The Sony Xperia 1 II (that’s ‘one mark two’) has gone up for pre-order in Europe and the US following Sony’s announcement of the phone back in February.

In the Netherlands it’s available from Belsimpel for €1,199 while it was briefly in stock for pre-order in the US from B&H for $1,198. The former continues to quote ‘4 weeks’ as the delivery date, which is late June, while the latter is now offline. It might have gone up mistakenly.

This situation shows us two things. First, that Sony is bad at releasing flagship phones, yet again announcing a product in February, have it flakily crop up on pre-order sites in May and then maybe release it in July. We are hesitant to allow it to be blamed on the coronavirus pandemic, as this is exactly what happened for the launch of the Xperia 1 in 2019.

Secondly, it shows that this is likely to be too expensive for the phone to succeed. We wrote back in February that the Xperia 1 II’s price will make or break it, saying that while the hardware is likely to come it at over £1,000, the phone will only convince people to go to Sony if it was around £800.

We stick by that. While on paper it isn’t unreasonable for Sony to charge over £1,000 for a well-specced high-end 5G Android powerhouse, its brand strength is so low these days that it is unlikely to sell in huge quantities. The Snapdragon 865 with obligatory 5G has driven up the cost of all handsets that have it, but Samsung will still shift the S20 range on brand power alone.

Sure, Sony has its fans. They are die hard, and this writer is fond of the brand too. But when the Snapdragon 865-toting OnePlus 8 is £599, you’re really going to have to love manual camera settings, the 21:9 aspect ratio and the return of the headphone jack to splash €1,199 (so probably £1,000+) on an Xperia 1 II.

Of course, you can and should if you like the phone. But Sony must be resigned to selling niche phones to a niche audience now, because at this price it isn’t going to break back into mainstream Android phone buying.

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