The Sony Xperia 1 III (opens in new tab) packed a dual-stage periscope zoom that could switch between two focal lengths, and a year on, the 2022 flagship Xperia 1 IV upgrades this significantly. It adds a continuous optical zoom between 85mm and 125mm – a world-first for smartphones (opens in new tab).
On first impression, the Sony Xperia 1 IV (opens in new tab) looks largely the same as the Xperia 1 III – the glass front and back sandwich a metal frame. The phone inherits the grippy shutter button of the Xperia Pro-I, highlighting the line is still catering to camera enthusiasts. Additionally, there’s a headphone jack, so traditionalists across the board should be happy.
The phone packs premium materials – Gorilla Glass Victus and matte, blasted metal. Despite this, it’s one of the lightest flagships around, weighing just 185g. It’s also narrow, bringing back that 21:9 aspect ratio display found on the entire Xperia 1 series.
As for the screen tech, it’s a 6.5-inch 4K panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, and OLED technology. What’s exciting about the Xperia 1 VI is the fact Sony’s boosted the brightness by 50 percent – one of the issues we had with the last generation of Sony’s flagship displays was outdoor viewability.
As for the Xperia 1 IV’s cameras, there are technically four around the back, though one’s a Time of flight sensor (opens in new tab), so only three capture photos and videos.
All three are 12MP in resolution and benefit from high-speed read-out image sensors which enable real-time eye AF and tracking, 4K cinematic slow motion at 120fps, Optical SteadyShot, and superior dynamic range. What’s really noteworthy is the fact all these features are accessible across the wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras – making the secondary cameras feel less like an afterthought than on other handsets. In turn, while we’ve seen 120fps 4K capture before on phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro (opens in new tab), it’s never been across all three rear cameras.
At the widest angle is a prime 16mm ultra-wide camera (1/2.5-inch sensor), there’s also a 24mm primary camera (1/1.7-inch sensor), and the telephoto range is continuous between 85-125mm (1/3.5-inch sensor). Sony features smaller camera sensors in its phones than other flagships like the Xiaomi 12 Pro (opens in new tab), so we’re not expecting best-in-class depth and noise handling. That said, we’re looking forward to seeing how the sensors’ high-speed read-out impacts images in real-world use.
Also worth noting is the fact Sony has finally upgraded its selfie camera. Having shipped a very mediocre 1/4-inch for generations of flagships, the new front camera gets a resolution boost to 12MP, and a size boost to 1/2.9 inches.
The Xperia 1 IV also introduces improved live streaming through the Video Pro app, giving streamers manual control over their output, and supports streaming from a Sony camera as well, using the phone’s 5G connectivity.
The rest of the phone is also flagship, and optimized for mobile gaming with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, just like the Xiaomi 12, and Sony also introduces live streaming to gaming as well.
Sony’s new Bravia Core service which gives Sony hardware access to Sony movies is also launching for Xperia 1 IV, so you’ll get blockbusters out of the box. And there’s also a new stereo speaker driver, which improves volume by around 10%, and bass by 50%.
The final sweetener crammed inside the Xperia 1 IV is a new feature, Music Pro. This sound solution app that’s designed for musicians and voiceover artists, and offers cloud processing that reduces noise. It’s free to try with the phone for a month, after which, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription.
Following on from Apple and Samsung, Sony has scrapped the power plug from its new Xperia phone, and the packaging doesn’t feature any plastic. Going one further, the Xperia IV also misses out on a USB-C cable – something we haven’t seen before. The result is a box that’s 50 percent slimmer, and a 36 percent reduction in CO2 per unit.
Available to pre-order now with pricing to be confirmed, the Xperia 1 IV looks set to be one of the best camera phones with its innovative zoom technology and flagship spec sheet.