Xperia 1 IV hands-on: Sony has the first real zoom camera in a smartphone

Xperia 1 IV hands-on: Sony has the first real zoom camera in a smartphone
Written by insideindyhomes

The Xperia 1 IV will be available from mid-June as Sony’s new top-of-the-range smartphone. For the first time, a manufacturer has installed a real zoom lens in a smartphone that offers a variably adjustable focal length of 85 to 125 mm without having to digitally zoom in between. The new technology has its price: 1,399 euros.

So-called zoom lenses in smartphones have so far only been installed as fixed focal lengths between which the camera’s algorithms carry out a digital zoom. This can either be between a wide-angle and a single telephoto or between two telephoto lenses. A Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (test) offers, for example, cameras with a focal length of 69 and 230 mm for the long range. In this case, if an enlargement in the intermediate range is to be used, the 69 mm lens must be digitally enlarged up to 229 mm.

As early as last year, Sony made initial efforts to cover two focal lengths with just one camera. On the Xperia 1 III, the telephoto’s aperture can be adjusted to f/2.3 or f/2.8 to get fixed focal lengths of 70 and 105mm with the same camera. However, digital zooming between these two values ​​also had to be carried out here.

Xperia 1 IV optically zooms from 85 to 125 mm

The Xperia 1 IV is now the world’s first smartphone to use a true zoom lens that can be freely adjusted between 85 and 125mm. For the movable optics, Sony relies on the so-called periscope structure, because the movable lenses are tilted to the side in the chassis and the incident light is deflected via a prism. For the image quality, it should not matter whether you work with 85, 97, 102 or other focal lengths in the range mentioned, since optical magnification is always used. As with the Xperia 1 III, the aperture varies between f/2.3 (85mm) and f/2.8 (125mm). Sony has once again worked with Zeiss to calibrate the lenses of all cameras and their anti-reflective coating.

Each of the three cameras offers 12 megapixels

Sony continues to use digital zoom between the focal lengths of the 16mm ultra wide-angle camera and the 24mm wide-angle camera, in the range of 25 to 84 mm and 126 to 375 mm. The manufacturer also promises to be able to switch between all cameras without recognizable transitions or jumps, for example when recording videos. Sony again uses three of its own Exmor RS sensors, each with 12 megapixels, but they have different sizes. The primary camera is 1/1.7″, the ultra wide-angle camera is 1/2.5″ and the tele only 1/3.5″. A time-of-flight sensor is installed as the fourth “sensor”, which collects depth information for portraiture even in low light conditions.

telephoto zoom with 85 to 125 mm (below)

telephoto zoom with 85 to 125 mm (below)

The smartphone retains the two-stage trigger

The smartphone retains the two-stage trigger

Camera Specifications

Camera Specifications

Video recording in 4K120 HDR

Despite these different sensor sizes, Sony is committed to offering the same capabilities with each sensor. This includes, for example, the burst mode for photos with 20 frames per second including 60 calculations (3 per frame) for autofocus (AF) and exposure (AE). Sony’s eye recognition (Eye-AF), which works for humans and animals, is used again. In addition, Sony enables video recording in up to 4K with 120 FPS and HDR on all cameras. In the normal camera app, the smartphone stops at 4K30, but additional settings are available in the Video Pro app. 4K120 mode can be used for smooth recording or 5x slow motion when reduced to 24 fps.

4K video also for the front camera

The front camera has also been upgraded and now offers 12 instead of 8 megapixels on a 1/2.9″ instead of just 1/4″ sensor. For the first time, the smartphone also supports 4K video recordings including HDR (30 FPS) on the front. Sony again accommodates the camera in the frame of the display and is one of the last manufacturers to do without a notch or recess in the screen. Sony uses the symmetrical edges again to accommodate a status LED and two identical, front-facing stereo speakers, which are said to be better than the Xperia 1 III over the entire frequency spectrum, but especially in the low frequency range.

Sound recordings are optimized in the cloud

Speaking of sound: The Xperia 1 IV should also enable better sound recordings via the lower microphone than the quality you are normally used to from smartphones. With “Music Pro”, Sony now also offers a professional audio editing app to go with the Photo and Video Pro app. However, the better quality is not generated directly on the smartphone, but via a fee-based service from Sony in the cloud. The app itself works without a subscription, but if you want to record instruments and vocals in better quality, you have to pay just under 5 euros a month. Sony promises to be able to use AI to emulate its own C-800G condenser microphone, which costs around 10,000 euros, and an official “Sony Music Entertainment Studio” in the cloud – doubts are justified.

OLED display in 21:9 format

The visual part is handled by a 6.5-inch OLED screen in 21:9 format with the matching 4K resolution of 3,840 × 1,644 pixels. Again, the panel can be operated at up to 120 Hz and offers a touch sampling rate of 240 Hz. This year the display is said to offer a 50 percent higher brightness, which would mean 840 cd/m² this time compared to 560 cd/m² last year. The peak brightness should reach up to 1,000 cd/m² in small image areas, as Sony explained in a preliminary discussion.

Bravia Core launches for smartphones

Appropriate content can be provided, among other things, by its own streaming service, Bravia Core, which Sony is expanding to include smartphones with the Xperia 1 IV. Bravia Core offers films from its own studio in 4K and HDR with a particularly high data rate of 80 Mbit/s, which should benefit the quality. However, Sony has reduced the bit rate to 40 Mbit/s especially for smartphones. Bravia Core comes with the Xperia 1 IV for free for a year and five films can be downloaded for free and watched offline permanently even after this free period. There are no prices for Bravia Core yet, because the young service has been offered for 12 or 24 months with 5 or 10 films in a bundle with televisions. The various free periods can be added up when purchasing multiple products, Sony explained.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 12GB RAM, 256GB

The Xperia 1 IV is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from Qualcomm, which Sony combines with 12 GB LPDDR5 and 256 GB UFS 3.1, which can be expanded by up to 1 TB using a microSD card. In the European model, there is space in the SIM slot for a nano-SIM and the microSD card, and another SIM can be stored on the integrated eSIM.

Battery grows to 5,000 mAh

Although the smartphone has the same dimensions of 71.0 × 165.0 × 8.20 mm and is 2 g lighter, the battery this year is around 11 percent larger at 5,000 mAh. 50 percent should be able to be restored within 30 minutes using 30-watt fast charging, but Sony is no longer including a power supply unit with the smartphone this year either. Buyers will no longer even find a USB-C cable in the box. The Xperia 1 IV still comes with IP68 certification and is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back.

6.5 inch OLED with 4K resolution and 120 Hz
6.5 inch OLED with 4K resolution and 120 Hz

3.5 mm jack and additional functions for streaming

Additional functions of the Xperia 1 IV are a 3.5 mm jack, a “Low Gamma Raiser”, audio equalizer and a voice chat optimization especially for games and for this area the “Heat Suppression Power Control”, which is activated when gaming on the charging cable ensures that the device is supplied with power directly instead of charging the battery, which is intended to reduce the thermal load. Players also get a record feature to keep the last 30 seconds of screen capture in memory for sharing. In addition, live streaming directly from games is supported. Sony’s Video Pro app gives vloggers access to live streaming from YouTube without the usual 1,000 subscriber count.

Pre-orderers will receive WH-1000XM4 ANC headphones

Following the presentation, Sony is already starting pre-sales of the Xperia 1 IV at a price of 1,399 euros in the colors black, white and violet. As part of the pre-order that will officially start until mid-June, buyers will receive the WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones (test) worth 299 euros (RRP) for free. The Xperia 1 IV comes with Android 12 and will be updated for three years.

ComputerBase has received information about this item from Sony under the NDA. The only requirement was the earliest possible publication date.

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