Sony Xperia 1 Review: Overview & Price

So you’re interested in the Sony Xperia 1? Perfect, because in this review we go over everything you need to know about the phone and even showcase the best Sony Xperia 1 contract deals in the UK.

The Sony Xperia 1 release date was back on the 25th of February 2019, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress.

The Sony Xperia 1 is waterproof, which means you can drop the phone in the tub without breaking a sweat.

The Sony Xperia 1 has some interesting features, for example, it has a ‘Cinematic Pro App’ that lets you film footage like you’re on a Sony Alpha camera, but more on that shortly.

This is by no means a cheap Sony Xperia, currently priced at around £849 here in the UK the Xperia 1 is certainly at the higher end of the market, so what can it offer its users for this high ticket cost?

Check out the cheapest Sony Xperia 1 contract deals available right now…

Well here are some of the Sony Xperia 1 specs;

  • 6GB RAM
  • Android 9.0
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC
  • Triple camera setup
  • 3300mAh battery

This phone doesn’t aim for the same target audience as the likes of the Huawei P30 Pro and iPhone XS, and it certainly won’t be for everyone.

With its huge display that is tricky to use one-handed, but at the same time awesome for viewing content on.

Let’s take a closer look at what this phone brings to the table…

Sony Xperia 1 Review: Design & Display

So one of the first things you will notice about the Sony Xperia 1 design is that it is extremely long and thin, rather lanky looking.

With dimensions of 167 x 72 x 8.3mm, this really is a super tall phone, making it hard to use in one hand, especially for those with smaller ones.

Weighing in at 180g, the Sony Xperia 1 does feel premium, it feels secure in your hand and like your not going to drop it with a couple of swift movements.

Now with the screen being so tall, Sony has decided to trim it down a little, so the phone isn’t very wide.

This ensures that you make the most out of its display, as well as making it feel gripped in your hand.

The Sony Xperia 1 is coated on Corning Gorilla Glass on the front and back, with a metal frame holding the device together in the middle, with it being so tall it does feel like if you applied some pressure it would bend slightly, however, we didn’t encounter any damage with our time with the phone.

The Xperia 1 comes in either White, Purple, Black or Grey, we were lucky enough to get our hands on the Black colour for just over a week to conduct this Sony Xperia 1 review.

The actual design of the phone is very similar to what you will find with Sony’s previous phones, a squared-off rather mustard type design, you will love it or hate it.

On the back panel there really isn’t much going on, at the top, you have three cameras that are aligned vertically at the top of the device, with the Sony branding in the centre.

Down at bottom, you will see the Xperia branding too, whilst at the base of the phone is the USB-C charging port.

Over to the right, you will find the volume rocker, power button and fingerprint sensor, which is extremely fast we should add.

There is also a dedicated camera button down the right side too, allowing you to pull your phone out and snap a quick shot at lightning speeds.

The button works like a camera shutter and allows you to simply press the button to take a photo rather than having to tap the screen.

You may be wondering is the Sony Xperia 1 waterproof? Well yes, it is, the device has an IP68 rating which means it can survive a dunk in the tub at 1.5m for 30 minutes.

Sony Xperia 1 SIM Free Unlocked UK Smartphone, 6.5inch 4K HDR OLED Screen, 128GB Memory, 6GB RAM, Android 9.0 - Supplied with 64 GB Memory Card [Amazon Exclusive] – Purple
  • Experience the world’s first 4K OLED display on a smartphone
  • Watch your movies and TV shows reproduced in pro-level colour accuracy, with CineAlta technology
  • 21: 9 CinemaWide 6.5” display, the same aspect ratio as the cinema
  • Exceptional imaging with a triple lens camera system
  • Be immersed in cinematic DolbyAtmos sound

The device is also dust resistant too, however we still recommend investing in a case and screen protector if you want to keep your phone in tiptop condition.

Moving onto the Sony Xperia 1 display and we have to say we found it most impressive.

The 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED display is great for viewing content on your mobile phone, especially Netflix as Sony says the display is specifically optimised to view Netflix content.

The display has professional-level colour reproduction too, so it can be in the DCPI3 colour gamut and the BT2020 colour space if you are interested in that.

Sony has really tried to make this phone appeal to those who absolutely love watching movies and content on their mobile device. But there is a downside to this; the Sony Xperia 1 display brightness levels really do suck.

We found that it is hard to see the screen when out in direct sunlight; even on a normal day, it is still hard to view the phone how we liked.

Even when we turned the brightness up to the max, and turned the adaptive brightness settings off the phone still wouldn’t get anywhere near the levels of the Honor 20 Pro or Huawei P30.

The display has a resolution of 1644 x 3840 and a pixel density of 643ppi; this is impressive for a screen that is housed on top of your smartphone.

We have to say watching a 21:9 ratio film on this phone is superb, although most of the video we watch simply isn’t in this ratio.

Most of us tend to watch movies on our TV at home, and its more YouTube videos on our mobile devices.

Because of the aspect ratio of this phone, it means even when viewing content on YouTube you still end up with big black bars either side of the display.

The Sony Xperia 1 display doesn’t have a fancy hole-punch design or no notch, it has a small bezel at the top which houses the front-facing speaker.

This does feel a little outdated but we didn’t find it too much for annoyance when using the phone.

Overall the display of the Xperia 1 is impressive, it’s not going to blow you away and we really don’t like how weak the brightness is.

Although if you are someone that loves to watch movies on your phone, then we are positive you will have a great time with this phones display,

Sony Xperia 1 Review: Performance

Ok, so how does the Sony Xperia 1 perform?

Well if your looking for a pumped-up 5G device that will download movies in a matter of seconds, then the Sony Xperia 1 isn’t the phone for you.

That being said when looking at the Sony Xperia 1 specs, they are pretty impressive. The phones houses a Snapdragon 855 processor backed with 6GB of RAM, this combination keeps the phone running smoothly even when under stress.

We tested the phone on a couple of our favourite games from the play store, and we didn’t have a problem with lag or fps on the likes of PUBG and Asphalt.

We would recommend dimming down the graphics though if you want to play the game as best you can on this phone.

We did find it a little strange on this display, as it kind of felt like a PSP rather than a smartphone when using the device in portrait.

The ‘Dynamic Vibration Mode’ does a great job at enhancing your gameplay; it vibrated the phone in tune with game sounds and events that happen in-game, giving a more real-life feel when deep in a gaming session.

The Sony Xperia 1 comes with 128GB of internal storage, we do feel like this is more than enough for the average user, but it would have been nice to be offered multiple storage options as we see on the Samsung Galaxy S10.

If you are someone who uses a ton of storage, there is a MicroSD slot that allows up to 1TB of storage on the dual SIM model.

In terms of software on the Sony Xperia 1, we see a super clean version of Android 9.0 with much more support for multi-tasking.

We loved being able to watch a YouTube video as well as text our friends, thanks to the huge screen.

The phone even allows you to have two of your favourite apps open at once, although this can be a little taxing on your brain after a while.

The UI of the Sony Xperia 1 feels as close to stock android as you could possibly wish for, whilst maintaining features like ‘PS4 remote play’.

Sony has even added in a cool ‘Gaming mode’ which blocks notifications when your playing games, this works really well and ensures you are playing the game to your maximum ability without getting texts from friends.

There is a one-handed mode which does exactly what it says on the tin, it brings the whole screen down into the right-hand corner of the device, ensuring you can reach every application with just one hand.

This feature is particularly ‘handy’ for pulling down the notification shade; see what I did there.

See Related:

*Sony Xperia 5 Review*
*Sony Xperia 10 Review*
*Sony Xperia XZ3 Review*

One feature that is a miss with the Sony Xperia 1 is facial recognition, for a phone at this price range we would have expected this.

Although for the most part the fingerprint sensor does well to keep our phone secure.

Side Sense’ allows you to pop up a menu and shrink the home screen into one-handed mode by simply swiping up on the side of the display, this can be very annoying as it often takes multiple attempts to get this feature to work.

The Sony Xperia 1 also has some pretty handy swipe gestures, which are essential for those with small hands trying to pull the notification shade down on a phone this tall.

All in all the Sony Xperia 1 specs are impressive, but we would have liked a little more accuracy on features like ‘side sense’ and the ‘DVS’.

Sony Xperia 1 Review: Camera

The triple camera set up on the Sony Xperia 1 is a big change to previous Sony handsets.

The Sony Xperia 1 has three 12MP cameras that comprise of a primary shooter, wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens.

Most people tend to assume that megapixels mean how strong the camera is, but this is not the case.

For the most part, we find that most mobile devices actually take images in a lower MP than they have the capacity for.

The phone has a dedicated shutter button which when pressed throws you straight into the camera app; this does look familiar and is extremely simple to use.

There is a selection of modes such a slow-motion; portrait mode and AI effect, ensuring you are in the best mode for the scene you are in.

There are controls which allow you to adjust the colour temperature and brightness of your images too, as well as having a manual mode which lets you really dig deep into the camera settings for those photographers out there.

We found our self-sticking to the auto mode, as this does most of the hard work for you.

One feature we do love about the Sony Xperia 1 camera is it has an ultra-fast focus and auto exposure, the phone locks onto the eyeballs of the subject to ensure that there is no blur in your image.

The phone can even take up to 10 photos in a single second! There is also a ‘best shot’ mode too which takes multiple photos as soon as you press the button so that you can go back after the fact to pick out the best photo of the bunch.

Bokeh’ is awesome on this phone and we found it works well to blur out the background and take some impressive highly detailed images of your subject.

When it comes to shooting at night, the Sony Xperia 1 doesn’t fall short here. There is a new ‘noise reduction algorithm’ which gives you a super smooth and natural look when shooting images in low light.

We love how the phone allows you to switch between the different lenses with ease, just like on the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung S10.

The ultra-wide lens does a great job for taking group photos, as it makes the field of view much wider to get more in your images.

The ultra-wide lens does often make images come out a lot warmer than the regular lens, so don’t expect the same quality of image as the primary lens.

The telephoto does max out at 2x optical zoom that is rather disappointing when compared to the likes of the P30 Pro, however it does manage to maintain detail when zoomed all the way in.

Around the front the Sony Xperia 1 has an 8MP selfie camera, this works well to capture some great selfies especially with the portrait mode.

The selfie cam also gives you control over the Bokeh effect thorough a slider, however, when you do start to max the slider out the edge detection does go a little crazy.

There is also a screen flash feature that lights up your face in order to take selfies in the dark.

When it comes to video recording the Sony Xperia 1 can record full HD footage that is pretty impressive.

The phone has a combination of optical and electronic stabilisation which works well to keep the footage stable without the need of a tripod or a ridiculously steady hand.

Overall the camera setup on the Sony Xperia 1 is great and much better than what we have seen on some of the cheap Sony Xperia phones.

Sony Xperia 1 Review: Battery Life

The Sony Xperia 1 comes with a 3300mAh battery that is more than enough to get you through a full day of use.

Unfortunately, there is no support for wireless charging, which would have been nice considering the price tag of this device.

There is a cool battery care feature that helps to prevent long-term battery damage and helps keep your phone running smoothly.

Now with there being no wireless charging, you don’t get any of the fancy Qi benefits either, so no charging up your friend’s phone when they are running low.

Charging the device from 0-100% takes around 90 minutes in total, this is roughly the same, as you will find on the Samsung Galaxy S10.

We were slightly disappointed overall with the Sony Xperia 1 battery as it simply isn’t great when you take into account that it has an OLED display and some high-performance specs.

Sony Xperia 1 SIM Free Unlocked UK Smartphone, 6.5inch 4K HDR OLED Screen, 128GB Memory, 6GB RAM, Android 9.0 - Supplied with 64 GB Memory Card [Amazon Exclusive] – Purple
  • Experience the world’s first 4K OLED display on a smartphone
  • Watch your movies and TV shows reproduced in pro-level colour accuracy, with CineAlta technology
  • 21: 9 CinemaWide 6.5” display, the same aspect ratio as the cinema
  • Exceptional imaging with a triple lens camera system
  • Be immersed in cinematic DolbyAtmos sound

This means that most users are going to be using the device to watch HD movies or play games for long periods, so we would have assumed Sony would have accommodated for this.

One feature we do love is the new ‘adaptive charging’ feature, this allows you to select a time that you need the phone to be at full charge for, and the phone will adjust the charging speed accordingly.

As a whole, the battery life of the Sony Xperia 1 could definitely be better, with its competition boasting Qi and wireless charging we feel Sony has missed out here.

Sony Xperia 1 Review: Summary

So should you buy the Sony Xperia 1?

Well if you have had Sony phones in the past and like how they operate then yes. With the phone having a slim yet tall design it really is a select market that the phone is aimed towards.

Compared to some of the cheap Sony Xperia phones that we have seen in the past, this device really has stepped it up a notch.

Those who love to watch movies on their smartphone will love this device as it really does make for a fantastic media experience.

The Sony Xperia 1 specs don’t let you down either, with some impressive specs that can handle games from the play store easily and the likes of PUBG and Runescape without breaking a sweat.

Sony Xperia 1 SIM Free Unlocked UK Smartphone, 6.5inch 4K HDR OLED Screen, 128GB Memory, 6GB RAM, Android 9.0 - Supplied with 64 GB Memory Card [Amazon Exclusive] – Purple 

The new camera setup is impressive too; with three 12MP lenses to choose from the phone will appeal to those who love to take great photos on their smartphone.

Thankfully the Sony Xperia 1 is waterproof, which means if you do drop it in the shower you don’t need to panic too much.

Battery life is decent, but Sony has missed a trick with not including any wireless or Qi charging.

We hope you have enjoyed our Sony Xperia 1 review, feel free to comment and share as well as check out the best Sony Xperia 1 contract deals the UK has to offer at the top of the post.