“With a wide-screen 4K display, triple rear cameras, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855, the Xperia 1 is a loaded flagship. We go hands on”

The very first high-end Android-based smartphone from Sony came in the form of the Xperia Z, back in 2013. But for some reason, the Japanese company decided to switch the naming convention for its flagship smartphones to Xperia XZ, which went official in 2016. Fast forward to today, and the brand has switched branding yet again. While rumours were suggesting that the phonemaker will be launching the latest smartphone in the XZ series (i.e. the XZ4), the new branding involves just the number 1 and comes in the form of the Xperia 1. While we’ll have to wait and watch if the change in the series name also changes the brand’s fortunes in the smartphone market, but what we can tell you is how the latest flagship looks up close. That’s about it though, as the phone was locked to do anything else – we couldn’t even get to the home screen or the settings menu. So without further ado let’s begin.

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The Sony Xperia 1 is taller than most smartphones out there as Sony has opted for a wide-screen aspect ratio of 21:9. Yes, while most phones offer 19:9 or 19.5:9 screen aspect ratios, the manufacturer has gone for a wider format to ensure that more content can fit in the large 6.5-inch display. That said, the phone does take some time getting used to as it’s really large, and although it seems tough to use it with a single hand, that’s not really the case. Sony has been a pioneer in bringing high-res 4K panels to smartphones, so it’s no surprise to see that the brand’s latest also offers a resolution of 3,840 x 1,644 pixels. Powered by BRAVIA X1 Mobile Engine, the company claims that the phone’s display will deliver darker blacks and natural colours.

Apart from that, the Xperia 1 is similar to last year’s Xperia XZ3 – you get glass panels on the front and back, held together with a metallic frame. Unfortunately, that also means our usual issues with glass backs are present in this case too – it’s a smudge magnet and slippery. The phone also gets IP68 protection for dust- and water resistance.

While there are no surprises in terms of buttons and port placement, there are just too many of them. You get the power switch and volume rocker, but strangely enough, the fingerprint sensor isn’t hidden inside the power toggle, and then there’s Sony’s trademarked camera shutter key as well – all placed on the right.

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Sony has long resisted entering the camera game, but with the Xperia 1, the brand seems to be ready to take on the competition. The smartphone features a triple-camera setup on the back. Interestingly, all three shooters feature 12-megapixel resolutions, and apart from the main f/1.6 camera, the smartphone offers telephoto and 135-degree ultra wide-angle lenses with f/2.4 apertures. The phone can also shoot 4K HDR videos in 21:9 format, along with capturing slow-mo clips at 960fps. For selfies, the smartphone ships with an 8-megapixel shooter on the front.

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The Sony Xperia 1 has the perfect ingredients for 2019’s Android flagships – the Snapdragon 855 chipset and 6GB RAM. It’s interesting to see that unlike last year, Qualcomm’s latest and greatest SoC has started appearing in a number of smartphones, and we have no doubt that it’ll enable lag-free performance. Taking care of storage requirements is 128GB of built-in storage, which can be topped further by up to 512GB.

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Software-wise, the Xperia 1 boots the latest Android 9.0 Pie, which is layered by brand’s custom interface. Sadly, the device comes with a 3,300mAh battery, which seems on the lower side considering most smartphones are shipping with bigger batteries these days, and the large 4K display is bound to sip more power. You do get Quick Charge support however.

While the smartphone does come across as a loaded offering that can go toe-to-toe with other flagships, it’ll be going on sale in June, which seems quite late. It also remains to be seen if and when the phone makes it way to the Indian market.