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Sony Xperia 10 II Review

One of the best value mid-range phones.

Pros

  • Longlasting battery
  • OLED screens are rare at this price point
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Tall shape not to everyone's taste
  • Battery charging is slower than average
  • Slow camera

The Sony Xperia 10 II is a compact mid-range phone with a distinctive design and high-end build.

Retailing at around £330, what you get is a compact handset with a gorgeous screen and enough processing power to cover the latest apps and games.

Sony Xperia 10 II Specifications

Body Gorilla Glass 6 Front and back, Plastic frame, IP68 Waterproof
Screen 6.0-inch OLED (2520x1080px resolution, 21:9 aspect ratio, 457ppi pixel density)
Processor Snapdragon 665
Memory 4GB RAM - 128GB storage
Camera Quad lens (Wide, Ultrawide, Depth-sensor and 2x Optical Zoom)
Battery 3,600mAh
Biometric Side-mounted Fingerprint sensor
OS Android 10

First Impression and design

  • Premium build quality
  • Waterproof
  • Can be slippery

The Xperia 10 II has that distinctive Sony look that sets the Japanese brand apart from all other smartphone manufacturers.

Sony Xperia 10II back A tall, narrow body with a super-wide screen, perfectly flat panels at the front and back and an overall understated design.

Most phones in the market use a 20:9 display ratio for their display. Sony, on the other hand, designs their phones around a cinematic 21:9 ratio. Ideal for movies, less so for games, the narrow display aspect ratio has the advantage of making the device feel very compact. You can easily wrap your hand around it.

The materials used are first-rate. Gorilla Glass 6 for the front and back panel ensures the greatest shock and scratch resistance you can get on any phone today. It is also IP68 certified, making it water and dust resistance.

Sony Xperia 10II home screen 2 The Xperia 10 II feels compact and perfectly weighted. The smooth surfaces make it slippery though so a protective case is a must.

Sony Xperia 10II side On the right side you will find the volume rocker and a power button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor. On the left side, you'll find a SIM drawer that also supports an additional SD-card to upgrade the storage. Unlike most other brands, you can pull it out without using a key.

Sony Xperia 10II headphone jack Headphone jack at the top and reversible USB-C at the bottom.

Sony Xperia 10II wallThe build quality on the Xperia 10 II is as good as it gets. The only downside of this design is that it can be overly slippery.

Sony Xperia 10II bottom The Xperia 10 II supports 18W fast charging but we were disappointed to see the Sony only includes a tiny 7.5W charger in the box.

Display

  • Great screen for the price
  • Super-wide ratio not ideal for games

Sony has upgraded the technology of its mid-range with the adoption of OLED. OLED displays are brighter and sharper than the LCD seen in the previous generation, and it represents one of the standout features of this excellent phone.

The unusual 21:9 makes this perfect for scrolling through emails or social media but has its downsides. Many games are designed for a 20:9 aspect-ratio, and so are most YouTube videos. This translates in either black bands on the side or some of the image being cut off if you switch to full screen.

Sony Xperia 10II wall landscape The OLED screen lacks the brightness of the more expensive devices but it is good enough for outdoor use.

Sony Xperia 10II home screen The default colour profile is too artificial but it can be tweaked in the display settings. Switching to Normal Mode results in more realistic colours. The default white balance was also too cold for my liking but by adjusting the balance, I got rid of the blue tinge.

Camera

  • Limited dynamic range
  • Clean interface
  • Versatile snapper but behind its competitors for picture quality

The camera is a triple-lens setup that combines a 12-megapixel wide-angle with an optical telephoto and an ultrawide angle lens.

Autofocus is only available on the main lens, and Optical Image stabilisation is absent from all three.

The camera interface is simple to understand and reflects the general improvements Sony has applied to all its software. I was particularly impressed with the combined White Balance/Exposure sliders that can be accessed from the main interface.

Sony Xperia 10II camera The Sony camera interface is one of the best. The white balance slider is an excellent touch, and the level of background bokeh can also be adjusted before you take a picture.

The only odd thing about the camera app is the lack of visible HDR toggle. High Dynamic Range boosts the exposure of dark areas in a picture without compromising the detail of the highlights.

If you want to enable HDR to boost exposure in the darker areas, you'll need to switch to Manual Mode.

In terms of picture qualityI was impressed by the contrast and vivid colours that show Sony's competence when it comes to cameras. But, when confronted with a scene with a wide variation of lighting, like on a sunny day with a bright sky and sharp shadows, the camera fails to live up to the brand's name.

Sony Xperia 10 II sample 2 The main lens requires particular effort to make sure it is focused in the right place.

Sony Xperia 10 II sample 6 Not too bad a picture but the white balance is a bit off, making the colours way too warm.

Sony Xperia 10 II sample 7 One of the better samples but not good enough to recommend this phone for its camera prowess. Too much noise and some distortion around the edges of the frame.

Sony Xperia 10 II sample 8 Some nice colour and details but the sky looks too artificial and the dark areas lose all the details.

Sony Xperia 10 II sample 4 There is very limited dynamic range in standard mode.

Performance and battery life

  • The latest version of Android and a well designed Sony UI.
  • Excellent battery life as long as you limit screen brightness.
  • Slow charging speed.

The Xperia 10 II ships with Android 10 and Xperia UI. Sony has made tremendous progress in removing all unnecessary software while keeping the same design language familiar to Sony customers.

Dark Theme, Gesture Navigation and all the Android 10 goodies are perfectly integrated in the Xperia UI and, on top of that, Sony has added its own utilities like an easy to use split-screen tool and gesture sensitivity adjustment.

Performance-wise, this is not a category topping device. The Snapdragon 665 processor was considered high-end on its release, but things move quite quickly in this space. While still a capable chipset, it is not as snappy as the Galaxy S20 or even last year's Galaxy S10. Still, don't let the comparison with more powerful devices put you off the Xperia 10 II. Unless gaming is a priority, the processor and well-designed UI will cope well with all the everyday jobs such as web browsing, maps and social media.

The 3,600mAh sounds small considering the power-hungry OLED screen but Sony has a good record with battery management and the Xperia 10II is no exception.

With 100% battery at 10am, it took two hours of YouTube video and numerous system updates to take the battery down to 80% at around 3pm.

The only complaint is with charging speed. The Xperia 10 II comes with a 7.5W charger that struggles to keep up with the fast charging performance we're used to seeing in most competitors. By using a 18W charger I manage to fill up a depleted battery in just under 2 hours.

Verdict

A very capable and competitively priced mid-ranger, let down by a middling camera.

This may well be the best mid-range device you can buy today. The OLED screen and IP68 water-resistance are very rare features at this price point. Coupled with the excellent software and brand appeal, the £320 for a SIM-Free sound like a bargain.

If you're not too bothered by the flawed camera, this is a great buy.

If you're still undecided, compare phones of all makes and models, using our phone comparison table.

Category: Reviews
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