Sony apparently decided a while ago that it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel with each new version of its flagship smartphone, and each successive version of its flagship Xperia 1 mobile brought just a few minor tweaks and changes.
The Sony Xperia 1 IV is arguably the biggest upgrade we’ve seen in the series, with plenty of extra features and tools to give it an edge over its predecessors and rivals. This is the closest we’ve seen Sony compete with the big dogs like Apple and Samsung, and we can see really creative professionals opting for the new Xperia over the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro Max.
It’s hard to say what the improvement of the flagship is, because that depends on the medium of choice.
Photographers will love the new continuous optical zoom, which lets you jump between 3.5x zoom (85mm) and 5.2x (125mm) without using digital zoom, which is great for telephoto art. Videographers will appreciate the ability to record at 4K and 120 fps on all three rear lenses – including the new zoom – and the front facer as well. Musicians will be fascinated by the new Music Pro recording app, which lets you record your voice or instrument and mix and stack them on the spot.
Sony is also presenting this device to people who love entertainment – there’s a built-in Bravia Core app (like on the company’s TVs) and a game streaming app that should come in handy for video game streamers who play mobile games. . Plus, there are plenty of built-in entertainment apps from numerous brands.
The phone sounds great and that list of features will impress a lot of people, but this is still not a perfect phone. Our biggest gripe is the price – as many countries find themselves in a cost of living crisis, a price increase over the Xperia 1 III seems like a curious move, especially considering that many cheap phones nowadays have plenty of useful tools. offer.
Presumably, Sony hopes the Xperia 1 IV’s unique features will become indispensable to professional photographers, videographers and other artists, enough to justify the phone’s high price. Judging by the fact that this is the fourth-generation Xperia 1, and the company didn’t see the need to lower the price, it may well be right.
Sony Xperia 1 IV price and availability
In the US, the Sony Xperia 1 IV costs $1,599.99, while it’s £1,299.99 in the UK (and not on sale in Australia). The reason for that price difference lies in the storage sizes – the US only gets a 512GB model, while the UK only gets a 256GB version.
For context, the Xperia 1 III cost $1,299.99 / £1,199.99 – that was for a 256GB model in both regions, so in the UK we could easily call the new version more expensive, but in the US a direct comparison a bit more complicated (although the IV is of course still much more expensive).
In Europe – including the UK – the Sony Xperia 1 IV goes on sale on June 16, but in the US you will have to wait until September 1. And in Australia, you’ll be waiting just a little bit longer (read: forever) because Sony hasn’t sold its last few generations of mobile phones there.
Sony Xperia 1 IV design and display
Sony has kept the same look as the last few versions of Xperia for its Xperia 1 IV – it’s a long, angular device with flat edges and an understated design. This phone is available in black, purple and white, although we tested the less attractive black version.
The camera bump on the back looks indistinguishable from the 1 III, and there’s still a USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack and expandable storage – you don’t need a SIM tool to get the SIM and microSD cards. card slot, which should come in handy for creatives juggling storage cards.
On the right edge of the phone are the volume rocker, fingerprint sensor slash power button and a camera shutter release button. As with previous Sony phones, we found the fingerprint sensor to be drastically worse than on other mobile phones – although we registered our thumb several times, the scanner was regularly unable to pick it up when we tried to unlock the phone. Every time we wanted to use the device, we had to pick up and lower our grade several times – very annoying!
While the design of the Sony Xperia 1 IV hasn’t changed much from previous models – something Sony fans probably wouldn’t mind – the display has undergone one major upgrade.
On paper, the specs here are the same as before – it’s a 6.5-inch 4K 120Hz panel – but the maximum brightness is 50% higher than on the Xperia 1 III, making it better for viewing outdoors (or less so). extent everywhere, for that matter).
It looks fantastic and the 4K resolution will appeal to those who like to download high-resolution movies – although many apps, especially in the gaming field, don’t really support this high resolution on mobile phones. After all, Sony is the only manufacturer to use it.
Sony Xperia 1 IV cameras and battery life
The Sony Xperia 1 IV has the same rear camera sensors as the last-generation model – that means there are three 12MP snappers. They are joined by a 24mm main, 16mm ultra-wide and continuous optical telephoto lens, as well as a 0.3MP 3D Time-of-Flight sensor.
That continuous optical telephoto lens is one of the phone’s main selling points, as it allows you to travel optically between 3.5x zoom (or 85mm) and 5.2x zoom (125mm), with no digital zoom or cropping like most others. mobile phones. to use.
As a result, zoom photography is much more feasible as a way to capture subjects, as you have some wiggle room with your framing. Telephoto is not only good for taking distant photos, the nice depth effect is also attractive for portrait photos, so the Sony should be useful for this too.
After a brief play with the cameras, the main and ultra-wide angle lenses seem similar to the equivalent versions on previous Sony flagships, but the telephoto is really fun to play with. This is a hands-on review after all, so expect loads of camera samples (and a more nuanced analysis) for our full review.
Videographers also have a bone in their path as all three of these lenses support 4K 120fps video recording, so you can enjoy the long-range or ultra-wide look for video. This gives the Xperia an extra boost of versatility when making movies.
This also applies to the front camera, which has seen an improvement over the 1 III – it has a resolution of 12 MP, more than 8 MP on the latest model, allowing 4K and also higher resolution photos .
If you’re not used to Sony Xperia phones, you might find the Xperia 1 IV challenging for photography. While most Android phones have camera apps that are similar, the Xperias are based on the Alpha cameras UI, so you’ll need to look for features that are normally easy to find, although a basic mode mitigates this problem.
There’s also the return of the Cinema Pro app, which enables Alpha-esque video recording with a lot of extra tools than in the stock camera app – the only changes in the Xperia 1 IV are the aforementioned video recording changes.
There’s also a Video Pro app, which looks almost identical, and we’re not quite sure what the differences are between the two. Sony could combine them, right?
As for battery life, we haven’t been able to test the handset on a full battery cycle yet, but its 5,000mAh capacity (up 500mAh from last year) should give you a full day more comfortable than before. to use. However, don’t expect two days of use.
Charging is 30W, which is quite slow in 2022 when we’ve seen phones go up to 150W, but Sony says it’s aiming to make sure the battery doesn’t wear out for long (which could affect fast charging).
Sony Xperia 1 IV performance and specifications
Android stock fans are rejoicing, as Sony is sticking with a clean version of Google’s software. This Xperia comes with Android 12 pre-installed but will likely get one or two upgrades.
The Sony Xperia 1 IV includes the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, which offers plenty of processing power for video editing and gaming.
We haven’t had time to test the Xperia for playing games, but we’ve found that devices with a 21:9 aspect ratio (like this one) are very useful for the display space they offer. So we are looking forward to playing many game rounds with the screen.
The 12 GB of RAM and 5G connectivity will also help. As we mentioned, the 1 IV in the UK gets 256GB of built-in storage, while in the US there’s 512GB, but both have a microSD card slot for up to 1TB extra.
Video game streamers – which unfortunately we are not – will enjoy the many additional modes designed to make streaming mobile games easier. These include simpler capture card functionality and the ability to see stream comments while you’re playing.
Another intriguing mode is Music Pro, an advanced form of the audio recording app that many phones have. You can record multiple tracks of yourself singing, talking or playing an instrument, edit each layer and use cloud computing to clean up the audio.
In terms of additional modes, there’s Bravia Core, from Sony’s Bravia TVs. This is basically a streaming app for the company’s media, and with the phone you get unlimited streaming from the main catalog for a year plus five downloads from the blockbuster. Time for us to finally see all the Spider-Man movies!
There are also plenty of non-Sony pre-installed apps: Netflix, Prime Video, Amazon Shopping, Tidal, LinkedIn, Booking.com, and Facebook were all already on the device.
Some of these make sense – Sony is positioning the Xperia 1 IV as both an entertainment powerhouse and a creative one – but why Booking.com? The pre-installed apps border on bloatware in some cases.
We’re definitely looking forward to testing all the different creativity tools of the Sony Xperia 1 IV – we already have tons of experience features that come to mind, so expect plenty of descriptions in the future.
While the Sony Xperia 1 IV is a powerful tool for creatives and entertainment fans, its price (and feature set) means it’s just a niche device right now, so we don’t expect everyone to get excited about this kind of phone.
But if you’re a professional photographer or videographer and need a smartphone you can rely on, this is a great option, and we think it’ll be on our list of the best camera phones soon.