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Sony Xperia 1 V headphones plugged in
Harley Maranan / Android Authority
Sony Xperia 1 V

Sony Xperia 1 V review: Refining the formula

You've seen this one before, but the new model has a few extra tricks.
By

Published onJanuary 17, 2024

Sony Xperia 1 V

Sony Xperia 1 V

The Sony Xperia 1 V refines a tried and tested formula, boasting improved cameras, multi-day battery life, and a revamped design. The expensive price tag, a handful of aging specs, and lack of long-term update commitment prevent it from being competitive with the very best, but Sony's selection of niche features and pro-friendly cameras will continue to appeal to Xperia fans.

MSRP: $1,399.99

See price at Amazon

What we like

Excellent battery life
Great build
Improved cameras
Solid performance
Price cut over previous gen

What we don't like

No update commitment
Older display tech
Mediocre charging
Still expensive
Sony Xperia 1 V

Sony Xperia 1 V

The Sony Xperia 1 V refines a tried and tested formula, boasting improved cameras, multi-day battery life, and a revamped design. The expensive price tag, a handful of aging specs, and lack of long-term update commitment prevent it from being competitive with the very best, but Sony's selection of niche features and pro-friendly cameras will continue to appeal to Xperia fans.

Sony’s Xperia flagship line-up has always packed the hardware to compete with the best Android phones, and 2023’s Sony Xperia 1 V is no different. To stand out, Sony is doubling down on its content creator focus, packing best-in-class music, photography, and videography tools into its latest flagship.

Sporting a revamped camera setup, a new design, and some software tweaks, the Xperia 1 V brings a few new tricks to Sony’s tried and tested formula. But is that enough to tempt you to part with some serious cash? Find out in Android Authority’s Sony Xperia 1 V review.

Sony Xperia 1 V
Sony Xperia 1 V
MSRP: $1,399.99

Sony Xperia 1 V review: At a glance

  • What is it? The Sony Xperia 1 V is the latest entry in the long-running Xperia 1 line, replacing 2022's Xperia 1 IV. Headline additions to the series include a faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, revamped main camera, and a tweaked design, paired with series favorites like the headphone jack.
  • What is the price? $1,399.99 nets you a Sony Xperia 1 V with 256GB of storage. In the UK, the phone can be yours for £1,299. If you're after a less expensive option, consider the Sony Xperia 5 V.
  • Where can you buy it? The Sony Xperia 1 V landed on US shelves on July 28 and has been available in parts of Europe since June 2023. It's available to buy directly from Sony and some large retailers like Amazon.
  • How did we test it? I tested the Sony Xperia 1 V for seven days. The review unit was supplied by Sony.
  • Is it worth it? Sony's Xperia 1 V is undeniably expensive, but a unique blend of high-end software features and unique content capture capabilities keep the phone in the mix for multimedia obsessives.

Update, January 2024: Added new details about the Sony Xperia 1 V’s competition.

What I like about the Sony Xperia 1 V

Sony Xperia 1 IV fingerprint scanner
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The fifth iteration of Sony’s Xperia 1 formula remains a multimedia powerhouse, whether you’re streaming audio, gaming, or snapping pictures. The Xperia 1 V skews harder towards content creators than most. While I can’t say I’m into vlogging, I really appreciate the extra flexibility and professional-grade photography tools the phone puts at your disposal. Sony even goes as far as to allow you to use the phone as a viewfinder for your Sony DSLR.

Likewise, the plethora of audio options ensures your playlists sing, whether you’re listening over speakers, one of the phone’s many high-end Bluetooth codecs, or the classic headphone jack. At the same time, serious mobile gamers may love the live-streaming options and the superb-sounding dual speakers. Not forgetting this 2022’s powerhouse Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which clobbers our benchmark suite. However, hardcore mobile gamers will be better served by a dedicated gaming phone in terms of sustained peak performance. Still, the phone excels at providing for these use cases.

On the more day-to-day front, the Xperia 1 V won’t let you down, either. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is perfectly serviceable, albeit perhaps not the snappiest in the business. The overkill 4K display, the same as last year’s model, still looks sublime for video, and its 21:9 aspect ratio is excellent for doom-scrolling and even stacking apps atop one another for multitasking. Meanwhile, the 5,000mAh hour battery will take you through a full day of heavy use and even two or more of lighter use. If you’re after some of the best and most reliable mobile hardware in the business, you can’t go wrong with Sony’s flagship. It’ll handle anything you can throw at it.

The Xperia 1 V bundles this into a slightly revamped package this year. The new look isn’t a drastic departure from its predecessors, but the new Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection, grippy textured back, and chamfered edge lend to a more robust feel in hand. I’m sold, but it’s a more rugged aesthetic than some may want at this price. Still, the series’ IP65/IP68 rating, headphone jack, and 1TB microSD card features remain. As always, Sony’s build quality is immaculate.

Sony Xperia 1 V vs Xperia 1 IV back
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Sony doesn’t include a charger in the box in a bid to do its bit for the environment. That shouldn’t be a problem for most customers, who will already have some form of compatible USB plug. To charge the phone as quickly as possible, you’ll want a USB Power Delivery PPS-compliant wall charger that can provide at least 30W of power.

If you’re looking for an absolute hardware powerhouse, the Xperia 1 V certainly ticks all the boxes. But there are a few caveats, especially at this price.

What I don’t like about the Sony Xperia 1 V

Sony Xperia 1 V homescreen in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

While some things have changed, an equal measure remains the same. If you’ve used any Xperia flagship from the past three years, you’ll know exactly what to expect regarding software. Game Enhancer, Music Pro, Cinema Pro, and Photo Pro are highly specialized pieces of kit to empower media creators. They’re a cut above what you’ll find from other brands but can be intimidating to the uninitiated. There are a few camera feature improvements, which we will discuss later, but the core Xperia software experience is virtually identical to its predecessors, with very little sign of meaningful progress and a continued presence of pre-installed and unremovable LinkedIn, Facebook, and Tidal trial that tarnish the setup.

Similarly, the core OS remains very Pixel-like, complete with Material You theming, with Sony including a few extra display, charging, and other minor toggles like Side Sense. As such, you might think the phone would be a shoo-in for long-term OS upgrades, but Sony hasn’t committed to an update pledge at all for the Xperia 1 V. The Xperia 1 IV promised a measly two OS upgrades, so and if the Xperia 1 V matches that, we can’t say it provides very good value for money here, especially when compared to Google or Samsung.

The Xperia 1 V started receiving Android 14 in October 2023, leaving presumably just one more OS upgrade left already. Along with the latest Android features, the update introduces the improved bokeh mode and the new Video Creator app from the Xperia 5 V.

Sony's hardware is solid, but the software is comparatively barebones, aside from its media-focused apps.

We would have liked to see a few more key hardware upgrades for this price too. There’s the same 4K OLED panel as years ago, with locked 60Hz (default) and 120Hz refresh rates rather than the more battery-efficient dynamic rates used by other brands. Likewise, the same old 30W wired and wireless charging still takes a long time to charge the admittedly robust 5,000mAh battery. Close to one hour and 34 minutes is pretty sluggish, but you can hit 50% in just 29 minutes, which will take lighter users through most of the day.

Ultimately, with only a few nips and tucks to brandish, the Xperia 1 V’s $1,400 asking price (which is actually $200 cheaper than the 1 IV) is still very high. It’s certainly not a competitive option, more of a niche model to suit a very specific power user, but one where the more essential parts of the Xperia experience are starting to lag further and further behind better, cheaper rivals.

Sony Xperia 1 V camera review

Sony Xperia 1 V camera array head on
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Before diving into some camera samples to see if it can hang with the best camera phones, let’s recap the key photography upgrades with the Xperia 1 V. First, there’s a new stacked-CMOS 52MP (48MP image output) 1/1.35-inch image sensor with an f/1.9 aperture onboard, which should handle low light better than the old 1/1.7-inch 12MP model. Eye- and object-tracking autofocus remains in place on all lenses, and the mode works equally as well as the one found on the Xperia 1 IV.

As for the snaps (which you can find in this Google Drive folder), color and contrast are a little more punchy than in years gone by, but exposure remains on the more reserved side compared with the rest of the field, which follows from Sony’s mirrorless approach to mobile photography. The brand has also further tweaked its HDR capabilities, and the larger sensor certainly puts the phone much more on par with Google and Samsung. Overall, the results are much improved.

The larger sensor certainly helps out in the dark, but dim snaps are still quite noisy, and focusing is an issue when there’s little light around. Exposure times also remain quite long, increasing the risk of smudging. Weirdly, I couldn’t see much, if any, difference with night mode enabled. However, the new software option notably improves the other two smaller sensors, albeit by switching to several seconds of capture time. It doesn’t seem that Sony’s night mode is as sophisticated as the multi-frame, multi-exposure methods used by other brands, but it is still a handy addition.

The smaller ultrawide camera doesn’t quite keep pace in terms of color and HDR chops and certainly isn’t as good in the dark. It’s an odd situation as some pictures come out looking very close to the profile of the main sensor while others are considerably more washed out. Bigger issues, however, are found with chromatic aberration and edge distortion, which takes the polish off shots taken in trickier lighting. Still, the lens serves its purpose of squeezing much more into your scene.

But my favorite lens is the variable zoom, which retains the same variable 85mm to 125mm focal length as last year, providing true optical zoom between 3.5x and 5.2x. Naturally soft details paired with reserved colors and the sort of focal lengths often reserved for mirrorless lenses make the camera zoom a joy to use. That said, it’s certainly not the sharpest zoom lens on the market, and you can’t push it beyond 10x without severe quality degradation. Even so, the lens is wonderfully versatile for crops and portraits, and offers robust colors, exposure, and HDR capabilities. Again though, this smaller sensor is less usable in very low light.

On the software side, Sony introduces six color profile options to refine the look of your snaps. Moving between these is too fiddly for a quick shot, especially as the naming scheme isn’t intuitive, but it is nice to have when you have time to frame. I’m a fan of the FL setting that reduces certain tones, contrast, and saturation while enhancing blues and greens. It reminds me of Fuji’s beloved Classic Chrome profile.

Finally, to selfies and portraits. Bokeh blur is finally fixed out of the box on this model, providing edge detection and blur quality that matches the best in the business. Color saturation can be a little heavy from the selfie camera, and it’s not brilliant with strong backlighting, but those are minor complaints. The rear camera’s 85mm focal length via the 3.5x zoom is a little heavy on facial compression but is otherwise a very capable piece of kit for portraits.

Overall, Sony’s Xperia 1 V still isn’t quite as consistent as the point-and-click simplicity found with flagships from Apple, Google, and Samsung, but that’s not why you buy this camera anyway. However, the latest model has reduced the effort required to capture good-looking shots in trickier lighting conditions while still providing the powerful manual controls fans have come to love. When the Xperia 1 V gets it right, it’s at the very top of the mobile photography pecking order.

Sony's Xperia 1 V camera captures snaps you simply can't take on other phones.

If you’re more into videography, Sony’s Video Pro sports 4K 120fps recording options from all three lenses, with HDR capabilities available at 4K 30fps too. Combined with BT 709, S-Cinetone, and HLG format options, six further color profiles, three stabilization settings, manual focus, focus peaking, ISO, shutter, and white balance control, Sony’s software setup is really built for expert videographers. However, it’s easy enough to set everything to auto and still produce great-looking results. My biggest complaint; the seamless zoom setting shows some noticeable judder when switching between lenses.

Sony Xperia 1 V specs

Sony Xperia 1 V
Display
6.5-inch OLED
120Hz display
21:9 aspect ratio

Processor
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM
8GB
LPDDR5X
Storage
258GB
microSD support (up to 1TB)

Power
5,000mAh battery
30W wired charging (30 min 50% charge)
Wireless charging
Battery share
Cameras
Rear:
- 52MP, 1/1.35-inch, ƒ/1.9, 2.24μm
- 12MP, 1/3.5-inch, ƒ/2.3, 1.0um
- 12MP, 1/2.5, ƒ/2.2, 1.4μm

Front:
- 12MP, 1/2.9-inch, ƒ/2.0 1.22μm


Audio
3.5mm headphone jack

Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.3
5G support
Dimensions
165 x 71 x 8.3mm
187g
Software
Android 13

Colors
Black, Khaki Green, Platinum Silver
Durability
IP65/IP68
Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2

Should you buy the Sony Xperia 1 V?

Sony Xperia 1 V black back standing
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Whether to buy the Xperia 1 V all comes down to budget, and at $1,399, you’ll need a healthy one. The Xperia 1 V excels as a multimedia powerhouse for both avid content consumption and capture, and the improved camera setup makes this the best Xperia to date. Still, the lack of an upgrade commitment, some aging hardware choices, and barebones software (outside of a few apps) leave us with pause for thought before offering a slam-dunk recommendation.

There’s no denying that you can buy a lot of phone for less money from the mainstream players. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra ($1419.99 at Amazon) and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max ($1199 at Amazon) might not be quite the full multimedia powerhouses the Xperia is, but they’re not far off. Both have you covered with superb cameras, stellar gaming performance, and excellent build quality while offering update commitments that’ll stretch well into the future. The Galaxy S23 Ultra ($1199.99 at Samsung) is still well worth considering, too. You might be able to find it for even less now that its fresher, pricier successor is available.

If you’re dead set on Sony’s unique software features and hardware capabilities but don’t want to spend 1 V cash, the Xperia 5 V ($799.94 at Amazon) trims down the formula to a more mainstream price point. However, the camera package isn’t as robust, the design isn’t as high-end, and the phone isn’t available in the US (yet).

If you’re committed to the ultra-premium market, you might want to check out a flashy foldable like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 ($1799.99 at Samsung) or Google Pixel Fold ($1799 at Amazon) They’re a little more cash than Sony’s flagship but a notable departure from the classic handset form factor probably makes these foldables more exciting for the cash.

Sony Xperia 1 VSony Xperia 1 V
AA Recommended
Sony Xperia 1 V
Excellent battery life • Great build • Improved cameras
MSRP: $1,399.99
A classic, refined.
Sony continues to deliver powerful portable cameras that also happen to be smartphones. The Xperia 1 V rocks top hardware, powerful cameras, and the ability to connect to Sony DSLR cameras to enhance your shooting experience.

Sony Xperia 1 V review: FAQs

Yes, the Xperia 1 V sports an IP65/IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

Yes, the Xperia 1 V has a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired headphones.

Yes, the Xperia 1 V sports a microSD slot for up to 1TB of external storage.

No, Sony is opting for eco-friendly packaging this year. To charge the Xperia 1 V, you’ll need your own 30W USB PD PPS compatible plug.

The Xperia 1 V supports wireless charging and reverse wireless charging.