While numerous reports already suggested Sony's Xperia XZ4 will be uncharacteristically tall, even in the context of today's smartphone era dominated by rather elongated devices, a newly emerged depiction of a tempered glass module said to have been designed for the Android flagship in question illustrates just how unconventional its form factor is actually going to be. Procured by known industry insider from China primarily known by their social media handle "@IceUniverse," the images presented here show a glass film that's 15.2cm (6 inches) tall. With the smartphone's 21:9 aspect ratio already being a widely reported affair, it can be deduced that the device will feature a 6.5-inch diagonal. Given how Sony is also expected to stick with a QHD+ resolution, the Xperia XZ4 will most likely offer a pixel count of 3,440 by 1,440.
The handset will hence be about as long as the Galaxy S9+ and while its slim form factor should make it even easier to use in a single hand, it remains to be seen how it will handle multimedia content given how the 21:9 image format is anything but standard, especially in the context of YouTube and other video services popular among mobile users. The overall appearance of the Xperia XZ4 should be even more pronounced given how the smartphone will lack a display notch and will instead go against the grain by embracing a slim top bezel housing a dual-camera setup, according to the same leak, as well as several previous reports on the matter.
How tall is too tall?
Sony was among the slowest handset manufacturers when it came to embracing slim bezels, a trend started by Samsung and LG in early 2017. The company was seemingly caught out by its competitors two years back and took its time reworking its now largely outdated OmniBalance aesthetic in favor of an Ambient Flow design language in mid-2018. The Japanese firm still surprisingly refused to fully embrace non-widescreen formats and followed up on its initial Ambient Flow devices with the Xperia XZ2 Premium almost immediately, returning to the 16:9 aspect ratio and sizeable bezels, citing issues with multimedia optimizations associated with 18:9 and taller form factors. Less than a year later, Sony seems to be revising its strategy once again but is now opting for another extreme – bizarrely long devices. The very concept of 21:9 mobile screens is not entirely new but many industry watchers believe this is where consumers will draw the line in terms of what they deem comfortable to use without requiring major compromises in other areas such as video playback. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether the market will still be willing to accept this particular aspect ratio or whether 19:9 handsets retain the title of the slimmest mobile products that can still be considered mainstream.
New year, old uncertainty
Industry leader Samsung appears to be in the latter boat as the upcoming Galaxy S10 line is widely reported to be embracing 19:9 Super AMOLED panels. As is the case with most of the company's flagship generations, the Galaxy S10 range will likely establish 19:9 screens as a default option for Android flagships and many manufacturers are expected to follow that trend in the coming months. Sony appears to be adamant to do its own thing, which is in line with its track record, though that historical approach did little to help the company find success in the mobile segment over the course of the last several years. Its smartphone unit is hence still shrinking and while the Xperia XZ4 appears to be set to differentiate itself from its rivals, it's presently unclear whether that will actually be a good thing.
Sony's unwillingness to embrace display notches should at least win it some fans among the crowd that also opposes those cutouts which manufacturers started embracing around a year ago in pursuit of greater screen-to-body ratios. The latest version of Android even comes with built-in support for notches and Google's own Pixel 3 XL features a sizeable cutout on the top of its display, though the rest of the industry now appears to be moving toward minimizing such elements and even replacing them with screen holes, another feature Samsung pioneered with the Galaxy A8s several weeks back and one that's expected to be a defining design trait of the upcoming Galaxy S10 range.