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This is: Sony Xperia 1

viridis
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This is different.

A new Xperia, and of course it’s obviously customary for me to buy said new toy, and then immediately write a review on here listing all the new bits and bobs that Sony has added to the latest iteration of the Xperia line-up. We’ve had Z,X,XZ it seems that Sony enjoyed these letters pinned to their latest wares. This is different.

I can sit and write about how this is an evolution of the form and ideals behind Xperia handsets to date, and point out the features such as DSEE HX, HI-RES Audio & Remote play that are now a staple with the flagships from Sony, or how the camera still has the highest resolution super slow motion capability amongst ANY other phone. But I won’t, because even though the Xperia1 has these features still, this is different

But different how? Myself I usually jump into these reviews like on day 1 or 2, its now 2 weeks later and only now have I gotten all the details I need in order to not only tell you, but show you. This isn’t just another Xperia, its Xperia reborn. Reborn into a shell created by the very best of Sony, this is Xperia v2.0, reborn, re-imagined, re-ignited...

This is different. This is a new day, a new life, the beginning all over again. This is day 1.

 

Onto the usual unboxing of the device.

Here’s ya box

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Here’s the contents

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Included you will get the usual paperwork that everyone reads, a USB C to 3.5mm adapter, the usual in-ear sony mh-750 earphones, a USB C to USB C cable and, Sonys brand new UCH32 USB PD 18W charger.

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Considering that this charger retails at 45 quid, having one inside the box is a real bonus.

And of course, the Xperia1.

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Specs: (taken from sonymobile.co.uk)

 

More info
Memory and storage

6GB RAM

microSDXC support (up to 512GB)

128GB UFS memory

SIM capability

Single SIM

Nano SIM

Operating System

Android™ 9 Pie

Processor (CPU)

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855 Mobile Platform

Battery

3330 mAh

Xperia Adaptive Charging

Battery Care

Smart Stamina

Stamina Mode

USB Power Delivery (USB PD) fast charging

Up to 50% charge in 30 minutes with included Fast Charger UCH32C

Durability

Water resistant (IP65/68)

Corning® Gorilla®Glass 6

Weight

178g

Dimensions

167 x 72 x 8.2mm

Colour

Black

Purple

White

Grey

Display

21:9 CinemaWideTM display

6.5" 4K HDR OLED (1644x3840)

Creator mode "powered by CineAlta" - Inspired by Master Monitor colour reproduction

X1TM for mobile

DCI-P3 100%

BT.2020 (REC.2020)

Supported image formats: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, WebP, WBMP, HEIF, DNG, CR2, NEF, NRW, ARW, RW2, ORF, RAF, PEF, SRW

Supported video formats: MPEG-2 Video, MPEG-4 Video, H.263, H.264, H.265, VP8, VP9

Main camera

Triple lens camera system

12MP + 12MP + 12MP

Super wide-angle

2x optical zoom

12MP 26mm

Exmor RSTM for mobile memory-stacked sensor

1/ 2.6” sensor size

Pixel pitch 1.4μm

F1.6 lens

OIS photo

Optical SteadyShotTM (hybrid OIS/EIS video stabilization)

78° wide-angle

Dual photo diode

RAW noise reduction

960fps Super slow motion video (FHD/HD)

12MP 16mm

1/3.4 sensor size

Pixel pitch 1.0μm

F2.4 lens

130° angle

Fixed focus

SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stablization)

12MP 52mm

1/3.4 sensor size

Pixel pitch 1.0μm

F2.4 lens

45° angle

OIS photo

Optical SteadyShot™ (hybrid OIS/EIS video stabilization)

Camera features

"Cinema Pro" powered by CineAlta – 21:9 movie recording

Look colour management pre-sets

4K HDR movie recording

BIONZ XTM for mobile

Eye AF

Up to 10FPS AF/AE

Dual photo diode

RGBC-IR sensor

SteadyShot™

2x optical zoom

5x digital zoom

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo

Hybrid Autofocus

3D Creator

Bokeh effect

Front camera

8MP

1/4 sensor size

Pixel pitch 1.12μm

F2.0 lens

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo

SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stablization)

Portrait selfie effects

Display flash

3D Creator

Networks

J8110, J8170, J9110 / GSM GPRS/EDGE (2G) Bands 850/900/1800/1900 / UMTS HSPA+ (3G) Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19 / LTE (4G) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 32, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 46, 66

LTE (4G) Cat19/Cat13

Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n(2.4GHz)/n(5GHz)/ac

Connectivity

A-GNSS (GPS + GLONASS) 

Bluetooth® 5.0 wireless technology

Google Cast

NFC

USB 3.1

USB Type-CTM

Output video/image via DisplayPort support TypeC Cable or USB-C to HDMI Adapter Cable (DisplayPort 4K 60 fps)

Sensors

Accelerometer

Ambient light sensor

Barometer sensor

eCompassTM

Fingerprint sensor

Game rotation vector

Geomagnetic rotation vector

Gyroscope

Hall sensor

Magnetometer

Step counter

Step detector

Significant motion detector

Proximity sensor

RGBC-IR sensor

Sound

Dolby Atmos®

Stereo speaker

High-Resolution Audio (Supported audio fomats: LPCM, FLAC, ALAC, DSD)7

LDAC

DSEE HXTM

Stereo Recording

Qualcomm® aptXTM HD audio

Supported audio fomats: AAC (AAC-LC, AAC+, eAAC+, AAC-ELD), ALAC, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, DSD, FLAC, MIDI, MP3, PCM, Opus, Vorbis, WMA

High-Resolution Audio Wireless

Entertainment

PS4 Remote Play

Game Enhancer

 

 

Overview.

The Xperia1 is Sonys latest flagship, carrying a Snapdragon 855, 6gb of DDR4X ram & 128gb of UFS 2.1 storage, which of course is expandable with Micro SD up to an extra 512gb (only because that’s the highest currently, other larger sizes in future will also work). It carries the worlds first 4k oled screen at a new ‘’cinemawide’’ aspect ratio of 21:9. Sounds odd, but its done this way to accommodate movies at their native resolution and aspect ratio, all those movies in the cinema are pretty much always around 21:9 give or take a few % on the horizontal. This display has, on paper, the best display specs ever created. Not only is it a 4K HDR OLED, but its been tweaked and tuned to absolute perfection by the kind of people who will know EXACTLY what makes a great display, and what colour accuracy is important to the end users and experts al

The camera is probably the most dramatic change for the Xperia range, for years Sony has pushed higher pixel counts in their Xperias, of course higher pixel counts come at a serious cost on such small sensors as found in mobiles, the main concern is always low light, and the noise that such environments cause. Sony previously dealt with low light issues with the XZ2 Premiums Aube Fusion processing that combined data from 2 sensors one for colour, one for luminance, and it worked.. albeit at the cost of having the extra sensor doing more than just monochrome imaging or extreme low light performance… they needed something new, something different.

Well, while the guys at CineAlta were tuning the display, they might as well have the guys at a work on the camera too, or cameras to be exact. But it didn’t just end there, if those guys are doing the camera and screen, lets have Dolby tune the audio with Atmos and have them include the Atmos control panel as the default audio controls. All that, slapped into a sandwich of the latest Gorilla Glass 6 with a hardened aluminium band separating the two, give it an ip68 rating (of course) and knock it out in the most symbolic Xperia paint job of purple. It looks the absolute nuts, and whilst it might look so Sony, yup.. this is different.

 

The display,

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Sony did it again, with only their second OLED screened phone, they’ve put in another world first. Carrying on the very welcome trend of 4K displays, Sony has kitted the 1 out with one of, if not the most advanced display ever seen on a mobile device, a 21:9 6.5’’ 4K HDR OLED tuned to exact calibration used by Sonys Master monitor series of Cinema camera monitor stations. Im not exaggerating when I say that to have that kind of calibration on a phone display is mental, those monitor stations cost a MINIMUM of $30,000, to have that kind of colour accuracy is amazing, and whilst it was tuned to perfection by the CineAlta team, even Netflix had a bit of input into creating this display, making sure that every film in their catalogue, is presented to the user in absolute perfect colour.

The screen not only covers the full DCI-P3 range, but also covers beyond that further into the Rec.2020 container spectrum, whilst the display does not fully fill the Rec.2020 spectrum, it does go into it a lot more than we’ve previously seen. Using the industry recognised D65 whitepoint, this display is so good, that there some out there being used as wireless monitors for the Venice camera system. That’s professionals, using a phone as a mobile master monitor…

 

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The Camera

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Right, now lets look at what I believe is the biggest change in Xperia, since the Z1 started rocking an unprecedented 21.3mp camera….. the 1’s Camera.

The Xperia 1 camera system comprises of 3 imaging sensors slapped behind all new optics.

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The main camera is a 12mp f1.6 26mm motion eye camera with a pixel size of 1.4μm, vastly higher than previous models where pixel sizes have ranged between 0.9-1.12μm, the obvious benefits of this increase is far better low light capturing, this camera also now has a hybrid imaging stabilization of the older EIS  (electronic image stabilization) and now it also has OIS (optical image stabilization) meaning these low light shots wont fall apart if you move your hand slightly.

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The Following were taken at 2am in total darkness:

 

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That same OIS system is found on the 2nd sensor, which is another 12mp sensor.

This one is behind a f2.4 52mm telephoto lens with a pixel size of 1.0μm, which means while its not as great in the lowest light, the 2x optical zoom in daylight, the Bokeh enhancements, the sharper nature of F2.4 lenses mean you’re gonna get great shots out of this one too, and yes even in low light thanks to the OIS.

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The 3rd sensor is an all new 12mp F2.4 16mm super wide angle camera.

This one is purely for the landscape lovers out there, capturing a massive 130° field of view, with on-board distortion fixing, these images look great time after time. This sensor also grabs images onto an 1.0μm pixel size, and with only EIS this one is obviously better in daylight, though the EIS is still fairly damn good at night.

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But what makes the colour and focus look so dreamy on the 1?, well apparently (unconfirmed by anyone) the 26mm and 52mm cameras are behind a lens module called milvus. I have seen this myself written in the Aida64 app for camera identifiers, 2 lens systems of the 3 are called milvus. Why exactly is this important? Well if you type ‘’Milvus’’ into google, the only results comparable to anything photography wise is a range of lenses made by Zeiss. Now I’m not saying for one second that these ARE Zeiss Milvus lenses…. But I am saying they have certain traits that remind me of Zeiss optics I’ve used before.. especially the bokeh pattern.. but officially: no-one has confirmed.

So that’s the specs, and a bit of a run through exactly what makes these sensors different, but… its not just new sensors, there’s new image processing behind these cameras too, and new features lifted straight off the latest Sony α7RIII. The biggest is the new processing using Bionz-X for mobile, instead of using the standard levels of the Xperia camera software as previously, the Alpha team have put in the newer Bionz-X which uses a more up to date API to get the results it needs to operate, and yes as its using the newer API, this phone will take RAW photos using a Raw Capable camera app. However in the Built in app, the raw files go through a remastering noise reduction process, similar to the one found on the α9 and α7 series camera jpeg outputs. When the resulting jpeg is shown next to another modern camera on a like for like scene (same settings) the results are obvious, and very much welcome from a sony fanboy point of view.

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This camera rocks. But… that’s not all, the entire manual mode has been opened up, before we had up to 1 second exposure, now we have 30 seconds, let me tell you, 30 seconds at iso 400 will turn night into day, its overkill, but it’s a welcome overkill to have, to be able to take the following on a phone is almost unheard of.

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Then of course we have Eye AF, an auto focus that snaps to any visible face and focuses on the eye, and it actually works, and not only works but works at up to 11 shots per second without losing focus. Again another feature that comes straight off the high end α cameras.

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Onto the Video side of things

The Xperia 1 not only has its usual video recording options as seen in previous models, these include resolutions up to 4k HDR using the .265 codec, but when CineAlta finished tuning the display to perfection, they and α decided to begin creating something amazing, cinema pro.

Cinema pro is an all new professional grade recording software app, that records up to 4k footage in the cinemawide aspect ratio, just like the movies in the cinema. It records in HDR and at the point of recording offers you 7 different LUTS or LOOKS to apply to your recorded footage, these aren’t just filters like seen on Instagram, they are the scene colour formats used in the CineAlta Venice cinema camera.

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If they don’t look great for what you’re recording, you can use a flat profile for colour grading later on. The included looks include common warmth or cool looks used in most Venice recorded films, as well as the stock Venice CS filmstock look, and the footage from these looks is amazing, beyond ANYTHING I personally have ever seen on a phones video recorder before.

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Whilst in cinema pro, you also get the option of recording this footage in the 3 camera lens formats, and for the first time, you can control every part of the recording settings, with both iso and shutter speed controls being present, another first for Xperia handsets.

Taking into account the overhaul of both the still imaging, and the epic new cinema pro recording function, it’s clear to see that Sony mean business going forwards, with the new Sony mobile boss coming straight from the imaging department, along with the mobile business being now an inclusive section of imaging and entertainment, the Xperia line and their camera abilities are stepping up to a new level, and it starts here.

 

Power.

Inside the Xperia 1 we find the very latest Snapdragon 855 mobile platform, along with the latest Adreno 640 GPU. The ram side of things is a chunky 6GB of LPDDR4X mobile ram, and the UFS2.1 128GB of storage, everything ticks all the boxes for the fastest components available, and with Sony’s tweaking and tuning of optimisation, it all flies along as fast as ever without any lag in any part of the UI.

Of course, tuning can only go so far, so for Xperia 1, some advanced processing has been added to help things move along. As well as Bionz-X coming to process imaging, Sony have included the award winning X1 image processor for mobile, this makes sure that that display we talked about earlier has the best image signal ever, at the best colour reproduction possible. The adaptive battery learns from app usage and optimises power delivery based on this learnt algorithm to ensure the maximum lifespan from its 3330mah battery. That figure might seem low in comparison to others out there at the moment, but when you get up to 6hrs of screen time, or days upon days of standby its easy to see it actually is a pretty decent figure, combined with the included USB PD charger in the box, you'll find around 20 minutes charge will last you for hours, as i've gotten approximately 50% charge in under half an hour!

for safety, Battery care+ is back and this time you can set the time for its activation, this is a great feature and one that really does help with battery longevity.

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Sound.

Stereo speakers have become a mainstay of the flagship Xperia handsets, the Xperia 1 is no exception to this, however with the system purely aiming for entertainment on the go, a few changes are present. Classics such as hi-res audio support are still around, as is DSEE-HX audio upscale, but ClearAudio+ has been swapped out for Dolby Atmos, and not just as an audio pass through either, the entire system wide equaliser, is the Dolby Atmos system, meaning that whether you’re watching movies, playing games, listening to music or just watching the short **** videos on Facebook, the sound is coming direct from your Dolby settings.

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The actual speakers too have had a bit of an upgrade, now 20% louder than the ones we’ve seen on previous models, the sound is crisp and carries movie scenes well, as well of course as your favourite tunes.

 

Gaming

Yes, remote play is back for PS4, it might not be so exclusive anymore now that it’s on pc, IOS and other platforms, but it’s always a nice addition to the Xperia devices. The main thing that Xperia 1 has changed though, is actual mobile gaming, with “Game Enhancer”

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Game enhancer is a dedicated all that stores all your loaded games and will offer various interactions with each title, you can watch gameplay videos from that title, start screen recording, take instant screenshots to share and set various gaming focus modes, like no notifications, ram releasing, no screen dimming etc, you can also set your performance mode, either setting the device to run at full speed, or you can be more battery conscious, where it will run CPU at lower speed and drop brightness a little. It’s these little additions that have certainly helped a few “gaming phones” out there, it’s a nice thing to see on the Xperia handsets, especially with Sony’s pedigree in gaming.

 

Conclusion.

It’s no secret, things at Sony mobile are tough, and there’s many calls out there for them to give up mobiles.. I’ve never seen why, yes sales never reach the astronomical highs like the fruity phone, but each model is absolutely banging, from the arc way back, to the 1, Sony have ALWAYS delivered the fastest possible Experience on android, and many devices have actually been the fastest android available at that time.. sales might be low, but these devices are worthy of a wider audience if only people took that chance. But as it was, something HAD to change.. and change they did.

This is different, it’s the same name, same style, same core ideals, but it’s very much an evolved beast of what we’re, and I include myself here, used to. It’s like Xperia on steroids, every part of different aspects of “entertainment” have been completely rewritten. The camera is completely new, and fully controllable using the later API, meaning raw shooting, long exposures full iso and shutter control are all there to play with, and that CinemaPro app, having this kind of recording power in your pocket is far, far beyond what we’ve come to expect from these cameras, and I’m sure that many would be cinematographers will lap it up as a very welcome benefit from the 1. The design is slick and incorporates many features that users have loved in the past, from the return of Purple, the side fingerprint, the flat back panel and a solid construction of glass and aluminium just like we’ve always loved, it’s so, so Sony.

With its complete overhaul of Xperia, Sony has given the world the true successor to the Z range, it’s back where it belongs doing what it should, wowing people with “the best of Sony, in a smartphone” but we’re not just getting bravia or cybershot, we’re getting the literal best of Sony, from £30,000 monitor performance, to a video camera system that feels like you’re using a £25,000 Professional grade cinema video camera. This is truly the BEST of Sony, and people seem to be impressed, for the first time in a long time, the Xperia 1 did in fact sell out in Europe, maybe not for long, but it did happen and in the current climate at Sony, that is obviously a great piece of news as it’s full deserving of its success. I for one LOVE my 1, and could not recommend it enough.

It might be another Sony Xperia phone, but this is different,....

And different is GOOD!

 

 

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