Sony Xperia 5 II review

If the Xperia 1 II’s 4K screen was the ultimate in excess, then the Xperia 5 II is Sony putting its sensible hat back on. And yet there’s still plenty here to get excited about.

You still get an OLED panel that supports HDR and a cinema-like 21:9 aspect ratio, stretched across a more palm-friendly 6.1in. The pixel count now maxes out at 2520×1080, but the refresh rate has been boosted all the way to 120Hz. It makes scrolling feel silky smooth, helps reduce motion blur and makes games more responsive – once you turn it on, you’re not going to want to turn it off.

The bods from Bravia have created two different display modes: Standard mode massages vibrance and contrast to help your photo library leap off the screen, and Creator mode swaps into 10-bit colour and BT.2020 calibration for more nuanced hues. The latter kicks in automatically when you log in to Netflix, so you’re seeing exactly what the director intended, but both produce well-judged, lifelike colours.

The panel is still plenty detailed enough for photos and Full HD streaming, with excellent viewing angles and the impressive contrast that only OLED tech can provide. Peak brightness still lags a little behind rival flagships, but you’ll only notice in a side-by-side comparison; outdoor visibility isn’t really an issue.

Skinny top and bottom display bezels don’t just disguise the selfie camera, so there’s no notch or hole punch to obstruct your view – they also make room for a set of stereo speakers. Sony Music had a hand in tuning them, and they have real punch, with clean vocals and a powerful mid-range. Dynamic vibration, which uses the haptic motor to resemble bass, still feels a bit gimmicky, but it’s easy to disable if you don’t like it.

Don’t worry if you haven’t picked up that pair of WH-1000XM4s yet, either: the Xperia 5 II is still rocking a 3.5mm headphone port, so you can use your existing headphones. If you do own a set of Sony cans, LDAC Bluetooth ensures you’re getting the best possible wireless connection. Naturally it plays nicely with Hi-Res audio files, and DSEE upscaling is on hand to work its magic on your Spotify playlists. It makes a real difference, on even the most basic of bundled earphones.

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