If you’re on the hunt for a new Android phone that packs pretty much every feature going then you’ll likely be looking at both the Samsung Galaxy S20 series and the Sony Xperia 1 II. Thankfully we’re going to put them head-to-head to see which is best for you.
Samsung’s Galaxy S range is the Android king, but if you’ve got money to spend then there is more competition worth looking at. Namely, one of the surprise Android phones of the year comes from Sony – a brand that has struggled to define itself in the smartphone space for years.
Sony Xperia 1 II vs Samsung Galaxy S20 – Two of the best displays around
While these are two Android phones that pack many of the same features, they’re clearly aimed at very different markets. The S20 series – which includes the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Ultra and S20 Plus – is thoroughly aimed at the mass-market, while the Xperia 1 II feels a little more niche.
The 6.5-inch screen, for example, on the Xperia 1 II is aimed directly at those who love watching videos on their phones. It’s a tall, narrow 21:9 screen with a 4K resolution and cinema-grade colour accuracy. It’s a great panel that doesn’t have any notches or cutouts to draw your eye away from the content. You do only get that 4K benefit when supported content plays though (and that is a rare occurrence as it is missing from big streaming apps like Netflix and Prime Video) and a big missing feature is a boosted frame rate. The Xperia sticks to a 60Hz panel, which is noticeable when you compare it to Galaxy S20.
The S20 comes in three sizes: 6.2-inch, 6.7-inch and 6.9-inch. Each is a 120Hz OLED, with a QHD+ resolution (you’ll need to lower this to FHD+ to get that 120Hz though) and full HDR 10+ support. It’s not as tall as the Xperia and has a cutout in the middle for the front camera, yet it remains a fantastic panel.
These are two great displays that offer something different. Go for the S20 if you want variety of size and a brighter, faster panel. While the Xperia 1 II offers plenty if you’re big into mobile video viewing.
None of these phones do much with their designs. The Ultra version of the S20 is big and heavy, while the S20 and S20 Plus are thin, light and a little bit unimaginative. The Xperia 1 II lacks the curved display of the S20 and has a more boxy look.
All the phones have an IP68 rating and glass backs for Qi charging, however only the Xperia has a headphone jack. You’ll also find far better speaker quality on the Xperia, again showing the focus on media.
Related: Samsung Galaxy S20 vs S20 Plus
Sony Xperia 1 II vs Samsung Galaxy S20 – Specs and cameras
When you look at the internals on offer here you’ll find plenty of similarities. All US versions of the Samsung Galaxy S20 series along with the Xperia 1 II are powered by the Snapdragon 865, while the UK version packs the similarly-specced Exynos 990.
All versions of the S20 and Xperia 1 II have 5G (though whether the 5G is supported by US carriers will vary) aside from the very base S20 model. You’ll find 8GB RAM in the Xperia, with the S20 models ranging from 8-16GB. Both phones have expandable storage.
Both phones are fast and can play every game in the Play Store with ease. We’d only say the S20 feels faster in use due to that much faster 120Hz display.
It’s a close fight when it comes to the camera quality too, though if you’re after ease of use then we’d suggest the S20. The Xperia 1 II has three 12-megapixel cameras that can take great, very natural photos. Use the included Pro Camera app and you can play around with intricate details in ways you can’t on the S20.
Yet, we found pictures generally better for quick social sharing from the S20 and S20 Plus, with their slightly higher resolution 64-megapixel secondary sensors aiding zoom and detail. It’s a different story with the S20 Ultra though, which might be the best choice overall for zoom but struggles with focus due to the large 108-megapixel sensor.
Related: Samsung Galaxy S20 vs S20 Ultra
Both shoot excellent video. Again you have more control with the Xperia 1 II thanks to its good colour reproduction, however the S20 allows for 8K shooting whereas the Xperia tops out at 4K. Whether you feel you need 8K recording is another matter.
Battery life across all the devices is about a day, though with some settings tweaking you can make all but the base S20 run into day two.
Sony has decided to use a version of Android that is very close to what many refer to as ‘vanilla’ or ‘stock’ Android 10. There’s no heavy skin, with just a few extra apps designed to increase camera functionality.
Samsung, on the other hand, has made Android very much its own. The One UI interface is a huge improvement from previous iterations, however it’ll remain Marmite to many.
Sony Xperia 1 II vs Samsung Galaxy S20 – Which is better?
The Xperia 1 II is the best Sony phone in recent years and it makes a worthy opponent for the S20 range. It offers a more media-focused smartphone, with traits that play into the hands of those who are already familiar with other Sony tech.
With the S20 though you get the choice between three sizes and even if you go for the Plus it still comes out cheaper than the Xperia. You also get a faster screen and easier to shoot with camera.