Tall phones are still pretty awkward to use
One look at the Xperia 1, and you'll see that it is a pretty tall smartphone. Even though it is just a 21:9 aspect ratio and a lot of other phones are now pushing that 19.5:9 aspect ratio. But is that something that potential buyers can look past, when thinking about buying the Xperia 1? Well let's find out.
Disclaimer: At AndroidHeadlines, we now do two reviews for each smartphone. There's the "Good" review and then the "Bad" review. This is the bad review, where we only talk about what's wrong with this smartphone. If you are looking to find out what is good about this smartphone, then you'll want to read the "Good" review here.
Triple cameras are great, unless they are slow
We've wanted Sony to go with multiple cameras for quite some time. And now, it has finally gone with three cameras. An ultra-wide angle lens, a wide-angle and then a telephoto lens. Which gives you the best of all three worlds, right? Wrong. Switching from the main and telephoto lens to the ultrawide angle lens is very, very slow. It's actually comical how slow it is. Especially for a company that is also a camera company. We thought the Galaxy S10+ was slow to switch between cameras, but the Xperia 1 makes it look fast.
And realistically, it's the only "slow" thing about the Xperia 1, unfortunately. But, in that time that you are waiting for the camera to switch, you'll likely miss out on that shot, which is not ideal, at all. The camera app is also pretty slow to open in general.
The wide-angle camera is also not all that great. Typically it's the telephoto lens that really lets everyone down, but this time around its the ultrawide angle lens. It's not as crisp as you might expect, and a lot of times the images can come out a bit muddy.
These are all things that Sony can fix with software updates (and likely will), so it may not be a deal breaker, necessarily. At least not yet.
21:9 displays are still kinda awkward on smartphones
In case you haven't heard, the Xperia 1 is a pretty tall smartphone. I mean, just look at it. It sports a 21:9 aspect ratio, and the reason for this is that Sony saw the trends in the market pointing towards taller smartphones. Additionally, users are using their smartphones to consume media more and more, and movies are shot in 21:9 aspect ratios. Which makes it look really good on a phone like this.
For media consumption, it's great. But for normal use-cases, like scrolling through Twitter, messing around on Facebook, answering emails, it's not the best display to use. It's pretty tall, but I will say that Sony did a better job at making it manageable, over the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus.
On Sony's mid-range phones that also have this 21:9 aspect ratio, the company decided to give it a big forehead and no chin. With the Xperia 1, it decided to give it an (almost) equal forehead and chin. That makes it more manageable, instead of feeling weird in the hand. Despite having a larger display, it actually feels smaller than the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus, which just goes to show you that eliminating bezels isn't always a good thing.
World's most slippery smartphone
As the kids say, the Xperia 1 is "slippery af". And it is. I can't tell you how many times the Xperia 1 has slid off of my desk or a table onto the floor. Luckily, it hasn't gotten scratched or cracked yet, but it's only a matter of time before that happens. Unfortunately, Sony does not include a case in the box. So you are going to need to go out and get one for it yourself. And if we're honest, it's the first thing you should buy for this smartphone. As a case is almost a requirement with this one.
Now it's not so slippery that it has slid out of my hand, but on a flat surface, it will slide off. That's not ideal. So a thin case is going to be the way to go here.
Full of gimmicks
Sony has filled the Xperia 1 with gimmicks. From Side Sense, to just about every mode in the camera and even PS4 Remote Play. These are all gimmicks that Sony is using to get you to buy the phone, but you really shouldn't buy it for those gimmicks.
Side Sense is an okay feature, when it works. That's what makes it a gimmick, in my opinion. You are supposed to be able to double-tap the side of the phone and it will open up a menu with some different apps that you can open up without going home and going into the app drawer to find it. However, during my time using the phone, it almost never actually opened up when I double-tapped the side of the phone. However, when I wasn't trying to open Side Sense, it would open. Which means that it is pretty buggy, and hopefully that can be fixed with a software update.
Then there are the many gimmick camera modes that are included. When I first tapped on the "Modes" button in the camera app, I was pretty disappointed. There are virtually no modes in that menu that you would actually use, normally. Except for the slow-motion modes. AR Effect and Creative Effect sound cool, and yeah you'll check them out when you first get the Xperia 1, but after the first couple of days, you'll never use them. Then there is Manual, Panorama, Portrait Selfie and Google Lens. These are useful, but the Portrait Selfie is almost a waste of space, since there is a Bokeh button at the top of the camera to essentially turn on Portrait mode.
Sure, most of the camera modes these days are pretty gimmicky, but they are ones you are going to use. Like Macro, getting a shot up close of a flower is one that you'll use throughout Spring and Summer. Or a Food mode for taking a shot of your food and then posting it on Instagram (don't act like you don't do that, we all know you do). But AR Effect? Yeah, you'll use it once and that's it.
PS4 Remote Play is less of a gimmick and just a "why does this still suck so much?" and "why is this still only for Sony smartphones?" Like the name implies, it allows you to play your PlayStation 4 remotely. Which is a really nice feature to have for the gamers out there. But there are some limitations. For one, you need to be on the same WiFi network, which means you can't play it outside or elsewhere. It is also pretty laggy. I did play a few games on it, in the same room as my PS4 and my router (which is 150 down and 14 up) and it was pretty laggy. In first-person shooter games, that is not ideal at all. Not to mention the fact that the frame rates were pretty low and resolution was only 540p on a 4K display.
Gimmicks sell phones all too often. These days, I wish smartphone makers would get away from these gimmicks and just produce features that are actually going to work. Side Sense does sound like a pretty good feature, but since it doesn't work the majority of the time, it falls into the "gimmick" category.
Sony didn't get the memo on wireless charging
Wireless charging has made a resurgence in the past couple of years. Almost every smartphone has wireless charging, except for a few. Like OnePlus and Sony smartphones. The Xperia 1 still does not have wireless charging. For a lot of people, that's fine. Because wireless charging is still slow, and plugging it into a Quick Charge 3.0 wall charger is a much better option. But if you have invested in some wireless chargers, then upgrading to a phone that does not have wireless charging doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
There's really no excuse for Sony to not include wireless charging either. Seeing as it is using a glass back, and it also has a pretty small battery inside. There's likely enough room for a couple Qi coils inside for some wireless charging. But it's not there. At least it's waterproof though?
The Sony Xperia 1 is the most exciting Sony phone in many years. But it's still not perfect. And in many areas, it does not stand up to other smartphones that are in the same $900-$1,000 price range. Though many of the downsides we talked about here could be fixed with some software updates, Sony is not exactly known for pushing out many software updates. So it's more like, you see what you get here. Though, if Sony could fix some of the issues we brought up here, it could make the Xperia 1 a pretty impressive device.
Sony is also not selling the Xperia 1 through carriers, which really limits how many people would even be interested in buying this phone. It does, however, work on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon though. Leaving out only Sprint.