Sony’s new Xperia phone might just be the biggest comeback in the smartphone market

Sony’s new Xperia phone might just be the biggest comeback in the smartphone market

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Smartphones used to be a vibrant space with plenty of options to choose from and many unique features, but in the past few years, it seems that your options have dwindled to only a couple of brands. Come to think about it, customers in Western countries have Apple, Samsung, and Google. Maybe OnePlus and Motorola occasionally, but in limited quantities and only available at a few carriers, if at all.

Well, one company is making a big comeback this year, and we couldn’t be more excited.

After years of extremely weird choices and limiting decisions, Sony has finally switched course and this year, it made a flagship for a demographic of more than one camera nerd in a Tokyo basement.

The new Sony Xperia 1 VI is everything a Sony flagship phone should have been long ago. It has a functional design in a way other flagships don’t. It has clutter-free software, incredible battery life, a perfect size that will please most people, and a camera that produces pictures without the oversharpening, oversaturation, and all the other sins of modern smartphone cameras. Let’s unpack that!

A series of stubborn mistakes

Sony’s downfall in the smartphone market is mostly a function of its own poor decisions and a surprisingly strong denialism. In simple words, it made mistakes and it was stubborn about it.

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The first and biggest one was the choice of a 21:9 aspect ratio, basically a tall and narrow form factor that resembles a TV remote. But there were other mistakes as well.

Sony insisted on making the camera app as complex as its cameras, known in the recent past for having the most confusing menu system out there. Then, it made not one, not two, but three different camera apps! Our professional photographer could not find the portrait mode option on a Sony phone, despite having dealt with dozens of different cameras and hundreds of phones.

Other mistakes related to spec-stuffing. Why on Earth did we have 4K screens on all recent Sony smartphones, when it is scientifically proven that at regular viewing distance a 2K screen looks perfectly sharp to most people? There is practically zero benefit to a 4K resolution on a tiny phone display yet Sony persisted with that for years.

A weird 21:9 aspect ratio that some loved, but most hated

Let’s start unpacking the mistakes, and the first one dates to the Sony Xperia 1, a phone from 2019.

Yep, it’s been five years of this disastrous mistake in Xperia land.

Let me start by breaking down the possible benefits of such an aspect ratio, and I will be quick because there are so few! Watching full-length feature movies and multitasking.

How often do you watch a movie on your phone? Once a year maybe, or a few times a month at best if you really like movies, and you travel a lot. But really, very rarely. What you probably watch a lot more are YouTube videos, Instagram Reels and Stories, Facebook videos and so on. And all of them are optimized for a standard smartphone aspect ratio, not this.

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As for split-screen multitasking, it’s hard to find exact numbers of how often people use it, but we can safely say it’s a very small percentage of people (most people usually stick with a floating window style of multitasking on their phones).

Sony’s decision was completely unjustified by reason, yet the company stuck with it for five years!

Thank the almighty, this is finally changing and the Xperia 1 VI comes with the common 19.5:9 aspect ratio, same as other phones, so content in the most popular apps will look just as it should.

Three camera apps is just too much

Sony makes the sensors for the whole smartphone industry, it makes some of the best cameras in the world, and it certainly has the know-how to make the best smartphone camera of all time.

Yet in the past five years, it’s all been going downhill… until now.

Three separate camera apps, various pro modes with tweaks and toggles, professional camera LUTs, and a bunch of other features. Great to have, right? Well, yes, but not if you have to use a separate app to access each one! And Sony had three different camera apps. It was an utter mess.

Finally, this is getting fixed in the Xperia 1 VI. One app now takes care of it all, and it is streamlined and simpler, modes are easier to access. We are yet to test that in detail, so stay tuned for our full review, but this is clearly one giant leap in the right direction.

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4K was a complete waste on a tiny smartphone screen

We’ve already mentioned the 4K screen situation. A complete overkill on a tiny smartphone screen, an unnecessary feature that could only be justified by… empty marketing.

The Xperia 1 VI also fixes that. It comes with a 6.5-inch screen and a 1080p resolution. In Apple terminology, that is a Retina screen AND ABOVE.

And it’s perfectly fine.

Best for last: Industry-leading battery life!

A two-day battery life on a phone has been a pipe dream that Sony might just have achieved

Reversing all of those poor decisions and killing all those features nobody cared about, has allowed Sony to achieve something that is actually incredibly impressive for everyone: industry-leading battery life!

The company claims that the Sony Xperia 1 VI can last two full days between charges!

Not even larger phones can claim those numbers!

Imagine having to choose between an absurd 4K screen on a phone or… two day battery life. It’s an absolute no-brainer, and we’re so glad Sony finally made the right call.

Looking ahead

The Xperia 1 VI has was just announced yesterday, and it will take a couple of weeks until it arrives in stores. And like previous Sony phones, it will be on the pricey side, more expensive than a Galaxy S24 Ultra and pricier than an iPhone 15 Pro Max.

But while that pricing felt crazy and unjustified in the past few years, I can now at least see why it could work.

The company has not announced US pricing yet, but if it goes with a reasonable price, it might just become the biggest and most unexpected comeback on the smartphone market this year. So don’t write it out just yet.

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