Review, Smartphone

Sony Xperia 10 II Quick Review: A Unique Mid-Ranger Marred by Sub-Par Camera

Mid-range smartphones usually have a standard list of hardware with not too much variance from one another. While some devices offer better value for the money, most of them are not particularly unique. So when the Sony Xperia 10 II was introduced, it got my attention quite a bit.

Not only is it sporting a tall and narrow 21:9 display, this phone also carries a IP65/68 rating; not many mid-rangers come with these two features. However, the Xperia 10 II features a rather outdated chipset. This, paired with a sub-par camera system and a steep asking price, it’s tough to recommend this smartphone.

What It Is

Display6.0-inch FHD+ OLED (2520 x 1080)
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 665 2.0GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 610
Storage128GB, expandable
Camera (rear)12MP f/2.0
8MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide angle)
8MP f/2.4 (telephoto)
Camera (front)8MP f/2.0
Dimensions157 x 69 x 8.2 mm
OSAndroid 10
Bluetooth 5.0
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
USB Type-C

On paper, the Xperia 10 II doesn’t look very impressive, especially when it comes to value for money. For RM1,799, it’s only powered by a pretty dated Snapdragon 665 chipset. Given that you can get a smartphone with a flagship-tier Snapdragon 865 chip for even less, it doesn’t look great for the Xperia 10 II.

That is not to say this is a bad smartphone, of course. Even though its list of specifications don’t look great, it has quite a number of winning qualities; let me explain in the next section.

The Good Stuff

One of the best qualities of the Xperia 10 II has to be its unique form factor. Featuring a 6.0-inch 1080p OLED screen with a tall 21:9 aspect ratio, this phone is narrow enough for comfortable one-handed use. This is something that cannot be said of many, many other smartphones in the market.

Granted, the tall aspect ratio makes it harder to reach for the top of the screen, but it’s a sacrifice I’m more than willing to make for easier one-handed use.

As for the Xperia 10 II’s OLED screen itself, it’s really quite good. After all, it’s an OLED panel, so it naturally has deep blacks and vibrant colours. If you do a lot of content consumption on your phone, you will not be disappointed by the display quality of the Xperia 10 II.

In fact, you can watch videos for hours on end with the Xperia 10 II. Even though its 3,600mAh battery isn’t awfully big, it can actually return very, very good battery life. On average, I got between six to seven hours of screen on time consistently with this phone. That’s ridiculously good for a phone of this size.

Unfortunately, the charging rate isn’t quite as impressive. Within 30 minutes of charging, the phone only got up to 26% from empty.

Another noteworthy feature of the Xperia 10 II has to be its water-resistant chassis. Thanks to its IP65/68 rating, I don’t have to be extra cautious to avoid water damage. Given that such a feature is a rarity in the mid-range segment, it definitely gives this phone a unique edge.

Last but definitely not least is the processing power of the Xperia 10 II. Yes, I’ve mentioned how the Snapdragon 665 isn’t particularly impressive for a phone at this price point, but it can still deliver good enough performance for day-to-day use. I was really quite surprised at how zippy the phone feels.

However, at the end of the day, the Snapdragon 665 still doesn’t quite match the phone’s high asking price, which brings us to the next section.

The Bad Stuff

Let’s start with the processing power of the Xperia 10 II. While its Snapdragon 665 chipset can provide a sufficient level of performance, the phone should’ve come with a beefier, newer processor at this price point. After all, you can easily get a faster smartphone that costs less than the Xperia 10 II – that’s not a great spot to be in.

Aside from that, if a good camera system is what you look for in a mid-range smartphone, you’d want to look elsewhere. On paper, the Xperia 10 II’s triple camera system is actually quite promising. It’s made up of a 12MP f/2.0 primary shooter, an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle lens, and an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto sensor. Basically, a versatile camera array with three different focal lengths.

However, the image quality of these three sensors leaves a lot to be desired, especially in low light conditions. Not only does the camera feel very sluggish, its detail preservation, dynamic range, and shutter speeds are not great either. Judge for yourself with these sample shots taken with the three sensors.

Thankfully, under ideal lighting, you can capture decent-looking shots with the Xperia 10 II. The image quality still isn’t fantastic, but you do get the versatility of the three focal lengths. Not many mid-range smartphones offer such a camera array.

On top of that, it’s worth mentioning that the Xperia 10 II’s 12MP primary sensor can capture noticeably better shots than the ultra-wide angle and telephoto sensors. Yes, it does suffer from the same aforementioned issues, but with some effort and patience, it can return some great-looking shots.

Last but certainly not least is the steep asking price of the Xperia 10 II. For RM1,799, you’d have to really like the feature set of the phone to look past its middling camera performance and chipset. At this price point, there are plenty of other smartphones that are either faster, more affordable, or both.

Is It Worth It?

I wouldn’t recommend the Sony Xperia 10 II to folks who want the best value for their money; this phone simply does not offer that. However, if you’re looking for a phone that you can actually use with one hand comfortably, coupled with long battery life and a water-resistant chassis, no other mid-range device offers this package.

For what it’s worth, I thoroughly enjoyed using the Xperia 10 II as my daily driver. If it had better camera performance, it would’ve easily been one of my favourite mid-range smartphones this year.

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