Sony announces cinema-heavy Xperia 1 flagship at Mobile World Congress 2019


It’s the smartphone lover’s favourite time of the year. Barcelona, Spain plays host to Mobile World Congress, where much of the world (except Apple) shows off what’s new (in the near-future, mid-future or distant future) in mobile tech. This morning was Sony’s crack at showing off what’s coming, and we were there to get all the deets.

Going long

First up from Sony is Xperia 1, which is a new naming convention for the upcoming flagship. It inevitably looks to be all-screen, at least from the front, and it is heckin’ long. There are shades of older Xperia design in the frame, at least as far as first impressions go, but it’s obvious that the Xperia 1 is all about the screen. That’s because the display is a 4K OLED panel, something that Sony calls its 21:9 CinemaWide display. The focus is on cinema quality media consumption. Makes sense, based on the Bravia lineup of TVs. Why not exploit that tech?

The device has a software enhancement called Creator mode, which is a wider colour gamut along with improved shading. That’s going to be supported by Netflix, out of the box, and is so named because viewers will be able to watch media the way its creators intended. The Xperia 1 has Dolby Atmos built in, and it’s got a hand in the development from Sony Pictures. Again, cross-department tech sharing. We’re okay with that. The very long screen has a more practical purpose as well. It allows users to have an inset window at the top of a standard phone interface, meaning you can watch YouTube while WhatsApping, or whatever it is you do while you’re mobile phoning your life away.

It’s a snap

What else do you need for movies? What other departments does Sony have? Well, they do make the excellent Sony Alpha series snappers, so their new vertical triple lens rear camera setup has a pedigree. There’s a 16mm f/2.4 ultra-wide lens, a 26mm f/1.6 sensor and a 52mm f2.4 portrait lens, all of which borrow a little something from — you guessed it — Sony’s Alpha range of cameras. The Xperia 1 is also packing BionZ X mobile image processor and is dragging along some software updates as well as a new algorithm.

Sony’s laid claim to eye auto-focus tracking (known as Eye AF), something that they reckon is a world first and which should keep humans (or cats, dogs or other subjects) in focus. Cool. The Xperia 1 supports auto-focus and auto-exposure up to 10fps and the company says there’s improved low-light performance as well. Looks like they’ve gone for a software solution there, we will have to see how it works in practise.

On the inside

Sony’s sending the Xperia 1 out into the world with a Snapdragon 855 processor, a chip that allows for Gigabit LTE, and which counts as a substantial bump over the previous generation of Qualcomm silicon. It’s also got added gaming chops, for those Fortnite and PUBG fans, and the device will land with Android 9 Pie.

Sony’s opted for a 3,330mAh battery for this one, which might seem a tad low given it’s rocking a larger-than-usual 4K OLED display (and considering Samsung and Huawei’s latest big handsets both offer over 4,000mAh). It should still manage to perform at least a day between charges — Sony’s power-saving features have always been excellent and we’re expecting very little to have changed for the worse here.

Stuff was present at a locally-hosted event with a live stream of Sony’s MWC presentation. Several of the devices Sony announced were on the scene (though they spent much of their time concealed under cloth). We got a chance to go hands-on with a, um, handful of them, so expect some early impressions soon. Except of the Xperia 1 itself. That, we’re not allowed to handle just yet.

The Sony Xperia 1 will be coming to SA a little later on this year. There’s a July launch planned, but pricing for South Africa hasn’t been made final yet.


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  1. Pingback: You’re probably never going to be able to buy the Sony Xperia 1 II in South Africa

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