This year the mobile phone market saw the rise of many new trends - from high refresh rate screens through 108MP image sensors to periscope cameras. The first foldable phones went on sale, charging speeds went through the roof, displays got curvier and grew punch holes.
Some brands used these trends to their advantage and grow in the market, others missed the mark. In this series we look at what each company got right in 2019 and where their efforts came short.
In this post we'll cover the highs and lows of Sony - only a few Xperia phones came out this year and even fewer managed to wow us, but the company clearly hasn't lost its taste for innovation.
Winner: Sony Xperia 1
The first-ever 4K OLED display with HDR support means that the Sony Xperia 1 has a place in the history books. This is also the company’s first triple camera phone, adding a telephoto and an ultrawide cam to the mix, with a dedicated video recording app and display tuning inspired by Sony’s professional divisions.
While not without its flaws, we bet that those of you who got the Xperia 1 bundled with the WH-1000XM3 noise canceling wireless headphones are pretty happy with their decision. Sony already released the Android 10 update too, bringing night mode to the beautiful OLED screen.
Loser: Sony’s timing
Sony unveiled the Xperia 1 in February and then it was an impressive phone. By the time the phone became available, it felt outdated. The competition was pushing forward with 90Hz screens, 48MP cameras, 40+ Watt charging, under display fingerprint readers and so on.
It’s still a great phone, but we can’t shake the feeling that Sony missed out on a lot of sales as the flagship segment in mid-2019 was very different from what it was in early 2019. We hope that Sony has learned its lesson and next year it will strike while the iron is hot.
Winner: Sony Xperia 5
It’s not quite the Compact phone we expected, but the Sony Xperia 5 is what passes for “small” these days – it’s only 68mm wide and actually weighs less than the XZ2 Compact. But true to form, it used the same flagship Snapdragon 855 chipset and triple 12MP camera as the Xperia 1.
The 6.1” OLED screen scaled back to 1080p+ resolution, but retained the 21:9 aspect ratio, HDR support and image enhancing feature of the larger phone. Plus, the relatively small battery managed an impressive Endurance rating in our tests (while the 1 was just average), so we’re not mad. The Xperia 5 is kind of pricey (even today), but the WF-1000XM3 truly wireless earbuds bundles helped make the price tag more palatable.
Winner: Sony Xperia 10 Plus
The Sony Xperia 10 Plus charged an even more, €430, but since then the price has settled to under €300, making it a decent option. It adds a 2x telephoto camera at a time when most secondary cameras are ultrawide, plus it upgrades to a chipset with “big” cores (Kryo 260 Gold in the Snapdragon 636).
The phone will be updated to Android 10 early next year and you can watch 21:9 movies on its 6.5” 1080p screen. It’s not going to scare off the Chinese phones with their 48MP and 64MP cameras and higher end chipsets and we do wish Sony bundled an 18W Power Delivery charger (given the price), but overall the Xperia 10 Plus is still a solid mid-ranger.
Loser: Sony Xperia 10
The Sony Xperia 10 launched at a price of €350, showing both Sony’s usual bravado when it comes to pricing and that no one at the company has been paying attention to the market. Snapdragon 630 and a basic 13MP camera is completely insufficient at this price point.
While the price is now closer to €200, the chipset feels even slower with its eight Cortex-A53 cores and the battery life is less than impressive. 4K video capture and an excellent loudspeaker, plus the forward-looking 21:9 screen aspect ratio were not enough to sell us on the Xperia 10.