Written by Cheryl Tan
Sony has been in the smartphone market for quite some time now, and Xperia phones have their own niche following. It’s not quite the same appeal you get from Samsung or Apple phones, but for people who use their phones to really consume content, there aren’t many better choices out there.
The new Xperia 10 II is a mid-range option for people looking to spend less, but still have that unique 21:9 aspect ratio that really shines when watching movies or when just reading articles and information on the web.
The tall aspect ratio means you see more on the screen when scrolling through the web versus a more standard 16:9 screen. It also means you don’t get the black bars on the sides either when watching movies or shows shot in that aspect ratio.
The downside is that if you watch TV shows more than movies, you either have to make a choice between the black bars or cutting off the shot by zooming in to fit. Here’s an example of how much of the shot you’ll lose by zooming in.
Games work great on the phone though, like Asphalt 9, which utilises the entire screen and it definitely helps with immersion. Unfortunately, there were times when the game would stutter for a moment due to the phone just not being able to keep up. Those were far and few between though.
The display doesn’t get very bright though, so while it’s perfectly fine indoors, it might pose an issue if watching content outdoors under bright sunlight. Colours are accurate, and the OLED display is a joy to watch videos on.
Aside from that though, the specs for the phone are a bit surprising. The Xperia 10 II is running on the Snapdragon 665, which is by now, an old chip. You only get 4GB of RAM, and it’s definitely noticeable when opening applications and scrolling through videos and such. However, Sony does give 128GB of storage, presumably because they expected consumers to have plenty of media stored in the phone.
The rear camera array comprises of a 12MP camera, an 8MP ultra-wide and an 8MP telephoto.
The wide-angle works pretty well, with a 120° FOV. There is quite a bit of detail loss in the shadows however, so this would probably perform better in well-lit conditions.
Night mode is passable. It introduces some semblance of colour into the foliage and brightens up the rest of the photo, but it’s not the best low-light performance we’ve seen from a mid-range phone.
Audio, though, is one of the bright spots of this phone. There’s a 3.5mm headphone port included on the top, which is great, and the phone supports Sony’s upscaling feature, DSEE HX, for compressed audio files as well as the LDAC codec.
There’s also a speaker grill near the bottom of the screen which, in my books, is excellent since there’s no way you’ll accidentally cover that grill while holding the phone in landscape mode and playing games or watching videos.
The speakers can get loud. It’s not the best audio quality, but you definitely can enjoy movies and games with this. I recommend listening with wired earphones for the best experience though.
Battery life is much improved over the first version of the Xperia 10, with a 3,600mAh battery that can last a day if the phone isn’t constantly in use. There’s also IP65/IP68 water and dust resistance, so you don’t have to worry about accidental spills or dunks in water.
So who’s this phone for? It’s definitely targeted towards consumers who want a budget phone for content consumption first and foremost. The aspect ratio is excellent for watching movies, and I do particularly like that I can see more of any webpage I’m browsing at one go, instead of having to continually scroll.
The more minimalistic design is also a plus point, as is the fact that the phone is actually not as wide as other phones out there, meaning it sits better in the hand for people who don’t have large hands.
If you’re looking for a flagship phone that’s similar to the Xperia 10 II, the Sony Xperia 1 II might be a good choice, when it comes to Singapore.
More information about the Sony Xperia 10 II (S$569) can be found on Sony’s website.