony does have a trick up its sleeve that lets you power the phone via a USB-C cable without charging the battery. it means you can plug the phone in for a gaming or movie-watching session without experiencing the significant heat output from filling the battery, making it much more comfortable to hold in your hand.

Sony Xperia 5 II headphone jack and speakers

Rounding off the Xperia experience are stereo Dolby Atmos-tuned front-firing speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Both of these features are very rare on modern flagship phones, and could well count for something with users who care about their sound quality and don't own a pair of wireless headphones.

Sony Xperia 5 II outlook

We'll save a full judgment until we get a Sony Xperia 5 II in for review, but it feels like there may be some very good reasons to consider the Xperia 5 II over an Android rival, and potentially over the all-conquering iPhone 12 once that launches later this year. The sophisticated cameras, 120Hz display, PS4 compatibility and overall design look compelling, but we wish this handset had a newer Snapdragon 865 Plus chip.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.