Sony Xperia 1: A unique phone that’s for a niche audience

Verdict

The best Sony phone for years and a unique approach that should legitimately win the fans.

Advantages

  • The best camera we’ve seen on a Sony phone
  • Unique design sets him apart from the crowd
  • Beautiful screen

The inconvenients

  • Disadvantages: The 21: 9 screen will not be for everyone
  • The camera is always behind the best
  • Battery life is not great

Key specifications

  • Price of the opinion: $899.99
  • 6.5 inches 21: 9 4K HDR OLED
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC
  • 6 GB of RAM
  • 64 GB with microSD up to 512 GB
  • Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • 8 megapixel front camera
  • Android 9.0
  • Triple 12 megapixel main camera
  • 3330mAh battery with PD3.0 fast charge

Sony Xperia 1 does not respect the rules defined by the Samsung Galaxy S10, Huawei P30 Pro and iPhone XS. By doing things differently, he addresses a different audience and – ultimately – (mainly) impresses.

This is not a mainstream phone and it is certainly not for everyone. For example, displaying the 2: 1 aspect ratio is a bulky handset that takes a certain amount of time. However, I can not help but be impressed by the fact that Sony has tried to do something different – and that it has mostly succeeded.

Yes, the Sony Xperia 1’s display is in 4K, OLED and HDR – it’s always the best.

Sony has already integrated 4K screens on its devices, starting with the Xperia Premium and continuing with the XZ2 Premium. None of these panels actually used this resolution to its real potential – and, ultimately, it looked like a wasted technology that raised the price of an average phone.

Things are much more positive here. The most notable upgrade is the transition from the LCD to the OLED, which offers better contrast, perfect blacks and generally richer colors.

The aspect ratio also goes from the 18: 9 format that you will find in many other flagship projects to 21: 9. This extension format makes it a very high phone, but also great for content shot at 21: 9. C it is a pity that the content of this screen is lacking; you will usually end up stretching 16: 9 or 18: 9 footage to fill the entire screen (unless you are satisfied with the black bars).

Some of Netflix’s original content was shot at 21: 9, which is great, but even on such a screen, I struggled to dive completely into a movie when it only has 6.5 inches of large. I’m more likely to watch some YouTube clips or short TV episodes, but these are less beautiful. If you like watching movies on a phone, you will probably enjoy the Sony Xperia 1 more.

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Spiderman: far from home trailer playing in 4K

4K and HDR support is a bit confusing. HDR content is available via Netflix and Amazon Prime with the right subscription and looks great, while YouTube plays content in 4K and HDR (again, if the video supports it). Now, Sony’s representatives told me that Netflix and Amazon would both be playing 4K content, but not for me. Amazon even limits 4K content to 1080p (it carries a 1080p badge in the lower corner) and Netflix seems to be doing the same thing.

I am not even convinced that a lot of resolution is needed on a phone with a 6.5 inch screen. Play a 4K video on YouTube next to a 1440p content on a OnePlus 7 Pro and Galaxy S10 did not reveal a lot of additional details. In fact, I preferred the presentation of the image on non-4K phones, thanks to the more familiar picture format.

The Sony Xperia X1 also can not compete with the best in the industry in terms of display quality. Although the range of colors, brightness levels and others are satisfactory, I have obtained more complete results with competing Android devices. You can see the details on our Sony Xperia 1 screen verification page.

There are two screen modes on the Xperia 1: a “Creator” mode and a “Standard” mode. By default, the phone is standard. However, the Creator mode aims to “provide a faithful reproduction of the vision desired by the creator”. Creator mode is softer for the eyes, has a more orange hue, and does not have such an artificial tone.

This display does not fail and, depending on the tasks for which you use the phone, you will like it or simply want something a little more public. This is not the most accurate display of the market, but it’s good for watching the media, especially the content created for this 21: 9 screen.

The design of the Xperia 1 is different, with the 21: 9 format making it bigger than the competition

Although the 21: 9 widescreen has some advantages for certain types of videos, I do not think that the compromise in terms of usability is worth it. This is certainly true for me. your mileage may vary and, depending on your use of your phone, it may actually be an improvement.

The Xperia 1 is the largest consumer phone I’ve used. Align it next to other big flagships such as the iPhone XS Max, OnePlus 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and this comes out as the intruder. Still, it is not as big as these phones, it is narrower. This means that it’s virtually impossible to move your thumb from the bottom up, but overall, the phone is easy to pick up and does not give the impression that it will fall out of hands.

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There is a fingerprint sensor on the side

Still, there are some strange design choices here. The most important thing in my opinion is the impressive number of buttons on the right side of the camera: camera shutter, fingerprint sensor, lock key and long volume rocker. I completely agree with these fingerprint sensors mounted laterally. This one is extremely fast and far superior to any alternative display, but it must also incorporate the lock switch, as is the case on the monitor Samsung Galaxy S10e and Honor 20 Pro.

At the top you will find a SIM and microSD slot, while the USB port for charging is on the bottom edge.

It is a well built phone with soft, curved edges and a light body. It feels a lot more “plasticky” than the iPhone XS or the Samsung Galaxy S10, for example. It seems less delicate, however: I have already abandoned the Xperia 1 a few times and have barely taken a scratch. Launch the iPhone XS once and you will certainly see shards of glass.

The Xperia 1 software does a good job of making sense of the top display

To really use this big screen, Sony has significantly tweaked its Android skin. We focus a lot on easy multitasking, with this extra screen that leaves you more room than usual to have two applications side by side.

Multitasking here always leaves you with small portions of each application to use, but you can store more – more usable – than on a phone with a larger and more chunky screen.

Application support, in general, is ideal for the new aspect ratio. You will not find many apps that do not resize automatically – although it’s more common to see black bars scrolling on one of the sides of the panel in some games – and you have the option Manually stretch video in applications such as Netflix and YouTube.

Some of the less compelling software tweaks come in the form of a number of Sony features brought in the past. Xperia XZ3 flagship. Side Sense, in theory, allows you to tap the sides of the phone to launch a number of actions, including a context-sensitive application menu, and to reduce the home screen to a one-handed mode. In practice, this does not work properly. Sometimes it will burst into life with the slightest touch; at other times he does not even respond to a hard blow.

Dynamic Vibration is another addition to Sony software. It’s about as successful as Side Sense. The idea here is that this system adds haptic responses not only when you receive messages or calls, but also when a sound is reproduced from a video or a game. I must say that this is super-strange trying to immerse yourself in a film while letting the phone spit out random vibrations. Even with the vibrations reduced to a minimum, it was an inconvenience.

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The Android user interface is nice and clean, even if there is a lot of bloatware

Fortunately, Sony has updated its once ugly Android UI to an improved version of the software you’ll find on a Google Pixel. Of course, there is still a lot of unnecessary bloatware, but the overall look is smooth and crisp. I like introducing swipe gestures to roll out the notification panel (required on a screen of this size), and you can go back to the traditional game of three Android programmable keys if you wish.

The configuration of the Sony Xperia 1 camera is the best of all Sony phones to date, if not quite the king

The Xperia 1’s three-camera system gives it the photographic punch that allows it to compete with its flagship competitors, even if it does not completely exclude water.

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Three cameras are sitting at the back

In addition to the 12-megapixel main camera with a brilliant f / 1.6 aperture, there is a 52mm 52mm optical zoom option and a convenient 16mm wide-angle lens for inserting this head. architectural work in your plan.

The highlights of the Xperia 1 are daylight shooting, impressive portraits and 4K stabilized video.

Its Eye AF function (taken from Sony Alpha cameras) works well, without making any dramatic difference to your shots, while the option of distortion correction on its wide-angle shots makes it much more useful only on other phones.

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Sony Xperia 1 (left) and Google Pixel 3 (right) (use the slider to switch from one photo to the other)

the Google Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 Pro are always better versatile for daily shooting. The automatic HDR processing of Pixel 3 remains the best, while the P30 Pro has a 5x optical zoom. Note that the Xperia 1 does not have any night mode for usable results when the lights are off.

However, if you prefer a more subtle image processing, opt for shots of Sony’s flagship product. And it’s one of the best phones to record videos, especially if you like to tinker with the calibration or focus when shooting.

Its combination of optical and electronic stabilization works great for portable walking videos, while the Cinema Pro app offers you various levels of control (manual focus, shutter speeds, professional “look” like Venice CS) and you will not really find anywhere else.

The experience of the Xperia 1’s camera could be improved by a little refinement and consistency. Manual mode, for example, is only available on the 26mm main camera and, annoyingly, you do not get Eye AF on the front camera, where it could be very useful.

But the photographic experience represents a real improvement over previous Xperia phones and makes the Xperia 1 a powerful all-around tool to have in your pocket for stills and videos.

The performance of the Sony Xperia 1 is as good as the other flagship projects of 2019 – but do not expect 5G support

5G is the buzzword of the moment. The next-generation EE mobile network is online in the UK. Vodafone will follow in July and three have confirmed they hit before the end of the year. 5G phones are also present: OnePlus 7 Pro, LG V50 ThinQ and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G all benefit from superior speed. While Sony had teased a 5G phone earlier in the year, the Xperia 1 is quite old like the 4G LTE.

It’s upscale in other respects, though. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset is running, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (expandable via microSD), which is pretty common for 2019.

These are quick specs with performance to match, although I’m disappointed with nothing less. Coming from the OnePlus 7 Pro with its ridiculously fast display at 90 Hz, the Xperia 1 seems slower when scrolling – but this is the case for all the phones I use. Would I take this refresh rate higher compared to fancy extras such as a 4K screen? Yes, without hesitation. The addition of 4K does not make much difference, as this jump from 60Hz to 90Hz has an impact on everything you do on the phone.

There is no headphone jack – not a surprise in 2019 – so it’s an advantage that the Dolby Atmos enabled speakers deliver good sound. The quality of the calls is also excellent and the microphones eliminate very well the background noise and background noise.

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Performance is comparable to other flagship products

Does a “small” battery reduce the battery life of the Xperia 1?

Most of the flagship phones from 2019 that we have seen up to now are endowed with huge batteries. You have the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Huawei P30 Pro whose cells have reached 4000 mAh, and I was waiting for the next Note 10 to match that. It may seem odd that the Xperia 1 comes with a 3300 mAh battery, especially when this 4K screen is powered.

After using the Xperia 1 for a few weeks, it is clear that the battery is not terrible; but it’s not great either. I would put it on par with the smaller Samsung Galaxy S10, which normally gives me between three and four hours of screen saver per day. I would classify myself as a heavy user (this comes with work …), so, depending on your usage – and the amount of content you watch on the screen – it varies greatly. One hour of Netflix HDR streaming consumed 12%, which is higher than expected.

There is no wireless charge here, which is a real shame. It’s hard not to be able to pick up a phone on a Qi compatible tablet and have it on hand, once you get used to it. There is no special form of fast charging – such as Oppo’s OnePlus Warp Charge or Super VOOC. Instead, Sony chose to use the USB PD standard. I like this approach because it allows you to quickly charge the phone with an unlimited number of USB-C chargers. A full charge takes about 90 minutes (pretty much the same as the Samsung Galaxy S10).

Should I buy Sony Xperia 1?

The Xperia 1 is aimed directly at fans of the famous Sony brand and those who miss the current state of smartphones. It does things differently – for better or for worse.

There is no doubt that this is the best camera that Sony has ever put on a phone and that it is also the best screen I have seen on a Xperia phone. That said, the Pixel 3 still has a better camera and the OnePlus 7 Pro a better display.

Unlike the previous Xperia phones, nothing seriously upset me the Xperia 1. The battery life is not unmatched, but it’s perfect; the software is much cleaner than before; Plus, I appreciate the physical fingerprint scanner. In my opinion, the only real missing feature is wireless charging.

Verdict

The best Sony phone for years and a unique approach that should legitimately win the fans.

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