Sony is a veteran of the smartphone era. Its devices have been at the top of our best smartphone lists for years but recently even we have been a tad disheartened at the company’s inability to attract consumers with its wares.
It's a strange shortcoming, not least because Xperia phones can boast the latest processors and decent cameras, and yet, the company struggles to compete with its biggest rivals in the likes of Apple and Samsung.
Look past Sony's unconventional naming systems; consisting of Zs, Xs and more recently, Roman numerals, and the chart below should help you better understand the current range, as well as which one will best suit your needs and budget.
We've looked at everything from the humble Xperia L4 to the cutting-edge Xperia 1 II flagship, with its 4K HDR display and triple 12-megapixel camera setup. Here is our ranking of the best Sony Xperia phones you can buy in 2021.
Best Sony phones 2021
1. Sony Xperia 1 II - Best overall
Sony's latest flagship doubles down on the unique attributes of 2019's Xperia 1, with an enhanced 21:9 4K HDR OLED display, a wealth of audio technologies (including a 3.5mm headphone jack) and a Sony Alpha-influenced triple-camera module.
It's augmented but clean take on Android includes meaningful improvements and despite not looking as competitive on paper as other Android flagships, its performance and battery longevity prove more than capable in real-world testing.
Read our full Sony Xperia 1 II review
2. Sony Xperia 5 II - Best for gaming
In a world where so many smartphones look similar, you have to admire Sony’s desire to be different. Having a notch-less display and 3.5mm headphone jack is practically unheard of in the current smartphone market, but after using the Xperia 5 II, we wish they were still on more phones.
There are plenty more highlights here, which make it a big upgrade over 2019's model and the stunning 21:9 OLED display is now 120Hz - a feature you won’t even find on the more expensive Xperia 1 II. Performance is superb across the board, while the all-too-rare front-facing stereo speakers are a delight.
On the flip side, the cameras flatter to deceive unless you’re willing to play around in the Photo Pro app, while a surprising amount of bloatware taints an otherwise excellent software experience. There’s also no wireless charging, a major omission at this price point.
There’s definitely a market for the Xperia 5 II, but it’s unlikely to contribute to a sudden increase in Sony’s slice of the smartphone pie.
Read our full Sony Xperia 5 II review
3. Sony Xperia 1 - Great for media
The Xperia 1 goes for broke on being really, really Sony - and it pays off. By catering to a niche audience, this phone will please you if you want an amazing display with a cinematic aspect ratio, very capable cameras and excellent build quality.
The tall design is different but makes the phone slimmer and so easier to hold in one hand, while IP68 water resistance, dedicated camera shutter button and Cinema Pro manual video recording app make this a high-end phone for video and film enthusiasts.
Read our full Sony Xperia 1 review
4. Sony Xperia 5 - Great performance
The Xperia 5 is a scaled-down version of the larger flagship Xperia 1 from 2019 but retains much of what makes the 1 so capable.
A flagship Snapdragon chip, the same considerately-customised take on Android and the same trio of rear cameras all marry up with the Xperia 1's feature set. The 5's smaller footprint does mean a smaller battery, smaller, lower-resolution display and a lower asking price, though.
Besides the 21:9 aspect ratio, however, this is a tough recommendation, considering what else is out there at the same price.
Read our full Sony Xperia 5 review
5. Sony Xperia 10 II - Unique selling points
Sony's sole 2020 mid-ranger is a nice step-up over its two predecessors and stands out from the rest of the mid-range crowd with seldom-seen features like its 21:9 OLED display and IP65/68 dust and water resistance.
If it weren't for more fierce competition from newcomers like Realme, this would be an easy recommendation.
Read our full Sony Xperia 10 II review
6. Sony Xperia 10 Plus - Great for enjoying media
A better choice than the underpowered Xperia 10, this larger model has the company's signature 21:9 display, meaning you can watch films in full screen with no black bars or notch.
It won't be for everyone thanks to the odd shape and high price for the specs but it's certainly niche and definitely Sony.
Read our full Sony Xperia 10 Plus review
7. Sony Xperia L4 - Most affordable
There aren't many phones around the Xperia L4's low price point that boast an expansive 21:9 display, making this a great budget mobile media player.
Look past the mediocre cameras and Sony's excellent user experience and somewhat premium design help the L4 stand out from the crowd.
Read our full Sony Xperia L4 review
8. Sony Xperia 10 - Pleasingly compact
The first of Sony's mid-rangers to commit to a tall 21:9 aspect ratio display.
Highlights include its 6in Full HD screen and the addition of a dual-camera system on the back, comprised of a 13Mp main and a 5Mp depth sensor.
The main issue at launch was its price, thankfully time has seen that drop significantly.
Read our full Sony Xperia 10 review