The Sony Xperia 1 IV is out now in the UK and Europe, and soon in the US. It is another expensive but lavishly equipped flagship phone aimed at photography, cinema and music enthusiasts.
But how does it compare to its direct predecessor, the Sony Xperia 1 III? From what we can tell at this early stage, they look the same, cost a similar amount of money, and perform most of the same tasks in addition to each other as well.
So is the Xperia 1 IV a worthwhile upgrade? Here’s how the two phones stack up.
Sony Xperia 1 IV vs. Sony Xperia 1 III price and availability
The Sony Xperia 1 IV hit stores in the UK and Europe on June 16th, and won’t be available in the US until September 1st. Americans will get a model with 512GB storage, which will cost $1,599, while the UK and Europe will get a 256GB model priced at £1,299 / €1,399. Neither phone is available in Australia.
The Sony Xperia 1 III arrived in US and UK stores on August 19 at a price of $1,299.99 / £1,199 for the only 256GB model that was available in those regions. Officially, it continues to retail for that amount on Sony’s website, but you might find it cheaper if you shop around.
Those are two expensive phones then, but the older Xperia 1 III is the cheaper of the two.
Sony Xperia 1 IV vs. Sony Xperia 1 III design
Sony hasn’t changed things at all from a design perspective. The Sony Xperia 1 IV looks very similar to the Sony Xperia 1 III that came before it, which in turn was very similar to the Xperia 1 II.
Although seen outside of the Sony stable, both phones still look modern. Opting for flat, perfectly symmetrical surfaces is once again in fashion thanks to Apple, but Sony has been rocking this look for years.
The long, thin 21:9 aspect ratio belies the lines, with the forehead and chin stretched out to accentuate the lean looks of both devices.
These bezels allow selfie cameras to be placed further away from the displays, while also hosting the front-facing stereo speakers – both of which support cinematic device credentials. Note, however, that the Xperia 1 IV’s speakers have been redesigned for more bass output.
In terms of dimensions, the Sony Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 1 III both measure 165 x 71 x 8.2mm, and the newer phone weighs just one gram at 185g. Both are just as compact as modern flagship phones.
The back of both phones has a muted matte-finish professional look, while the vertical lozenge-shaped camera modules aren’t flashy or particularly distinguishable from one another. The IP65 / IP68 rating in each case exceeds any other flagship phone in the market as well.
Both Sony phones feature distinctive physical camera shutter buttons, as well as high-quality 3.5mm headphone jacks. Photographers and audiophiles take notice.
One slight difference is that the Xperia I IV omits the dedicated Google Assistant button that came with the Xperia 1 III. However, this was always unnecessary, so it can be said that it is an improvement.
What we’re trying to say here is that it’s dead heat on the design front. Both phones look and feel alike, but they are unlike any non-competing Sony phone.
Sony Xperia 1 IV vs. Sony Xperia 1 III presentation
The Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 1 III both come with a 6.5-inch AMOLED display that has an unusual 21:9 aspect ratio. They also pack the same native resolution of 3840 x 1644, or 4K, which sets them apart from their 2K competitors.
Consider the combined lack of a selfie notch, and front-facing stereo speakers, and both of these phones are in good competition as a better choice for movie lovers. Find a 4K movie to stream or download, and you’ll be in cinematic heaven.
Both phones share a 120Hz refresh rate as well. The Xperia 1 IV’s biggest improvement over the Xperia 1 III seems to be peak brightness, which has been boosted by 50% to make it more usable in bright outdoor conditions.
Another unusual decision from Sony was to place the fingerprint sensor under the power button along the right edge on both phones, rather than placing the fingerprint sensor below the screen.
Sony Xperia 1 IV vs Sony Xperia 1 III camera comparison
Sony is one of the biggest players in the standalone camera market, and has brought an increasing amount of this knowledge to its smartphone business.
In both the Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 1 III, that translates to one of the fastest and most advanced autofocus systems available, which can lock onto and track subjects like few other phones.
In this respect, the Xperia 1 IV does better by offering all the support for real-time object tracking on all three cameras. Xperia 1 III only showed it on the main camera.
Both phones share a camera app that provides a professional-style handheld shooting experience for the company’s Alpha cameras. For those who prefer photography to be a hands-on process, it’s perfect.
Sony’s 12MP triple camera setup favors fast performance and large pixels with subtle shifting over extensive image processing techniques such as pixel binning. It’s another classic, photography-friendly touch.
Both phones essentially share the same wide and ultrawide hardware setups, with one or two differences. However, the Xperia 1 IV gets an improved 12MP selfie camera compared to the equivalent Xperia 1 III’s 8MP camera.
But the most exciting addition to the Xperia 1 IV is a new continuous zoom system that moves smoothly between 70mm and 125mm, which equates to a fluid zoom range of 3.5x to 5.2x. No other phone can boast of the same.
Not even the Xperia 1 III, as it happens. What it does have is a single 12MP sensor and an innovative dual lens system, which can switch between 3X and 4.4X optical zoom. This is actually a larger sensor than the Xperia 1 IV (1/2.9in for the third, 1/3.5in for the fourth), but it doesn’t have the same zoom range, nor does it provide any physical transition between these two points.
Sony Xperia 1 IV vs. Sony Xperia 1 III performance and specifications
The Sony Xperia 1 IV runs on Qualcomm’s first generation Snapdragon 8. As the review gets closer, we’ve got a lot of experience with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip already. It’s the fastest Android chip on the market, so we’re not remotely worried about the Xperia 1 IV’s performance capabilities.
Meanwhile, last year’s Sony Xperia 1 III runs on the previous Snapdragon 888 SoC. It underperforms in all respects, though not by as much as you might expect.
Benchmark tests with other smartphone lines that made the same CPU lead suggest marginal gains, while in our hands-on experience it’s hard, if not impossible, to tell the difference.
The Xperia 1 III was very fast. Xperia 1 IV will also be fast. They both come with 12GB of RAM, so no difference there either.
Sony’s user interface is fairly stock, with straightforward menus and icons that don’t mess too much with the Android 12 baseline. Sony offers a few apps dedicated to covering the photography, cinema, and audio disciplines, but they all have a purpose.
Sony has promised that the Xperia 1 IV will receive two Android upgrades and three years of security patches, and simply by virtue of its age it will stay up to a year longer than the Xperia 1 III.
Sony Xperia 1 IV battery vs. Sony Xperia 1 III battery
Sony has boosted its battery capacity to a 5,000mAh battery. This is a huge improvement over the Xperia 1 III with its tiny 4,500mAh cell.
That aforementioned predecessor tended to leave around 10% or so at the end of a long day, so hopefully the Xperia 1 IV can outpace it — although, of course, it has that much brighter screen.
One element that continues to disappoint Sony phones is the charging provision. Supporting 30W isn’t great when competitors charge 80W and 120W; But that’s exactly as far as the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 1 IV extend.
Neither phone comes with a charger in the box either. We salute it for environmental reasons, but it would have been nice to have an option for those who need such a charger—especially for that kind of money.
Both phones support 15W wireless charging, which is nothing to write home about. Competitors can run faster, but generally only if you buy an expensive bespoke wireless charger.
Sony didn’t release a bold revamp with the Xperia I IV, but arguably, it didn’t need to. It may look and perform much like the Xperia 1 III, but both phones stand out in the crowd of Android flagships to some extent.
Both have ultra-sharp screens, stocky (but also very slim) designs, clean user interfaces, and camera systems that prioritize precise control over robotic tricks.
For all that, the Xperia 1 IV is clearly the better phone. Its processor is faster, its screen is brighter, its battery is bigger, and its telephoto camera is more flexible.
Of course, with the inevitable deals on the Xperia 1 III offering potential discounts in the hundreds of pounds, these differences might not seem worthwhile.