Sony has taken the wraps off of one of its more leaked smartphones in recent history. The Xperia 1. Many thought this was going to be the Xperia XZ4, but Sony decided to change up the naming scheme and drop letters this year. Making it the Xperia 1 – also announcing the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus mid-range smartphones.
The Xperia 1 isn't just a flagship, but an ultra-premium smartphone from Sony. This sports the world's first 4K OLED HDR display, as well as the world's first Eye AF in a smartphone – thanks to Sony bringing its Alpha team to work with its mobile team.
Sony Xperia 1 Specs
The Xperia 1 has a 6.5-inch, 21:9 aspect ratio 4K OLED display. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, and that is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There is still a micro SD card slot available, for expanding storage. Sony has equipped the Xperia 1 with a 3330mAh capacity battery, paired with its STAMINA mode, it should be able to run all day without running out of juice. It is also rated IP68 for water and dust resistance.
On the camera-front, Sony has gone with three cameras. There is a main 12-megapixel sensor, with a super-wide angle 12-megapixel sensor and finally a telephoto 12-megapixel sensor that is 52mm. The other two are 26mm focal length. It is capable of shooting in 4K HDR, one of the first to be able to do so. There is also a 8-megapixel front-facing sensor.
Finally, the Xperia 1 is running on Android 9 Pie, and also has Sony's rather lightweight skin on top.
Sony Xperia 1 Design
One of the main differences you will notice with the design on the Xperia 1 is the fact that it is taller. Sony has equipped the Xperia 1 with a 21:9 aspect ratio display. Making it a bit taller than some of the other smartphones on the market. The reason for this is because everyone else is inching towards that aspect ratio, hitting 19:9, 19.5:9 and even 19.7:9. Sony just went all the way there. It's also because most movies are shot in 21:9 and then downsized when it is put on streaming services. Sony also makes the argument for better multi-tasking with this aspect ratio.
The Xperia 1 is also all glass, with a metal frame, like most other smartphones today. However, it does have basically no side or bottom bezels. The only real bezel you will see is at the top. There is a decent sized forehead there, but it is still fairly small. That is where the earpiece, front-facing camera and other sensors are located.
Sony Xperia 1 Display
Sony is very proud of the display found on the Xperia 1, and it's not hard to figure out why. This is the world's first 4K OLED HDR display on a smartphone. Sony has done 4K on smartphones before, in its Premium line of devices, but those were only 4K when looking at 4K video or pictures. This is 4K all the time. Sony also recently started using OLED panels in the Xperia XZ3 last fall. Now it is combining those with HDR for the Xperia 1.
This is a huge 6.5-inch display, with a 21:9 aspect ratio, and Sony brought over the technologies from its BRAVIA TV lineup to its smartphone. Using its X1 for mobile engine to the Xperia 1, which brings HDR and it's pretty stunning. This is going to make everything you consume on the Xperia 1, all that much better.
Sony's Master Monitor color reproduction is responsible for tuning this display panel, which is why it looks so vibrant. Hands down, the best display on a mobile device to-date. This display panel supports 10-bit tonal gradation and wide color space ITU-R BT.2020, and DCI-P3 with Illuminant D65.
This beautiful display is protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass 6. Not to mention the fact that this smartphone is rated at IP68 for dust and water resistance. Sony was one of the first to introduce water resistant smartphones, and continues to innovate on that front.
Sony Xperia 1 Camera
Sony has went with a triple-camera setup for the first time on one of its smartphones. But that's not the entire story with this camera. Sony has brought over some of its employees from the Alpha team – the team that makes the industry's best mirrorless cameras. Making the Xperia 1's camera absolutely amazing.
The Xperia 1 has three 12-megapixel sensors: a wide, a super-wide and a telephoto.
Sony has brought over its BIONZ X for mobile, technologies to the Xperia 1. If you are a user of Sony's mirrorless cameras, then you know what that means. And that's some insane photos. Sony also brought over the world's first Eye AF or Eye Autofocus, to a mobile device. This is going to give you sharp focus, at eye level. It can do up to 10 fps AF/AE tracking, which will give the user precision focus and optimal exposure.
Combined with the bright f/1.6 aperture lens, and the large 1.4um sensor, the Xperia 1 is going to provide some stunning night photos.
On the video side of things, the Xperia 1 will continue to impress. Thanks to Sony bringing in its professional digital cinema camera division, you'll be able to shoot with natural cinematic tone and then apply expression-based color management pre-sets with a new feature that included on the Xperia 1, Cinema Pro. This makes the Xperia 1 a great smartphone for content creators. And all of the content shot on the Xperia 1 is shot in 4K HDR at 24 frames-per-second in 21:9 aspect ratio. And you'll be able to play it back in full resolution on the Xperia 1.
Finally, Sony has included a hybrid stabilization system, Optical SteadyShot. This has a unique algorithm that will make sure your pictures are not blurry, even if your hands are not the most steady.
Sony Xperia 1 Software
The Xperia 1 will be shipping with Android 9 Pie, with a pretty lightweight Sony skin on top. In the past few years, Sony has scaled back on its software on Android, which has made it easier for Sony to release software updates, but also launch new phones within a couple of weeks of Google releasing the latest and greatest version of Android.
With this taller display, Sony did of course need to make some changes to its software. Sony says that multi-window is going to be even better on the Xperia 1, thanks to the taller display. It will give users a larger window for each app, and you can use them side-by-side in landscape or top and bottom in portrait. It will allow users to watch a video in its native resolution while having Twitter or something else opened on the other side. Since multi-window has become such a big deal in recent years, making this screen taller made perfect sense for Sony.
Sony has also worked with a number of streaming services – including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube – to release their content in 21:9. This isn't really a big deal for these streaming services, since the content is shot in 21:9 in the first place. So the thing that is being changed is the fact that it won't bring the aspect ratio down to 16:9 when the content hits these streaming services. This also means that less content will appear on the Xperia 1 with those black bars on either side. Since a 16:9 video would have some massive black bars on either side of it, in a 21:9 display.
Sony Xperia 1 Battery
The Sony Xperia 1 has a 3300mAh capacity battery, which arguably isn't the largest capacity battery on the market, but it should still work pretty well here. Some might be worried that it won't last all day, especially with that 4K display. But, Sony has included Quick Charge 3.0, allowing you to recharge the entire battery in less than two hours.
There is no Wireless Charging available, even though this is a glass-backed smartphone. Probably a good thing since most companies are sticking with slower Qi Wireless Charging, over the faster 10W and 20W charging. Seeing as people want faster charging, over wireless charging, this is probably a good decision on Sony's part.
Sony Xperia 1 Pricing & Availability
The Xperia 1 will be available in four colors: black, purple, gray and white. However, only the black and purple will make its way to the US. It will be shipping in late Spring, in the US. Other regions were not mentioned. Pricing was also not mentioned, but expect it to be close to that $1,000 mark. It will only be available unlocked in the US, and won't be sold by carriers, continuing Sony's strategy of selling unlocked only and bypassing carrier certification.
The Sony Xperia 1 is one of the more interesting smartphones to come out of Barcelona this week. Particularly with that 21:9 aspect ratio display. It's definitely something different that we haven't see on smartphones before. The use-cases for that taller display do make sense, but we'll have to wait until it's officially available to find out for ourselves. With Sony working with so many of its other teams on this smartphone – BRAVIA, Alpha and others – this could very well be the best smartphone Sony has ever debuted.