Sony has completely revamped its Xperia series yet again, and this year the common denominator is the cinematic screen. Every new Xperia smartphone gets a 21:9 panel for the most immersive viewing experience, but the Xperia 1 is special. It is the Xperia Premium reborn, with a large 6.5″ OLED 4K HDR display and today we’ll get to know it better.
Sony is the only maker that keeps delivering 4K screens on the go and with the Xperia 1 it has really outdone itself. The Xperia 1 has a properly large 6.5″ OLED with 21:9 aspect ratio, 4K resolution, HDR and BT.2020 color space support, and no pixels were left behind as there are no cutouts whatsoever on the screen. And in spite of this technological marvel, Sony managed to keep the bezels impressively thin, which is yet another achievement.
But the Xperia 1 isn’t just excelling in the viewing department. Sony has put the latest Snapdragon 855 chip inside, all the connectivity options you may need, too, and one very interesting triple-camera setup. Sure, we’ve seen plenty such wide/ultra/tele combos elsewhere already, but Sony is bringing some advanced features as dual-pixel Eye AF and HDR video capturing in an attempt to one-up the competition. Let’s hope those pan out well.
And before we list all the important specs, we have to say the Xperia 1 is also a looker – a very sleek and stylish smartphone. Plus, it’s dust and water resistant, not that we expected anything less from the maker that made water resistance a must in any flagship.
Sony Xperia 1 specs
- Body: Aluminum frame; Gorilla Glass 6 on back and front; 167 x 72 x 8.2 mm; 178 grams; IP65/68 ingress protection rating; Color options: Black, Grey, Purple, White
- Screen: 6.5″ OLED; 21:9 aspect ratio; 4K (1644 x 3840 px); 643ppi; HDR BT.2020; DCI-P3 color space
- Rear cameras: Primary: Motion Eye 12MP (1/2.6″ Exmor RS), f/1.6 aperture (ISO 3200), 26mm lens, Dual Photo Diode; 12MP (1/3.4″) telephoto, f/2.4, 52mm lens; 12MP (1/3.4″) wide, f/2.4, 16mm
- Additional camera features: Predictive Capture (Motion/Smile), Autofocus burst with up to 10 fps AE/AE tracking; Eye Autofocus; Predictive Hybrid Autofocus; Anti-distortion shutter; Optical SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis EIS + OIS); RAW noise reduction
- Video capture: 4K (16:9 or 21:9), Super slow motion 960fps at FullHD
- Front camera: 8MP (1/4″ sensor), f/2.0 fixed-focus
- Chipset: Snapdragon 855 chipset, octa-core processor (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 485), Adreno 640 GPU.
- Memory: 6GB of RAM + 64/128GB storage; Up to 512GB microSD card support
- OS: Android 9.0 Pie
- Battery: 3,330mAh Li-Ion; USB Power Delivery fast charging; Smart STAMINA, Battery Care, Xperia Adaptive Charging
- Connectivity: Dual-SIM/ Single-SIM options available (market dependent); 5CA LTE 4×4 MIMO, Cat.19 LTE (Up to 1.6Gbps download speed); USB 3.1 Type-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS + GLONASS; Bluetooth 5.0; NFC.
- Audio: Hybrid stereo speaker setup, Dolby Atmos, DSEE HX, LDAC, Qualcomm aptX HD
- Misc: Side-mounted fingerprint reader, X1 For mobile engine, TRILUMINOS display, BIONZ X for mobile (Eye autofocus); Cinema Pro app for cinematic video recording
We have to admit we are not big fans of the 8MP selfie shooters that Sony insists on using. Sure, they’ve always turned out to be pretty good, but the competition is well ahead of Sony in the selfie race and it is high time the Japanese company redirects some efforts towards the selfie photography in its flagships.
We couldn’t miss the 3,300 mAh battery, which seems a bit inadequate for such a demanding and large screen, but we are yet to see how it will behave in our battery test. Sony has been known to include a laundry list of battery modes and technologies, so it may as well deliver plenty of autonomy.
Unboxing the Sony Xperia 1
The Xperia 1 has a rather big retail box, noticeably larger than the phone itself. It doesn’t contain an enormous Xperia though, but a surprisingly compact and comfortable-to-use smartphone. The tall aspect ratio really makes a difference in handling.
The retail bundle has all necessities but with a few twists. There is a USB-PD charger rated at 18W and you get a USB-C to C cable for charging and connections – both a first for Sony for a Sony retail box.
Then you will also find a pair of in-ear headphones ending on a 3.5mm plug and a separate adapter to USB-C. The Xperia 1 has no audio jack, so the headset would always require the use of the adapter.
Sony Xperia 1 is a gorgeous device you can easily fall in love with the moment you see it. Sure, our black version is probably somewhat boring, but the purple, grey, or the dazzling white colors all look amazing.
The Xperia 1 has classic looks betting on a clean distraction-free design rather than flashy gradients, a fancy edged screen, or strangely shaped popups. And the stylish looks are strengthened by the dual-glass timeless build, which is still the most premium execution you can get today.
The 1 has a mostly flat Gorilla Glass 6 piece covering the one of a kind display, and another Gorilla Glass 6 with curved edges keeping the back both dazzling and shatter-proof. In-between the sheets of the world’s toughest glass (yet!) is an aluminum frame, curved as well, and all glossy and dandy.
The entire usable area of the front is occupied by the new 6.5″ 4K OLED screen – a panel you can only find in the Xperia 1. It has reasonable top and bottom bezels, but those are quite thin, and we could also say necessary, as they allow the perfect landing area for your thumbs while watching 21:9 content in landscape mode. The longer side bezels are impressively thin, and the 2.5D finish on the glass makes them look even thinner.
The top black strip contains the earpiece, which also doubles as a speaker. On its left Sony has placed all other essentials – the well-hidden tri-color (R,G,W) notification LED, a bunch of sensors, and the 8MP selfie camera.
Where screen glass ends, the metal frame begins, and the transition is quite seamless at that thanks to the small curves on both materials. If we didn’t know better, we could have easily mistaken our black review unit for a unibody build.
The other Gorilla Glass 6 on the back is curved towards all of its sides. It’s a rather subtle curve, but enough to make a slim phone feels even slimmer, but also to compromise the grip more than we’d have liked.
The back is the domain of the triple camera setup, humping 2mm on top of the black glass and enough to make the Xperia 1 wobble a bit. It’s a trio of 12MP shooters – wide, tele, and ultra-wide – a first for Sony but already a pretty common combination among high-end smartphones. Outside the setup is the LED flash and the RGBC-IR sensor.
Xperia XZ3 • Xperia 1 • Xperia XZ2 Premium (left to right)
The aluminum frame is all glossy and slippery, a fingerprint and smudges magnet, and its beauty really comes at the price of compromised handling and regular cleaning. We do appreciate the perfect match in color and finish to the glass and metal though.
On this metal frame are a lot of the Xperia 1’s important bits. The hybrid dual-SIM tray is at the top. The bottom has the USB-C port and the other speaker.
Sony Xperia 1
The right side of the Xperia 1 has a lot to offer. There are three physical keys here – the volume rocker, the power button, and a two-step camera shutter. In-between the volume and power keys is a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, ideally matching your right thumb.
Update: We found out why the fingerprint sensor was behaving unsatisfactory. Тhe updated text follows bellow.
Unfortunately, the fingerprint scanning experience is a mixed bag. While the sensor is always-on and its accuracy – very good – it gets compromised over time. The reader sensitive area is really small and on top of that it accumulates smudges quite easy. This leads to less than ideal experience, which will only get worse unless you clean the sensor. It’s not that big of a deal, but you have to clean the sensor occasionally to keep it work in your favor. The good news is – you can do that by just swiping your thumb over its surface. The bad news – you have to do that every day.
The Xperia 1 measures 167 x 72 x 8.2 mm, which is about as large as the Galaxy A80. Then Xperia 1 is 1cm taller than the Galaxy S10+ but 2mm narrower and equally thin. At 178g the Xperia 1 weighs just 3g more than the S10+ but about 40g less than the Galaxy A80.
Indeed, the Xperia 1 is one noticeably tall smartphone, but that’s the price for having an exceptional cinematic screen. But the 1 is quite slim and not that wide, which makes it very easy to handle and perform day-to-day tasks. It also fits easily in pockets, so nobody should be really worried about this.
The phone is as slippery as it looks though, and a case is a must-have. If you want to keep its looks intact though, you should always handle it with care, and maybe the Gorilla Glass 6 and the water-resistance could give you just enough peace of mind.
A 4K HDR OLED screen, notch-free
The 6.5″, 4K OLED HDR panel on the Xperia 1 looks as amazing as it sounds. Sony has managed to claim a “world first” here by combining 4K resolution and OLED. All the other tech sprinkled on top beyond that only sweetens the deal further and makes for an even more one-of-a-kind offer. Sony has even coined a marketing brand for this high-end panel, referring to it as Cinema Wide.
The actual panel resolution is 1644 x 3840 pixels, which is 4K even though it’s not the 4K you know and probably have on your home TV due to the different aspect ratio.
Regardless, the 6.5″ diagonal makes for a jaw-dropping 643ppi density rating. And unlike previous Xperia Premium phones, the 4K output is always on, and not just when compatible content is visualized.
Update: We’ve done some more tests about the 4K resolution support in different apps. Тhe updated text follows bellow.
Keep in mind that for good practical and especially battery endurance reasons, you are not going to get the full native panel resolution in most regular use cases throughout the UI. That only triggers automatically when compatible content is displayed on screen, just as on the previous Xperia Premium phones.
We were misled to believe that the 4K resolution is always forced, which frankly doesn’t make much sense as this would drain the battery quickly. And indeed, after some further testing we found out that from the native apps only Album and Videos are displaying content in 4K. Netflix and Amazon Videos from the third-party apps we’ve tested also use 4K resolution and can stream 4K HDR movies. Everything else we tried runs at 2/3 of the panel resolution or 1,096 x 2,560 px.
But this is not due to some restrictions applied by Sony. Most of the apps and games available in the Play Store just doesn’t come with 4K UI support or 4K textures. If an app or game was made to support 4K, it will run in native 4K on the Xperia 1, of course.
Then there are these concerns that just like an ultra-wide PC monitor or a cinema screen, this aspect works great for watching movies but often comes as too “short” for productivity in landscape mode. And there is some truth to this on the Xperia 1 – it works great for multimedia consumption and side-by-side multitasking, but there are times where a lot of the screen space is wasted.
Luckily, though, the benefits of 21:9 seem to outweigh its shortcomings. After all, most of what we tend to do on a smartphone is scroll through long vertical content – lists or otherwise. On such a tall display that’s a great experience.
And in 2019, there is already plenty of 21:9 content out there. YouTube has a bunch, and so do streaming services like Amazon’s video offerings and Netflix. The latter, especially, has a vast library of movies and Sony has partnered with Netflix for some exceptional 4K HDR experience on the Xperia 1.
And speaking of having the right content and properly viewing and enjoying it, there is yet another interesting “sprinkle” on top of the Xperia 1’s gorgeous panel, which Sony calls “Creator mode”. It’s a display setting, and while it’s on, the Xperia X1 should display as accurate colors as possible with any HDR video (it’s the ITU-R BT.2020 color space in particular). It will also upconvert any SDR stream to HDR all while making sure the stream’s color gamut is converted too. Of course, your best bet for making the most of the feature is watching appropriate HDR video content.
And while the panel is not truly 10-bit, but rather the more typical 8+2 bit variety – it still provides awesome contrast, local dimming, and gradients all look spectacular, given the right content.
You can either switch the Creator mode permanently or have it activate automatically when you are playing back appropriate content.
The Xperia 1 also has the proprietary X1 for mobile engine running in the background, optimizing video content that is not natively created for the high contrast and color palette of the panel. It is tech borrowed from the company’s BRAVIA TV line and even works dynamically on streamed content.
In its Standard mode, we found the Xperia 1’s screen to conform mostly to the DCI P3 color space and it was rather color accurate in this regard.
In this standard mode the Xperia 1 screen can go as bright as 390 nits at the far-right end of the brightness slider.
The Auto Brightness mode would give you a further boost in bright sunlight but only if you are watching video or browsing photos. In these cases, the screen brightness goes as high as 665 nits, or that’s at least the maximum we measured with our white target taking up around 75% of the screen surface. It can probably go even higher with smaller targets as this is how OLEDs work.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Contrast ratio|
|Sony Xperia 1||0||391||∞|
|Sony Xperia 1 (Max Auto)||0||665||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S10+||0||385||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Max Auto)||0||793||∞|
|Nokia 9 PureView||0||531||∞|
|Apple iPhone XS Max||0||653||∞|
|Huawei P30 Pro||0||571||∞|
|Huawei P30 Pro (Max Auto)||0||605||∞|
|Xiaomi Mi 9||0||428||∞|
|Xiaomi Mi 9 (Max Auto)||0||620||∞|
|LG G8 ThinQ||0||391||∞|
|LG G8 ThinQ (Max Auto)||0||655|
|Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium||0.367||518||1411|
|Sony Xperia XZ3||0||442||∞|
|Sony Xperia XZ3 (Max Auto)||0||620||∞|
|Oppo Reno 10x zoom||0||440||∞|
|OnePlus 7 Pro||0||436||∞|
|OnePlus 7 Pro (Max Auto)||0||616||∞|
As we already mentioned, in Standard mode the display is reasonably accurate to the DCI-P3 color space with an average deltaE of 4.3 and a maximum deviation of 10 at point White. Sony promises an excellent color accuracy for the BT2020 color gamut with the Creator mode ON, but we weren’t able to test it so that we will take their word on that.
The Sony Xperia 1 is powered by a 3,300 mAh battery, which does leave us somewhat wanting – especially with such a large display, clearly geared towards heavy multimedia usage. That said, Sony has a slew of extra battery features, like Smart STAMINA and Battery Care to extend both battery life and battery longevity in the long run.
It is good to see that Sony is sticking to its transition to the USB Power Delivery standard for its charging. An 18W USB-PD charger is provided with the phone and it recharges 50% of a depleted battery in 30 mins. A full charge takes about 1 hour and 45 mins, though.
In our testing, the Xperia 1 didn’t impress with its battery life – much like the previous Premium iteration. We clocked 11 hours of video playback (some improvement over the XZ2 Premium) and about 9 hours of web browsing over Wi-Fi (about half an hour less than the predecessor) – we could call these numbers decent, but far from the best-in-class. The 25 hours we measured in 3G voice calls are in line with what we expected from a 3,300 mAh battery and the Snapdragon 855 modem.
Factoring in the standby performance in addition to the above numbers for the Xperia 1, we’ve calculated an overall Endurance rating of 79 hours. Overall, that’s definitely a dependable battery score, but we’ve seen better screen-on performance from other phones in the class.
Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Sony Xperia 1 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We’ve established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in these basic day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use by adjusting the ratio of the three types of usage as you prefer.
The Xperia 1 borrows its audio setup entirely from the Xperia XZ3 and XZ2. That, of course, entails some great things, like the impressive stereo speaker setup and the intriguing Dynamic vibration system. But, also, some less than ideal choices, as far as most fans are concerned, namely the refusal to bring back the 3.5mm audio jack.
The two speakers sound well balanced in volume and scored a Very Good mark in our loudness test, just three decibels short of Excellent. The audio output is impressive with very rich and crisp sound. Watching movies on listening to YouTube songs is a pure joy on the Xperia 1.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Pink noise/ Music, dB||Ringing phone, dB||Overall score|
|Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium||68.1||73.2||73.7||Good|
|Nokia 9 PureView||68.9||71.8||81.1||Very Good|
|Sony Xperia 1||69.8||74.5||81.0||Very Good|
|Xiaomi Mi 9||70.1||74.2||81.6||Very Good|
|Sony Xperia XZ3 (ClearAudio+)||68.0||75.3||84.0||Very Good|
|Sony Xperia XZ3||71.0||75.4||82.9||Excellent|
|Samsung Galaxy S10+||74.4||74.2||83.6||Excellent|
|Sony Xperia 10 Plus||68.5||73.2||90.7||Excellent|
|Huawei P30 Pro||70.9||73.8||90.9||Excellent|
|Huawei Mate 20 X||71.4||73.5||91.1||Excellent|
|OnePlus 7 Pro||79.6||77.7||87.2||Excellent|
We are less than thrilled by the Dynamic vibration system. It’s supposed to vibrate in tune with deep, bass sounds that come from the video or track you are listening to. However, the implementation bears improvement – especially in the quality of vibration the phone emits. It’s an exciting and unique feature which sounds great on paper, but none of us around the office enjoyed using it for a reason we can’t quite put our fingers on. So yes, for now, we’ll keep that one classified as a gimmick. Here’s hoping it might see an improvement in the future.
The Sony Xperia 1 did as expected when hooked up to an active external amplifier – it delivered audio of perfect clarity as is befitting to a modern-day flagship. Its volume was above average too – a welcome departure from most recent Sony flagships, which weren’t able to go that high.
Plugging in a pair of headphones caused more damage than we would have liked. Frequency response got slightly shaky, some intermodulation distortion crept in, while the stereo crosstalk rose notably. The volume also went down to being only average. While none of those issues is too major on its own, adding them up leaves the Xperia 1 with only a Good mark in audio output quality, which puts it behind most of its direct rivals.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Sony Xperia 1||+0.02, -0.01||-93.6||93.5||0.0010||0.007||-85.2|
|Sony Xperia 1 (headphones)||+0.31, -0.26||-92.1||91.9||0.0060||0.302||-55.1|
|OnePlus 7 Pro||+0.03, -0.01||-93.0||92.6||0.0023||0.021||-89.6|
|OnePlus 7 Pro (headphones)||+0.10, -0.05||-92.0||91.4||0.0034||0.106||-74.8|
|Huawei P30 Pro||+0.04, -0.02||-90.5||90.4||0.0014||0.013||-93.0|
|Huawei P30 Pro (headphones)||+0.14, -0.23||-90.4||90.3||0.0046||0.211||-47.0|
|Samsung Galaxy S10||+0.03, -0.04||-92.2||92.0||0.0015||0.0079||-92.7|
|Samsung Galaxy S10 (headphones)||+0.06, -0.03||-91.9||91.7||0.0020||0.037||-77.0|
|LG G8 ThinQ||+0.01, -0.03||-94.1||93.5||0.0013||0.0069||-87.6|
|LG G8 ThinQ (headphones)||+0.05, -0.05||-93.8||93.1||0.0041||0.063||-61.8|
|LG G8 ThinQ (headphones, QuadDAC)||+0.03, -0.02||-93.7||93.1||0.0014||0.030||-67.4|
|Xiaomi Mi 9||+0.02, -0.01||-93.9||93.1||0.0015||0.0066||-91.9|
|Xiaomi Mi 9 (headphones)||+0.05, -0.04||-92.6||93.5||0.0026||0.072||-58.7|
Sony Xperia 1 frequency response
The Xperia 1 boots Android Pie, and it’s a slightly more Google-ish variation than the one we saw on the Xperia XZ3 last year. What we mean is that now you can have the pill navigation (which Sony calls ‘Swipe up on Home button’) in addition to the classic nav bar. You can find the setting in the display menu, and enabling it makes the Xperia 1 navigation resemble that of a Pixel phone.
Fingerprint unlock, as well as Google’s Smart Lock options, including Trusted Face (Face Unlock), are available. The most secure one is the fingerprint, of course, but in case you want it easier, you can use some of the Smart Lock suggestions.
Swipe up setting • Homescreen • App drawer • Folder view • Notification shade
There are unique Xperia bits on top, however – ones that are meant to help out with the tall aspect of the display and the extreme overall height, particularly on this larger 6.5-inch model. Chief among those is one-handed mode.
It’s not a new thing, it’s just that being able to shrink the UI and bring it closer gets a new meaning on a phone of the 10 Plus’s proportions. A quick double tap on the Home button does just that and even makes the notification shade almost conveniently reachable with one hand – good luck with that on the full-screen UI.
Side sense is not really a new feature, but it is still unique enough to merit a few words. Plus, Sony’s implementation in the Xperia 1 is fairly flexible and in-depth. It boils down to a pair of touch-sensitive areas on either side of the phone. You can tap or slide these to trigger various actions most of which user-configurable, including the sensitivity of the areas. The menu itself is sort of a take on the Android Pie recent apps interface, which is notably missing from its intended location as a row in the app drawer. Unfortunately, in our experience, its sensitivity is a mixed bag, and all of us had a hard time triggering the Side Sense menu reliably time after time. So, that’s another feature that’s going to the Gimmicks bin if you are keeping count.
Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • Split window • Split window
One particularly powerful and customizable option is the 21:9 pair shortcut feature. Through it, you simply select two apps and the relative location you want to launch them in and then you can trigger a split-screen with the pair instantly.
An inherent benefit of an extra-long display is the ability to show more items in long lists – that includes boring stuff like the settings menu, and marginally more fun stuff like, say, posts in Instagram.
Another good use for a 21:9 screen is showing two apps in two larger-than-average halves of the said screen – if only Google hadn’t completely ruined the mechanics of going into multi-window with Pie.
There’s a downside to the unusual aspect too, in that some apps may not be able to display properly in it. We ran into this with one of the benchmarks we do, but not the more common apps you’re likely to use. Even so, the possibility for incompatibility is there.
Settings (almost all of them) • Chrome • Multi-window • Task switcher
Sony also notably handles its own multimedia display and playback, with its proprietary Video and Album apps. Album features both photo and video support, can connect to the cloud and local network services and is pretty good at organizing galleries and doing the occasional light edit on a shot. There is a dedicated Video app with Dolby Atmos support, too, which depending on the region, may or may not offer extended information about the content inside.
The Music app is simple and well organized, without lacking any important features. All the while, it looks very appealing with large format album art (and automatic art download) and a flat design. It also features Google cloud integration. There are also various options to tweak the sound, including the DSEE HX up-scaler and Dolby Atmos. Others, like aptX HD, benefit listening to music wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Album app • Photo Editor • Music app • Audio settings • Video app
Game Enhancer is pretty self-explanatory but still contains a few interesting little features. It has two main interfaces – one acting as a game launcher, while the other being an overlay that can be pulled out while in game. It gives two performance profiles to choose from. One being “max-throttle”, while the other is a more battery-minded mode that caps fps to 40 and adjusts some other settings. Then there is Focus mode, which disables pesky notifications and other distractions.
There are also screenshot and video capture features, the latter of which can also capture footage from your selfie camera along with the game “let’s play” style. There is no direct streaming to any video platforms, though. Last, but not least, a quick search function can bring up YouTube videos in a floating video for you, related to the game you are currently playing.
Performance and benchmarks
The Sony Xperia 1 is properly powered flagship having the latest Snapdragon 855 at the helm. This Snapdragon is based on the 7nm node from TSMC and incorporates an octa-core CPU that Qualcomm calls Kryo 485. It’s comprised of a single Gold core (a Cortex-A76 derivative) clocked at the whopping 2.84 GHz; then there are three more Gold cores clocked at 2.42 GHz and a cluster of four Silver cores (Cortex-A55 derivative) ticking at 1.79 GHz.
The GPU is Adreno 640 and it’s Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line graphics processor that can handle pretty much everything you throw at it. There aren’t many games running on the native Xperia 1 screen resolution, if any at all, but no matter the resolution, GPUs don’t get any better than that in the Android industry.
The Xperia 1 has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, though some markets could get a slightly cheaper 64GB variant in a limited stock.
All that being said, we couldn’t help but notice that despite the current choice of flagship chipset, the Xperia 1 appears to be lacking Wi-Fi 6 compatibility. Pretty odd, given that it is within the SD855’s capabilities. Sony isn’t really taking full advantage of the X24LTE modem either. Although the jump from the provided Cat.19 speed to the theoretical maximum Cat.20 ones are hardly something you’ll miss.
We ran our traditional benchmark routine and it really brings no surprises. The latest Qualcomm processor is indeed the best one available on any Android today.
GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)
Higher is better
- Apple iPhone XS Max11432
- Xiaomi Mi 911181
- Samsung Galaxy Fold11028
- Sony Xperia 110985
- LG G8 ThinQ10735
- Oppo Reno 10x zoom10395
- Samsung Galaxy S10+10387
- Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)10014
- Sony Xperia XZ38607
- Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium8509
And only Samsung’s latest Exynos core can beat it in certain single-core tasks.
GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)
Higher is better
- Apple iPhone XS Max4777
- Samsung Galaxy S10+4522
- Samsung Galaxy Fold3512
- Xiaomi Mi 93503
- Sony Xperia 13447
- Oppo Reno 10x zoom3424
- LG G8 ThinQ3419
- Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)3323
- Sony Xperia XZ32486
- Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium2419
The Adreno 640 is a beast as evident by the offscreen tests.
GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)
Higher is better
- Apple iPhone XS Max99
- Sony Xperia 171
- Samsung Galaxy Fold71
- Xiaomi Mi 970
- Samsung Galaxy S10+69
- Oppo Reno 10x zoom67
- LG G8 ThinQ65
- Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium58
- Sony Xperia XZ356
- Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)56
GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)
Higher is better
- Apple iPhone XS Max60
- Sony Xperia 142
- Samsung Galaxy S10+42
- Samsung Galaxy Fold42
- Xiaomi Mi 942
- Oppo Reno 10x zoom40
- LG G8 ThinQ40
- Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium35
- Sony Xperia XZ335
- Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)33
The Xperia 1 runs the onscreen benchmark on an extended 1080p vertical resolution and that’s the reason it aces those as well. But note that if a game or a benchmark supports native 4K resolution – it will run in 4K resolution.
GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)
Higher is better
- Apple iPhone XS Max60
- Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium57
- Oppo Reno 10x zoom57
- Xiaomi Mi 956
- Sony Xperia 155
- Samsung Galaxy Fold52
- Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)50
- Samsung Galaxy S10+37
- LG G8 ThinQ33
- Sony Xperia XZ331
GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)
Higher is better
- Apple iPhone XS Max47
- Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium37
- Oppo Reno 10x zoom35
- Xiaomi Mi 935
- Sony Xperia 133
- Samsung Galaxy Fold32
- Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)29
- Samsung Galaxy S10+23
- LG G8 ThinQ20
- Sony Xperia XZ319
And finally, here is the 3D Mark score, yet another excellent result.
3DMark SSE 3.1 Unlimited
Higher is better
- Samsung Galaxy Fold6135
- Oppo Reno 10x zoom6052
- LG G8 ThinQ6017
- Xiaomi Mi 95816
- Sony Xperia 15792
- Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium4978
- Samsung Galaxy S10+4632
- Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)4315
Finally, the compound AnTuTu test just confirms the Xperia 1 features the right hardware and for its price tag you are getting indeed one of the Android’s finest.
Higher is better
- Xiaomi Mi 9372006
- Oppo Reno 10x zoom364220
- Samsung Galaxy Fold363016
- Sony Xperia 1356734
- Apple iPhone XS Max353210
- Samsung Galaxy S10+333736
- LG G8 ThinQ331537
- Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)316156
- Sony Xperia XZ3284555
- Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium264734
So, as far as performance is concerned, the Xperia 1 won’t leave you wanting, not for the couple of years to come at least. It manages heat reasonably – it may get a bit warm but it’s the top of the display that’s get hot instead of the back – which is a bit odd but not worrisome.
Triple camera on an Xperia
The Xperia 1 is the first Sony smartphone to be equipped with a trio of cameras on the back. A fairly common arrangement consisting of a regular snapper, a telephoto one with 2x zoom, as well as an ultra-wide. All with a resolution of 12MP. Going into more particulars, here is the camera setup it has to work with:
- Main: 12MP (1/2.6″), f/1.6, 26mm lens, dual-pixel PDAF, OIS
- Telephoto: 12MP (1/3.4″), f/2.4, 52mm lens (2x zoom), PDAF, OIS
- Ultra-wide: 12MP (1/3.4″) ultra-wide, f/2.4, 16mm lens, fixed-focus
Sony has been building up a pretty compelling and multi-faceted camera setup throughout the years. Most tech that has proven worthwhile has definitely stuck, like the stacked RAM image sensor that enables things like the 960 fps FullHD slow motion video capture and the fast sensor readout which prevents distortion when shooting fast moving objects.
Having said that, there are a few new camera features which the Xperia 1 introduces too. One such addition is optical image stabilization – which has been a long time coming if you ask us. It is now part of Sony’s SteadyShot stabilization feature. So not only does it have the benefit of its traditional 5-axis EIS system for 4K video, but there is also OIS to give it an extra hand with photos in low light.
Sony has also borrowed a few bits and pieces from its professional “Alpha” camera division. Bionz X for mobile now offers a few interesting new technologies. One is Eye AF – an intelligent focusing system that can fix itself on a subject’s eye and provide impressively accurate tracking. Not only it is smart enough to easily tell the distance the person in question is at, but it can also remember a particular eye. So that even if more people come into the frame or said person moves out of the frame and then returns back in, the eye-tracking and focus, that goes along with it remain unfazed.
In this implementation Eye tracking is based on Face Tracking, which is still the faster technology, Sony admits. The phone will first detect a face and only then will it look for the eye – but this process happens seamlessly for the user and is instantaneous. Sony claims their Face tracking is among the fastest in the mobile industry regardless of the orientation of the subject’s head.
Continuous burst shooting is another nifty trick. It allows the Xperia 1 to capture stills at a rate of up to 10fpsm with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure for each shot so that each and everyone comes out looking perfect. We tried that and indeed it works mostly as advertised. However, you should keep in mind that Burst shooting is not available for the Ultra-wide angle camera.
The camera app itself is lifted from the XZ3 with an additional toggle for switching between the different cameras – 1x, 2x, and Wide. Switching between photo and video mode is a one-click operation, and all the corresponding modes and settings are well contained within menus, in those modes.
Unfortunately, the switch to the ultra-wide camera on this phone takes more time than on any other phone we’ve tried so that’s definitely something the company needs to work on. Also, the exposure compensation slider – which is probably the second most used control after the camera selection button – always overlaps the latterр which is far from ideal.
The Superior Auto is still here and it’s the default Auto mode, though Sony has ditched the Superiority of its name. It successfully detects the scenes and adjusts parameters accordingly, and it even takes into consideration whether the phone is stable enough to invoke longer shutter speeds.
Manually triggering HDR is possible only via the manual mode though, just as on previous Xperia phones. Otherwise, the choice of whether to trigger HDR is left to the Auto algorithm to decide.
Photos taken with the main camera on the Xperia 1 look lovely in fit-to-screen magnifications. Colors are pleasingly rich, exposure is spot on and contrast is great. Zooming in to 1:1 pixel level reveals tons of detail, though noise is clearly visible too. Apparently, the noise suppression algorithms are more conservative preserving more detail.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP photos
And here are some more shots.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP photos
The dynamic range is good, though not the best we’ve seen on a flagship. Manual mode is where you need to go to force the HDR processing on and improve further the dynamic range if needed. The Auto mode has the Backlit scene mode, but it doesn’t always engage when you need it to.
The fact that you have to resort to forcing HDR while all the competing phones have AlwaysOn HDR is far from ideal and definitely is one direction Sony phones can be improved. Furthermore, when you enable HDR manually, the EyeAF is no longer available. Also, while in Pro mode, there is no camera selection toggle so the only way to switch to the tele camera is by pinch zooming. And there is NO way to switch to the ultra-wide camera from this mode at all.
With those strange shortcomings aside, we found the HDR processing to be quite effective at retaining highlight detail. The effect on shadows is not readily noticeable and it doesn’t appear to do that much.
HDR off • HDR on • HDR off • HDR on
The 12MP images from the telephoto camera are as excellent as the ones by the main camera. The snapper has a darker f/2.4 lens, but the dynamic range is quite good and the OIS helps in snapping sharp photos. The detail is plenty, the sharpness – just right, and the colors – lovely.
Our only complaint here is that the Autofocus performance and AF reliability of the telephoto lens is not as good as on competing phones – it’s especially challenged when you have EyeAF on.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP telephoto samples
Then there is the 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera, which will also take some great shots. The camera’s settings also allow for distortion correction, if you find the buildings too curvy for your taste (which we did). Supposedly, that comes at the expense of detail rendition, but we were happy with the tradeoff as by default, the geometric distortion is way too much. We had the optional distortion correction on for all of these photos and we really like the quality of the photos we were getting – dynamic range is adequate, contrast is great, and colors really pop.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP ultra-wide-angle samples
Since the Xperia 1 EU launch was in Venice, Italy, we used this opportunity to snap as many photos around this lovely place with all three snappers. Too bad the weather hardly cooperated being constantly overcast and raining all the time but even in these challenging conditions, the Xperia 1 managed to take some really nice shots.
Normal • Telephoto • Ultra-wide
Normal • Telephoto • Ultra-wide
Normal • Telephoto • Ultra-wide
Normal • Telephoto • Ultra-wide
Normal • Telephoto • Ultra-wide
Normal • Telephoto • Ultra-wide
Normal • Telephoto • Ultra-wide
Normal • Telephoto • Ultra-wide
When the light is low the Xperia 1’s excellent camera performance continues. The Auto mode can sense if your hand is stable enough and will display a tripod icon even if the phone isn’t mounted on a tripod. This will allow the camera to use some night mode-like trickery that takes a couple of seconds and saves a very nice photo. This isn’t an actual night mode, though. Instead, the Xperia 1 drops the shutter speed down to around 1 second. And while shooting this kind of (a real) long-exposure shot, it also tries its best to compensate for the handshake – probably by using its OIS- and quite successfully we’d say.
So, and this is probably a first for Sony, the Xperia 1 shoots some stunning low-light photos, no need for a tripod or even a dedicated Night mode. There is plenty of detail in those, low noise and well-preserved colors. Not all highlights are blown, and the exposure is mostly even.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP low-light photos
You can’t use the telephoto camera at night, if you switch to 2x mode the images you’ll get a digitally zoomed and cropped image from the main cam – perhaps for the better.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP low-light telephoto samples
You can use the ultra-wide-angle snapper though, and surprisingly is captures some very usable photos with decent detail and low noise levels. They are no match for the photos we got from the main camera but are not terrible either.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP low-light ultra-wide samples
Once you’re done examining the real-life samples, you can have a look at our Photo compare tool for some studio shots in conrtolled lighting environment. We’ve pre-selected the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Galaxy S10+. You can, by all means, pick any other set of phones to compare once you’re there.
Sony Xperia 1 against the OnePlus 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10+ in our Photo compare tool
The Xperia 1 captures some very decent portraits. The background blur is natural looking and the subject separation is good but not exactly infallible. We observed some oil-painting-like artifacts on people’s faces, but still, for all intents and purposes, the portrait mode gets the job done and we enjoyed shooting in it.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP portraits
Unfortunately, once you take several Portrait photos in rapid succession, it seems the processing bogs down the phone and the camera app becomes unresponsive for a couple of seconds. You can’t take any more photos and we even had it crash on us a few times.
Sony Xperia 1 12MP portraits
The Xperia 1 is equipped with an 8MP selfie camera with a 1/4″ sensor, 1.12µm pixels and a lens with an f/2.0 aperture. The focus is fixed, as usual.
When there is plenty of light you can count on very detailed selfies with true colors. In less than ideal light, the images quickly turn softer, but they still look plenty nice in fit-to-screen magnifications.
Sony Xperia 1 8MP selfies
There’s a portrait selfie mode too, but it’s on par with other single-cam fixed-focus efforts from competitors, which is to say anything but flawless. It works fine when there is good light, but also introduces more noise. The separation isn’t ideal, and nor is the blur, but if you want such a selfie mode – you have it and it isn’t terrible.
Sony Xperia 1 8MP Portrait selfies
The Xperia 1 comes with a few video capture goodies as well. For one, there is the new SteadyShot implementation we mentioned earlier, now complete with OIS (where available). Also, seeing how big Sony is banking on its new 21:9 concept, it is only natural to see a 21:9 video recording mode in the camera app. It records at the native 1644 x 3840px resolution of the Xperia 1’s display.
You can record videos with all three cameras and the available resolutions are 4K@30fps, 1080p@30/60 fps, and 720p@30fps – there is no 4K@60fps mode. SteadyShot is available on all of these resolutions and it pairs with OIS if the lens is stabilized (normal and tele camera).
HDR video is available, too. You can capture 4K HDR clips with the main and tele snappers only, there is no HDR for the ultra-wide-angle cam.
The 5-axis EIS works really well and we’re glad to finally have it on for 4K footage on Xperia phone. It seems OIS is getting in its way as we observed some jerkiness of the video, which usually occurs when the lens is stabilized and the system doesn’t keep up with the camera movement. For example, the ultra-wide-angle camera lacks OIS and the SteadyShot EIS seems to be working better here as the footage is smoother.
Now, let’s talk quality. The 4K videos are encoded at around 55Mbps, which is a little higher than average. 1080p/60fps footage gets 30Mbps flat, while 1080p/30fps is treated to 17-17.5Mbps. Audio is recorded in stereo and gets a 156kbps bit rate regardless of video mode.
The 4K footage from the main camera has great dynamic range, the colors are true to life and contrast is excellent. There is a decent amount of resolved detail, though we’ve seen flagships do better.
The 1080p videos shot at 30fps similar dynamic range, colors and contrast. They are plenty sharp and detail and among the best we’ve seen.
Finally, the 1080p clips shot at 60fps have less resolved detail than the 30fps ones and are quite soft.
The 4K videos from the telephoto camera are softer than the ones we shot with the main cam. They do look good and offer nice contrast and colors.
The 1080p footage from the telephoto camera matches the quality of the main one – excellent 30fps and soft 60fps clips.
And finally, the 4K ultra-wide videos are quite soft, just like the zoomed ones. Meanwhile, the 1080p samples turned out great at 30fps, and once again soft at 60fps. One thing we noticed on the wide-angle videos is that the colors are somewhat oversaturated.
And finally, we shot some nice videos around Venice in Italy during the Xperia 1 launch. Enjoy!
The last stop is, of course, our Video compare tool where you can compare the Xperia 1’s output against other phones we’ve tested. We’ve pre-selected the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Galaxy S10+, but a different set of devices is only a few clicks away.
2160p: Sony Xperia 1 against the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S10+ in our Video compare tool
Cinema Pro video recording app
Finally, besides the standard camera app, Sony also provides the “Cinema Pro” video recording app, which is designed in collaboration with Sony’s CineAlta movie video camera division and is squarely aimed at videography enthusiasts.
It is hard to describe what it offers in a few words, but some of the most important highlights include shooting at a cinematic 23.98 fps at 21:9 resolutions of either 3840 x 1640 or 2520 x 1080. The footage is HDR, and is shot in H.265. There is also adjustable ISO, ranging from 50 to 1600, adjustable shutter speed (1/23.98 to 1/1541.32) and manual control of focus. Finally, the app also allows you to choose the camera you’d like to shoot with – the 16mm f/2.4, or the 26mm f/1.6 or the 52mm f/2.4.
Cinema Pro app
Most interesting, however, is the Look selector, which gives you a pick from professional color profiles for your video. These include VENICE CS, Strong/BU60 YE60, Bright/BU20 YE60, Soft/YE80, String/BU100, Cool/BU60, and Deep/YE40. Of those, Venice CS is the flattest one with soft colors, the least amount of contrast and soft tonal transitions. It should lend itself well to color grading in post-processing.
Here’s a samples of what is possible to achieve with the Cinema Pro video recording app.
You can also check out our in-depth Cinema Pro app review for more details of our experience shooting video with it.
Sony is the only maker to insist on delivering 4K experience on a smartphone and it keeps getting better at it. Having a 4K HDR OLED cinematic screen is enough of a deal sealer, but Sony decided to do more and has strived to make one of the best triple-camera setups money can buy today.
It’s been forever since we’ve seen an Xperia ace low-light shots, and the Xperia 1 gets our proverbial pat on the back for achieving that. Sony is using real long-exposure shooting and the results are well-exposed photos with natural looks.
All three snappers do brilliantly when shooting photos, but that’s not all. The Xperia 1 has a versatile camcorder and the phone saves all kinds of videos with good quality, nicely stabilized at that.
Back to the screen – it’s as great as Sony promises and watching 21:9 4K HDR content is a unique experience, further enhanced by either the great stereo speakers setup or the Dolby Atmos support for headphones. Watching multimedia is great even if it isn’t 4K or HDR, as the Xperia 1 tries to upscale its resolution and dynamic range via proprietary software technologies, and it succeeds in that.
Finally, the clean design and simplistic UI are something Sony fans expect, and the company delivers.
The Xperia 1 isn’t that perfect, of course, but no phone is. The selfie experience could have been better, and the audio jack should have been kept around. The camera app has a laundry list of its little nuisances but they didn’t spoil our overall positive impressions.
With all that said, the Xperia 1 is an excellent phone worthy having around for all kinds of multimedia purposes.
If an expansive HDR OLED screen is a must, but you can live without the 4K resolution (and frankly we can), then the OnePlus 7 Pro and Oppo Reno 10x zoom are nice (and cheaper!) alternatives. They both shine with the same Snapdragon 855 chips, flashy designs, pop-up selfie cameras, and bezel-less screen, and good overall camera experience.
OnePlus 7 Pro • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
Then, if a notch isn’t that of an issue, the already cheaper Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Huawei P30 Pro may be all that you need – they’ve both got great screens, excellent chipsets, and stunning designs. The S10+ offers a similar camera skillset as the Sony, while the Huawei P30 Pro has one of the best, if not the best, setups on the market right now (with the small aspects of the camera experience more refined than Sony’s). Then again Huawei is having some troubles right now, but if you are okay with not getting an upgrade to future Android versions, then it could turn as an excellent deal.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ • Huawei P30 Pro
The Xperia 1 has one-of-a-kind 4K display, HDR OLED at that. The triple camera, the stereo speakers, latest Snapdragon chip, stylish design, and the IP68 ingress protection all add to an overall great package.
The camera experience is a little bit rough around the edges but finally on par with the competition in the things that matter. Battery life could have been better, but we guess that the 4K screen needs its juice.
We have no doubts anyone who buys the Xperia 1 will be as happy as we are with it. The Xperia 1 is priced like just about any other flagship smartphone at launch – it’s not cheap by any margin but its price will only get better from here on making it a better deal down the line. But even as things stand right now, we think it deserves serious consideration by anyone looking for a high-end smartphone.
- Class-leading 4K HDR OLED cinematic display.
- Flagship-grade Snapdragon 855 chipset.
- Classy design with IP68-certification.
- Excellent stereo speakers setup.
- Top notch camera experience, photo and video.
- Night-time shots are Sony’s best yet.
- Eye tracking auto focus and super fast Face tracking make the camera stand out.
- The Xperia UI is clean and snappy and integrates nicely with Sony’s ecosystem.
- No audio jack.
- No 4K@60fps video recording.
- No night mode (though regular low-light photos are superb already).
- We wish the ultra wide cam had autofocus.
- Audio output quality is not on the level of competition.
- Battery life is not very competitive.
- No Wireless charging
- No Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) support even though the chipset supports it