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Sony wants your smartphone to be a digital camera

Sony Xperia 1 IV and 10 IV NextPit 14
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The new Sony Xperia 1 Mark IV bridges an important gap between smartphones and digital cameras. The Xperia 10 Mark IV, on the other hand, is targeted at far more price-conscious customers. In this hands-on from Sony's preview event in Berlin, I reveal what Sony's new devices have to offer.

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Good

  • Flagships with innovative camera solution
  • Sony's ecosystem becomes more interwoven
  • High-quality workmanship
  • Probably no delivery issues

Bad

  • Xperia 1 Mark IV is very expensive
  • One-handed operation in a 21:9 format challenging
  • Innovative camera has difficult focal length

Sony's new smartphones in a nutshell

Sony's new smartphones offer useful upgrades overall and an exciting camera innovation. The ability to change the focal length by shifting lenses within the lens is an incredibly handy solution. Sony has taken a step in the right direction that bridges another gap compared to traditional digital camera setups on smartphones. Furthermore, Sony's ecosystem becomes more well-rounded thanks to its better integration with its own ecosystem.

Die Kamera des Sony Xperia 10 Mark IV.
The camera of the Sony Xperia 10 Mark IV now offers optical image stabilization. / © NextPit

At first glance, which is unfortunately a rather short time, however, renewed heating issues with the Sony Xperia 1 IV are indicated. German tech YouTuber IKnowReview informed me at the event that he's been using the Xperia 1 Mark IV for a week now, and described similar heating issues with those found in our review of the Xperia 1 III from last year. The asking price of $1.299 is also very high.

Design & display: Sony stays true to itself

Both the Xperia 1 IV and the Xperia 10 IV come in Sony's typical 21:9 format. Both displays support refresh rates of 120 hertz and are 50% brighter compared to their predecessors. While you will find Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back of the flagship, you will have to make do with a plastic back and edges on the Xperia 10 IV.


What I liked:

  • High build quality from Sony.
  • Very good displays, especially in the Xperia 1 IV.
  • 3.5 millimeter jack.

What I disliked:

  • Rather difficult for one-handed use.
  • Neither cable nor power supply is included.

Compared to the predecessor, you should not expect any big leaps with the Sony Xperia 1 Mark IV. The manufacturer relies on a matte finish, Gorilla Glass Victus at the front and back, and an elongated format with a 21:9 display. The 6.5-inch panel once again has a full 4K resolution and is 50% brighter than the predecessor. Standards for HDR and 120 hertz refresh rate are also on board.

Die Kamera-App von Sony.
Sony's camera app is high-quality and useful as usual. / © NextPit

More change is available in the cheaper Sony Xperia 10 Mark IV. According to the manufacturer, the smartphone is the "lightest 5G phone with a 5,000 mAh battery" at 161 grams. Sony achieves this extremely lightweight by using plastic on the back and edges of the device. The workmanship still looks high-quality, among other things, because of the Gorilla Glass Victus in front. With a 6" slab arriving in a 21:9 format, the Xperia 10 IV is also smaller than the flagship.

According to the specifications, both smartphones offer multimedia qualities. The Xperia 1 IV offers revised stereo speakers, and both models are also equipped with 3.5 mm audio jacks.

Performance: Overheating problems at Sony again?

The Xperia 1 Mark IV is equipped with the currently most powerful processor for Android phones. For less, the Xperia 10 IV comes with the Snapdragon 695 5G chipset which is mated to an expected 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. If the internal storage is insufficient for you in both the more affordable and flagship model that is fixed at 12 GB / 256 GB, you can always fall back on the use of microSD cards.


What I liked:

  • Performance according to the listed specifications.

What I disliked:

  • Expected overheating problems in the flagship.

I can hardly report anything about the performance of both smartphones after the short hands-on session. According to the specifications, you should be able to expect enough processing muscle for mobile games and all kinds of video tasks. While I don't want to speculate about the performance level at this point, I do have one more bad premonition.

Die Rückseite des Sony Xperia 1 Mark IV.
The tested phone in the hands-on was still a pre-production model. / © NextPit

The Xperia 1 Mark III struggled quite a bit with overheating with the Snapdragon 888 in my 2021 review. The predecessor of the Xperia 1 IV got noticeably hot and activated a heat shield during normal use on a hot summer day. In the press conference, Kilian from iKnowreview reported similar behavior when using the new flagship for a week - so I am curious to see how the phone performs in our review.

Camera: Innovative through and through

Sony has managed to integrate the first continuously variable telephoto camera in a smartphone! With the Xperia 1 IV, you can seamlessly zoom in the range between 85 and 125 millimeters without the smartphone making intermediate digital calculations. In addition, the flagship supports 4K video resolution at 120 frames per second on all three rear cameras.


What I liked:

  • Innovative telephoto camera in the Xperia 1 IV.
  • No compromises when switching between the rear cameras (again, 1 IV).
  • Optical image stabilizer in the Xperia 10 IV.

What I disliked:

  • Zooming range between 85 and 125 millimeters—rarely useful.
  • Low-priced model has no camera button.

Sony wants to offer a smartphone for creative people with the Xperia 1 IV. Therefore, the manufacturer offers three cameras on the back, each with a resolution of 12 megapixels and its own Exmor RS. This allows you to record 4K pictures at 120 frames per second with each camera and use a focal length range from ultra-wide-angle to 125 millimeters.

The range between 85 and 125 millimeters is optically variable, so the handset does not have to calculate any digital intermediate steps in this range. The image quality could not be judged during our hands-on.

Die Kamera des Sony Xperia 1 Mark IV.
Sony's innovation in the Xperia 1 Mark IV: a variable, stepless telephoto lens. / © NextPit

Besides photography and videography, Sony wants to offer innovations in live streaming. It should be possible to start a live stream on YouTube with just four taps. The usual minimum of 50 followers on the platform for this to happen will be overridden.

There are considerably fewer upgrades for the Xperia 10 Mark IV, but the ones that are available make sense. For example, Sony has equipped the inexpensive smartphone with optical image stabilization in the main camera.

I will save the quality of Sony's cameras and the other features for a detailed review of the two smartphones.

Battery: Larger batteries without power supply and cable

Both smartphones offer a larger battery capacity of up to 11 percent with a 5,000 mAh rating. However, you will have to make do without chargers and USB-C cables out of the box for both. Sony also wants to guarantee that the batteries of the new phones offer 100% of the original battery performance after three years thanks to the inclusion of adaptive charging technology.

Der SIM-Karten-Slot des Sony Xperia 1 Mark IV.
SIM cards can be removed from the Xperia 1 Mark IV without any tools. / © NextPit

It is not yet possible to come to a reasonable conclusion about the battery life of the new Sony smartphones. However, the manufacturer overtakes other manufacturers in greenwashing environmental protection and leaves out the charging cables as well as the chargers. Thus, you will need a charger with 30 watts to use Quick-Charging. The optional Sony XQZ-UC1 charger costs £29.95 in the open market.

Final verdict

After the hands-on session at Sony in Berlin, I await the review units from Sony with mixed feelings. There are definitely exciting innovations like the improved camera in the Xperia 1 IV, but overall, the updates are quite sparse. However, these smartphones with 21:9 displays remain niche products and Sony's pricing policy does not necessarily help here.

Der Kameraknopf des Sony Xperia 1 Mark IV.
Sony has retained the camera button on the Xperia 1 Mark IV. / © NextPit

The Xperia 10 IV offers too few flagship features compared to other mid-range phones for €499 (around $530). The Xperia 1 IV is too expensive at $1599—but when Sony's new flagship is once again launched with overheating problems, this price cannot be justified despite all the included innovations.

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  • Ari 2 days ago Link to comment

    Well these days Flagships from android suffer the same overheating issues just like the scandal in Galaxy S22.. Heard its also happening in Xiaomi and 1plus.. Apple is the exception to this