Sony apparently decided some time ago that it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel with each new version of its flagship smartphone, and each successive release of its flagship Xperia 1 phone has only brought 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 functions and tools to give it an edge over its predecessors and rivals. This is the closest we’ve seen Sony come to competing with the big dogs like Apple and Samsung, and we can actually see creative pros opting for the new Xperia over the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro Max.
It’s hard to say what the main improvement is as it will depend on your medium of choice.
Photographers will love the new continuous optical zoom, which lets you switch between 3.5x (85mm) and 5.2x (125mm) zoom without using digital zoom, which is fantastic for telephoto art. Videographers will like the ability to shoot in 4K and 120fps on all three rear lenses – including the new zoom one – as well as the front. Musicians will be fascinated by the new Music Pro recording app, which allows you to record your voice or instrument and mix and layer them on the spot.
Sony is also releasing this device for people who enjoy entertainment – there’s a built-in Bravia Core app (like on the company’s TVs), as well as a game streaming app that should come in handy for video game streamers playing mobile games. Also, there are many built-in entertainment apps from various brands.
The phone looks great, and this list of features will impress a lot of people, but this is still not a perfect phone. Our biggest gripe is the price – given that many countries are in a cost-of-living crisis, a price increase over the Xperia 1 III seems like a curious move, especially since many cheap phones offer many useful tools for mobile-based creatives today. in day.
Presumably, Sony expects the Xperia 1 IV’s unique features to become indispensable for professional photographers, videographers and other artists, enough to justify the phone’s high price tag. Judging by the fact that this is the fourth-gen Xperia 1, and the company hasn’t seen fit to lower its prices, you might be right.
Sony Xperia 1 IV pricing and availability
In the US, the Sony Xperia 1 IV is $1,599.99, while it costs £1,299.99 in the UK (and not for sale in Australia). The reason for this price discrepancy lies in the storage sizes – the US is only getting a 512GB model, while the UK is only getting a 256GB version.
To put this into context the Xperia 1 III cost $1,299.99 / £1,199.99 – this was for a 256GB model in both regions, so in the UK we can readily call the new version more expensive, but in the US a direct comparison is a little more complex (although the IV is still much more expensive, of course).
In Europe – including the UK – the Sony Xperia 1 IV goes on sale June 16th, but you’ll be waiting until September 1st in the US. And in Australia, you’ll wait a little longer (read: forever) as Sony hasn’t sold its latest generations of cell phones there.
Sony Xperia 1 IV design and display
Sony has kept the same look for its Xperia 1 IV that the latest versions of the Xperia have had – it’s a tall, angular device with flat edges and an understated design. This phone comes 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 pull out the SIM and microSD card slot. , which should be useful for storage card juggling creatives.
On the right edge of the phone is the volume button, the fingerprint sensor power button, and a shutter button for the camera. As with previous Sony phones, we’ve found the fingerprint sensor to be drastically worse than on other phones – although we’ve registered our thumb several times, the scanner has regularly failed to pick it up when we try to unlock the phone. Every time we wanted to use the device we had to pick up and lower our digit several times – very annoying!
While the design of the Sony Xperia 1 IV hasn’t seen many changes from previous models – something Sony fans probably don’t care about – the display has undergone a major upgrade.
On paper, the specs here are the same as before – it’s a 6.5-inch 4K 120Hz panel – but its maximum brightness is 50% higher than on the Xperia 1 III, making it better for viewing outdoors (or in minor degree anywhere, for that purpose).
It’s a great looking screen, and the 4K resolution will appeal to people who like to download high resolution movies – although many apps, especially in the gaming sphere, don’t support that high resolution on mobiles. 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 high-end model – that means there are three 12MP snappers. They are accompanied by a 24mm ultra wide-angle and continuous optical telephoto lens, as well as a 0.3MP 3D time-of-flight sensor.
This continuous optical telephoto lens is one of the phone’s main selling points, as it allows you to travel between 3.5x zoom (or 85mm) and 5.2x zoom (125mm) optically, without having to use digital zoom or cropping. like most other cell phones use.
As a result, zoom photography is much more viable as a way of capturing subjects as you have some wiggle room with your framing. Telephoto isn’t just good for capturing distant shots, as its lovely-looking depth effect is also attractive for portrait shots, so Sony should come in handy for that too.
From a brief play with the cameras, the main and ultra-wide look comparable to the equivalent versions on Sony’s previous flagships, but the telephoto is genuinely a lot of fun to play with. This is a hands-on review, after all, so expect plenty of camera samples (and a more subtle review) for our full review.
Videographers also have a bone in the way, as all three of these lenses support 4K 120fps video recording, letting you enjoy the look of long-distance or ultra-wide video. This gives the Xperia an extra boost of versatility for movie production.
This also applies to the front camera, which has seen an improvement over the 1 III – it has a resolution of 12MP, up from 8MP on the last model, which allows for 4K and higher resolution photos as well.
If you’re not used to Sony Xperia phones, you might find the Xperia 1 IV daunting for photography. While most Android phones have similar camera apps, the Xperia is based on the Alpha Cameras UI, so you’ll need to look for functions you normally find easily – although a Basic mode will reduce this problem.
There’s also the return of the Cinema Pro app, which allows for Alpha-like video recording with many extra tools than in the standard camera app – its only change on the Xperia 1 IV is the aforementioned video recording changes.
There’s also a Video Pro app, which looks almost identical, and we’re not sure what the differences are between these two. Surely Sony could match them?
In terms of battery life, we still haven’t been able to test the device for a full battery cycle, but its 5,000mAh capacity (up 500mAh from last year) should allow you to get a full day of use more comfortably than before. But don’t expect two days of use.
Charging is at 30W, which is pretty slow in 2022 when we’ve seen phones reach 150W, but Sony says it’s focusing on making sure the battery doesn’t wear out for too long (which fast charging can affect).
Sony Xperia 1 IV performance and specs
Android stock fans rejoice as Sony has stuck to a clean version of Google’s software. This Xperia comes with Android 12 pre-installed, but it will likely get an update or two.
The Sony Xperia 1 IV comes with the latest generation Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, which provides plenty of processing power for video editing and gaming.
We haven’t had time to test the Xperia for gaming, but previously we’ve found 21:9 aspect ratio devices (like this one) to be really useful for the display space they provide. Therefore, we are looking forward to running many game rounds using the screen.
The 12GB of RAM and 5G connectivity will also help. As we mentioned, the 1 IV in the UK gets 256GB of internal storage, while in the US there’s 512GB, but both have a microSD card slot for up to an extra 1TB.
Video game streamers – which we’re not, unfortunately – will take advantage of the many extra modes designed to make streaming mobile games easier. This includes easier capture card functionality and the ability to see stream comments as you play.
Another intriguing mode is Music Pro, which is an advanced form of the audio recording app that many phones have. You can record multiple tracks of yourself singing, speaking or playing an instrument, edit each layer, and use cloud computing to clean up the audio.
As for the extra modes, we have Bravia Core, from Sony’s Bravia TVs. This is basically a streaming app for company media, and with the phone you get a year of unlimited streaming of their main catalogue, plus five downloads of their blockbuster. It’s time to finally see all the Spider-Man movies!
In fact, there are also many pre-installed non-Sony apps: Netflix, Prime Video, Amazon Shopping, Tidal, LinkedIn, Booking.com and Facebook were already on the device.
Some of them make sense – Sony is positioning the Xperia 1 IV as an entertainment and creative powerhouse – but why Booking.com? Pre-installed apps border on bloatware in some cases.
We’re certainly looking forward to trying out all the different creativity tools on the Sony Xperia 1 IV – we already have a number of experimental features in mind, so expect lots of feedback in the future.
While the Sony Xperia 1 IV is a powerful tool for creatives and entertainment fans, its price (and feature set) ensures it’s just a niche device right now, so we don’t expect everyone to be excited about this type of phone.
But if you’re a professional photographer or videographer and you need a smartphone you can trust, then this is a great option, and we imagine it’ll make it to our list of the best camera phones very soon.