This is the Sony Xperia 1 mark 4, these are the incredible new cameras that everyone is really hyped about on this particular phone, and these cameras are also the phone's massive, massive fail.
On this journey of being a Lifelong iPhone user who is trying to switch away to Android after just getting a little bored of the iPhone after all these years - you sometimes come across an android phone with flagship features that make a particular phone better than all of the others, IF, that feature is something that is valuable to you.
We’ve had 120-watt fast charging from the latest Xiaomi phones which charge from empty to full in a matter of minutes.
There are the 10x telephoto lenses that let you zoom in right to 100x using digital zoom on the Samsung S21 and S22 Ultra phones.
There’s the Pixel 6 and its voice features like dictation and assistant features that will answer and make calls for you.
And then there are the camera features on the Sony Xperia.
So for pretty much all other cameras built into phones, you’ll get an 0.5x ultrawide, a 1x standard, and a 3, 5, or maybe 10x telephoto. But the problem with that is that when you do any sort of zooming outside of the 0.5x, 1, 3, 5, or 10x ranges, the phone is adding digital zoom to your picture, which is just the same as taking an existing picture that you’ve taken and stretching it to make it bigger. The more you zoom in, the more you stretch it, and the bigger the pixels become until ultimately, everything becomes blotchy and you can’t tell what’s what.
This also causes other problems - like the OnePlus 10 Pro that I tested recently, where as you zoomed in and out you could physically see when it switched cameras because the colour science between the 2 lenses was completely off.
This is where the Sony Xperia 1 IV has its flagship feature. Because what they’ve tried to do with this phone, is take a Sony A series pro flagship camera with an optical Zoom lens, and fit one into the tiny body of a smartphone.
That is the flagship feature of this phone - BUT, does it actually make for a good phone, and for me as an iPhone user, do those benefits make me want to switch away from an iPhone - to the Sony Xperia 1 IV?
Right up front, the answer - is my god no. If you read into what I’ve titled this video, it probably gives it away - and I already hear you shouting from where you are, Pete, I knew you weren’t going to switch.
So first I’m going to run through what’s been Good about switching to this phone for the last couple of weeks, and then explain why there is a massive, massive problem with this phone, that nobody else seems to be talking about, none of the reviewers who got early access have mentioned this, and it’s something that I can only imagine Sony told them they weren’t allowed to talk about in their videos.
So the good things about this phone are the screen, the audio, and the cameras, for the most part.
We’ve got a 4K, HDR OLED display running at 120hz and with no notches - so this gives you one of the best viewing experiences I’ve seen on a mobile device. It’s bright enough to see on really sunny days except there are a few occasions where the auto-brightness just hasn’t worked.
You can also enable Creator mode when watching content and access their Bravia Core app which you get 5 free films and 12 months of free access - and I have to say that the content does look really great.
There's a great display, then comes the Audio. We’ve got a 3.5mm headphone jack firstly PLUS its IP68 water-resistant, and there's also expandable storage with a sim tray that can easily be removed by hand with no sim ejector tool which is awesome.
There’s support for high-resolution wireless audio via LDAC for those who don’t have or don’t want to use wired headphones - and this can make a noticeable difference when using services like Tidal HiFi which provides a truly uncompressed audio experience. Basically, the audio is the highest quality possible from the point of it being recorded.
You might notice with Spotify and some other streaming services, definitely in the days before with lower quality MP3 that some music just sounded muddy, and you couldn’t really make out the individual instruments in some tracks.
Well, the best listening experience you can have, in my eyes right now, is with a phone that supports high-resolution audio, and a good pair of headphones. Sony has shipped the XM4s along with the first orders of the Xperia IVs which make this phone not as much of a bad deal as it is without the headphones, but I recently sold my old XM4s and upgraded to the XM5s - and the quality of these headphones is incredible.
It’s not audiophile-level where you’ll pay multiple hundreds or thousands to get the absolute best of the best, but as far as regular people go, this is a damn good listening experience.
So that’s great audio.
My other favourite thing about this phone, as I eluded to earlier, is the cameras.
This is the first time, for me, that I’ve had DSLR and mirrorless camera features that I’m familiar with because I shoot with Sony cameras, built inside of a phone, this tiny phone!
With the Xperia 1 IV, you get full 4K, 120fps recording with audio, though you can’t use the seamless zoom and you don’t get image stabilisation or eye autofocus whilst shooting in that mode.
This is such a good feature that just puts all of the other brands to shame right now. If you’ve tried using any form of slow-motion on your phone lately, the image quality is like shooting with a potato - it’s horrendous.
There’s also the continuous zoom feature which means you can go from the 16mm ultrawide, all the way through to the 125mm telephoto without any noticeable artifacts or change in colours as you switch between the lenses - something that was blindingly obvious when doing the same on the OnePlus 10 I tested recently.
The knowledge that you have just over 5x optical zoom does just give you some reassurance when shooting those things that are a little bit further away, that you’re capturing all of the detail without adding any noise from the digital zoom.
Now it’s not 10x zoom like on the S21 or 22 Ultra BUT, again those are fixed lenses where everything in between is just digitally enhanced.
There’s also optical image stabilisation, which works pretty well to remove micro jitters from normal hand movement but does struggle somewhat whilst testing on a boat, and the intelligent wind filtering actually does a pretty good job of removing some of the wind noise even in a very challenging environment!
As a photographer slash videographer, I love that you have the ability to control all of these things with a very familiar sony interface.
However, if you’re not a photographer or videographer, then you’ve still got a basic mode that’s the same as most other camera phones where the camera will choose the best settings it thinks you need to get the shot.
So those are 3 things that I do love about this phone, Great display. Great audio, Great camera.
But, and there is a big BUT here on this Sony phone. There is one problem with this phone that removes all possibility of me, or probably anyone else for that matter, using this phone as their main phone.
We have just one thing - one big thing, which kinda combines 3 things. And that is the camera, and specifically, heat.
Right out of the box, the very first day that I used this phone - I almost sent it straight back.
It was a sunny day, 30 degrees here in the UK which is a very rare sight, and it was my kids' sports day.
So I did what any proud parent does on sports day, I snapped some photos and videos of my kid doing his thing. Very shortly after I started using the phone, like, literally, a few minutes after I started using it, I noticed that it was getting extremely warm.
The next thing that happened, was these warnings started coming up on screen - and these ARE warnings that I’m used to seeing on my Sony mirrorless cameras.
Shoot in 4K for too long on some of their cameras, and they will get warm and overheat to the point of shutting down.
But this is not what I expected from a phone. This is bad, it’s really bad.
I didn’t leave it in direct sunlight - I literally got the cold phone out of my pocket and started taking some photos and shooting some short videos. It overheated in just a few minutes.
I put the phone in my pocket to let it cool down, and ended up having to take it out of my pocket a few moments later as it was legitimately too hot to carry, and too hot to hold in my hands so I had to put it on the ground in the shade and let it cool down by itself for a while.
It’s pretty much as bad as it can get, without it becoming the next Samsung exploding battery calamity that it was.
If you’re reading this, and some time has passed and you have a Sony Xperia 1 IV, please let me know in the comments whether this is still affecting you, or if they manage to somehow solve this with an update. I really don’t know how they can, as it seems like a physical hardware issue, but either way, I and everyone else reading would love to know if it’s getting any better over time.
But the reason you want to buy this phone, is for what? It’s for the damn cameras! So the fact that the biggest selling feature of this phone is also a massive fail, is unforgivable.
all whilst this was happening, my son's sports day was going on, and the only thing I could rely on to capture the moment was my very bad memory - oh, and my wife’s iPhone, which was working flawlessly, and wasn’t warm to the touch let alone overheating.
This is not just limited to the cameras with the heating issues - because I found in just day-to-day usage of the phone, it was noticeably hot at times, even with very light usage. Just browsing the web, and checking my email, it didn’t become uncomfortably hot, but it was very noticeable when holding it.
On those hot days, you don’t stand a chance - basically don’t leave this phone out in the sun, ever. It warms up so quickly and takes a while to cool back down again, and for me, it wouldn’t normally be a problem, it’s very rare that we see weather above 20 degrees - but, we’re currently on our third week of 30-degree temperatures and none of my other phones, the iPhone, Pixel, Samsung, none of them are struggling to the point of being too hot to use, and definitely not too hot to operate unless you leave them out, in direct sunlight for too long.
The heating issue then goes hand in hand with the battery because when devices heat up, they’re not being very efficient and when a phone is feeling really warm in my hand, all it’s telling me is that it’s really sucking up power to do whatever the thing is that you’re trying to do at the time.
Now I know we’ve got the Snapdragon chip, which can be really good, and efficient with its power usage - but there also seems to be a significant lack of cooling or a way to extract the heat away from the phone, which is why the whole thing just heats up like an oven.
Therefore, even though there's a 5000 mAh battery in the phone, and I’m getting around 4 hours of screen on time, with the phone warning up - it just seems to sap the battery life.
It’s probably not helped by the warm days or the fact the phone gets warm when doing almost anything on it, but it’s been a struggle to get through a day with it, whereas with other phones it simply hasn’t.
To be fair, that is happening with 120hz enabled on the 4k display - but that’s not that much different from using full resolution and 120hz on the S22 Ultra, or Pixel, or iPhone that I felt performed so much better.
I totally get what everyone means now when talking about their perfect phone - the screen from one phone, the cameras from another, the voice technology from another - all combined make a perfect phone.
Speaking of which, what would your perfect combination of phones be? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in the next one.
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