Sony Xperia 1 V review: the good, the niche and the pricey

Sony has long been known for its niche approach to smartphones, and the Xperia 1 V is no exception. Packed with pro-grade camera software, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a stunning 4K HDR screen, this flagship device aims to cater to audiophiles and cinephiles alike. However, with a high price tag and limited mainstream appeal, the Xperia 1 V begs the question: does it deliver enough to justify its cost?

Price and Availability:

The Xperia 1 V comes with a hefty price tag of £1,299, positioning it as one of the most expensive non-folding mainstream smartphones on the market. For comparison, the iPhone 14 Pro Max costs £1,199, and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is priced at £1,249. While the Xperia 1 V’s premium price may deter some potential buyers, early pre-orders offer a silver lining. Purchasing the device during the pre-order period grants consumers a free set of Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones worth £349, adding value for audiophiles in need of high-quality headphones.


The Xperia 1 V retains the familiar design language of its predecessors, featuring a 6.5-inch 21:9 screen with minimal bezels and a flat back. Sony has made subtle design enhancements, including a textured, dotted pattern on the Gorilla Glass Victus 2 back panel and etched grooves on the frame for improved grip. Noteworthy features include a two-stage camera button and a 3.5mm headphone jack, both of which are becoming increasingly rare in today’s smartphone landscape. The device maintains a fingerprint scanner/power button combo and a volume rocker, along with a USB-C port at the base. Sony’s attention to detail is evident in the SIM and microSD card tray, which can be easily accessed with a fingernail. Despite its slim profile of 8.3mm, the Xperia 1 V boasts IP68 water and dust resistance.


One of the standout features of the Xperia 1 V is its impressive 4K HDR display. With a pixel density of 643ppi, the device delivers exceptionally sharp visuals, surpassing many of its competitors. The screen supports HDR10 and features a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, enhancing the overall viewing experience. However, the Xperia 1 V falls slightly short in terms of brightness when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S23 line and the iPhone 14 Pro Max, making it less visible under direct sunlight. Additionally, the 21:9 aspect ratio, ideal for cinematic content, may restrict the device’s versatility for everyday tasks, such as browsing or gaming.


Sony has established a reputation for equipping its smartphones with powerful cameras, and the Xperia 1 V upholds this tradition. The device features a 50-megapixel primary camera with a larger sensor, enabling improved low-light performance compared to its predecessor. The telephoto camera offers a continuous zoom range from 85mm to 125mm (approximately 3.5x to 5.5x zoom), while the ultra-wide camera captures a wide field of view with autofocus capabilities. The Xperia 1 V’s camera system excels in offering a range of pro-grade tools and manual control options, appealing to photography and videography enthusiasts. However, the camera app experience can be overwhelming for casual users, with three different camera apps to choose from: Cinema Pro, Photography Pro, and Video Pro. Furthermore, the Xperia 1 V’s automatic camera modes, which cater to the majority of users, may not deliver the same level of excellence found in its pro modes. Despite these considerations, the device captures balanced and realistic photos with impressive detail and accurate colors.


Previous iterations of the Xperia 1 line have faced criticism regarding heat management, particularly when using intensive camera apps. However, Sony has made significant improvements in this regard for the Xperia 1 V. Equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the device demonstrates better thermals, allowing extended periods of gameplay and camera usage without uncomfortable heat buildup. Benchmark results align the Xperia 1 V with top-tier competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and surpass the performance of the Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. The inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack ensures high-quality audio output, whether through the front-firing stereo speakers or wireless headphones utilizing Sony’s LDAC audio codec. While Sony’s software update commitment remains somewhat ambiguous, the device offers a reliable and quick fingerprint scanner/power button combo for secure unlocking.

Battery and Charging:

The Xperia 1 V houses a 5,000mAh battery, providing ample capacity to last a full day for most users. Adjusting the screen refresh rate to 60Hz can extend battery life further, making the device more power-efficient. However, charging speeds are relatively slower compared to some competitors, supporting up to 30W wired charging and up to 15W wireless charging. Sony’s battery care feature aims to optimize battery performance and longevity by limiting the time spent at 100% charge and employing fast-charging only when necessary. While the Xperia 1 V’s charging capabilities may not match the fastest options available, its sustainable packaging materials and environmental initiatives contribute positively to its overall appeal.


The Sony Xperia 1 V impresses with its pro-grade camera system, stunning display, and robust performance. It caters to Sony Alpha camera users, photography and videography enthusiasts, and audiophiles seeking a flagship experience. However, the device’s niche focus and premium price tag limit its mainstream appeal. The display’s cinematic aspect ratio may not offer the best experience for everyday tasks, and the lack of a variable refresh rate paired with the 4K resolution affects battery life. While the Xperia 1 V’s camera system delivers excellent results, it requires a certain level of expertise to unlock its full potential, making it less accessible for casual users. Despite these considerations, the Xperia 1 V stands as the best offering from Sony’s smartphone lineup, but faces stiff competition from flagship devices from Apple and Samsung.

For users seeking a more user-friendly camera experience coupled with excellent value for money, the Google Pixel 7 Pro and Honor Magic 5 Pro provide compelling alternatives. The Motorola Edge 40 Ultra offers a visually striking design, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power, and ample storage at a more competitive price point. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, with its unique stylus functionality and wider screen, presents a distinctive choice for consumers. Finally, the iPhone 14 Pro Max stands as the pinnacle of Apple’s offerings, showcasing ProRes video capabilities that rival Sony’s S-Cinetone look.

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