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Hands-On: We Got to Try the Sony Xperia 1 IV and Its…



13:34

Let’s go back to that $1,600 price tag. Sticker shock aside, you get a phone that not only has a cutting edge zoom lens, but one with a 4K high-refresh rate display (which no other phone has aside from Sony), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, a 5,000mAh battery, Gorilla Glass Victus as well as beloved Android features of yesteryear like a headphone jack, a slot for expandable storage and an LED notification light on the front.

For the majority of people (myself included) the Xperia 1 IV is out of their budget. For $1,600, I’m more inclined to buy a dedicated camera. But for a certain person who can afford the price, and who wants a phone that is both cutting edge and wonderfully steeped in the intricate process of photography and filmmaking, the Xperia 1 IV is waiting for you and all of your creative pursuits.

The Xperia 1 IV will be out in the US on September 1 and is available to preorder today. Sony has a limited time deal where you can buy an Xperia 1 IV and get a free pair of Sony WVF1000XM4 true wireless earbuds which have a $280 value. I wish Sony had offered to bundle the Xperia 1 IV with its shooting grip/remote controller and its tiny magnetic vlogging monitor that lets you film yourself using the rear cameras.

A Sony Xperia 1 IV in a shooting grip with a tiny monitor on the back of the phone

The Xperia 1 IV works with Sony’s shooting grip/remote control accessory and magnetic vlogging monitor which lets you use the rear cameras to film yourself.


James Martin/CNET

Sony Xperia 1 IV and the missing Music Pro app

Sony lent me a pre-production sample of the Xperia 1 IV. The software isn’t final and some features didn’t work fully or were completely absent. One missing app is Sony’s Music Pro app which can provide studio tuning for vocals. In a video Sony shared, a singer on a windy beach records her vocal track with the Xperia 1 IV and the Music Pro app.

Music Pro essentially applies a combination of noise reduction, deReveb and studio mic simulations to remove the noise from the wind and make her voice sound more present and full. I found the demo impressive.

Sadly, the new app wasn’t ready for me to try. Next to the cameras, Music Pro could be the biggest new feature on the Xperia 1 IV.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV's rear camera bump

The Xperia 1 IV has three rear cameras and a 3D iToF sensor used for focusing.


James Martin/CNET

Sony Xperia 1 IV gets all new cameras

You could write a book with the number of details Sony shared about the cameras on the Xperia 1 IV. And the photography nerd in me loves that. But I’ll keep things concise.

All of the cameras on the Xperia 1 IV have new faster sensors meaning they can do multiple calculations and processing within fractions of a second. You can shoot bursts of 20 photos per second with auto exposure and autofocus enabled using any camera on the phone.

Rear cameras on the Xperia 1 IV

Aperture Focal length equivalent OIS Megapixels
Ultra-wide angle f/2.2 16mm No 12MP
Wide angle f/1.7 24mm Yes 12MP
Telephoto f/2.3-2.8 85-125mm Yes 12MP

Let’s go back to that telephoto camera. Between 85mm and 125mm, or 3.5x – 5.2x magnification, it’s all optical zoom all of the time. There isn’t any digital zooming or cropping happening unless you zoom past 5.2x or are shooting between 1.1x and 3.4x magnification. Meaning if you can zoom optically, the image quality won’t degrade like it does with digital zoom.

I got to use the Xperia 1 IV for a week and a half and I was impressed with the new cameras. Take a look below at some of my favorite photos that I took with the Sony Xperia 1 IV.

A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of people lined up on a sidewalk

Every Saturday a bunch of people lineup outside the church waiting for the doors to open. This photo was taken with the telephoto camera at 3.5x magnification.


Patrick Holland/CNET

A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of a dog waiting next to her owner

This was taken with the telephoto lens at 3.5x magnification indoors. Despite the lack of light, the Xperia 1 IV’s Eye AF (autofocus) found and tracked the dog’s eyes perfectly.


Patrick Holland/CNET

A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of a long pointy plant

This was taken with the main 24mm camera. I like how the background falls out of focus. 


Patrick Holland/CNET

A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of a Giants baseball game at Oracle Field

This was taken with the ultra wide camera. I like the contrast of dark and light.


Patrick Holland/CNET

A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of a windmill in Golden Gate Park

Just a quick stop during a bike ride through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The Xperia 1 IV is thin enough to fit in the back of a cycling jersey.


Patrick Holland/CNET

The Xperia 1 IV vs. the iPhone 13 Pro, Google Pixel 6 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro are two of the best phones you can buy today for photography. Apple and Google use a combination of solid hardware and computational photography to make photos and videos look the best they can. Sony focuses more on the hardware to achieve great photos. The Xperia’s lack of computational magic gives the iPhone and Pixel the edge when comparing the phones.

Under good light, and even medium lighting, all three phones are capable of excellent photos. Look at the photos below that I took of a vase of flowers indoors. The photo from the iPhone looks the sharpest. But I love the way the Xperia captures the colors.

Photo from the Xperia IV of a vase of floors

Photo from the Sony Xperia 1 IV.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro of a vase of floors

Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Photo from the Pixel 6 Pro of a vase of floors

Photo from the Google Pixel 6 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Below are some shots of motorcycles parked outdoors. The Xperia’s photo has the most contrast and the Pixel’s photo the least. The iPhone’s photo lands right in-between the two.

Photo from the Xperia IV of a bunch of red motorcycles

Photo from the Sony Xperia 1 IV.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro of a bunch of red motorcycles

Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Photo from the Pixel 6 Pro of a bunch of red motorcycles

Photo from the Google Pixel 6 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET

When things get dark where you can see the biggest difference between the phones. The Xperia 1 IV doesn’t have a night mode. It can take an OK low-light shot like the photo below of a cocktail in a dark bar.

Photo from the Xperia IV of a cocktail in a dimly lit bar

Photo from the Sony Xperia 1 IV.


Patrick Holland/CNET

But look at these photos of a street that I shot handheld. The photos from the iPhone and Pixel, which both used Night mode, look so much better. The Sony’s photo looks soft and the details are muddy. Notice all the noise reduction going on in the sky and with the telephone wires.

Photo from the Xperia IV of a city residential street at night

Photo from the Sony Xperia 1 IV.


Patrick Holland/CNET

A night mode photo from the iPhone 13 Pro of a city residential street at night

Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET

A Night mode photo from the Pixel 6 Pro of a city residential street at night

Photo from the Google Pixel 6 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET

For video clips from the Xperia 1 IV including some that I compare with clips from the iPhone and Pixel check out the video below.

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