Sony Introduces Xperia 1 Flagship with 21:9 Display at MWC 2019

Sony has kicked off MWC 2019 by unveiling a new flagship smartphone called the Xperia 1. This is a direct departure from the company’s previous branding, Xperia XZ, likely due to the significant changes in overall design.

And it’s obvious. One glimpse at the Xperia 1 and you’ll be able to tell something’s a bit off with this device. That’s because Sony includes a 6.5-inch 4K OLED near bezel-less display (well, besides that hideous fore head). On paper, that doesn’t sound too far off from what other manufacturers offer, but it’s the aspect ratio that really shakes things up and makes this phone stand out from the crowd.

According to Sony, the Xperia 1 will ship with a 21:9 display. Previously, the tallest aspect ratio to ship on a phone was 19.5:9, a ratio found on devices such as the iPhone XS, OnePlus 6T, and LG V40 ThinQ. Now, though, Sony has outranked them all with the tallest and slimmest screen on the market.

As odd as it may seem, this candy bar-style aspect ratio may actually prove to be beneficial. Most movies are shot in 21:9, so having a screen in their native aspect ratio will create a full-screen experience which should prove to be enjoyable. In the same breath, not all content is shot in 21:9 like YouTube videos and TV shows, so having even larger black bars to the left and right of the video player might turn some users off. Still, if you watch a lot of movies on your phone, the Xperia 1 is probably the phone for you.

Inside the Xperia 1, Sony includes a Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You also get water resistance, a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and an all-glass design.

For cameras, Sony has switched over to a triple camera array on the back, each with a 12MP lens. However, each lens offers new functionality. So while the main lens provides normal shooting conditions, the secondary lens gives you telephoto capabilities. Meanwhile, the third lens is ultra-wide, allowing you to squeeze more of a scene into a single frame. We’re seeing a lot of manufacturers offer this variation of cameras on their phones so it makes sense to see Sony adopt the feature as well.

New with the Xperia 1 is the ability to shoot 2K footage in 21:9. You also get sharper detail and better focus in photos and videos thanks to Eye AF (Auto Focus) and up to 10 fps AF/AE tracking (Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking). There’s also a new Cinema Pro feature that enables cinematic shooting methods, along with a Creator mode for the display to give you a better look at the color grade of your videos and pictures.

If it wasn’t immediately clear, with all of these creator-focused features, Sony is taking aim directly at LG. While the company doesn’t have a quad DAC or Boombox speaker, Sony does have the ability to introduce features creative professionals might find useful, the same mindset LG has when designing devices for its V series. Who eventually reigns supreme in the camera enthusiast demographic has yet to be seen, so be sure to stay tuned.

Sony also includes a 3,330mAh battery with the Xperia 1 which is a bit on the smaller side. For example, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Plus with its 6.5-inch screen comes with a 4,100mAh battery. So by including a smaller cell with a similarly-sized panel and much sharper resolution (4K versus Samsung’s Quad HD+), you might need to top up more often than you anticipate.

Sony will ship the Xperia 1 with Android 9 Pie out of the box starting in late spring. It’ll land in the United States, but it’s unclear where else in the world you’ll be able to buy it. We don’t have a price just yet, so stick around for future updates.