Sony has announced the Xperia 1 Mark II, with improvements to the Mark I's rear triple camera array and class-leading burst shooting mode. Technology borrowed from the company's professional Alpha 9 full-frame interchangeable lens camera allows the Xperia 1 Mark II to shoot at up to 20 fps while maintaining continuous autofocus and auto exposure. Sony's excellent real-time eye AF tracking for human and animal subjects is included and, like the Sony a9, autofocus and auto exposure calculations are performed at 60 times a second. It's worth noting that given the main camera's 24mm F8 equivalent optic, autofocus is only necessary for subjects closer than 2.5m, or 8.2ft (hyperfocal distance).

The Mark II maintains a similar triple camera to its predecessor's, but with some notable enhancements. The main camera now uses a 12MP 1/1.7" sensor with 1.8µm pixels, which is pretty big by smartphone standards, collecting nearly 50% more light than the 1/2.55" sensors found in competitors from Apple and Google. It has a slightly wider 24mm equiv. F1.7 lens in front of it (F8.2 equivalent), which is optically stabilized.

It now uses a 12MP 1/1.7" sensor –
pretty big by smartphone standards

The main camera uses dual photo-diode phase detection AF with 70% coverage, and a new 3D time-of-flight (ToF) camera helps improve autofocus performance, particularly in low light. No word yet on whether or not the ToF camera is used to improve the depth map generated from the dual pixel sensor for the camera's bokeh mode.

The telephoto module is now more 'telephoto', with a 70mm equivalent field-of-view, up from 52mm. The lens aperture remains the same at F2.4, and only sparse phase-detection, as opposed to dual pixel, autofocus is available, meaning you can expect some hunting, particularly as light levels drop. Optical image stabilization is available on this module. A 16mm equivalent F2.2 camera provides an ultra-wide field-of-view, and the dual pixel design of its 1/2.6" sensor allows it to achieve fast autofocus performance.

Neither of these modules offers 20 fps burst rates or 60 fps AF/AE calculations, nor does either support real-time eye AF for humans and animals. It's worth noting though that the Xperia 1 did support eye tracking for humans with its telephoto module, so we suspect some form of eye detection AF will be available on the 70mm equiv. camera, particularly as it would benefit the phone's bokeh mode.

The Xperia 1 provided a user interface tailored to pro video shooters, and the Mark II introduces a similar UI for still photographers. Photo Pro mode as Sony is calling it doesn't replace the standard, more simplified camera app, but is offered in addition to it, with direct touch access to exposure settings. Here Sony is aiming for a consistent user experience across its phones and ILCs. Other UI improvements have been made; for example, you can now simply tap on either a human or an animal in your scene to instantly switch between human and animal eye detection.

The Xperia 1 Mark II maintains the unusually wide display format that the Mark I used, offering a 21:9 6.5" 4K HDR OLED. It's a 10-bit equivalent 3840x1644 display (8-bit with 2-bit temporal dithering, or FRC) that's been tuned to have the same gamut as the professional BVM-300 critical reference monitor. Sony claims a color gamut wider than DCI-P3, and a peak brightness of 1000 and 400 nits for 1% and 100% APL (average picture level), respectively, for HDR content. A 'Creator Mode' ensures color accuracy, switching the display between Rec. 709 and Rec. 2020 gamuts as needed based on content. Direct white balance controls are now available for the display, allowing you to choose a desired correlated color temperature.

A new 'motion blur reduction' mode allows the display to be driven at a 90Hz refresh rate, for smoother scrolling and animation, and Sony also claims the display has enhanced touch sensitivity, which may mean a higher touch sampling rate.

'Photo Pro' mode allows you to see and access common shooting settings like shutter speed, AF mode, and even emulate buttons like AF-ON and AEL. To switch between human and animal eye AF, simply tap on the desired subject.

On the video front, Sony has added 60p and 25p frame rate options to its class-leading 4K HDR mode, making it one of only a handful of smartphones on the market capable of true 4K/60p HDR capture. Like the Mark I, video is encoded using HEVC, with an HLG gamma curve and 10-bit encoding in the wide BT.2020 color space. And whereas previously only center-priority AF was available in video, the Mark II allows you to tap on any subject to rack focus to it. No word yet on whether face or subject tracking are available when shooting video.

In a rare move for modern phone makers, Sony has decided to bring back the 3.5mm headphone jack. The Mark II also offers two front-firing stereo speakers, and Dolby Atmos playback is available. Sony claims the signal:noise ratio of audio has been improved, with a ten-fold reduction in noise. The Xperia 1 Mark II is also the world's first smartphone to feature 360 degree reality audio.

The Xperia 1 Mark II features the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB on-board storage, and a 4000 mAh battery. In the US, the phone will be limited to 4G only. The Mark II retains its predecessor's IP 65/58 rating, meaning it's completely sealed against dust, and will also withstand lower pressure spray as well as total immersion in water. Gorilla Glass 6 protects both the front and rear of the device, and thanks to the glass on the rear, wireless charging is now available.

Sony Xperia Pro development

Also under development is an Xperia Pro, which will essentially be an Xperia 1 Mark II with 5G mmWave connectivity optimized for fast upload speeds to assist in a professional workflow. Sony says the device can be used as a high-resolution, color-accurate monitoring device for a dedicated camera via HDMI connection, and will also be able to beam high bit-rate video feeds for broadcast.

No pricing or availability has been given for the Xperia Pro or Xperia 1 Mark II at this time.

Sony Xperia 10 Mark II

In select markets this spring, Sony is also introducing a mid-range phone called the Xperia 10 Mark II. While it has a triple camera array, the telephoto module is 52mm equivalent as opposed to 70mm equivalent, like the original Xperia 1. Furthermore, only one of the three sensors is 12MP, while the other two are 8MP. Included is a 'Night Mode', though details are sparse. It has a smaller, lower resolution 6-inch 21:9 1080p display, along with a less powerful Snapdragon 665 4G processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage, and a 3,600 mAh battery. The Xperia 10 II also has the same IP 65/68 rating as the Xperia 1 Mark II.