8.4
Score

Pros

  • Beautiful 21:9 4K HDR OLED Display
  • The CinemaWide Ratio makes everything immersive
  • Cinema Pro app shows how capable the camera is
  • A Potential smartphone for videographers
  • Good Performance
  • Decent Battery Life
  • Clean Android Experience

Cons

  • Can be a little pricey
  • Default Camera app needs a little more work to be perfect

After a long hiatus, Sony Malaysia brings back the lovely Xperia Lineup back into the Malaysian market and this happened last year with the Xperia 1. The brand’s flagship smartphone that literally stands out from the rest in the market. Back in January, our lovely folks at Sony Malaysia passed us the Xperia 1 for us to review and although I did come to a conclusion back then, I didn’t want to release the review – all for a good reason. In fact, I took the phone for a longer duration and now, we are releasing our review – trust me, It’s looking good.

Watch our YouTube Video

Look and Feel

1/7

I have always had a special place for Sony in my heart because they put a lot of thought and philosophy into their design and in todays world with so many smartphone being manufactured like there’s no tomorrow – Sony stands out with their Kando. The Xperia 1 is a gorgeous smartphone in a Piano Black slate finish that doesn’t just look simple but sophisticated. The phone has a very subtle design and the black trims all over the phone is beautiful indeed – the branding on the phone is not striking but very subtle to the look. Considering the fact that Sony has done a lot of design changes in the past, they went back to the classic Z design which I am a huge fan of.

As for the feel, the phone is constructed in glass and metal giving it the premium feel it deserves. While the front glass is certified for Corning Gorilla 6, the back isn’t. In our unit, we didn’t get a Case, so it was quite hard to protect our unit. The bump on the back doesn’t allow the phone to sit flat on the table and prone to get scratches – so, better get a case from your friendly accessory shop while you are at it. You may think the phone is not going to turn heads but noting the fact on how long it is – people will wonder what phone it is.

Display

The reason for such a long body lies in the display. Since it’s a premium grade phone, it deserves the premium experience – so, they opted in for a 4K HDR OLED Panel for their phone. Take a second and read that sentence again, no worries. The phone rocks a 6.5” 21:9 CinemaWide Display and has the ability to hit a 100% DCI-P3 Color Gamut – meaning, its as accurate as a pro creators display used to edit.

Creator Mode
Creator Mode
Netflix supports HDR
Netflix supports HDR

The 21:9 aspect ratio is a completely different approach and one that stands out – the reason behind this, is to offer the best viewing experience possible when you watch your favorite show on Netflix with that crispy display and aspect ratio – which does make the experience really cool. On top of that, the CineAlta profile kicks in – which is a color profile that gets enabled so that users can watch content the way it was intended to be – just like Creators View for Netflix on Android TVs.

You might think the display might be too long and hard to use – if at all, this was the only phone where multitasking made complete sense. With the help of their tool – Side Sense, which gives an opportunity to split the display into 2:1 ratio. And during my time, I did few articles via Office Mobile and the press release taking the other half of the screen. What I loved is how the keyboard takes little space and you can still see what you type and refer to your releases. The other time I love using – is when I am driving, I toggle my Maps on top and my Play Music at the bottom. The way it fits in your hand is really nice and I can assure you that you will have a good grip with the phone. Reaching the notification might be reach but you have gestures to trigger the notification toggle at ease.

Specification and Performance

The Xperia 1 rocks the following specification under the hood and in order to verify the specification, we benchmarked the phone with GeekBench 5 and finally to verify, we used AIDA64. The benchmark gives a synthetic result on how good the phone can perform and capable it is. But it varies on day to day usage.

Let’s face it, flagship processors have peaked with the 835 and ever since that, it has been a steady incline and the next generation processors offer little improvements over the predecessors. The 855 found in the Xperia 1 is still relevant in 2020 and it performs just as great as any other flagship smartphone you will find in 2020. That said, multitasking is great, and you will enjoy using this phone for that with that great display. On top of that, the phone can definitely handle a good amount of editing via applications like Photoshop Lightroom and FilmoraGo. Gaming on this phone is just as fun as any other phone. What I love about that is how the phone still retains the bezels, giving you grip to hold on to the phone and play a good session in Asphalt 9. It gets a little warm and that’s fine because other phones have that same reaction to games. You will also love the UI on the phone because of how clean and easy it is – possibly the next best thing to the purest android experience you can get other than the Pixel – with some extra features.

Camera

Sony opted in for a functional camera setup which is something I appreciate a lot in 2020. On the back the phone features a triple camera setup with the following sensor and setup:

  • 12MP 1/ 2.6” Exmor RS Sensor (26mm) at f/1.6
  • 12MP 1/ 3.4” (52mm Telephoto Lens) at f/2.4
  • 12MP 1/ 3.4” (16mm Ultrawide Lens) at f/2.4

All the triple 12MP camera is capable of a lot of features but let’s get the picture taking capability out of the way. The phone has a dedicated two-stage shutter button, giving it a proper camera shooting experience you could ask for. The pictures that came out of the phone were neutral colored – which as a content creator made me appreciate a lot. It does have a limited dynamic range, but the color isn’t overly saturated like a particular brand nor it isn’t too washed off. The app itself requires a lot of patience to use and it can get a little overwhelming but when you do give it time to take the right pictures, it will give the best results possible.

1/26

Under lowlight, the performance is good, and I do hope it gets better – you can see the details on an ultrawide angle with no warping and the color balancing is top notch. During our test where we shot in a street with warm light, it still managed to pick up the colder tone lights in the building and kept it the way it should. With the OIS, its going to help you a lot with taking pictures. Overall, the app definitely requires a work around, but the camera proves that it can take good pictures.

Ultrawide
Ultrawide
Normal
Normal
Telephoto
Telephoto

As for the front facing camera, the phone sports an 8MP camera with an aperture of f/2.0 – best part is that the camera also features HDR photos, has a 5-axis stabilization to go – which is really hard to come across on a smartphone. The pictures it takes look good and I have zilch complaints.

Sony’s strongest traits isn’t picture but the videos it can shoot with the Cinema Pro app – which is an proprietary app for Sony Xperia 1 and 5. Their idea is to be able to bring as much as manual control on a mobile to offer the best experience possible – in fact, treat the phone as a cinematic videography capable smartphone. This is something that I’d consider a niche and Sony did something that no one else could – that is being able to shoot a cinema like video out of the phone. The phone gives plethora of controls and yet keeping it easy to use for anyone who wants to learn. It uses the Cinealta Venice CS profile and that said, shooting HLG based video on this is a god send. We shot some of our videos with the help of the Xperia 1 and it turned out great. Head over to our YouTube to check them out.

Oh and Sony is the only brand that includes a RGBC-IR Sensor and does NOT call it a separate camera. Do you know how much that a relief is?

Battery Life and Charging

While the specification shows that the phone is definitely a flagship smartphone – the battery capacity on the phone is a mere 3300mAh and turns out to my surprise, I actually got an all-day battery life with the phone. Here’s the thing – there’s no way to change your display’s resolution – so its running in 4K the whole time. Sony has taken precautions to make their phone battery safe and with a dedicated set of protocol ever since the X series made its debut years back with Battery Care – a protocol where it charges the phone in a way that the battery life doesn’t get damaged and it does by analyzing your behaviour with the phone.

In our test of mixed usage, we were able to get an Active time usage of 11 hours and with a screen on time of 5 hours and 37 minutes. Initially we were a little surprised and after using it as my personal daily driver, the phone was still able to drive about the same battery life if not longer because – ever since we were in RMO, I barely touched my phone and spent most of the time on my laptop. There’s that. Charging the phone shouldn’t eve any issue – as they do include an 18W PD Certified charger and the phone charges from 15 to 100 in about 1 hour 18 minutes, by average.

Speaker and Security

The Xperia 1 has a stereo speaker setup but it does lack the oomph factor in the department – while it can get loud – it just doesn’t seem to get quite as loud as other speakers on a smartphone we have seen in the past but this is also because waterproofing the speaker isn’t easy – hence the compromise in the department. The security on the other hand is a very thoughtful one – the have went for the traditional fingerprint sensor mounted on the side of the phone. The sensor recognizes fingerprints quick enough but there are times it just doesn’t seem to detect, and you will have to go back to drawing pattern or entering your pin.

Conclusion

While majority of the manufacturers took the route to include extremely high megapixel count and gimmicky features which really threw me off a bit – Sony took a different route, focusing on something the brand leads in – a pure cinematic-centric phone as possible. It didn’t end just there; they took it further by making it into a phone that does video – the cinematic way possible too. If you aren’t convinced if the sample shots above were shot using the phone, ask us – we will shoot more. Seriously, you cannot say no to the 21:9 CinemaWide.

They are thinking different, but I want them to show it to the world and if they show as much love as we do to their phones – the Sony Xperia 1 is not just a phone you buy to use for calls but the phone for all things production. Just for that, we here at The Adventures of Vesper give the Xperia 1 a Gold Award for doing something other brands aren’t, that is – thinking different and making a powerful tool for aspiring creators. In fact, this is the first phone to get a Gold award from us. 😉