Sony has unveiled its latest flagship phone at the MWC tech show in Barcelona, and it literally stands head and shoulders above its competition. With a 21:9 aspect ratio screen designed for viewing cinematic content, the Xperia 1 is a lengthy 167mm tall; around a centimetre taller than the biggest current iPhone. It’s also around half a centimetre skinnier.
Many of the phone’s specs follow closely along with other 2019 flagships — a Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of RAM, a triple camera array with wide, ultrawide and telephoto lenses — but it’s the video capabilities, both viewing and creating, that set the Xperia 1 apart.
It’s the first smartphone to feature a 4K HDR OLED display, ideal for watching movies, and the processing software for 4K upscaling and HDR remaster is lifted straight from Sony’s Bravia TV line. Video content formatted in 21:9 isn’t exactly common on YouTube, but you can find it on movie streaming apps or supply your own files. If you get your hands on some it should fill the entire display with no cropping or black bars, just like you’d see it at the movies. Sound-wise there’s support for Dolby Atmos surround.
Sony has also leaned on its cinema camera division CineAlta to develop colour reproduction systems both for viewing and creating video content, including support for the professional ITU-R BT.2020 colour space, on the Xperia 1. This might not mean much to most smartphone users, beyond knowing you can see movies exactly as their creators intended, but for movie-makers it’s like having a camera and master monitor all in one portable unit. There’s also optical and electronic image stabilisation to keep your videos smooth.