If you’ve been following Sony’s Xperia 1 series of flagship smartphones, you’ll either love them or hate them for the unique design, which includes a 4K screen with a 21:9 aspect ratio, as well as a headphone socket. With the new Xperia 1 VI model, Sony has decided to ditch the unique 4K screen, and odd aspect ratio screen, and go for a more standard 19.5:9 aspect ratio, and a FullHD+ resolution screen.

The new screen has a top chin with 12MP selfie camera, rather than a hole-punch in the screen, and the bottom chin or bezel is also noticeably larger than phones from other brands. This will be of benefit to those who don’t want a hole in the screen when watching TV and films full-screen.

They’ve also ditched all the different and confusing Video Pro and Cinema Pro apps, so instead of there being 3 different camera/video apps, there is now only one Photo App, which sounds like a sensible move towards making the cameras easier to use. However, if you’re one of the Sony fans who use these video centric apps, then you may be out of luck. If you wanted to record video with manual controls, you can’t, as they say that they will be adding these features to the main camera app, in a future update. Photographers, however, will be glad to know that the photo app does include a manual/pro mode.

The Sony Xperia 1 VI Selfie Camera site in the top bezel . Image: Sony
The Sony Xperia 1 VI Selfie Camera site in the top bezel . Image: Sony

Sony continue to make baffling decisions with the phone range, and at this point, I don’t think they will be able to make any real dent in sales of other brands. Die-hard fans who love these phones will most likely be annoyed at the changes, and these changes aren’t going to be enough to tempt users away from Apple, Samsung, Google, which all feature advanced AI photography features.

A Sony spokesperson said, in a presentation to journalists said “We will not chase ‘funny’ AI features” referring, most likely to Google and Samsung’s AI editing features. However, there are also a vast array of photographic features in Google and Samsung phones (and others) that are genuinely useful for photography, such as slow motion (handheld) long exposure modes, and even Astrophotography features.

In the same presentation Sony explained that they’ve improved the HDR performance of the cameras, as well as colour reproduction, and now offer the same colour profiles as Sony Alpha cameras, including the helpfully descriptive profiles: ST, NT, PT, and others.

Other AI features included in the phone, deemed not to be too silly or funny, includes human eye / animal eye detection, main subject detection, subject tracking, and well as AI white balance, AI exposure, AI depth, and Sony DSEE Ultimate (which uses AI for improved sound quality).

The new 3.5-7.1x telephoto camera offers 85-170mm equivalent variable zoom, and features a new close-up telephoto mode. There’s also an additional dedicated macro close up mode, letting you focus on subjects just 4cm away from the camera, at 120mm (equivalent) however, this is manual focus only, with focus peaking available.

Sony Xperia 1 VI Camera. Image: Sony
Sony Xperia 1 VI Camera. Image: Sony

The phone will come with 3 years of software updates and 4 years of security updates. Sony also say they’ve designed the battery management to maintain healthy battery life for up to 4 years.

The Sony Xperia 1 VI offers a triple camera setup on the rear, made up of:

  • 16mm ultra-wide-angle, 12MP, f/2.2, 1/2.5inch
  • 24mm main camera, with 48mm crop mode, 52/48MP, 1/1.35inch, f/1.9, OIS
  • Variable telephoto zoom 85-170mm, 3.5-7.1x with 4cm macro, 12MP, 1/3.5inch, OIS

Other features include:

  • 12MP f/2.0 1/2.9inch selfie camera with AF
  • 6.5inch screen, 19.5:9 FHD+, HDR OLED, 120Hz, Gorilla Glass Victus 2
  • 5000mAh battery
  • IP65/68 rating
  • 162 x 74 x 8.2mm, 192g
  • Headphone socket and MicroSDXC slot
  • 3yrs of software updates, and 4yrs of security
  • £1299 / €1399, available early June

Read our Sony Xperia 1 V review, or for another view on the new Xperia 1 VI, have a look at Stuff’s review.

Sony Xperia 1 VI Camera. Image: Sony
Sony Xperia 1 VI Camera. Image: Sony

From Sony: 15 May 2024 – Sony introduces the premium smartphone, Xperia 1 VI, equipped with a telephoto optical zoom lens that enables long distance shooting in superb detail up to x7.1 zoom, using a wide and user-friendly focal length from 85mm to 170mmi. The advanced lens of this camera means you get undegraded images at every focal length and ensures the creation of captivating professional portraits with exquisite bokeh effects. The 24mm wide angle lens is equipped with the image sensor “Exmor T for mobile”, offering excellent low-light performance, high speed AF (autofocus) using AF tracking with human pose estimation powered by AI. 

 Entertainment is pushed to the next level with Xperia™ 1 VI’s display is enhanced using AI image adjustment technology “Powered by BRAVIA®” that reproduces the image quality of Sony’s TV BRAVIA on its display, whilst the speakers have been upgraded for superior quality. 

With Sony´s expertise in display, audio, and mobile gaming to exceed your entertainment expectations, and two days of battery lifeii. The Xperia 1 VI delivers the complete premium smartphone experience. ​ 

Pro photography, AI-assisted 

Developed by Sony, the Exmor T for mobile sensor on the Xperia 1 VI on the 24mm lens, together with AI processing, delivers picture quality equivalent to full-frame cameras. Enabling less noise and wider dynamic range in low lightiii, and videos full of cinematic colour expression. 

Now offering x7.1 zoom – the telephoto optical zoom lens has a focal length of 85mm to 170mm and telephoto macro photography with a maximum magnification of approximately 2x and a minimum focus distance of 4cm, even without a dedicated macro lens. 

This lens utilises optical zoom, facilitating significant magnification and the capture of high-definition images of distant subjects with uncompromised image quality for both tele-macro and portraiture photography. Additionally, telephoto macro photography, leveraging the zoom lens structure for close-up shots, empowers users to seize images characterised by crisp detail and pronounced bokeh, surpassing the visual acuity of the naked eye. This capability extends to capturing intricate details, such as a flower’s centre delivering powerfully expressive results for the user. ​ 

Newly equipped with AF tracking with human pose estimation – an AI feature cultivated with Alpha™ series cameras 

The rear camera integrates AI technology to recognise the human skeleton, enabling precise AF tracking even in challenging shooting scenarios due to potential obstructions that conceal the subject’s visibility. This advanced functionality ensures consistent and accurate tracking, optimising image capture in a diverse series of environments. 

A new camera app that allows users to express themselves in a simple and intuitive manner ​ ​ 

The Xperia 1 VI camera app has undergone a significant update, featuring a user-friendly interface designed for seamless navigation. This enhancement prioritises convenience without compromising on the array of creative tools available, such as special shooting modes like PSM and customisable colour presets like ‘Creative Look’. Moreover, with touch tracking now capable of automatically setting brightness and colour adjustments, alongside the introduction of the new Pro video mode offering detailed settingsiv control for video capture, users can effortlessly capture both photos and videos with intuitive control and precision. ​ 

A new smarter, brighter display 

The Xperia 1 VI’s display is Powered by BRAVIA™, and uses AI remastering technology to improve contrast, colour, and clarity. This technology works for your own content and even streaming services. 

For ease of watching in bright conditions, the new display is 1.5 times brighter than the previous model. Furthermore, the new Sunlight Vision delivers improved visibility in outdoor environments, not only brightening the image, but also performing AI image processing to prevent overexposed highlights by analysing the frames and the environmental brightness in real-time. 

Premium sound, out loud or with headphones 

Featuring a new Premium Audio Circuit for 3.5mm wired headphones, a new higher-performance speaker, and innovative audio technologies, the Xperia 1 VI gives all your music the space, clarity, and quality it deserves, through wired or wireless headphones, or the full-stage stereo speakers. 

The speaker unit’s performance has undergone significant enhancements. Through the reduction of distortion at high volumes and optimisation of low-frequency output, there’s been a marked increase in the sound pressure level, resulting in a more impactful and immersive audio experience. 

Xperia 1 VI allows you to explore the latest audio industry technologies and formats, including High-Resolution Audio, High-Resolution Audio Wireless, LDAC, Bluetooth®v LE Audio (Low Energy), and Snapdragon Soundvi. When paired with select wireless headphones, activating the AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) Connection’ mode enhances sound quality further, even in bustling urban environments, ensuring uninterrupted music enjoyment. 

Best battery performance in Xperia 1 series 

The large and efficient 5,000 mAh battery is designed for two daysvii of typical use, all within a lightweight body which is thinner than the previous Xperia models. The use of a vapour chamber heat-dissipating component, a new display with low power consumption and unique power efficiency technology combine to enable continuous video playback for over 36 hoursviii approximately twice as much as previous modelsix ​ 

Not only does it support rapid charging, achieving approximately 50% capacity in just 30 minutes, Battery Care and Xperia Adaptive Charging ensures the battery isn’t overworked as it charges, giving you four years of healthy battery lifex. Additionally, Xperia 1 VI supports the new wireless standard Wi-Fi 7.xi, this latest communication standard enables high-speed data exchange, enhancing the user experience.

Performance to unleash your creativity 

The ultra-intelligent Snapdragon® 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platformxii unleashes a new era of possibilities. This powerful processor enhances the Xperia 1 VI’s AI capabilities, offering unrivalled camera, audio, gaming, and display performance. 

New feature of Game Enhancer: “FPS Optimizer” 

FPS Optimiser dynamically optimises CPU usage and frame rate based on the gaming environment. Touch input has been refined, offering three tracking speeds and two levels of tap accuracy, ensuring an unparalleled gaming experience for both gameplay and live streaming where the swiftest of reactions are a must. Snapdragon® 8 Gen3 Mobile and its Snapdragon Elite Gamingxiii supports fast and smooth gameplay and video viewing. 

Tactile and sophisticated design 

The Xperia 1 VI features a textural rear panel finish for comfort, functionality, and beauty. It provides improved grip and the convex microfabrication of toughened glass, alongside a frosted finishing makes it more resistant to fingerprints and surface scratches than other materials. 

The camera is built with a sturdy metal base for both ruggedness and compact functionality, using design and colour to blend seamlessly with the device for a consistent, premium look. 

It comes in a choice of colours to suit your style: Black, Platinum Silver, and Khaki Greenxiv. ​ 

Environmentally conscious and inclusive 

The product box and main tray of Xperia 1 VI are made from Sony’s Original Blended Material, comprising bamboo, sugar cane, and recycled paper, making it possible to achieve individual packaging that is completely plastic-freexv. In addition to Sony’s ongoing efforts to reduce plastic, plastic tape used to seal shipping cartons has been replaced by paper to make packaging more environmentally friendly. 

Furthermore, approximately 85%xvi of the raw materials for some of the parts used inside and outside the main body are environmentally friendly resins (recycled resins, plant-based resins, etc.), including SORPLAS™, a flame-retardant recycled plastic developed by Sony. 

We are working to help the planet and the people who live on it. From Voice Control to increased text size, the Xperia 1 VI includes a range of accessibility features, enabling everyone to communicate freely, whatever their individual needs. For example, Xperia 1 VI includes a function that uses sounds to inform users the camera’s horizontal measurement information during shooting. Additionally, Sony has introduced unique enhancements to Android’s ‘TalkBack’ function, ensuring menus on the display are read out in a user-friendly sequence, enhancing accessibility for all users. 

Style Cover with Stand for Xperia 1 VI (XQZ-CBEC) ​ 

Xperia 1 IV’s dedicated cover features a bottom grip for effortless handling and steady shooting. With the newly bundled ring strap that can be attached to the cover, stability is further enhanced. Moreover, the stand supports both horizontal and vertical orientations for added convenience. The back of the cover mirrors the functional tactile design found on the back of the Xperia 1VI, ensuring that even with the cover attached, the device’s original design remains uncompromised. There are 3 coloursxvii to match the main body. SORPLAS is used as part of the raw material for this coverxviii. ​ 

Pricing and Availability ​ ​ 

Xperia 1 IV will be available to buy from early June for approximately £1299/€1399. Pre-orders start from the 15th May, please visit: www.sony.co.uk for more details.