Sony Xperia 1

Sony Xperia 1 Review: Design, Performance, Pricing and More

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Sony may be a tech giant but in the past couple of years, it hasn’t been doing well in the smartphone department. The Xperia lineup used to be one of the largest, rivaling the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy lineup. However, things changed as sales started to decline and Sony phones just weren’t popular anymore despite their competitive specs and amazing design. It was as though Sony has lost its touch, until now.

Introducing the Xperia 1. This new flagship from the tech giant just might be able to bring it back to the smartphone game. With some specs rivaling the best of the best, this phone might just win the hearts of the vast majority. So let’s take a look at the specs and features of the Sony Xperia 1 and find out if it has got what it takes to be the new best smartphone.

Design & Display

Sony Xperia 1
Image: Sony

The design of the Xperia 1 may look conventional in pictures but don’t be fooled. Sony has actually gone really bold with this device by using a 21:9 screen aspect ratio. As a result, you get a rather unique-looking tall smartphone. It also happens to be the least wide amongst its rivals due to that aspect ratio.

The overall silhouette of the device follows typical Sony Xperia DNA with sharp corners and straight edges. On the Xperia 1, however, the edges are a bit rounded to make the device more ergonomic. The construction is a typical flagship smartphone formula. A band of metal sandwiched by two sheets of glass on each end.

At the back, you have the triple-camera layout up top. Below that, you have the Sony logo and below that, at the bottom, you have the Xperia script. Needless to say, the back end is not subtle and maybe a bit too cluttered for some.

Sony Xperia 1
Image: Sony

Come to the front and you get an otherworldly 6.5″ 1644×3840 HDR OLED panel. This makes the Xperia 1 one of the first, if not the first, commercial smartphone with a 4K display. The resolution is good enough to get you a pixel density of 643 ppi, which would make content consumption. Also, as mentioned earlier, the display has a unique 21:9 aspect ratio that most Netflix films are expected to have.

The bezels are almost non-existent, however, you do get a slight chin and forehead. On the latter, you’ll find the front speaker and the selfie camera. Move to the right and you’ll sense some cluttering once again. There, you’ll find the volume rocker, the fingerprint scanner, the power button, and the dedicated camera shutter button. That’s a lot of functionality clustered together especially considering the left side is practically empty.


Sony Xperia 1 Cameras
Image: Sony

As mentioned earlier, the Xperia X1 has 3 cameras at the rear. They consist of a primary 12MP shooter with f/1.6 aperture and 26mm focal length, a 12MP telephoto with f/2.4 aperture and 52mm focal length and lastly a 12MP ultrawide with f/2.4 aperture and 16mm focal length. Only the primary and telephoto cameras have OIS and Autofocus while the ultrawide doesn’t.

In the video department, the cameras on this device don’t disappoint. They can shoot 4K videos at 24/30fps and 1080p at 30/60fps. Additionally, it can also record 1080p super slow-mo at 960fps, which is better than the one you get on the Samsung Galaxy devices. I also like the fact that unlike all other devices that can capture videos in 4K, this is the only one where you can enjoy them on your phone screen.

Up front, you get a single 8MP camera with f/2.0 aperture and 24mm focal length. It can record videos up to 1080p at 30fps, which is fairly standard for a selfie camera. What I don’t like is that it does not have proper OIS and instead, you get a 5-axis electronic stabilization. What I do like, however, is that the camera is placed outside the display, which means that there is no notch or a hole-punch to alter your viewing experience.


Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Image: Qualcomm

Like all recent Android flagships, the Xperia 1 comes with the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855 CPU, paired with the Adreno 640 GPU under the hood. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is currently the best setup for raw performance and efficiency. Needless to say, you’ll be good to go for a couple of years with heavy apps and games.

Sony, however, hasn’t made any claims regarding the cooling system of this device. Most of its competition has liquid cooling to avoid thermal throttling of the CPU. A device with a 4K display is bound to overheat which is why it’s weird for Sony to cheap out in this regard.

Sony Xperia 1
Image: Sony

As far as RAM and storage are concerned, you only get a single configuration. The Sony Xperia 1 comes with a 6 GB RAM along with a 128 GB UFS2.0 storage. I’ll have to say, storage-wide you’re good to go as 128 GB is adequate in this day and age. You also get an additional MicroSD card slot that can give you an additional 512 GB of space.

The RAM, however, could’ve been more. For a flagship at this price point, you should be able to use it long term. While 6 GB of RAM may be enough today, it will start to show its age in a year or two and mess up the device’s multitasking abilities.

Another disappointment on the Xperia 1 is its battery. For a device with a 6.5″ 4K display, you only get a 3330 mAh unit, which is simply not enough. If we look at the competition, the OnePlus 7 Pro, with its 6.6″ 90Hz QuadHD display, has a 4000 mAh battery. While the refresh rate on the Xperia may be at just 60Hz, the resolution is double, so it’s likely to suffer from bad battery life. Thankfully, you do get out of the box a 20W fast charger and USB PD.

Software & Security

Sony Xperia 1 software
Image: GSM Arena

Out of the box, the Xperia 1 comes running on the latest Android 9.0 (Pie). On top of that, they do seem to have their own user interface but Sony surprisingly hasn’t given it a name. However, there may be a good reason for that as the experience isn’t that far off from stock Android. In fact, the software interface on the Xperia 1 is almost the same as the one found in the Google Pixel phones. You do, however, get some additional features and pre-installed apps like Cinema Pro and single-handed operation.

Coming to the security, as mentioned earlier, the Xperia 1 comes with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. Now, I’ll admit that it isn’t the most convenient placement but I’ll have to say that it works nevertheless. On top of that, it’s also more secure than the optical in-display ones that are coming out in newer devices so you do have that piece of mind.

Price & Verdict

At $950, the Sony Xperia 1 is definitely one of the most expensive premium phones you can buy. It competes with the best of the best with this price tag and, unfortunately, does not have what it takes to beat the Samsung Galaxy S10. And it doesn’t end here. You have devices like the OnePlus 7 Pro and even the Redmi K20 Pro that offer superior performance for a far less price.

However, if you’re a Sony fan and really want to buy this smartphone then you might have some consolation. For a limited time, Sony is offering the WH-1000MX3 wireless headphones free if you buy the Xperia 1. If you know your headphones then you’d know that there are one of the best out there in terms of noise cancellation and cost over $300. If you get this deal then I’d say definitely go for it as it’s definitey worth the price, otherwise not.

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