Sony Xperia 1 review

GSMArena team, 08 June 2019.

Software

The Xperia 1 boots Android Pie, and it's a slightly more Google-ish variation than the one we saw on the Xperia XZ3 last year. What we mean is that now you can have the pill navigation (which Sony calls 'Swipe up on Home button') in addition to the classic nav bar. You can find the setting in the display menu, and enabling it makes the Xperia 1 navigation resemble that of a Pixel phone.

Fingerprint unlock, as well as Google's Smart Lock options, including Trusted Face (Face Unlock), are available. The most secure one is the fingerprint, of course, but in case you want it easier, you can use some of the Smart Lock suggestions.

Swipe up setting - Sony Xperia 1 review Homescreen - Sony Xperia 1 review App drawer - Sony Xperia 1 review Folder view - Sony Xperia 1 review Notification shade - Sony Xperia 1 review Notification shade - Sony Xperia 1 review
Swipe up setting • Homescreen • App drawer • Folder view • Notification shade

There are unique Xperia bits on top, however - ones that are meant to help out with the tall aspect of the display and the extreme overall height, particularly on this larger 6.5-inch model. Chief among those is one-handed mode.

Sony Xperia 1 review

It's not a new thing, it's just that being able to shrink the UI and bring it closer gets a new meaning on a phone of the 10 Plus's proportions. A quick double tap on the Home button does just that and even makes the notification shade almost conveniently reachable with one hand - good luck with that on the full-screen UI.

One-handed mode - Sony Xperia 1 review One-handed mode - Sony Xperia 1 review One-handed mode - Sony Xperia 1 review
One-handed mode

Side sense is not really a new feature, but it is still unique enough to merit a few words. Plus, Sony's implementation in the Xperia 1 is fairly flexible and in-depth. It boils down to a pair of touch-sensitive areas on either side of the phone. You can tap or slide these to trigger various actions most of which user-configurable, including the sensitivity of the areas. The menu itself is sort of a take on the Android Pie recent apps interface, which is notably missing from its intended location as a row in the app drawer. Unfortunately, in our experience, its sensitivity is a mixed bag, and all of us had a hard time triggering the Side Sense menu reliably time after time. So, that's another feature that's going to the Gimmicks bin if you are keeping count.

Side sense - Sony Xperia 1 review Side sense options - Sony Xperia 1 review Side sense menu - Sony Xperia 1 review Split window - Sony Xperia 1 review Split window - Sony Xperia 1 review
Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • Split window • Split window

One particularly powerful and customizable option is the 21:9 pair shortcut feature. Through it, you simply select two apps and the relative location you want to launch them in and then you can trigger a split-screen with the pair instantly.

Sony Xperia 1 review

An inherent benefit of an extra-long display is the ability to show more items in long lists - that includes boring stuff like the settings menu, and marginally more fun stuff like, say, posts in Instagram.

Another good use for a 21:9 screen is showing two apps in two larger-than-average halves of the said screen - if only Google hadn't completely ruined the mechanics of going into multi-window with Pie.

There's a downside to the unusual aspect too, in that some apps may not be able to display properly in it. We ran into this with one of the benchmarks we do, but not the more common apps you're likely to use. Even so, the possibility for incompatibility is there.

Settings (almost all of them) - Sony Xperia 1 review Chrome - Sony Xperia 1 review Multi-window - Sony Xperia 1 review Task switcher - Sony Xperia 1 review
Settings (almost all of them) • Chrome • Multi-window • Task switcher

Sony also notably handles its own multimedia display and playback, with its proprietary Video and Album apps. Album features both photo and video support, can connect to the cloud and local network services and is pretty good at organizing galleries and doing the occasional light edit on a shot. There is a dedicated Video app with Dolby Atmos support, too, which depending on the region, may or may not offer extended information about the content inside.

The Music app is simple and well organized, without lacking any important features. All the while, it looks very appealing with large format album art (and automatic art download) and a flat design. It also features Google cloud integration. There are also various options to tweak the sound, including the DSEE HX up-scaler and Dolby Atmos. Others, like aptX HD, benefit listening to music wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Album app - Sony Xperia 1 review Photo Editor - Sony Xperia 1 review Music app - Sony Xperia 1 review Audio settings - Sony Xperia 1 review Video app - Sony Xperia 1 review
Album app • Photo Editor • Music app • Audio settings • Video app

Game Enhancer is pretty self-explanatory but still contains a few interesting little features. It has two main interfaces - one acting as a game launcher, while the other being an overlay that can be pulled out while in game. It gives two performance profiles to choose from. One being "max-throttle", while the other is a more battery-minded mode that caps fps to 40 and adjusts some other settings. Then there is Focus mode, which disables pesky notifications and other distractions.

Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 1 review Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 1 review Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 1 review
Game Enhancer

There are also screenshot and video capture features, the latter of which can also capture footage from your selfie camera along with the game "let's play" style. There is no direct streaming to any video platforms, though. Last, but not least, a quick search function can bring up YouTube videos in a floating video for you, related to the game you are currently playing.

Performance and benchmarks

The Sony Xperia 1 is properly powered flagship having the latest Snapdragon 855 at the helm. This Snapdragon is based on the 7nm node from TSMC and incorporates an octa-core CPU that Qualcomm calls Kryo 485. It's comprised of a single Gold core (a Cortex-A76 derivative) clocked at the whopping 2.84 GHz; then there are three more Gold cores clocked at 2.42 GHz and a cluster of four Silver cores (Cortex-A55 derivative) ticking at 1.79 GHz.

Sony Xperia 1 review

The GPU is Adreno 640 and it's Qualcomm's top-of-the-line graphics processor that can handle pretty much everything you throw at it. There aren't many games running on the native Xperia 1 screen resolution, if any at all, but no matter the resolution, GPUs don't get any better than that in the Android industry.

The Xperia 1 has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, though some markets could get a slightly cheaper 64GB variant in a limited stock.

All that being said, we couldn't help but notice that despite the current choice of flagship chipset, the Xperia 1 appears to be lacking Wi-Fi 6 compatibility. Pretty odd, given that it is within the SD855's capabilities. Sony isn't really taking full advantage of the X24LTE modem either. Although the jump from the provided Cat.19 speed to the theoretical maximum Cat.20 ones are hardly something you'll miss.

We ran our traditional benchmark routine and it really brings no surprises. The latest Qualcomm processor is indeed the best one available on any Android today.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    11432
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    11181
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
    11028
  • Sony Xperia 1
    10985
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    10735
  • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
    10395
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    10387
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    10014
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    8607
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    8509

And only Samsung's latest Exynos core can beat it in certain single-core tasks.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    4777
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4522
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
    3512
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    3503
  • Sony Xperia 1
    3447
  • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
    3424
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    3419
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    3323
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    2486
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    2419

The Adreno 640 is a beast as evident by the offscreen tests.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    99
  • Sony Xperia 1
    71
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
    71
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    70
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    69
  • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
    67
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    65
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    58
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    56
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    56

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    60
  • Sony Xperia 1
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
    42
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    42
  • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
    40
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    40
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    35
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    35
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    33

The Xperia 1 runs the onscreen benchmark on an extended 1080p vertical resolution and that's the reason it aces those as well. But note that if a game or a benchmark supports native 4K resolution - it will run in 4K resolution.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    60
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    57
  • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
    57
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    56
  • Sony Xperia 1
    55
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
    52
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    50
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    37
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    33
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    31

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    47
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    37
  • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
    35
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    35
  • Sony Xperia 1
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
    32
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    23
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    20
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    19

And finally, here is the 3D Mark score, yet another excellent result.

3DMark SSE 3.1 Unlimited

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
    6135
  • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
    6052
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    6017
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    5816
  • Sony Xperia 1
    5792
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    4978
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    4632
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    4315

Finally, the compound AnTuTu test just confirms the Xperia 1 features the right hardware and for its price tag you are getting indeed one of the Android's finest.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    372006
  • Oppo Reno 10x zoom
    364220
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
    363016
  • Sony Xperia 1
    356734
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    353210
  • Samsung Galaxy S10+
    333736
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    331537
  • Huawei P30 Pro (perf. mode)
    316156
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    284555
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    264734

So, as far as performance is concerned, the Xperia 1 won't leave you wanting, not for the couple of years to come at least. It manages heat reasonably - it may get a bit warm but it's the top of the display that's get hot instead of the back - which is a bit odd but not worrisome.

Reader comments

  • DG

Are hong kong versions are different form other versions?

Audio output quality is the same as Samsung Galaxy S10. Really, don't make it lower than it's worth it. It's the same flagship as all others

ebay or amazon, probably get the Hong Kong version