Updated: Sep 19
If you're a content creator looking for a phone that allows granular adjustments for content creation and have a $2000 budget to spare for it, then this Xperia 1 IV may be your next "mobile" production studio.
Yes, guys, Sony still makes smartphones, the 1 IV is the second highest-tiered variant to Sony's Xperia lineup right below the Xperia PRO-I, which speaking of, do check out our review of that as well. This makes it the most expensive non-pro Xperia phone, but with the feature, it packs it may as well be one.
As always, let's start with the design of the phone, unlike most phones which feature a 20 by 9 aspect ratio. The 1 IV utilises a 21 by 9 aspect ratio instead, this makes the phone taller and slimmer overall allowing easy one-handed use.
The back and side sport a matte textured finish with a 3.5mm headphone jack, a combo power button and fingerprint scanner, volume buttons, a dedicated shutter button for the camera app, a type-c port and finally, a SIM and micro SD card tray which you can remove without a sim ejector tool. The design is very sleek and true to the Xperia design language that Sony has been following for years, so if it's the kind of look you prefer then you won't be disappointed.
Back to the 6.5" display, it's a 4K HDR OLED panel with a variable 120Hz refresh rate. Blacks are deep and colours pop thanks to the OLED. While watching the content you also get a quick setting adjustment allowing you to change the colour gamut and contrast of the image, listed as standard or creator mode. The creator mode has a more faithful reproduction of colours so we recommend that instead, plus it also allows real-time HDR drive which optimises the HDR according to the content. Just don't expect the same level of HDR you get from monitors and TVs and you'll be fine.
The two front-firing stereo speakers, while mediocre by themselves, can also be similarly adjusted to enable Dolby Atmos with either 360 Upmix or DSEE Ultimate. The 360 Upmix won't support all contents but when it does it widens the soundstage quite a bit giving you that extra depth so we recommend it for video consumption. DSEE Ultimate upscales your music so we usually turn it on when listening to music to give it just that extra bit of clarity.
The 1 IV is powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SOC, nothing out of the ordinary for benchmark numbers.
Wild Life: Maxed Out!
Wild Life Ex: 2210
Software experience-wise, the 1 IV runs a version of Android 12 with bits of Xperia elements sprinkled within, overall the experience is pretty much stock android. A little nitpick we have is that we can't change the accent colours which may be a cause of annoyance for some but nothing a little update can't fix since Android 13 is already out.
Let's touch on gaming performance now, the 1 IV automatically loads installed games within the Game Enhancer app, while running games on it you get a bunch of quick access features like screen recording, performance adjustments and picture-in-picture multitasking. Deemo and Diablo all run generally fine, but over sustained gaming sessions, the phone doesn't seem to throttle at all maintaining a consistent framerate while getting extremely hot and uncomfortable to hold so that's something to take note of.
Now, let's address the elephant in the room, starting with the camera setup. The 1 IV is equipped with a triple 12MP camera setup on the rear with an f/1.7 main, an f/2.3 and 2.8 telephoto and an f/2.2 ultrawide along with a 12MP f/2.0 front camera.
Following that, Sony has included dedicated Pro apps that serve different content creation functions within the 1 IV. Starting with Photo Pro, it's your general camera app that can be quickly accessed by holding the shutter button. Photos are generally usable in the basic mode but in certain situations, manually controlling the settings yourself will produce a better image.
Next, the Cinema Pro app is dedicated to video taking, you can still take quick videos in Photo Pro but Cinema Pro allows you to frame your shots within a 21 by 9 aspect ratio in true cinematic fashion. It also arranges your rushes based on projects. However, the interface is designed for more experienced users who are more familiar with camera usage so for general users, Photo Pro should suffice. Video quality is alright for a smartphone but similarly to the Photo Pro, you'd want to be able to control the settings yourself in many situations instead of relying on the auto mode. You can shoot up to 4K 120fps, auto-focus and tracking are pretty reliable and tracks even erratic subjects well, exposure compensation when shifting between lighting conditions will take a moment with the auto mode but as mentioned before, if you have experience with cameras we'd suggest just shooting manual to make the best of it.
There's also a Video Pro app which allows you to adjust manual settings for 16:9 videos, which the Photo Pro's video take doesn't allow, not sure why it couldn't have been combined into a single app but hey, it's there.
Lastly, there's a music app for all you music producers out there, however as none of us at Tech360 is musically inclined, we wouldn't know what to make of it so if you've picked a 1 IV up for yourself do let us know how it fares in that area.
The 1 IV is packed with a 5000mAh battery which effectively gets through the day with Creator Mode display, Dolby audio, location and Bluetooth all on. Of course, playing games or using any of the Pro apps will deplete the battery faster, especially Cinema Pro. The 1 IV can be juiced up with type C fast charging or wireless charging, just be sure to bring your own cable because the only thing you get in the box is the phone, yes, no adapter, no cables, just the phone.
The Sony Xperia 1 IV comes in Purple or Black and starts at S$1,969 or RM 6,099 for the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage.
With such a hefty asking price, this phone is pretty much only viable for casual content creators who are somewhat familiar with camera settings and music production or experienced creators who want to be able to produce on the go if they need to, so if you fall within this category and have the budget for it, there you go.
For the rest of your general users, we suggest you keep it simple and look somewhere else instead.