The new Sony Xperia 1 IV is actually two phones in one. For the average smartphone buyer, it’s a ridiculously expensive phone with some disappointing flaws. But if you’re seriously into photography or video, I think it's one of the best phones around.
The new model isn’t radically different from its predecessor, but there are some significant changes nevertheless. The headline feature is continuous optical zoom, where the telephoto lens can smoothly move between 3.5x and 5.2x zoom. And you also get 4K and 120fps video on the rear and front cameras, with a feature that records using all three rear cameras simultaneously. There are new audio features too including an app for layering and mixing sound, and the processor is now a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 – which offers serious horsepower but has a tendency to run very hot when you push it hard, resulting in a noticeable drop in power.
A serious phone for creative pros
If you want a point and shoot phone that takes reliably vivid photos, don’t buy this one: it doesn’t have AI to effectively automate the process of taking photos, so you’re likely to find the results disappointing. But if you’re a pro, I think you’ll appreciate the level of control and possibility that this Xperia offers.
For all its joys, there’s no doubt that this is a very, very expensive phone: starting at around £1,299 in the UK ($1,599 in the US, where only the 512GB model will be sold) it costs more than some of the best foldable phones and some of the best Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, which sit at the very top of the smartphone price range.
That means I don't think this is the best phone for the typical smartphone buyer: you'll be much happier with a more affordable Android. But if your phone is a creative tool rather than just something to doomscroll on all day, this Xperia should be at the very top of your smartphone shortlist.