Sony announced its latest flagship at Mobile World Congress, now available to pre-order, but it isn't called the Xperia XZ4 or the XZ Premium. Instead, the new Sony super phone is called the Sony Xperia 1.

Only six months on from the excellent Xperia XZ3 though, what has changed? Well, quite a bit actually. Here is how the Xperia 1, known in rumours as the Xperia XZ4, compares to last year's Xperia XZ3.

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Design

  • Xperia 1: 167 x 72 x 8.2mm, weight to be confirmed
  • Xperia XZ3: 158 x 73 x 9.9mm, 193g
  • IP65/68

The Sony Xperia 1 further reduces the bezels at the top and bottom of its display compared to the Xperia XZ3, offering a lot more screen within its footprint. The bottom bezel is virtually non-existent in the new device, though sadly there is still one at the top.

Sony has delivered a taller, slimmer build for the Xperia 1, along with a triple camera system on the back and the return of a side-mounted fingerprint sensor - though it's now separate from the power button. The XZ3 has a single camera and slightly awkwardly-positioned rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Like the Xperia XZ3, the dedicated camera button at the bottom of the right edge remains on the Xperia 1, and USB Type-C is present in the centre at the bottom. Sony also offers IP65/68 water and dust resistance again, as fans will now expect.

Unfortunately, the Xperia 1 doesn't offer the same curved edges on either the screen or the rear, like the XZ3, with a return to the flat slab look. The Xperia 1 does have a glass rear like its predecessor though, delivering the kind of premium finish we have come to expect from flagship devices.

Display

  • Xperia 1: 6.5-inch, 21:9 ratio, 4K, HDR
  • Xperia XZ3: 6-inch, 18:9 ratio, Quad HD+, HDR

The Sony Xperia 1 comes with a larger display than its predecessor. It's now 6.5-inches, like the iPhone XS Max, rather than 6-inches like the Xperia XZ3.

The new model offers a 21:9 aspect ratio display - the same ratio as the cinema - with the Xperia 1's screen measuring around 152mm tall. By comparison, the Xperia XZ3's display is around 136mm tall and has a 18:9 aspect ratio so there's quite a bit more screen in the new model.

Sony opts for OLED for the Xperia 1's panel like the brilliant XZ3, but the new device opts for a 4K resolution, whilst retaining support for mobile HDR. Sony claims the Xperia 1 is the first 4K HDR OLED display on a smartphone.

The Xperia XZ3 also has an OLED display with HDR support but it has a Quad HD+ resolution like most competitors - Samsung and LG included.

Sony's X-Reality and Triluminos technologies are on board the XZ3, while the Xperia 1 adds a new technology called Creator Mode. This feature has been developed to ensure that content is seen as a film director intended, ensuring there is no over saturation when watching content, for example.

Camera

  • Xperia 1: Triple 12MP rear camera, 8MP front
  • Xperia XZ3: Single 19MP Motion Eye rear camera, 16MP front

The Sony Xperia 1 comes with a triple camera system on the rear, as we mentioned. This system is comprised of a wide sensor, a telephoto sensor and an ultra-wide sensor, like the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ offer.

Sony opts for three 12-megapixel lenses with optical image stabilisation present on both the wide and telephoto sensors. The camera has been created in conjunction with Sony Alpha and Sony claims it will offer significant noise reduction.  

An 8-megapixel front camera is present on the front. In terms of video, the Xperia 1 has 4K HDR recording and it can shoot in 24fps at 21:9. There are also a couple of new features called Cinema Pro and Look, the latter being for colour and gamut settings.

The Sony Xperia XZ3 has a single rear camera sensor - the 19-megapixel Motion Eye memory-stacked sensor - capable of 1080p super slow motion video at 960fps. On the front, it offers a 13-megapixel sensor.

AI features including predictive capture are also presumed to be on the Xperia 1, as they have been on previous Sony flagships.

Hardware and software

  • Xperia 1: SD855, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 3300mAh
  • Xperia XZ3: SD845, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, 3300mAh

The Sony Xperia 1 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and it offers 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with microSD support up to 512GB.

The Sony Xperia XZ3 features the Snapdragon 845, along with less RAM and half the storage at 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It offers microSD support too though.

In terms of battery capacity, both the Xperia 1 and Xperia XZ3 have a 3300mAh battery. The XZ3 offers wireless and fast charging, but the Xperia 1 doesn't offer wireless charging despite its glass back. It does, however, add Dolby Atmos to its stereo speakers.

The Xperia 1 launches on Android Pie, like the XZ3, with Sony's software over the top offering features like Side Sense. There are a couple of new features on the Xperia 1 too though, including a Multi-Window interface that allows for two apps to run simultaneously - one at the top of the display and the other at the bottom - offering great multi-tasking capabilities.

Conclusion

The Sony Xperia 1 features a larger and sharper display compared to its predecessor, even if it does ditch those lovely curves the Xperia XZ3 offered.

The new device offers a new form factor though, whilst also upgrading the hardware of the XZ3 and the camera system - the latter of which let the Xperia XZ3 down.

On paper, the Xperia 1 is a clear winner over the Xperia XZ3, even if the older device still has some excellent qualities - it's screen is fabulous for example. We will update this feature after we have reviewed the Xperia 1 in full however, to see if its performance matches its specs.

Watch our hands on with the Xperia 1: 

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