Matt Sayer is a writer for Finder, covering all things technology and telecommunications. Along with reporting on events like CES and Mobile World Congress, he has produced comprehensive guides for popular products like smart speakers and graphics cards. He has a Bachelor of Computer Science from RMIT University and is passionate about helping Aussies leverage technology to better their lives.
2018 saw a number of smartphone manufacturers expand beyond the standard widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9, designing their phones with a taller 19:9 ratio to deliver more screen real estate without pushing the width into two-hand territory.
In 2019, Sony is going a step further with the Xperia 1, a 6.5-inch smartphone with an ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio. This makes it one of the tallest phones on the market. Not only that, it's one of a scant few phones to feature a full 4K display, making for one of the sharpest screens currently available on a mobile device.
Full 4K display
Ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio
Sony has serious chops in the high-end display market. Its top-of-the-line TVs are some of the best in the business, so it's no surprise that this expertise filters down to the company's Xperia smartphones.
The Xperia 1 is the clearest example of this yet. The 6.5-inch handset sports an ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio, the same ratio favoured by the majority of the modern movie industry. This makes the Xperia 1 particularly well-suited to watching your favourite flicks on the go, as does the phone's crisp OLED display and native 4K resolution.
To better show off the Xperia 1's display hardware, Sony has equipped the phone with its X1 remastering technology which automatically upscales images and videos to 4K and applies HDR processing techniques. This allows non-4K and non-HDR content to look sharper on the Xperia 1 than on a similar display lacking upscaling capabilities.
As a consequence of the Xperia 1's 21:9 aspect ratio, it's one of the tallest phones you can currently buy. Measuring in at 167mm tall, you're going to want deep pockets to keep it from tumbling out as you go about your day-to-day.
On the plus side, Sony has built the Xperia 1 to take quite a beating, should the need arise. Corning's popular Gorilla Glass 6 covers the handset's front and back, protecting it against bumps and scratches. The Xperia 1 also carries an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, certifying it as completely dust-proof as well as capable of surviving a dunk in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes.
Audio is another area where Sony has plenty of experience and this too is evident in the Xperia 1. The phone supports Dolby Atmos surround sound, high-resolution audio formats (such as FLAC and ALAC) and leverages DSEE HX (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine). The latter is Sony's own technology and operates much like its X1 display upscaling engine, enhancing regular audio to bring it more in-line with true high-resolution audio files.
Beyond these key features, the Xperia 1 plays it fairly safe. Like most premium Android handsets, it runs on Android 9.0 ("Pie") and packs 128GB of internal storage with support for microSD expansion up to 512GB.
Triple 12MP rear camera array
21:9 video recording
Cameras are a big part of Sony's business and with the Xperia 1 this is finally starting to trickle down to the cameras on the company's smartphones.
The Xperia 1 is the first of Sony's phones to pack 3 lenses at the rear: a 12MP wide-angle lens, a 12MP telephoto lens and a 12MP all-purpose lens. According to Sony, these lenses take cues from the company's Alpha range of professional cameras, sporting enhanced autofocus and increased noise reduction.
Sony has stepped up its game in the video recording department, too. The Xperia 1 can capture video in full 4K HDR, with the increased clarity immediately apparent on the phone's 4K HDR screen. That 21:9 aspect ratio also proves handy here, as you can record in 21:9 to produce videos that mimic the format of Hollywood movies.
It's a less impressive story around the front of the Xperia 1, with the selfie camera clocking in at a humdrum 8MP. Nevertheless, it should be quite capable of snapping decent shots for your social feeds.
Snapdragon 855 should provide plenty of grunt
6GB of RAM is solid if unremarkable
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chipset is the platform of choice for flagship Android smartphones in 2019, so it's no surprise that Sony has chosen it to power the Xperia 1. Qualcomm's previous Snapdragon 845 platform delivered solid performance in Sony's Xperia XZ2 and we expect the Xperia 1 to achieve similarly respectable results with its combination of the Snapdragon 855 and 6GB of RAM.
In practical terms, this should ensure the Xperia 1 is more than capable of handling the latest games and apps without a hitch.
Adaptive charging to increase battery lifespan
Despite its added height, the Xperia 1 has a relatively small battery for a phone of its size. Where many 6-inch+ handsets cram in batteries of 4,000mAh or more, the Xperia 1 makes do with a 3,330mAh battery.
Smaller batteries are something of a trend in Sony's smartphones, but capacity alone doesn't tell the whole story. That's because the Xperia 1 makes use of various power-saving techniques such as a Smart Stamina mode which automatically adjusts power usage to get the most out of your remaining juice. Even with those modes active, it's unlikely that the Xperia 1 will last much longer than a day under average use.
Fast-charging is almost a given on modern smartphones and the Xperia 1 delivers this with support for USB Power Delivery (USB PD). It also features Sony's Xperia Adaptive Charging technology, a technique designed to monitor and adjust the charging process to prolong the overall lifespan of the Xperia 1's battery.
Pricing and availability
The Sony Xperia 1 is slated for a June 2019 launch internationally
No Australian release date or price has yet been announced
The bigger brother to the Xperia 10, Sony's Xperia 10 Plus packs a larger screen and more-powerful guts into its ultra-tall 21:9 frame. Read more…
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