Sony has kickstarted its MWC 2019 by unveiling a slew of new smartphones, including the mid-range Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus, as well as an all-new flagship, the Xperia 1. For those expecting the next handset from the Tokyo-based company to be called the Xperia XZ4, then you'll be sorely disappointed.
The firm says it received feedback that some customers were finding it tough to differentiate between its phone models from their name alone, while others just found the naming conventions confusing. So Sony has simplified everything, although it probably didn’t want that Xperia range news leak to muddy the waters.
As a result, the best smartphone available from Sony right now is called Xperia 1. That's simplicity we can get behind.
Like the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus before it, the Xperia 1 uses a 21:9 display aspect ratio. If you're unfamiliar with the format, it's the standard ultra-widescreen you'll find in every multiplex. As such, the Sony Xperia 1 does not include a black bar at the top and bottom of the image on your screen when you're watching a movie. Instead, the blockbuster or cinematic television show just fills the entire display.
Sony is no stranger to cinema, thanks to the hugely-successful Sony Pictures arm of the company. With the Xperia 1, the company has clearly tapped into the knowledge and expertise in the cinematic wing to create a smartphone that's likely to appeal to cinephiles – or those who spend every morning bingeing on Hollywood blockbusters on their smartphone during their commute.
The front of the Xperia 1 is dominated by the 21:9 CinemaWide 6.5-inch 4K OLED display. Xperia 1 not only uses the cinema aspect ratio, but will also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) to ensure you're watching the content as its creators envisioned. Not only that, but the built-in mobile engine will actively remaster older content to bring greater contrast and colour to the images.
The Ultra HD display is powered by the same technology found under the bonnet of the award-winning Bravia television range by Sony. The display also supports wide colour space ITU-R BT.2020 as well as DCI-P3 with Illuminant D65.
To round off its cinema-in-your-pocket pitch for the Xperia 1, Sony has fitted the handset with Dolby Atmos. The sound tuning the new flagship phone was developed in collaboration with Sony Pictures Entertainment to ensure the mobile experience delivers audio as directors intended, Sony says. We'll need to spend some real time throughly testing these claims, but it sounds promising.
According to Sony, the 21:9 display isn't just great for watching movies and boxsets. When held in a portrait orientation, Sony says the device isn't too wide to make one-handed typing a nightmare – unlike the majority of other 6.5-inch handsets. It also says the tall screen is ideal for running two apps simultaneously.
In fact, Sony is so sure that you'll want to compose an email in the lower-half of the screen without interrupting Killing Eve in the video app at the top of the screen that it has added a standalone Split Screen app to quickly launch multi-tasking.
Tapping on the app, you'll then have to pick two apps from the homescreen to run simultaneously. While the new Xperia handsets still support the standard Android short to start multi-tasking, this new app should make it easier for those who are new to the Google mobile OS.
Sony has followed in the footsteps of the Samsung Galaxy S10 and fitted its latest flagship smartphone with a triple-camera set-up on the back.
The Xperia 1 boasts three 12-megapixel sensors, including a ultra-wide angle lens and a telephoto alongside the standard 26mm wide angle. The new triple camera includes a new feature, dubbed Eye Auto Focus, which, as the name suggests, brings a sharp focus to the eyeline of the people in the photo. Another first for the company: Sony will also apply its noise reduction filters to its photographs before it crunches them down into JPEGs. It claims this results in dramatically less noise on the finished, processed images, especially in low-light situations.
And as if the screen alone wasn't enough to appeal to cinephiles, Sony is fitting the Xperia 1 with a new Cinema Pro feature. This allows smartphone owners to shoot with natural cinematic tone and further apply expression-based colour management pre-sets developed in collaboration with Sony’s professional digital cinema camera division known for its CineAlta brand. There are eight pre-set cinematic moods.
As you'd expect, the Sony Xperia 1 can shoot in 4K HDR at 24 frames per second in the cinematic 21:9 format. Xperia 1 also lets you grab 21:9 still images off the live view or recorded clips, either with or without the colour pre-sets. So, you can share that perfect frame from your next move making project to Instagram straight from the phone.
Powering the Xperia 1 is the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 system-on-a-chip. It offers high-speed LTE capability, up to 25% faster CPU and 40% faster GPU performance compared to the SnapDragon 845. The flagship SnapDragon silicon is coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of built-in storage, although this can be expanded with an additional 512GB via the MicroSD card slot.
There's also a 3,330mAh battery inside the handset, which Sony says should be more than enough to keep the smartphone running all-day, thanks to its own Xperia Adaptive Charging technology. Xperia 1 ships with Android 9.0 Pie.
The Xperia 1 will cost £849 when it launches in select markets late Spring 2019.