Should you buy a Sony Xperia 1 II in 2021?

Sony Xperia 1 II
Sony Xperia 1 II (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

Best answer: Yes. The Sony Xperia 1 II is still a solid buy. With a Snapdragon 865 processor, 6.5-inch 4K screen, 8GB of RAM, and 256 GB onboard storage, this phone is already amazing. Plus, you can grab it for under $900. Add to that Sony's superior photography experience, and this is a phone that stands on its own.

What more could you want from a 2020 phone?

The Sony Xperia 1 II debuted in the middle of 2020 with a particular emphasis on photography. A set of 12-megapixel sensors and a completely customized Pro camera mode allow you to get the photo you're after, but it's more than just a photography champ.

The phone is a true premium phone, sporting a Snapdragon 865 processor, 128 or 256 GB of storage, 8 or 12 GB of RAM, and a 4,000 mAh battery. It's the top of the line in most departments, and on release, it came with a top of the line price tag as well. An introductory price of almost $1,200 didn't make it the most expensive smartphone out there, but it was close. Since then, months of discounts have brought the price down to a more palatable sub $900 price.

Now, add Sony's camera experience. Sony built its camera app from the ground up to give you a professional camera experience in a smartphone. That's huge. Sony has been a leader in photography and optics for a long time. Sony is now bringing all that experience and software into its phones. The result is amazing, coming from the phone in your pocket. But that was then; how does the Sony Xperia 1 II stack up now?

Alpha + Zeiss = Xperia

Make no mistake; Sony is aiming at photographers when it comes to this phone. You've got three 12 megapixel sensors. In addition to the main shooter, Sony added a 3X optical lens and an ultrawide lens. Even more than that is Sony's camera experience. In addition to the normal camera app you'll find on most phones, Sony includes a second, standalone app for its pro mode. This is a top-notch experience because it closely mirrors its DSLR interface. With this second app, optimized for these sensors, you can take your photography game up to a new level.

This is one of the first times we've seen Sony's Alpha features showing up in Sony's phones. In addition to the Pro camera mode, Sony also brings over its real-time eye autofocus, recognizing human and animal eyes and keeping the focus locked. It's one of the more loved features on Sony's cameras, and now it's on your smartphone as well.

Wrapping it up

The Sony Xperia 1 II is every bit the top tier phone as any other released in 2020. The one major missing point is a lack of 5G in the US. 5G is nice, but it should not be the reason to buy or not buy a phone this year. You're also missing out on a higher refresh rate, popular among other premium 2020 phones.

But when you consider the cost has dropped to below $900, you can definitely buy the Sony Xperia 1 II. It can stand toe-to-toe with basically any other phone that came out in 2020. Plus, it has some of the best optics and camera software out there, all of which makes a compelling argument for buying this phone.

Adam Doud

Adam has been writing and podcasting the mobile tech space for almost a decade. When he's not writing, he hosts the Benefit of the Doud podcast, spends way too much time on Twitter, and redesigns his office space over and over.