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; featuring 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 (review coming soon), 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 2020.
Note that the Xperia Pro's commercial-only release makes it unfit for a place in this list of Sony phones for consumers. Should that change, we'll consider reviewing it and adding it in.
Best Sony phones 2020
1. Sony Xperia 1
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
2. Sony Xperia 5
The Xperia 5 is an understandably toned down version of the flagship Xperia 1, but there are too many compromises for the £150 you save.
The screen, while still excellent, is a far higher resolution while the design is quirky at best and the biometrics diabolical. Despite using an already outdated chipset, the Xperia 5's performance remains excellent, and the combination of screen and sound make it an effective gaming phone.
But besides the 21:9 aspect ratio, there's really nothing to make you buy this phone over a number of similarly-priced competitors.
Read our full Sony Xperia 5 review
3. Sony Xperia 10 II
Sony's sole 2020 mid-range 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
4. Sony Xperia XZ3
It's not as good as the Xperia 1 but it's cheaper and if you prefer the design then the XZ3 is still one of the best Sony phones going.
The design in an improvement on the XZ2 and the OLED display means it can go shoulder to shoulder with Samsung and OnePlus' efforts, finally.
Some software niggles let it down a bit, and side sense is a waste of time. The camera is solid (if not the best on a phone) and it's a well rounded package of a phone at a decent price.
Read our full Sony Xperia XZ3 review
5. Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
The Xperia XZ2 Compact fits almost every major feature from the XZ2 into a smaller frame, offering the best specs you'll find in a 5in phone right now - at the cost of a slightly chunky rear end. If you don't mind the bezel-ly design and the lack of wireless charging, you won't find better performance anywhere near this price point.
Read our full Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review
6. Sony Xperia XZ2
We waited so long for Sony to bring a new design and although the firm has switched to an 18:9 screen, we're miffed by the chunky and heavy design that has a fingerprint scanner and power button in awkward places. And dropped the headphone jack!
The core specs of the Xperia XZ2 are perfectly good but that's no longer a differentiator in the smartphone market. Consumers look for amazing photography and other nifty features which are lacking here.
The Xperia XZ2 Compact makes for a better choice and unless you're desperate to get the latest processor and software, the older XZ1 is a better value option.
Read our full Sony Xperia XZ2 review
7. Sony Xperia 10 Plus
A better choice than the underpowered Xperia 10, this larger model has an unusually tall 21:9 display, meaning you can watch films in full screen with no black bars and not notch.
It won't be for everyone thanks to the odd shape and reasonably high price for the specs but it's certainly niche and definitely Sony.
Read our full Sony Xperia 10 Plus review
8. Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
At £799/$999, the Xperia XZ2 Premium is the most expensive Sony phone you can buy right now. Although it has things other Xperia handsets don't have, namely dual cameras, we feel it's too high a price to pay for the luxury.
Add in that the XZ2 Premium is by far the fattest and heaviest phone we've reviewed - not just a Sony. It's something that's hard to justify and, in simple terms, be ok with.
If you are ok with the size and price, then this is one of the best Xperias for hardware and features including the 4K HDR screen and those excellent cameras.
Read our full Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium review
9. Sony Xperia L4
The Xperia L4 is one of only a handful of budget phones to have a unique selling point. The 21:9 aspect ratio might not have mainstream appeal, but bringing the tall, thin chassis to Sony’s budget lineup was a major statement of intent.
Despite only being 720p, the display is a pleasant surprise, and being able to watch films in their native format is very impressive.
Other highlights include a premium design and excellent software, even if it is Android 9 and not 10.
However, the biggest disappointment on the Xperia L4 is the cameras. You can get some decent shots in good lighting, but it regularly struggles with exposure and video is often unusable. Considering the focus Sony placed on the L4’s photographic abilities, this is a big let down.
Throw in some average internals and a very unnecessary notch, and there are just one too many compromises for most people to pick this phone over the competition.
Read our full Sony Xperia L4 review
10. Sony Xperia XA2
The Xperia XA2 sits in a slightly odd place. It offers solid specs and performance for the price, but the 16:9 screen and chunky body are already out of step with the competition, and the camera just can’t keep up at all.
If 4K or slow-motion videos are must-haves for you, the XA2 is a decent enough choice at the price, but otherwise it doesn't do much to stand out from the very stiff competition.
Read our full Sony Xperia XA2 review