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Sony Xperia 1 IV buyer's guide: Everything you need to know

You'll need to have deep pockets for this new Sony phone, but it offers pretty much everything you could want.
By
May 11, 2022
Sony Xperia 1 IV design black 16.9
Sony

Each year, Sony drops a new flagship in its Xperia line. This year, it’s the Sony Xperia 1 IV (pronounced “Sony Xperia One Mach Four”). Like 2021’s Xperia 1 III, it’s a premium flagship with Android power users and photographers in mind.

As usual, the phone is also incredibly expensive. However, what you get for what you’ll spend is actually pretty terrific, so it might be worth it for certain buyers. Here’s everything you need to know about the phone!

See also: The best Sony Xperia phones you can buy

Sony Xperia 1 IV at a glance

All in all, the Xperia 1 IV isn’t very different from 2021’s Xperia 1 III. Sony’s design language stays pretty much the same. There’s still a 4K-ish display, a 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD card support, a capacitive side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and plenty of premium specs and camera hardware.

Aside from the usual processor upgrade, the most notable new addition to the phone is a fully variable optical zoom lens. The Xperia 1 III jumped between four optical focal length stops: 16, 24, 70, and 105mm. The Sony Xperia 1 IV, though, has 16 and 24mm lenses as before but also moves fluidly from 85mm to 125mm, creating a DSLR-like experience. We’ll talk more about this in a bit.

Related: The best camera phones you can get

Unfortunately, Sony’s reputation for releasing incredibly expensive phones isn’t changing this year either. The Xperia 1 IV starts at $1,600/€1,399/£1,299/, more than the original MSRP of the Xperia 1 III, which was $1,299.

Still, if you are looking for a high-end Android smartphone with a headphone jack, microSD card, and stellar camera system, this is quite literally your only option. As such, there will certainly be buyers ready to fork out whatever it costs to get this device.

Is the Sony Xperia 1 IV worth buying?

Xperia 1 IV colorLineUp 16.9
Sony

The Xperia 1 IV is not a phone for everyone. If you’re looking for a simple Android device to check Instagram, snap a few photos once in a while, and maybe game a bit, this is not the phone for you. The Samsung Galaxy S22, Google Pixel 6, or even the OnePlus 10 Pro will do everything you need for hundreds less.

The Xperia 1 IV is specifically catered to the Android user who looks at their smartphone as a do-it-all tool. That might mean storing tons of photos, videos, and music using its expandable storage. It could mean using it as a music interface with the 3.5mm headphone jack and powerful CPU. Or it might be using it as a DSLR replacement with its incredible and versatile camera system.

If you are a mobile photographer or a power user with deep pockets, there's a lot to love about the Xperia 1 IV.

Of course, all that power comes at a price. Simply put, this is one of the most expensive Android smartphones you can get without heading into the foldable market. Lots of consumers won’t even be able to consider this phone at its MSRP, but those who can afford it will likely be very happy.

Do note, however, that Sony doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to fast and frequent software updates. We have a full section on this further down the page, but the basic gist is that buying a Sony phone comes with the understanding that software updates won’t be exemplary.

What AA readers think of the Sony Xperia 1 IV

In a May 2022 poll, we asked Android Authority readers what they think about Sony’s flagship devices. Would our readers want to buy a Sony flagship in 2022?

Here are the results from that poll:

The chart shows that over 67% of our readers are interested in what Sony has to offer this year without even knowing anything about the phone. Roughly 23% of readers are a little more hesitant and want to know the price and features of the phone before getting too excited. Meanwhile, only around 9% of readers have no interest in the next Sony flagship.

This data shows that Sony phones are of great interest to the majority of our readers. Obviously, the sticker shock of actually buying one of these phones might be a lot for some of our readers, but that doesn’t stop them from being excited about what Sony offers.

Sony Xperia 1 IV specs

The specs of the Xperia 1 IV aren’t all that different from those of the Xperia 1 III. The biggest differences are the camera and the processor.

Sony Xperia 1 IV
Display
6.5-inch OLED
21:9 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate (static)
3,840 x 1,644 resolution
Gorilla Glass Victus covering
Processor
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM
12GB
Storage
256GB internal
microSD card support
Power
5,000mAh battery
30W wired charging
15W wireless charging
Cameras
REAR:
- 12MP wide (ƒ1.7, 1/1.7-inch sensor, OIS, AF)
- 12MP ultrawide (ƒ2.2, 1/2.5-inch sensor, AF)
-12MP telephoto (ƒ2.3-ƒ2.8, Optical zoom at 85-125mm, 1/3.5-inch sensor, OIS, AF)

FRONT:
- 12MP wide (1/2.9-inch sensor)
Video
4K at 120fps front and rear
4K at 120fps slow-motion recording for all rear lenses
Audio
Stereo speakers
3.5mm headphone jack
Durability
IP65/68
Gorilla Glass Victus front and back
Security
Side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor
Software
Android 12
Xperia UI
Two Android upgrades and three years of security patches
Dimensions and weight
165 x 71 x 8.2mm
185g
Colors
Black, Ice White, purple

Is the Sony Xperia 1 IV camera good?

Sony Xperia 1 IV with Camera Hardware
Sony

We haven’t issued our full review of the Xperia 1 IV yet. As such, we are unable to give our subjective opinion on how the camera stacks up against the competition. However, we can extrapolate quite a bit from the specs on offer as well as how the Xperia 1 III stacked up last year.

First, the hardware Sony has here is pretty incredible. The rear wide, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses are top-notch systems. The optical zoom capabilities (described in more detail below) are truly innovative and should give users a terrific zoom experience. There are even fun additions such as support for 4K/120fps slow-motion shooting on all three rear lenses.

See also: Best video editor apps for Android

Since the Xperia 1 IV hardware is either similar or improved over the Xperia 1 III, we can only assume we’ll see the same or better photo/video results in 2022. The Xperia 1 III was one of our favorite camera phones of 2021 and easily stood next to the Google Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for photo chops. Check out our full roundup on that for more.

Of course, we have every inclination to believe Sony’s camera software system will continue to be incredibly confusing. Sony has multiple camera apps for different functions and it can be pretty overwhelming for anyone who isn’t a pro photographer. This is something Sony has gotten slightly better at over the years, but it’s still a perplexing problem. As long as you know what you’re in for ahead of time, though, you should be able to manage.

Stay tuned for our full review of the Sony Xperia 1 IV. That’s when we’ll be able to show you sample photos and give our opinion.

What’s with that zoom lens?

Sony Xperia 1 IV on smartphone mount
Sony

With the Xperia 1 III, Sony introduced a unique telephoto lens system that switched between 70 and 105mm focal lengths from a single lens. Even so, like most premium smartphones these days, it used a combination of digital and optical elements to create zoom. It only had four optical focal lengths that created lossless zoom: 16, 24, 70, and 105mm.

Essentially, all zoom from 17mm to 23mm was digital. Likewise, zoom from 25mm to 69mm and from 71mm to 104mm was also digital. Only specifically at 16, 24, 70, and 105mm would zoom be optical and thus lossless.

Related: Here’s why your flagship phone doesn’t have a telephoto camera (probably)

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is the world’s first phone to offer a sliding optical sensor from 85mm to 125mm. In other words, all stops between 85mm and 125mm will be optical/lossless, giving you the ability to choose a precise zoom and still get lossless imagery. You still have 16mm and 24mm as lossless stops as well, with everything else before 85mm being digital.

This brings a DSLR-like experience to a smartphone. You’ll be able to zoom in and out on your subject just like you would if you manually turned a physical lens. This alone should get photographers pretty excited about the Sony Xperia 1 IV.

How is the Sony Xperia 1 IV battery life?

Sony Xperia 1 IV with headphones plugged in
Sony

The battery in the Xperia 1 IV is significantly larger than what we saw in the Xperia 1 III. With 500mAh more capacity, the Xperia 1 IV’s battery is about 11% larger than the 2021 model. Theoretically, this should result in better battery life this time around.

However, there is a wildcard here which is the phone’s processor. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has a bad reputation as an energy hog, which is why we’ve seen throttling controversies this year. It’s possible that this could negate that increase in battery capacity and keep battery life in 2022 the same as it was in 2021.

The best: Android phones with the best battery life

For the record, the battery life on the Xperia 1 III wasn’t terrible. The phone could easily power through a full day and might even make it through a second with light use. Time will tell if a larger battery gets us better results.

Regardless, the Xperia 1 IV charges at the same 30W as last year. If you choose to charge wirelessly, you’ll see a max of 15W.

Stay tuned for our full review of the Sony Xperia 1 IV, in which we’ll have detailed battery stats.

How is the Sony Xperia 1 IV performance?

Sony Xperia 1 IV in hand for photo
Sony

Inside the Xperia 1 IV, you’ll find the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. This is, so far, the best Android processor we’ve seen in 2022. It is incredibly powerful and will cut through anything you throw at it.

Paired with this processor is 12GB of RAM. This isn’t the most RAM we’ve ever seen in a smartphone, but it’s still plenty. This much RAM should allow you to have tons of apps open at once and still see flawless performance.

Explained: How much RAM does your Android phone really need?

However, as discussed in the previous section, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is not necessarily very power efficient. It’s possible you could see faster battery drain as the CPU slashes through your tasks. Some OEMs have responded to this by throttling the processor when it’s not necessary for it to be working at full tilt. We’ll need to wait and see if Sony does something like this or if it will let the CPU run as it wants to.

Either way, you should have zero performance complaints with the Sony Xperia 1 IV.

Phone software and updates

Sony Xperia system update complete on display
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We’ll be blunt: Sony does not have a great track record when it comes to software on its phones. Sony is usually one of the last companies to roll out the latest Android upgrade and issues security updates at a sluggish pace.

The company did give us a firm commitment to software support for the Xperia 1 IV: two Android upgrades and three years of security patches. Since the phone launches with Android 12, that means it will see Android 13 and Android 14. After that, though, the phone will stay on Android 14.

The Xperia 1 IV will get two Android upgrades and three years of security patches.

This promise isn’t terrible, but it’s far from the best. Samsung offers four Android upgrades and five years of patches with most of its phones. Google offers three upgrades and five years of patches. For a phone that’s as expensive as the Sony Xperia 1 IV, it’s unfortunate we see such a weak promise.

Regardless, Sony’s Android skin — known as Xperia UI — is pretty well-regarded. It’s very stock-like, so Pixel users should feel right at home.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Xperia 1 III: What’s new?

Sony Xperia 1 III rear of phone showing camera module
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is an iterative upgrade over the Xperia 1 III. Generally, if you loved (or hated) the Xperia 1 III, you’ll likely feel the same about the Xperia 1 IV. Below, we’ve rounded up the big changes for this year. These aren’t all the changes but the most relevant ones:

  • Build: The Xperia 1 IV has Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front and back. The Xperia 1 III only had Victus on the front. This should make the Xperia 1 IV more durable.
  • Processor: The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is inside the Xperia 1 IV. This is a more powerful (but also potentially more battery-hungry) processor than the Snapdragon 888 in the Xperia 1 III, particularly where gaming is concerned.
  • Storage: The Xperia 1 III had two storage variants: 256GB and 512GB. The Xperia 1 IV, though, only has a 256GB model. Both phones have microSD card slots, however, so you can expand that storage as needed.
  • Cameras: The Xperia 1 IV has an innovative telephoto system that greatly improves the one on the Xperia 1 III. However, the camera lenses and sensors are more similar than different, so overall photo quality should be about the same. The front-facing camera gets a nice upgrade on the Xperia 1 IV, so selfies should improve.
  • Power: The battery inside the Xperia 1 IV is 500mAh bigger than the one in the Xperia 1 III. This could result in better overall battery life. Wired and wireless charging power is unchanged (30W/15W, respectively).
  • Colors: We saw the Xperia 1 III in three colors: Frosted Black, Frosted Gray, and Frosted Purple. The Xperia 1 IV comes in three slightly different colors: black, Ice White, and purple.

What are some good Sony Xperia 1 IV alternatives?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra back on desk
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is very expensive. As such, it goes up against the most expensive mobile phones on the market. However, you can get some comparable devices for much less money if you’re willing to make a few sacrifices.

Do note, however, that there is no other 2022 premium smartphone that has the processing power, camera chops, headphone jack, and expandable storage we see with the Xperia 1 IV. If those four things are what you want, you have no other choice (aside from, of course, the Xperia 1 III).

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra ($1,199): Samsung’s latest flagship has quite a few similarities to the Xperia 1 IV. The processor is the same (at least in the US, India, and a few other countries). The display is of equal caliber, and the camera is one of the best we’ve ever tested. Of course, there’s no headphone jack or expandable storage.
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro ($899): The best Pixel we’ve ever seen has the advantage of being significantly cheaper than the Sony Xperia 1 IV. You’ll still get a great display, terrific camera, and solid build. You’ll get a better software promise, too. However, you’ll miss the headphone jack, the expandable storage, and the innovative telephoto lens.
  • OnePlus 10 Pro ($899): There were a few missteps this year from OnePlus when it comes to its latest flagship. However, it does have the same processor, a killer display, and a slightly better software update promise when compared to the Xperia 1 IV. Once again, though, you won’t get a headphone jack, expandable storage, or an innovative camera system.
  • Sony Xperia 1 III ($1,298): Don’t be scared by the price of this phone — now that it’s a year old, it will be easy to find it at a much lower price. This might be a good alternative if you don’t care about the latest processor or the fancy telephoto lens of the Xperia 1 IV. This phone will deliver in every other way, including a headphone jack and expandable storage.
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max ($1,099): This is the best phone Apple has on its roster. It won’t have a headphone jack, expandable storage, or a fancy telephoto lens, but it will have plenty of processing power. Its camera is also one of the best of 2021. Obviously, you’ll need to give up Android for this one, though.

Where to buy the Sony Xperia 1 IV

Sony Xperia 1 IV black
Sony

Sony Xperia 1 IV (12GB/256GB): €1399/£1299

If you were hoping to pick up the Sony Xperia 1 IV right now, you’d be disappointed. Sony will only start selling the phone in June. It will be available to buy openly from June 16 onwards in the EU region and in the UK. In the US, the phone will only become available starting September 1.

The Xperia 1 IV is priced at $1,600/€1,399/£1,299 in the respective regions.

You can pre-order the phone between May 11 and June 15 in Europe and the UK to be eligible to claim a pair of the Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise-cancelling headphones. In the US, pre-orders will be bundled with Sony’s latest WF-1000XM4 true wireless noise-cancelling earbuds with the purchase.

The matching Style Cover with Stand will be available in black and will cost £30/$34.99. 

FAQs

No. The refresh rate of the display is locked to either 60Hz or 120Hz. It does not automatically change as you use the phone, as we see on the Galaxy S22 series.

Yes, but it is not a full IP68 rating. Instead, it is IP65 rated against dust and IP68 rated against water.

No. As with previous Sony phones, the fingerprint sensor is on the side of the device and doubles as the power button.

No, there is only one telephoto lens. However, the Xperia 1 IV’s unique sliding system could actually give you better zoom quality than even the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The aspect ratio is 21:9. This makes the phone quite thin and tall.

Help other readers out

Will you upgrade from the Xperia 1 III to the Xperia 1 IV?

74 votes

Is the Sony Xperia 1 IV too expensive?

116 votes

Are you a fan of the new telephoto system?

109 votes