Sony does not produce smartphones for the masses: in recent years, the Japanese company has pursued a certain development philosophy that has prompted it to make phones that are not quite popular choices, but are intended for this niche of users who are able to appreciate the ideas behind some. decisions. A Sony phone isn’t always intuitive, and not always everything works the same as on other phones, but for the general Sony user this has always been just fine: as in the best camera It is the photographer who must adapt to it to take the best pictures, not the other way around.
Last year we loved the Xperia 1 III, it had innovative ideas and can still deliver quality and tactility. This year enthusiasm for the next model has been on the rise: Sony has finally succeeded in the miracle of introducing a variable zoom inside the phone, a technical masterpiece.
Not only that: Onboard DRAM is available for 4K and 120fps video capture with each of the three sensors, Zeiss lenses, advanced audio solutions and a stunning 4K OLED display. In short, the conditions for acquiring the phone of the master who continued the path, however special, were followed by all Sony there.
Instead, the Xperia 1 IV broke our hearts: it’s nowhere near as far from last year’s model and It’s a phone right now that’s hard to recommend, not just for the price.
This wouldn’t be a review because we chose to wait and do a real sounds review: if an update arrives that will fix some of the issues described below, we’ll be running a real test. Seriously knowing Sony, there will likely be interference. However, the fact remains that the phone is already on sale in many European countries, even in Italy you can buy it on Amazon Amazon sells it through the English site (pay a little more), so we decided to say what happens and what it does not work.
The first problem: it gets very hot
Back in the Xperia 1 IV, the “brand-price” consideration still applies: We’re strict with this phone because it costs 1,399 and because it’s a phone made by Sony, a brand we’ve always used to stand out. Sony has everything you need to make the world’s best phone for photos and videos, and This device today is not.
The first problem that a buyer will encounter after a few hours of use will be overheating of the phone that cannot be controlled in any way and is not inevitable: it happens during shooting, it happens while browsing photos, sometimes it happens during connection and when uploading. The device gets very hot, almost red hot, the interface shows some lag, and if you are using the camera, the red thermometer icon will appear as well, with a warning that some features will not be available due to overheating.
The code is the same Sony Alfa, with the difference that in the first case it appears if we have been recording a 4K video for a long time, in this case it appears even just looking at the photos we took. Sometimes the icon turns into a more alarming yellow triangle: A sign that warns us that the phone may cause burns to our hands.
The Sony Xperia 1 IV is the hottest compared to the phones we tested this year, and we didn’t use it in Milan, with a higher core temperature, but in the mountains, at 2,000m, with a milder climate. . In many cases, the body becomes hot. However, we were not stubborn on this point: A simple software update can fix the situationNot least because Sony’s Snapdragon is not much different from those used by other manufacturers and there are no reasons behind this behaviour.
We expected excellence from the camera
Instead, we focused on the camera part, where between a weekend in the mountains and a trip to Berlin we took a few thousand pictures.
The overall quality of the Sony main camera is classic: good HDR, good detail. Here are some photos taken with the main lens and the ultra-wide lens, as it looks like Sony is indeed a top-tier phone.
However, the first issues arise when the night mode has to intervene: whether it’s the main camera or whether you’re using a remote camera, the night photography system that uses machine learning isn’t doing what it should, which is quality assurance. Quality.
These are some photos taken of the same subjects with a high-end phone and by Xperia taken in night mode: The on-screen interface asks to keep the phone still because it has to process the photo starting with multiple modes, but the end result It’s not something seen in recent months on other products, even cheaper.
The result is modest with the main lens, unacceptable with the telephoto lens which, being darker, undermines the system even more and appears unable to focus.
Xperia 1 IV does not have a night mode to be activated manually, you have to rely on the system interfering automatically. This is also software: Sony could improve it with a future update, which I obviously hope will.
However, there are other criticisms on the hardware interface, specifically on the “remote” optics. Variable zoom, the big news in Xperia IV, He proves to be the weak link in the entire chain: The overly complex optical path leads to a lack of contrast and detail, with all images appearing decidedly faded. The image below shows the same photo taken with the iPhone 13 Pro Max, “tele” and “tele” from Xperia: even when going from RAW to the latter, it is really impossible to recover many details lost due to spurious and skewed.
auto zoom works, But it works in a shorter range than is really useful: If Sony had put the 85mm and 125mm fixed, you would probably save money and get a better result.
The same phone then suffers from some lens alignment issues under certain circumstances: Many of the photos taken have double borders.
These photos were taken with an abundance of light, and, as evidenced by the shutter speed, they cannot be moved in any way: but the edges are double, and the quality is unacceptable. We thought it was an issue with our sample, but an Italian colleague testing the phone confirmed that even my sample under certain circumstances double-clicks.
Finally, a word about the focus distance: the minimum telephoto distance is 50cm, other lenses have a focus distance of at least 10cm, this means no macro and no zoom: telephoto is impossible.
The interface is finally unified but it needs to be revised: it is impossible to shoot manually and vertically
In addition to viewing the images, which is by far the most important element, you should also review the experience that the shooting interface guarantees. The interface is subjective, but we think we have objective elements that explain why some of the options are conceptually wrong.
In recent years we have criticized the presence of a dual interface, the Classic interface and the “Professional” interface, and its Sony unit this year. There is only one user interface, and at first glance it looks like a great job has been done: the “basic” interface, which is the interface designed for the “normal” user, It’s well organized and has everything you need, maybe more. For example, there is a manual adjustment of exposure and white balance, which can be useful but we will willingly see in the “Professional” part.
The part for the more advanced user is the real problem: Sony wanted to copy the interface of the Alpha cameras by introducing four modes: Auto, P, S, and M.
Three of these are useless: “Auto” is actually practically the same as “Basic” but uses a user interface that follows that of conventional cameras, meaning that not onlyo All icons are rotated in landscape mode if the phone is used verticallyso it’s hard to pressure them, but The shutter button also disappears.
Sony believed that all four “pro” modes should be used for landscape photography and thus provided that the shutter button was It is only physical, at the bottom right. To adjust the zoom, on the other hand, the volume key is used, at the top right: if the shutter button is not on the screen, there is a key for selecting the lenses, but at the top, it is round and certainly inaccessible. Thus, the phone is not usable vertically if you want to shoot in RAW, as long as you don’t want to grab an awkward grip.
In this mode, the interface with options, even if they are not adjustable, takes up 50% of the available space: from a phone with a great big screen in 4K We find ourselves shooting and looking at the result in a much smaller window.
This applies to Auto, P, S and M, but as we wrote, only “M” was enough, the only mode that allows you to adjust all the settings: times, ISO, exposure and white balance, without aperture it is clearly fixed. What are P and S? P allows you to set exposure and sensitivity, while S allows you to set times by locking sensitivity, But these are things that can actually be done with M, in exactly the same way.
Sony’s desire to keep track of graphics and the Sony Alfa interface needlessly complicated the interface of a device that is not and never will be from Sony Alfa.
Xperia 1 IV is and not the Sony we expected: there are a lot of Sony phones, but there are also points where the Japanese company wanted to exaggerate and slide, see the interface following the camera interface or mechanical zoom, which does not offer any added value but serves to show that you can True zoom mode with a thickness of a few mm. The problem is the asking price, 1399 euros: a phone from this range should be perfect, or in any case it should be close to perfect. Perhaps it will become the same with updates, so now that’s a bet.