Meet the world’s first 4K OLED smartphone, the new Sony Xperia 1, as Sony re-imagines and rebrands its entire smartphone range.
Officially announced at Mobile World Congress, the new Sony Xperia 1 brings professional display and cinematography technologies to Sony’s Xperia lineup, creating a phone that looks extremely promising on paper. But while it carries some world firsts, it’s most definitely not the first time Sony produced a smartphone that was impressive on paper. However, its ambitious list of specs aren’t easily ignored.
Sony Xperia 1 – Key specs
- 6.5-inch 4K OLED 21:9 CinemaWide HDR display
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
- Triple lens camera with 10 fps burst mode and advanced autofocus including tracking and Eye AF
- Dolby Atmos sound
- 3,330 mAh battery
Sony Xperia 1 – Design
Sporting a now familiar design aesthetic, the Xperia 1 is smooth and ergonomically pleasing to the touch. It’s sleek metal frame runs through a glass back, made from durable Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on both the front and the back. It also carries an IP65/IP68 water and dust resistance, further bolstering its credentials as a device that should be “life proof”. It will ship in Black, Purple, Grey and White at launch. Purple is a personal favourite.
Sony Xperia 1 – Display, Camera and Video
The first thing to notice about the new Sony Xperia 1 is its display. It’s startling good. For a number of years now, Sony has carefully thought about the display of its Xperia devices and this year is no exception. The 6.5-inch display of the Xperia 1 has a 21:9 ratio display, which Sony is calling “CinemaWide” and it stands out primarily because most devices at the moment are using 19:9 or 18:9 displays, leaving bars either side of video content. But watching video content on the Xperia 1 is one of the most immersive entertainment experiences available on a mobile device because 4K and Full HD video content fills the entire display without cropping. Another benefit of the 21:9 aspect ratio is it gives you more space for dual-app multitasking, great for productivity.
Last year’s Sony Xperia flagship was capable of HDR upscaling, which would take existing and streamed video content and enhanced it to boost contrast, detail and colour depth. The new Xperia 1 builds on this technology and does an impressive job of remastering existing content to deliver a visual experience that is currently second to none. Using what the business has learned from its cine and video production divisions, the Xperia 1 has also been designed to support professional grade wide colour spaces in both ITU-R BT.2020 and DCI-P3 standards.
Those same professional video insights are also exploited for video recording and taking pictures with the Sony Xperia 1. Packing an advanced triple lens camera with a resolution of 12-megapixel, the Xperia 1 has versatile range of focal lengths (16mm, 26mm and 52mm in 35mm terms) for tackling a broad range of subjects. A version of the famed BIONZ X imaging processor, used in Sony’s award-winning camera bodies has also been developed for mobile, adding some impressive power to the camera credentials of the Xperia 1. This processor makes it possible for the Xperia 1 to deliver some advanced capabilities including the world’s first Eye AF, that makes the phone able to “see” the eyes of subjects and ensure that portrait photos focus on the eyes consistently for attractive portraits. It is also claimed that the Xperia 1 will be capable of tracking moving subjects while capturing them at 10 fps.
If it works well, it will give the Xperia 1 a big advantage over its rivals when it comes to capturing fleeting moments. Low-light photography is another area where the Xperia 1 is expected to shine as it boasts a bright f1.6 lens and large pixels (1.4μm). Sony claims that the Xperia 1 will be able to capture subjects in lowlight without blur, even if they’re moving and with very low image grain or “noise”, thanks to RAW noise reduction. We’re keen to test this out to see if the phone can take on the likes of Google’s Pixel 3 and Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro – the current kings of low light.
When it comes to video, the Xperia 1 has benefitted from the work of Sony’s pro digital cinema engineers behind the incredible Venice full-frame cine camera. Sony claims that the phone will be capable of capturing “natural cinematic tones” and also shoot video with expression-based colour presets with the all-new Cinema Pro feature. The Xperia 1 will be able to record videos in 4K HDR format in cinematic 24 fps at 21:9 aspect ratio. Video footage should also be steady thanks to the inclusion of Sony Optical SteadyShot, which has proven effective in Sony’s RX high-end digital camera range.
Sound is another huge part of entertainment and video recording and Sony hasn’t taken its eye off the ball here. Continuing its partnership with Dolby Atmos sound, the Xperia 1’s stereo speakers add to the immersive experience of watching videos and playing games on this device.
Sony Xperia 1 – First Impressions
Sony has delivered another flagship device that comes with some outstanding specs on paper and promises to deliver a lot, especially for creatives and for people who want a premium mobile entertainment experience. But will that translate for consumers?
We hope so, because as we said in the screen section, there really isn’t a device right now with a more impressive display. There are a couple of areas for concern though. Firstly, the battery capacity maxes out at 3,330 mAh, which is small relative to the competition. However, Sony claims that its Smart Stamina and battery care modes should do a good job of maximising battery performance to negate its limited capacity.
Sony also used MWC to announce the new Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus, which both share a lot of the innovations enjoyed by the Xperia 1. However, they only have dual cameras with 13MP+5MP and 12MP+8MP setups respectively. All three devices have an Xperia skin layered on top of the Android 9 Pie and comes with Sony bloatware. We’re yet to be convinced by Sony’s Android OS implementation. The UI of Xperia devices has been an Achilles heel of its devices in the past, we’re hoping that’s not the case here as all three of these devices have a lot of potential.
The new Sony Xperia 10 is coming soon to Vodafone UK http://www.vodafone.co.uk. Customers who purchase the device before
29th April will be able to claim a £100 Disney Store gift card – for terms and conditions please see here: www.xperiarewards.co.uk/dumbo. To celebrate the release of Disney’s Dumbo, those who redeem their gift card will also be
automatically entered into a prize draw where they can win a trip to an elephant safari in Sri Lanka.
Customers will be able to purchase the new devices on Vodafone’s Red Entertainment plans which include a choice of Amazon
Prime Video, Sky Sports Mobile TV, Spotify Premium or a NOW TV Entertainment Pass.
The Sony Xperia 1 is expected to cost around £849 and will begin shipping towards the end of Spring 2019, but is available to pre-order now from Vodafone.