The fifth generation of Sony’s Xperia phone is here, with an improved camera and an excellent 4K screen. It’s expensive, but it delivers on the promise of a premium Sony experience.
The phone is a little taller than the previous generation but still compact and manages to fit in a full-size SIM slot. It’s black and has a matt finish on the sides and rear. The power button is on the right edge, next to a slightly recessed volume rocker. The fingerprint scanner is a little lower down and a rarity for the current smartphone market, a headphone jack sits on top. There’s a USB-C port on the bottom and a SIM/micro SD tray in the middle.
It’s a well-built phone with a nice feel to it in the hand. The textured grip on the rear is a welcome change from the glossier glass of most smartphones and makes for a less slippery device. There’s a new shutter release button on the top of the camera cartouche too which should help with photography, as will the inclusion of the new 48-megapixel sensor.
This sensor is a huge step up from the 16-megapixel units in most other phones. It captures more detail and, when used with the clever Creator Mode preset, can deliver content close to its creator’s original intention. During my time with the phone I was also impressed by how well the OLED display handled night scenes and dark details, with plenty of pinpoint white stars visible against a deep black sky.
On the software front, the Xperia 1 VI runs on a clean and relatively minimal version of Android. Sony’s creation-focused apps are pre-installed, as are Music Pro and External Monitor. There’s also a three-month Tidal trial for music streaming. The bloatware is kept to a minimum, although the inclusion of a camera editing app and a few Sony audio settings tweaks might not be to everyone’s taste.
The Xperia 1 VI has solid network performance. It’s on the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which we’ve been impressed with in other devices, and there’s 12GB of RAM. That should make for a smooth experience, though I did notice the occasional slowdown when using a handful of apps. The only thing I was a little concerned about is the lack of any commitment to a minimum number of OS updates. Most other high-end phones, like Apple and Samsung, provide 3-4 major updates and five years of security patches, so it’s a bit concerning that Sony doesn’t offer the same. There’s a microSD card slot too, which is a great addition in an age of diminishing headphone jacks and disappearing memory slots.