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Xperia 1: Sony’s new flagship gets taller with a cinematic 4K OLED display

Sony Xperia 1

Sony Mobile has just announced its latest flagship smartphone and it isn’t the Xperia XZ4. The Japanese smartphone maker has ditched its old XZ naming and the new device is simply called the Xperia 1.

The Sony Xperia 1 stands out for having the tallest display at the moment with a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio. According to Sony, this is the first smartphone that comes with a 4K OLED display with HDR.

The Xperia 1’s screen is 6.5″ and Sony continues to buck the trend of putting notches on the display. In terms of build, the Xperia 1 uses glass for both front and back, which are protected by Gorilla Glass 6. It also gets a metal frame that’s fitted seamlessly for a more premium look and feel.

According to Sony, the display offers accurate colour reproduction and a high contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. With its taller 21:9 screen, the Xperia 1 offers more room for multitasking, as there’s enough display real estate to view two app windows while showing the on-screen keyboard.

For an immersive video viewing experience, the Xperia 1 also gets Dolby Atmos enhancement for its stereo speakers. Sony has also added that the sound tuning on the Xperia 1 was developed together with Sony Pictures Entertainment to ensure the mobile viewing experience is as the creators have intended.

Under the hood, it runs on a top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of RAM. It comes with 128GB storage which is still expandable via microSD.

In the imaging department, Sony has also jumped on the triple-camera bandwagon that offers both ultra-wide-angle and telephoto lenses. All three are 12MP shooters and the main camera features an f/1.6 aperture lens and a 1/2.6″ sensor. For the 135-degree wide-angle shooter, it gets an f/2.4 lens and a 1/3.4″ sensor size. Meanwhile, the telephoto shooter that offers 2x optical zoom gets an f/2.4 lens and a similar 1/3.4″ sensor.

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Both main and telephoto cameras are assisted with a hybrid OIS and EIS video stabilisation. For selfies, it gets an 8MP f/2.0 front camera that supports both HDR and SteadyShot.

The Xperia 1 also claims to be the first smartphone to offer Eye AF (Auto Focus) on a smartphone. This is a feature that’s found on Sony Alpha cameras which maintains a constant focus to the eye of your subject. It can support continuous burst shots up to 10 fps with AF/AE tracking.

Sony has also collaborated with engineers from CineAlta, Sony’s professional digital cinema camera division to enhance its video capabilities. The device allows you to shoot in natural cinematic tone and you can then add expression-based colour presets with their Cinema Pro feature. Xperia 1 allows you to shoot 4K HDR videos at 24 fps in 21:9 format and you can get a shake-free recording with its Optical SteadyShot feature.

Powering the Xperia 1 is a 3,300mAh battery that charges via USB-C (USB-PD fast charging). Strangely, there’s no mention of Qi wireless charging. The device also gets a side-mounted fingerprint sensor instead of adopting an in-display sensor.

As usual, the latest Sony flagship smartphone still retains its signature IP68 dust and water resistance. The device will be available in selected markets from late Spring 2019 (around May or June) and it comes in four colours – Black, Purple and Grey and White. Looking at the current situation, we don’t expect the Sony Xperia 1 to officially arrive in Malaysia anytime soon.

Sony which is still struggling as a smartphone maker believes that they have a chance to stand out with a cinematic 21:9 display. While it is a unique proposition, most online content is still based on a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio and only a handful of content creators have switched to 18:9 which is more fitting with today’s range of “FullView” smartphones.

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In the camera department, Sony appears to be heading in the right direction by offering greater versatility with its ultra-wide-angle and telephoto cameras but whether that translates to a great photography experience is yet to be seen.

Alexander Wong