Bottom line: Sony has made a few hardware improvements to the Xperia 1 and is hoping that the 'mark two' with camera technology leveraged from the company's Alpha series, wireless charging support, a bigger battery, and the latest Snapdragon 865 SoC can cut it this time around. Despite the new phone being 5G-capable, Sony is only supporting 4G carriers in the US, which could put some people off, alongside the stratospheric price tag matched or exceeded previously by the Galaxy S20 Ultra and the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Sony unveiled the photography-focused Xperia 1 II in February and has now announced preorder and shipping dates for the US. The company knows that the $1,200 price tag will be difficult to digest, so it's sweetening the deal, as it did with the Xperia 1, by bundling the WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds - not the cans - for preorders placed by June 28.
On paper, the Xperia 1 II packs nearly all the goodies that buyers have come to expect from 2020 flagships, including top-end hardware and build quality, alongside an unexpected return of the 3.5mm audio jack. As noted previously, the device comes with the year's highest-end silicon from Qualcomm (provided an 865 Plus doesn't pop up), 8GB RAM, 256GB storage expandable via microSD, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 and the standout 6.5-inch 21:9 4K HDR OLED (3840×1644) CinemaWide display.
With the Xperia 1 II, Sony is looking to impress a variety of deep-pocketed smartphone users, literally and figuratively. Chief among them are photography enthusiasts for whom Sony has brought in camera expertise from its Alpha mirrorless camera division. The latter had been reluctant towards sharing technologies with Sony's mobile engineers, which according to a company executive, was one of the main reasons why Xperias have had lackluster cameras in the past.
A corporate reshuffle in March last year saw Sony merging its mobile, TV, audio, and camera divisions into one. While some benefits would have reached the Xperia 1, which was announced a month prior to this change, the mark two could potentially shake things up a bit, especially for cameras, in the premium smartphone segment this year.
Sony is also prepping a Pro variant of the Xperia 1 II, which like the maxed-out versions of Samsung and Apple flagships, takes things a step further. It will offer twice the storage capacity of its sibling at 512GB and will support high-speed mmWave 5G for operating in the US.
It will also include an HDMI port for connecting to DSLRs or camcorders. Sony says the phone "supports professional broadcast video transmission workflows by visualizing and confirming communication status," enabling it to "transmit broadcast video data during shooting to a server or cloud via 5G connections."
The Xperia Pro is said to release sometime later this year. With an expected price increase of $250-$300 over the mark two, according to Japanese sources, it could end up costing a whopping $1,500.