Sony Xperia 1V

I really have a soft spot for Sony’s Xperia series, and that actually goes for both the 1 and 5. There’s a kind of purity, an honesty to the way they design the phones, and even if they sell them at almost comically overpriced, you also get a phone that can do it all, that has it all, and where Sony doesn’t bother giving you the wheel. This is the essence of what tech-savvy YouTubers call “an enthusiast’s dream,” and while the Mark V lacks some of the distinct developments we’ve seen from generation to generation, the same is thankfully still true.

Okay, let’s put him in the ring here. Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 12GB of RAM, 256GB expandable via microSD, 5000mAh battery, 3.5mm headphone jack, WIFI 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, 30W wireless charging, IP68 certification and finally an OLED panel from 6.5″ 1644×3840 21:9 120Hz.

Nothing is really missing here. You get the latest components for the fastest performance combined with a panel that has the highest resolution, lightning-fast refresh rate, and incredible color saturation in a form factor that gives you way more vertical real estate, and finally all the little comfort to please both old and new users.

Sony Xperia 1V

It’s Sony’s mantra that’s all, and it works perfectly. Here, too, you’ve got a totally clean Android install, with Sony only adding meaningful apps and features that make it easier to multitask vertically or lower content when using the phone. This time around, there’s a sort of embossed surface on both the sides and back that makes the grip itself that much sturdier and more comfortable over the long haul—in fact, there’s just not a finger to point at the build.

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Battery life is now excellent and at 4K at 120Hz it can easily last a day and can even bite into the next day’s chunk before needing a recharge. Via microSD, your Xperia V can quickly and relatively cheaply become the phone with the most storage space, and via the headphone jack you will never come across a situation where you can’t listen to music.

That’s not to say there aren’t still a hiccup here and there. The fingerprint reader on the side isn’t quite as good as what we now find under the panel, especially from Samsung, and we also see some other Japanese manufacturers, like Sharp and Leika, offer some pretty wild sensors, so when Sony commands a price like this tall, we can expect the best all round.

I also think it’s time for Sony to make a bigger deal with the whole “phone as camera” identity and provide us with alternative materials for the back. Sure, the 21:9 shape gives the phone presence, but Oppo and Xiaomi, among others, use leatherette to achieve the physical sensation that what you’re holding is something special.

And then there are the cameras. On the back we find a standard 48 megapixel 24mm f / 1.9 wide angle with OIS and Dual Pixel PDAF, a 12 megapixel 85mm f / 2.8 telephoto lens with 5.2x optical zoom and finally a 12 megapixel 16mm f / 2.2 at 124 degrees. All lenses have Zeiss T Star coating to combat reflections within the camera body and for 4K/120fps HDR shooting, stabilized by a 5-axis gyroscope. Just as many of the phone’s strengths are present in the 1V as well, I’m pretty sure many will find the same things to love, and perhaps hate, about this camera system. Yes, Sony introduces the first stacked CMOS sensor with dual-transistor pixel technology, a brand new ExmorT IMX 888 sensor 1.7x bigger than what you’ve found in the latest Xperia, and wacky apps in the form of Photo Pro and Video Pro that really let you edit and edit.

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Sony Xperia 1V

The point is, if you know what you’re doing, you can take some pretty wild photos, whether using Burst mode, but also just messing around with ISO, shutter and color balance, and then lining up just the right shot. This way, there’s more information, more depth, and arguably more measured colors and dynamic range than on an S23 Ultra or even a Pixel 7 Pro.

But you don’t always have the time or the inclination, and Sony still doesn’t have the automatic or AI-powered performance to match Apple, Google, or even Samsung, who lean more towards software-based post-processing that gives you images and videos that are generally more…well, punchy? What you get from the cameras of the Xperia 1 V is, as others describe it, “default”, in other words, there is something to play with, tinker with, improve.

I love the Xperia 1 V because, like every other Xperia phone in the last couple of years, it’s brutally honest about what consumers are targeting and what they can offer. There are a few minor quibbles, like the annoying fingerprint reader, and a tendency to be reactionary in its approach to materials and design, but overall, this is a smartphone worthy of its legacy.

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