Sony is taking a swipe at its fellow smartphone manufacturers in a new advertisement that will be shown in Vue cinemas over this summer.
The advertisement is designed to illustrate how some of the latest trends in display design can obstruct movie viewing on your smartphone – and why the Sony Xperia offers a much better, clearer experience for cinephiles than its closest rivals.
The advert uses footage from some of the biggest blockbusters coming from Sony Pictures in the coming months, like Men in Black: International and Spider-Man: Far From Home. It displays the films on a smaller screen, as if you were watching on your phone on the train during your morning commute, before slapping a notch, a camera cut-out, and a curved screen to obscure the view of the movie.
If these design quirks sound familiar at all, that's because we've seen them all on the likes of the iPhone XS Max (curved notch for Face ID system and selfie camera that can cut into video when viewed fullscreen in landscape), Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus (oblong cut-out in the top right-hand corner of the screen for the selfie camera), and the OnePlus 7 Pro (curved glass display that runs over the edges of the phone), which have launched within the last nine months.
The advert has a comical tone, with camera lenses popping up over characters' heads. However, the point is a solid one. As manufacturers attempt to squeeze as much screen real estate as possible into smartphones that remain small enough to be comfortably used one-handed while walking to the train station, juggling a boiling coffee and a paperback novel, some serious compromises have emerged.
Apple includes a sweeping notch that intrudes on the top of the display on all of its Home Button-less iPhone models – iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. By default, when holding the smartphone in landscape you'll get a pair of black bars bookending the video. However, Apple does let users zoom-in to fill the entire display with video, with the notch visibly cutting into the side of the screen.
Meanwhile, Samsung has opted to embed the selfie camera into the display itself on its flagship Galaxy S series. Although this is relatively unobtrusive on the Samsung Galaxy S10, it becomes a serious eyesore thanks to the dual front-facing camera on the Galaxy S10 Plus. Interestingly, Samsung has adopted an entirely different approach on its mid-range Galaxy A80, which has an all-screen design without any interruptions and has a slide-out drawer that flips the triple-camera on the back so that's facing forward and can be used to take selfies with an array that, frankly, puts the flagship Galaxy S10 to shame.
OnePlus 7 Pro uses a similar approach, except that it doesn't flip the rear-facing camera array, but has an entirely separate selfie camera housed in its own pop-up drawer that emerges from the body of the smartphone. The all-new handset has also adopted a dual-curved display design to ensure the 6.67-inch display doesn't make the phone too wide to type one-handed. Meanwhile, OnePlus uses a small teardrop-like notch at the top of the display with its OnePlus 7.
The Sony advertisement is a plug for the Xperia 1 – the latest flagship smartphone from the company that boasts a stunning display with a 21:9 aspect ratio likely to appeal to cinephiles. If you're unfamiliar with the format, it's the standard ultra-widescreen Spaghetti-western look you'll find in every multiplex. As a result, the Xperia 1 does not include black bars at the top and bottom of the image when you're watching a movie. Instead, the blockbuster or show just fills the entire display.
As you've probably already guessed, there's no notch, holepunch camera, or wraparound display, either. The Xperia is relatively unimaginative flat screen that fills the front of the handset. That's it.
Instead, Sony is relying on the quality of its display to try to tempt customers away from popular rivals. The Xperia 1 boasts a 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.
Matt Beavis, Head of PR, Social Media, and Partnerships at Sony Mobile, said "The screen on the Xperia 1 is truly incredible. Not only does it draw on all the experience and quality of BRAVIA technology you’d usually find in high-end living room TVs, but the 21:9 format means you get a great viewing experience, with no black borders, on the move.. Partnering with Vue in this unique way will allow us to really own the 21:9 ratio on mobiles and ensure we resonate with people who want to enjoy great content without compromising on screen quality."
Sony Xperia 1 goes on-sale Thursday May 30, 2019 in the UK.