The Sony Xperia 1 might be our new favorite toy. This is Sony’s latest and most powerful smartphone—it’s a culmination of all the vertices that makes Sony a highly respected tech company (sound, photography, gaming, and digital graphics).
In this post, we delve into the Xperia 1’s industry-first features, camera capabilities, gaming mode, UI, and more.
Before We Jump In
Attention deal seekers: if you fall in love with the Xperia 1 (and it’s likely you will) Focus Camera is offering a limited time sale. When you pre-order the Xperia 1 with Sony WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones, Focus will give you a $350 discount. That deal ends July 12th so cash in while you can.
Price & Availability
The Xperia 1 is available for preorder starting on June 28th, 2019 and is officially for sale starting July 12, 2019. It’s on sale for $949.99.
The Sony Xperia 1 is a sleek, thin, professional looking smartphone with a metal frame; the exact dimensions are 6.5 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches. Its combination of metal casing and Durable Corning® Gorilla® Glass make this model shock, dust, and water resistant (IP65/68). Currently, it’s available in two colors: black and purple.
This model runs on Android 9.0 (Pie) and comes complete with the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855 Mobile Platform. As a result, the Sony Xperia 1 can easily view multiple apps side by side and trigger split screen in only 3 taps with no lag.
In addition, one of our favorite things about this model is the option for expanded internal memory. The Xperia 1 comes with 6 GB of RAM and can add significantly more via Micro SD.
This phone has a solid 3330 mAh battery. Sony anticipated the strain that will be put on this device from recording and gaming. So, they added Smart Stamina. In short, this feature predicts how much time your battery has left and gives you different ways to conserve the remaining energy.
While this model doesn’t have QI, it does boast 18W fast charging.
What Makes The Sony Xperia 1 Awesome
As of today, this is the best smartphone screen in the world: a 21:9 CinemaWide 4K HDR OLED display with ~643ppi.
The 21:9 4K display is getting a lot of hype for a few reasons. First, it’s how a lot of film and TV content is recorded. In fact, Netflix now almost exclusively shoots in that quality and ratio. The resulting viewing experience is undeniably impressive—it makes Stranger Things look stranger and GLOW look… glowier. Sony also pulled from its BRAVIA line to remaster HDR and noticeably boost contrast, color, and clarity.
Second, the screen quality goes hand in hand with the next feature we’re going to talk about: the camera. This huge, high-quality screen allows users to take full advantage of one of the best smartphone cameras now available on the market. Without it, the Xperia’s highly anticipated cinema mode wouldn’t make much sense.
With a high contrast ratio of 1000,000:1, the Xperia 1 shows deeper levels of black and colors appear more natural. The screen also supports professional level reproduction standards like DCI-P3 100%, BT2020 color space, and D65 White Point.
It feels like Sony’s photography team sat down with their mobile developers and said, “how many Sony Alpha features can we squeeze into this thing?” The short answer is a lot.
To start, the Xperia 1 has three front-facing lenses. There’s a 16mm super wide-angle lens, a 26mm, and a 52mm lens with 2x optical zoom. The main camera has a 1/2.6” sensor with 1.4μm pixel pitch, an f-stop of f/1.6, optical image stabilization, and RAW noise reduction. The result is exceptional photo and video quality even in low light.
The Xperia 1 is also the first smartphone in the world to have real-time eye autofocus. This feature is taken directly from the 3.0 firmware update Sony put out in April 2019 for the Sony a7 III and Sony a7R IIIxpe.
Keeping with the professional camera theme, this phone gives you full manual control of shutter speed and ISO along with up to a 30-second exposure. This pairs nicely with the Xperia 1’s hybrid system that combines optical image stabilization and electronic image stabilization.
If you’re focusing more on action shots, this phone also shoots up to 10FPS with the help of autofocus and auto exposure.
The Xperia 1 has two modes outside of its regular functionality: creator mode and gaming mode—both are toggled on and off in your settings. We’ll get to gaming mode in a moment but for now, let’s focus on creator mode.
According to Sony, this feature is inspired by VENICE, Sony’s digital motion picture camera. It incorporates the different shooting adjustments we mention above (lens options, shutter speed, etc.). However, you can also apply pre-programmed color settings that mirror those used by professional filmmakers.
We kid you not when we say this camera could conceivably shoot b-roll.
The default frame rate is 24FPS. Plus, the 21:9 display combined with the Xperia’s impressive image processing supports wide color space ITU-R BT.2020 and DCI-P3 with Illuminant D65. It also has a 10-bit display (8 bit with 2 bit smoothing). To convert that last spec from nerd to English, colors are displayed and recorded with no perceivable banding.
This isn’t technically part of creator mode. But, it’s worth noting that the Xperia 1 has a card slot for expandable storage. Otherwise, you’d definitely run into issues storing multiple large video files.
Onward to audio. The Sony Xperia 1’s audio experience was orchestrated from the experts at Dolby Atmos. For those who are unfamiliar, Dolby is responsible for the surround sound tech used in tiny, independent films like Black Panther, A Quiet Place, Bohemian Rhapsody, and A Star Is Born.
Dolby Atmos brought that multi-dimensional audio experience to the Xperia 1. It has built-in stereo speakers for high-resolution audio and DSEE HX. If you prefer to listen via Bluetooth headphones (like the WH-1000XM3), you can still get above-average audio quality thanks to LDAC streaming.
Last but not least, we have gaming mode. The Xperia 1’s Snapdragon 855 processor and 6GB of RAM keep games running smoothly with no jumpiness or lag. You can also take screen recordings of your game and yourself at up to 1080p. All of this is enhanced with the addition of haptic feel. However, if you’d prefer to step up your game, you can move away from touch controls and connect your PlayStation controller to the phone via Bluetooth.
Along with those specialized features, gameplay is improved by many of the factors we reviewed in the sections above. For example, the 4K 21:9 aspect ratio screen upgrades your mobile gaming experience. Similarly, Dolby Atmos surround sound compliments games like Fortnite and PUBG.
The Xperia 1 takes the best features from all of Sony’s departments and combines them into one super phone. It has an incredible triple lens camera, the world’s first 4K HDR OLED screen, Hollywood-approved creator mode, sound by Dolby, and a dedicated gamer mode. It’s an exciting new addition from Sony and one that we’re very excited about.