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The Sony Xperia 1 V is an Android phone with a 6.5 inch, 3840 x 16444 pixel 120 Hz OLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and a 5,000 mAh battery. It’s also the first phone to ship with Sony’s new “Xmor T for mobile” image sensor.
In other words, the Xperia 1 V is clearly a premium device with premium specs. With a $1,398 price tag, it’s actually a little cheaper than last year’s Xperia 1 IV, which cost $1600 at launch. But I still can’t help but wonder how many phones Sony actually sells at prices like these.
As best I can tell, Sony isn’t positioning these phones to the same folks who would be in the market for the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device. Instead, Sony’s flagship phones are positioned as devices that blur the lines between smartphones and the professional-level cameras and camera accessories the company sells.
Its high-res, high-quality display helps you frame the perfect shot. And the camera system includes Zeiss optics, support for capturing JPEC and RAW images, and optical image stabilization, among other things. Cameras include:
- 52MP primary camera with a 1/1.35″ Exmor T for mobile sensor
- 12MP wide angle (123 degree) camera with Exmor RS 1/2.5″ sensor
- 12MP telephoto (85 – 125mm equivalent) camera with Exmor RS 1/3.5″ sensor
- 12MP front camera with Exmor RS 1/2.9″ image sensor
And the phone does have a few features that are typically only reserved for mid-range phones these days, including a 3.5mm audio jack and microSDXC card reader. Both could very much come in handy for folks looking for a device that’s a camera first and a smartphone second.
It also has a USB 3.2 Type-C port for 5 Gbps data transfer speeds, support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3, support for Qi wireless charging, and an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance.
But if you’re willing to drop $1400 on a phone with those kinds of features, I can’t help but wonder if you wouldn’t be better served spending your money on a good DSLR or mirrorless camera… especially since, while Sony makes the image sensors used by some of the phones known for taking the best photos, Sony’s own phones don’t always score the highest marks in smartphone photography tests. That may be because smartphone photography often relies as much on software as it does on hardware, and Sony’s expertise seems to lie more lie more in the former than the latter.
Anyway, I’m not complaining that Sony continues to forge its own path. It’s nice to see the company continue to produce phones that aren’t exactly like everything else on the market. I just have a hard time imagining that Sony sells very many of them, given the high price tags.
That said, it’s not like the company only sells $1400+ phones. Sony also introduced a new mid-range phone this week. The Sony Xperia 10 V is about one third the price of the Xperia 1 V and features a 6.1 inch, 2520 x 1080 pixel OLED display with a 60 Hz refresh rate, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a camera system that includes a 48MP Sony Exmor RS primary sensor, 8MP telephoto camera, 8MP wide-angle camera, and 8MP front-facing camera.
It may not stand out from the competition as much as some other phones, but at least it’s more reasonably priced, while continuing to offer features like a 5,000 mAh battery, 3.5mm audio jack, and microSDXC card reader with support for cards up to 1TB. Like its pricier sibling, the phone is also rated IP68 for waterproof performance.
I’m Xperia 5 IV user.
I wanted definitely no notch or punch hole (moving from OnePlus 6), headphone jack, micro SD card (for FLAC music), good camera and reasonable USB speeds. Also relatively small and waterproof device. Xperia 5 and 1 are the only ones I could find. The phone was expensive, 1050 euros, but it is worth it…at some point while searching for a phone I just gave up on a price. Better to pay more than be constantly limited for the next 2-6 years.
I gave up smartphones when Google released Android 9 Pie and turned their system into a “feature phone” platform. All ads, artificial restrictions, bootloader lockdowns, removal of features in the name of “security” paired with price increases of inferior products made me realize that those devices are pure trash. Paying $1300+ for “trash” is out of the question since it is the same shitty operating system in a phone for $150 or one for $1500.
The last “good” version of Android is 7.1.2/Nougat and it’s the last version I kind of enjoy using with a custom ROM. Sony is as shitty as other smartphone brands since they insist on using a highly problematic OS. If they dared to make a device that would run either Linux and/or Windows that could be docked and turn into a tablet/laptop/desktop depending on dock I might even be able to accept their pricing. Since they insist on offering Android only with a lot of question marks regarding the ability of getting rid of that trash OS, they can’t be neither “better” or “worse” than other brands with similar products.
I rather buy two ROG Ally’s or SteamDecks over an Xperia. All Android devices remind me a lot of phones like the Sony Ericsson K800i in terms of overall capabilities (more or less take pictures/video calls, listening to music, use a web browser with ads, install and run simple “apps”), while the hardware development is at a standstill (128-256GB storage year out and year in, “better camera”, “better display” and “latest Snapdragon” rinse and repeat). It is hilarious to see phones being sold with 128GB storage in 2023, with insane price tags when a $349 Xiaomi Mi Max had that capacity AND microSD slot in 2016 already.
Smartphones are toys nowadays even if there are people who go to great lengths in defending them, especially arguing that their shitty device is a “computer replacement”, essentially defending this major dumb down of the general population.
I am sorry but I can’t use any positive words when describing a 2023 smartphone, “shitty” and “trash” or “toy” is the only things I can think of. Trying to find “positive aspects” is to me like finding the “positive aspects” of rotten food.
Sony did make several great Xperia devices over the years but reached its climax with the Z2 before things went downhill. Their biggest problem is the operating system, the hardware is perfectly fine if judged isolated. With “perfectly fine” I mean more or less OK manufacturing quality and decent (state-of-the-art) components but they doesn’t make up a “good” device due to the software issues.
Unfortunately, the only defense that smartphones need now is that everyone else looks at you like you’ve got three heads if you say you don’t have one and will simply refuse to talk to you if you try to communicate on a platform that doesn’t require one.
no usb 4…
Sony is still one of the few left that gives a rip about audio quality. So yes, it has other high end qualities but you forgot that beyond the camera, it supports high end codecs and offers great sound. I am still amazed how little attention it gets because these articles are so obsessed with the checkbox items.
Yes, their phones are offering features others don’t. But I’ve stopped caring about those hardware features in favor of custom ROM support for the hardware features phones that have custom ROMs have. If Sony was selling a phone with a de-googled ROM or even a Linux distro, and the hardware still worked about as well on their android models, I’d cringe at the price but I’d still pay it.
But this is because either I’m crazy, or the world has gone crazy, and I’m one of a few people who knows better than to participate in mass psychosis events through things such as the bluetooth contact tracing that has never gone away, people have just quit looking at it. Some new crisis can always make it, or some other metric by which you are determined not to be ceremonially unclean, come back, or google and apple can always come up with new mind games for people to play.
I’m going to go ahead and throw it out there that you’re not the crazy one.
When they started talking about adding contact tracing through the next apple update I decided not to update my phone for the next year or so until I got my next phone, which was supposed to be an fxtec pro-1 x, of course that got pushed far enough out that I ended up settling for some freebie android phone that more than likely has contract tracing built in, haven’t even checked, just sorta gave up.
Have my fxtec phone now but haven’t used it yet because I’m lacking the motivation to figure out how to install the Lineage build. There’s a reason I originally ordered this phone and not some old pixel to install Lineage myself, I’m not quite tech savvy enough, I understand probably 3/4 of the instructions but I need to understand 100% for it to work so…
All that to say, I would love it if Sony offered some sort of alternative OS, I too would cringe at the price and then order one.
Never spotted anyone carrying one, except in spiderman movies. Kinda wonder if sony just makes them for sony pictures.
‘ I can’t help but wonder if you wouldn’t be better served spending your money on a good DSLR or mirrorless camera…’
Yeah, because you can shove either of those in you pocket.
That sentence shouldn’t have made it past the editor.
Anyway, this device is clearly for enthusiasts, and considering how much some pay for camera gear, the cost won’t be an issue for them.
I for one, am grateful that Sony are making flagship devices with features like headphones sockets and microSD slots.
“Yeah, because you can shove either of those in you pocket.”
If you cared about taking good pictures you’d be carrying a camera in a camera bag anyways.
Sometimes, and indeed most of the time, it’s just not socially appropriate to be carrying a camera around, even when it is socially appropriate and indeed socially necessary to take photos of yourself and your surroundings for social media.
Exactly : There is a point in carrying a state of the art camera/smartone instead of two devices. Lots of people have artistic ambitions even going towards the professional.
Where can Sony go furter ? Have a look at design of Garmin smartwatches. Also when it comes to sports and ruggedness
Flagships suck across the board I hate them all
I agree with many of the opinions shared here, both the ones expressing interest and the ones that are more critical. I hope Sony won’t be dropping out of the smartphone game anytime soon. Sony appeals to people in a different niche that aren’t satisfied with what Apple and Samsung have to offer. It may or may not be struggling competitively, but it’s not irrelevant as a brand.
I’m particular about the user experience of my everyday gadgets. I’ve never enjoyed using Samsung or Apple devices. Now they’re even further from my consideration because of all the recent hardware compromises. Meanwhile, Sony’s always been a regular contender in my hunt for a new phone because it offers premium quality, understated aesthetics, no notch, higher audio capability, somewhat notable photo capability, and relevant now are the audio jack and SD card slot.
Regarding cameras, I’ve considered the DSLR-phone cam issue for a long time. I also have the opinion that phone cameras are just not as good as a true DSLR, and so I fully committed to investing in a DSLR at some point. A Sony Alpha mirrorless, in fact. But I recently let go of this idea because it’s just not logistically practical for a non-pro photographer. I used a few entry-level DSLRs and a mirrorless. They didn’t perform well enough to be worth the price for dedicated photography. They took a lot more work to get okay results. I would need to look at higher-spec options to be happier. But all standalone types add bulk, a lot of bulk with DSLRs. That’s completely impractical for everyday use or when I quickly have to whip out the camera to capture something important. Also, it’s tiring to hold up something heavy and keep a steady arm. As a non-pro, I can compromise on some of the quality if I get a lot of other things out of it. So I would really appreciate a premium smartphone with a good camera.
I understand that software plays a major part in a good phone camera, which is why I’m still waiting for a really good device to come out with both hardware and software that’s worth the spurge. But I’m more keen to see innovative hardware than software because phone processing tends to be overdone and artificial, when I’m interested in something more natural and accurate that I can edit to my liking. I’m reading that Sony does offer a good experience on this side of things.
A standalone camera would theoretically last longer, which is an important point for me too. But considering everything, it still makes more sense for me to go for a phone cam with a good build quality from a reliable brand.
On the audio side, now that LG is out, Sony is the next-best contender for audiophile-minded needs. Apple and Samsung are said by some to be pretty good with audio, but they’re lacking in some aspects, including the headphone jack. I also trust Sony more for audio concerns. It certainly could offer better than what it currently does for audio and photo, but it’s the better among the existing options at a fraction of the price of actual hi-fi DMPs or some DSLRs (especially higher-end compact types), or the total sum of buying these devices separately.
Again, how long the device lasts is important for this reasoning to be justified, but it is justifiable to those with certain wants and needs, and when comparing features with competitor smartphones. But I do want to see more innovation from Sony.
Owner of an Xperia 5 IV here. There’s a certain, almost “last of its kind” appeal to Sony phones.
Sony offers a phone that nobody else really offers; high-end, physically small, no notch, headphone jack, microSD slot. If you want one of those things, or worse, all of those things, there are really just not many options to choose from. There are very few phones I could find that would fit my hand, and nearly all the other options would force me to give up the headphone jack, microSD slot, or both.
The only other option for me was the OnePlus Nord N20 5G, which looked okay on paper but in practice was the worst phone I have ever owned (largely due to software).
The marketing of these phones as “creator’s” or “photographer’s” phones both is and isn’t overblown. The image quality isn’t anything special. It’s good, but other phones in the same price range are as good or better. What you’re really buying is the shooting experience. The two-step hardware shutter button is just fun and satisfying to use, and the apps have a UX that will be very familiar to anyone who also shoots with an Alpha mirrorless or DSLR. The colour science and processing are meant to parallel a Sony camera, as well.
To me, all high-end phones are frighteningly expensive, but yes, Sony manages to be particularly egregious. In some markets they don’t sell the cheaper phones, either. I guess even in 2023, the “Sony tax” is real.
All that being said, I agree that they must be selling to a niche of a niche and they can’t be moving many units. To begin with, you have the people like me who want certain features that aren’t common anymore, and then of that group, it’s only people who are going to both go out of their way and pay more instead of accepting one or more compromises. I’m incredibly picky, and I still tried to compromise and probably would have stuck with that very cheaply built, slightly too wide OnePlus if its software wasn’t so horrendously bad.
It’s possible that at least some of those features are a bigger deal in Japan, which is Sony’s home and primary market, and they’re really building for that crowd rather than curmudgeons who refuse to give up wired headphones. Even if they’re doing better in Japan, they’ll probably stop building phones some day, and for me, that will be a very sad day.
That’s a very good point about Sony smartphones – they still offer, or a least offered until not too long ago, a featured packed small phone… very rare these days. You either get no options from other brands, or you get a bunch of downgrades and compromises with it.
I really agree with this.
I kind of hate Sony, but they seem to be the only manufacturer that’s still building flagship phones with the features I want (microSD, headphones jack, front-facing speakers, no notch, waterproof, etc.)
I nearly bought an Xperia 5 IV, and I might get a 5 V whenever it eventually releases. (I ended up with a moto g100 which had most of those features at half the price.)
They stopped selling their smartphones in my country, so of course I stopped buying them.
If I were Sony I would design their premium model to cost 25% more than their most popular version. If their premium model does not sell well at that price point, they should give-up altogether on higher spec models.
To be honest this phone is quite tempting to me. I’m currently on an LG V60 and I’m considering upgrading within the next year or two. The main feature I want in a flagship phone is the 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD slot is a huge plus. I was eying the ROG Phone 7 and it’s certainly nice but it doesn’t have the microSD slot. This Sony Xperia phone has both features and probably better cameras too so I’d definitely give it serious consideration.
As far as I understand, and I don’t even know if this is true anymore, Sony phones are a Japan only thing. Well, they have become that.
After a great period of worldwide success, with Sony-Ericsson partnership during the late cellphone era, and a pretty big success with their early Xperia models worldwide, Sony got slowly left behind in the International market.
And they decided to go a different route at some point. Being way more conservative in adopting worldwide trends, sometimes taking too long to get their phones up to modern standards (such as the shift towards USB-C), and looking more into Japanese market demands rather than global markets, whatever is left of their marketshare these days is largely limited to Japan, and perhaps a few Asian markets.
I’m not all that aware on what the numbers are today. I think the Japanese market has largely shifted towards Apple, and Sony being a big Android brand there is also on the downfall.
It has repeatedly been reported as the least profitable sector in Sony, and rumors of it being entirely closed down popped up several times over the years.
But oh well, it’s not like I think it’s all bad too. At the very least, I think it’s interesting that at least one company is willing to take a few stances there rather than conforming to all the trends that always pops up in the smartphone industry.
It’s just that now that smartphone tech pretty much plateau’d, and Sony is not willing to take fad stuff, their phones have been looking stale for too long now.
I had an Xperia phone years ago… in fact, it was my first Android phone. And it was pretty great in comparison to other brands at the time.
But nowadays, with their crazy prices and phones that are just kinda “meh”, I don’t see reason to go for it. I haven’t seen a good reason to buy their phones for almost a full decade now.
Yeah, my wife used a Sony Xperia Compact for a few years. It was one of the only “small” phones with the kind of features that were available in flagships at the time including a good camera and a decent processor. But the software experience was way more frustrating than what Samsung and Google were offering at the time.
At this point I think you’re right – these are probably more for the Japanese market than the global market, but Sony does continue to sell them in the US and Europe and I’m wondering if it really sells enough units to justify the work it takes to make them available globally.
I mean, somebody who knows their sales figures and profit margins probably decided that it is. I’m a tech blogger, not an accountant, so what do I know?
It just strikes me as odd that I’m still writing about these super-expensive Sony flagships year after year.
Yeah Brad, again, good point… I dunno how it is nowadays anymore, but this what I read the most about Sony phones – it’s among the only mobile company doing feature packed smaller phones.
Every other brand either does not offer smaller phones, or they are some mid range model without most of the features.
But you know, Sony has the entire rest of the business to sustain this one, it can keep going even if it’s just there as a showcase of Sony imaging technology…
In fact, this conversation made me remember something – Sony’s mobile division was shrinking a ton over the years, so what Sony did back in 2019 was merge the entire sector inside their Electronics unit.
Oh well, I kinda wish they put their phones at reasonable prices once again… I’m lambasting them, but really, I’m a former Xperia Z3 owner. I like what they do with their phones, and specially how they don’t go after the fads… it’s really just that the price point became too much for me to pay. xD
You hit the nail on the head regarding how these compare to SLR cameras. No matter how good the cameras are on a smartphone, they will always be simply trying to emulate with software what a DSLR can do with optics.
Even beyond functionality, a DSLR is a better investment for the long term. I have over 10 years of use from my Nikon D3100.
I would love a smartphone with advanced cameras like this, but I would sooner spend $1400 on a proper camera. That would buy you an entry-level DSLR, a good Flash, maybe 2-3 great lenses that would do what most people would need, a tripod, and also a decent camera bag. That’s an entire complete kit for an new photographer.
Or that same amount could buy you a high-end full-frame DSLR, and a 50mm f1.8 lens.
Right? I mean, I actually do use my phone for most photography because it’s the device I always have with me. But I’ve also never spent more than $600 on a phone. If I was going to spend $1400 for a high quality camera, I’d probably spend that money on an actual camera and then pick up something like a Pixel 7a for day to day use.
Sony does great in Japan, pretty well in Northern Europe, and meh in USA. Outside of those regions, they don’t do well or are absent from the market.
So it’s not just that it’s a niche, they understand it is a niche. So they’re trying to separate themselves, and they’ve gone with the “YouTuber/Streamer/Blogger” aspect. And they’re not wrong, combining a Sony Mirrorless camera with an Xperia and their accessories works well. But you’ll be paying an arm, leg and a kidney for it. Another aspect to consider, is that Sony treats their phone as a halo device to showcase their latest technology, wether it’s in their software, display, or camera. And it usually is their Exmor sensor division they’re showcasing.
The latest Sony Xperia 1 V actually isn’t a good camera, objectively speaking. The best is the iPhone. These are with you everywhere, in your pocket, they’re meant to be simple, and take the fastest and best images instantly. They are Point’n’Shoot alternatives, not competitors to large optics cameras like DSLRs.
If you had the choice of using an iPhone, Xperia, and DSLR… you would firstly reach for the iPhone. If you had a bit more time, to setup the shot professionally, you’d grab the DSLR. But you would always skip the Sony.
So I think Sony should lean into their niche differently. Maybe offer their phones for free with their Mirrorless Cameras. Differentiate by more aspects; like non burn-in display, best software support, easily fixable, or even having longer practical battery life with User Removable Battery. These would be great when at a competitive price. Instead they slap camera hardware and display hardware which aren’t good, just to showcase, and it causes the device to be priced obscenely.
iPhones don’t have the best image quality. Not sure where you heard that but it hasn’t been true for years now. MKBHD does blind smartphone camera tests and the iPhone loses in the first round almost every year and DXO Mark never rates the iPhone as highest (maybe only in video but that’s it). Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi are objectively the smartphone camera kings.
I switched from Android to iPhone last year, and I couldn’t be more disappointed with the Camera. The amount of processing that goes into low-light shots is distracting. Parts of the image look like they were drawn from scratch by AI software.
MKBHD has no credibility.
The only way to properly compare phone cameras is in a controlled environment.
You take a really good and expensive dedicated camera, this acts as your benchmark. Then you take photos with all the other phones, using their default settings, and all at the same time. So you don’t get one shot which has the shadow from a cloud compared to another that has direct sunlight, etc etc. Ideally the shot is done indoors, in complete darkness, using items with known Colour Science and a controlled artificial lighting.
When you analyse all the photos, you should not be looking at them as what is subjectively the best looking. You instead let the computer tell you. You use the control photograph, which has the most accurate depiction of the shot, and compare each photo to that. Some contenders might be muted, others oversaturated, or different balance and contrast. The point is to be Objective. The camera that manages to get closest to your control wins.
Then you repeat this experiment, and you do it with different conditions. Ideally one with brightly lit shot, then mid lighting, low-light, and no light (using their built-in flash). You can also repeat this with different conditions as well; from 120′ Ultrawide, then one at x1 Regular 90′ Wide Shot, then another at x10 Zoom.
You do it scientifically.
The results may shock you. The iPhone is the fastest and most accurate from my experience, followed by the Pixel, then a distant contender from Samsung/Oppo/Huawei flagships. It’s no surprise to see Xiaomi/ASUS/Lenovo/Nokia/TCL to follow behind. However, it is interesting to see that both Sony and LG are quite poor performers here. And it makes sense, they emphasise using Manual Mode to professionally line up your shots, and don’t focus on the Point’n’Shoot performance like the top performers. This is what I’ve noticed, and things do change from generation to generation, but anyone is free to take the first part of my comment and scientifically test these devices to discern fact from fiction.
Have you seen how much their android Walkman’s go far? Last I checked their most expensive one was going for nearly 4 grand. For a freaking walkman!
I’m not excusing their prices for this phone, either. But Sony is a premium I guess. But all the high end phones are super expensive. How they keep getting away with it is beyond me, though. I guess as long as people keep buying them, they’ll keep doing it.