Sony is back on top form with the Xperia 1. The taller screen format, mixed with top-line specs and the triple cameras, makes this a powerhouse the really stands out. No wireless charging, headphone jack, and the high price are the only drawbacks.
Samsung’s Galaxy S10 is also a hugely impressive device, with the new-look software and almost-all display making it a thoroughly modern smartphone. Whether that pill-shaped gap will bother you or not is the big question.
The Galaxy S10 costs £799/$899 for the 8GB/128GB combination and £999/$1149 if you prefer the 8GB/512GB version. Both are available to
order now and come with a free ultra thin wireless charger while stocks last.
Sony unveiled its new Xperia 1 at Mobile World Congress in February 2019. It’s available to pre-order now on a range of plans fromCarphone Warehouse,EE,O2,Sky MobileandVodafone, and has a SIM-free price of £899. It’s expected to ship on 30 May.
Design & Build
Samsung has refined its already enviable design with the new S10. By moving the camera under the display, it creates a screen to body ratio of 93 percent, which is quite remarkable. The only real obstruction is a pill-shaped aperture in the upper right corner and time will tell whether this is preferable to the notch found on so many rivals.
It’s not just the camera that’s nestling beneath the front panel, as the new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor also resides here.
In keeping with past designs there is a metal chassis with a glass back, allowing for fast wireless charging, and it’s also where you’ll find the three main cameras. USB-C is the port of choice and the headphone jack survives once again. A doff of the cap to you, Samsung.
Sony has taken a somewhat radical step by moving up to a 21:9 screen ratio, making the Xperia 1 a very tall, narrower device. A metal rim flanks the glass front and back, with the power button on the side doubling as a fingerprint sensor.
S10: 150mm x 70.4mm x 7.8mm
Xperia 1: 167mm x 72mm x 8.2mm
Three cameras are nestled on the back, continuing the trend for 2019, plus there’s a USB-C charging port but sadly no wireless charging capabilities. A rating of IP65/68 makes the Xperia 1 safe around water, much like the IP68 on the S10.
Almost bezel-less screen on the S10
New, taller 21:9 display on Xperia 1
Three cameras on both devices
Headphone jack on S10
Here’s a breakdown of the technical specifications for both devices;
12 Mp Wide (26mm Dual PD with OIS), 12Mp Tele (52mm, OIS), and 12Mp Super Wide (16mm)
Dual pixel 10Mp, f/1.9 front camera
802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
5 with aptX
4G Cat 20
USB-C, 3.5mm Headphone jack
150mm x 70.4mm x 7.8mm
167mm x 72mm x 8.2mm
From £799 / $899
£899 / $TBC
Specs & Features
As these are flagship devices, it’s no surprise to find flagship components inside. Both come with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, except for in Europe where the S10 features Samsung’s equally powerful Exynos 9820.
The Sony has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while the S10 comes in either 8GB/128GB or 8GB/512GB configurations. All models have expandable storage thanks to microSD card slots which take up to a maximum of 512GB.
The 21:9 aspect ratio of the Xperia 1 means that the 6.5in display is very tall, much more so than the 6.1in 19:9 variant found on the S10. This makes it ideal for multi-tasking and watching movies in the same format that they were filmed, all without black bars or notches.
Sony boasts that the panel is the world’s first 6.5in 4K HDR OLED display to come in a smartphone, and there’s no doubt it’s a very impressive piece of glass.
Samsung is no slouch though, as the 6.1in Dynamic AMOLED Wide Quad HD+ display is one of the best we’ve ever seen, coming as it does with a HDR10+ certification. Blue light, which can interfere with sleeping patterns, has been minimised through the fluid composite in Dynamic AMOLED, meaning you might rest easier after an evening with the S10.
It can’t match the uninterrupted splendour of the Xperia 1 though, so be sure to spend some time with one before buying as that camera aperture is now the new notch.
The standard flagship feature for this generation is three cameras, and both the Xperia 1 and S10 come fully equipped in the optics department. The new triumvirate usually includes a telephoto lens, wide angle, and very wide angle, which is the case here.
Sony opts for a complement of 12 Mp Wide (26mm Dual PD with OIS), 12Mp Tele (52mm, OIS), and 12Mp Super Wide (16mm), while Samsung has Dual pixel 12Mp, f/1.5-2.4, OIS rear camera + 16Mp Ultra Wide, f/2.2 + 12Mp Tele, f/2.4.
Either should produce impressive results, with images taken on the new ultra/super wide-angle format sure to quickly become a regular feature on social media.
Xperia 1’s 21:9 format allows movies to be watched in full screen
Ultrasonic Fingerprint sensor on S10
New ultra-wide cameras on both units
Android 9 Pie runs on both devices, each with skins added by their respective manufacturers. Sony’s is quite light, with only a few significant alterations, including Side sense that allows menus and shortcuts to be opened by tapping the flanks.
Samsung has a long history of using its heavy-handed TouchWiz interface, but this has seen significant improvements in recent years, which has led to the new One UI. This is an elegant, helpful, and easy-to-use new format that should prove a welcome relief from the garish colours and overly complicated efforts of the past.
Martyn has been involved with tech ever since the arrival of his ZX Spectrum back in the early 80s. He covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews for Macworld and its sister site Tech Advisor.