I really do have a soft spot for Sony’s Xperia range, and that actually applies to both the 1 and the 5. There’s a kind of purity, honesty to the way the phones are designed, and even though they sell them for almost an exorbitant price, you also get a phone that can do it all, It has it all, and where Sony wouldn’t mind giving you the wheel. It’s the quintessence of what YouTubers call an “enthusiast’s dream,” and while the Mark V lacks some of the distinctive development features we’ve seen from generation to generation, fortunately the same applies.
Well, let’s throw it in the ring here. Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 12 GB of RAM, 256 GB expandable via microSD, 5000 mAh battery, 3.5 mm headphone jack, WIFI 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, 30W wireless charging, IP68 certification, finally 6.5-inch OLED panel 1644 x 3840 21 : 9 120 Hz.
There really is nothing missing here. You get the latest components for the fastest possible performance along with a panel with the highest resolution, blazingly fast refresh rate, amazing color saturation in a form factor that gives you more headroom, and finally all the little conveniences that will please old and new users alike.
That’s what Sony’s motto is all about, and it works brilliantly throughout. Here you also have a completely pure Android installation, where Sony has only added meaningful apps and functions that make it easier to multitask vertically or have content within easy reach when using the phone. This time there is a kind of tapered surface on both sides and the back which makes the grip itself more robust and comfortable in its length, in fact there is no finger to put on the structure at all.
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Battery life is now excellent and at 4K @ 120Hz it easily lasts one day and can nibble a bit into the next before needing a charge. Via microSD, the Xperia V can quickly become the phone with the most storage space relatively cheaply, and you’ll never find yourself in a situation where you can’t listen to music via the headphone jack.
This is not to say that there are no occasional hiccups here and there. The fingerprint reader on the side isn’t quite as good as the ones we’re getting now under the board, especially from Samsung, and we’re also seeing other Japanese manufacturers, like Sharp and Leica, offer some wild sensors, so when Sony commands such a high price, we expect the best. Along the way.
I also think it’s time for Sony to make more of a whole “phone as a camera” identity and give us alternative materials for the back. Sure, the 21:9 aspect ratio gives the phone presence, but Oppo and Xiaomi, among others, use synthetic leather to give a physical feeling that what you’re holding in your hand is something special.
Then we have the cameras. On the back we find a 48 MP 24mm f/1.9 standard wide-angle with OIS and Dual Pixel PDAF, a 12 MP 85mm f/2.8 telephoto lens with 5.2x optical zoom and finally a 12 MP 16mm f/2.2 at 124 degrees. All lenses have Zeiss T Star anti-reflective coating inside the camera housing and for 4K/120fps HDR recording, which is stabilized by 5-axis rotation. Just as many of the phone’s strengths are also found in the 1 V, I’m sure many will find the same things to love, and perhaps hate, about this camera system. Yes, Sony introduces its first stacked CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel Transistor technology, the all-new ExmorT IMX 888 sensor is 1.7 times larger than the one you found in the previous Xperia, and wild apps in the form of Photo Pro and Video Pro let you really tune and adjust.
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The point is, if you know what you’re doing, you can take some really wild shots, both with burst mode, but also by messing around with ISO, shutter and color balance, and then lining up the right shot. This way, you get more information, greater depth and without a doubt, more metered colors and dynamics than the S23 Ultra, or even the Pixel 7 Pro.
But you don’t always have the time or inclination, and Sony still lacks AI-based or automatic performance to match Apple, Google, or even Samsung, which lean more toward software-based post-processing that gives you photos and video that are generally more… Well, strong? What you get from the cameras in the Xperia 1 V is, as others describe, “standard,” in other words, something you can play with, tinker with, and improve.
I like the Xperia 1 V because, like every other Xperia in the last couple of years, it’s very vocal about who it’s targeting and what it can offer. There are some minor flaws, such as an annoying fingerprint reader and a tendency to be retro in its approach to materials and design, but overall, this is a smartphone worthy of its legacy.
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