I've written before about my love of Sony phones, particularly the Xperia ones. But as much as the Sony Xperia 1 IV is a brilliant rival to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, it's also very expensive. So it's nice to see Sony offering a much more affordable Xperia that retains some of the flagship's best features. If you want something a little different from the herd, it could be one of the best budget phones you can buy.
With its Xperia range, Sony numbers the phones in reverse – so an Xperia 1 is the flagship, a 5 is further down the range and a 10 is the more affordable option. But affordable doesn't mean rubbish, and the Xperia 10 IV has some of the key features I think set Sony phones apart.
Is the Sony Xperia 10 IV worth buying?
Let's start with the screen. Like other Xperias it's a 21:9 OLED TriLuminos, much wider than many rivals and really great for watching movies, playing games or just scrolling through articles. It's compact, well built and thanks to its 5,000mAh battery it runs for ages. It's much lighter than similarly sized phones – Sony says "it's the world’s lightest 5G smartphone with a large capacity 5,000mAh battery" – and if you're into your music it supports both High-Resolution Audio and 360 Reality Audio.
One of the key ways in which the 10 differs from the most expensive Xperias is in its camera. Where the Xperia 1 IV has a camera setup designed for photo and video pros, this Xperia is for more casual photography: there's a triple-lens setup with really good automatic settings to get the best picture based on light and distance. There's optical image stabilisation and Night Mode for better low-light pics, and there's Optical SteadyShot for video too. Last but not least there's 2x optical zoom; many rivals in this price range have digital zoom instead. Optical is better.
So where has Sony cut corners to achieve the price tag of $519 / £429 / AU$685? The screen is 60Hz, not the smoother 120Hz you'll find in more expensive models. The processor, a Snapdragon 695, isn't as fast as the processors you'll find in the best Android phones – although that does mean it doesn't get hot like the Xperia 1 IV does. And the built-in speaker isn't great.
I like this phone: it's unpretentious and the combination of light weight, long battery life and that very wide screen is going to tick a lot of potential buyers' boxes. I wouldn't recommend it for hardcore gamers or photo pros, but then I wouldn't recommend any budget phone for those things: they're specialist tasks that require specific hardware, particularly in the best gaming phones. But if you like the cut of Sony's jib and don't want to spend too much money, I think you'll like this affordable Xperia a lot.