iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Sony Xperia 1 IV: Which flagship phone is the true pro choice?

The Xperia 1 IV is Sony’s newest frenzy smartphone, full of multimedia potential.

But when it comes to making phones that professionals and media types love, Apple is the best. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is set to be called the best flagship phone on the market right now because of its superiority in every way.

Does Sony have the keys to access the same exclusive club? Let’s see.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max Pricing and Availability

Sony announced the Sony Xperia 1 IV on May 11, 2022, but the phone won’t be available until June 16 in the UK and Europe and September 1 in the US. The only 512GB option in the US costs $1599. The 256GB model is available in the UK and Europe for £1299/€1399.

There’s no word on an Australian release yet, but we’re not hopeful. Sony generally does not sell mobile phones in this region.

(Image courtesy of Sony)

The iPhone 13 Pro Max will be released on September 24, 2021. Pricing starts at $1,099 / £1,049 / AU$1,699 for the 128GB model. For 256GB it goes up to $1,199 / £1,149 / AU$1,869. Then $1,399 / £1,349 / AU$2,219 for 512GB; $1,599 / £1,549 / AU$2,569 for the new 1TB model.

All in all, the iPhone 13 Pro Max wins in terms of price and availability.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max Design

The Sony Xperia 1 IV looks almost identical to the Sony Xperia 1 III. The flat side is the same and has an oddly high form factor.

With the iPhone 13 Pro Max, Apple also stuck with the design language of its predecessors. Like the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the 13 has a flat stainless steel frame and an equally flat front and back.

Sony’s phone measures 165 x 71 x 8.2mm and weighs 185g. This makes it bigger and thicker than the iPhone 13 Pro Max (160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm), but also narrower and much lighter. No heavy stainless steel to weigh here.

The main reasons for the Sony Xperia 1 IV’s height are its high forehead and chin bezel. Unlike almost all current flagships, it has a selfie camera above the screen rather than a display notch.

Of course, the iPhone is the mother of every screen notch eating up the top edge of the display. Apple claims to have reduced the size of the notch by 20%, but it’s still annoying.

Sony always wraps the edge of the phone with a point of interest that describes a physical camera button and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Each of these should appeal to photographers and audiophiles.

A silver iPhone 13 Pro Max lies face down on the table.

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 13 Pro Max configures the camera sensor in a square configuration. Sony is constructed in a vertical rhombic shape.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is available in black, white or purple. iPhone Land has many color options such as Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue, and Alpine Green.

Both phones are adequately dust and water resistant. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is rated IP68 and the Sony Xperia 1 IV is more rigorously IP68/IP65 certified.

There is Gorilla Glass Victus protecting Sony’s screen. Apple puts the iPhone in a ceramic shield made by embedding ceramic nanocrystals in glass through a high-temperature crystallization process.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max Display

The Sony Xperia 1 IV comes with the same 6.5-inch 4K OLED display as the Xperia 1 III. What stands out amongst them is the ‘4K’ figure, which corresponds to a staggering resolution of 3840 x 1644.

In contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro Max display is a 6.7-inch OLED with a resolution of 2778 x 1284. It’s more than a match in size and liveliness, but it’s not sharp.

Sony Xperia 1 IV with screen on from front and back

(Image courtesy of Sony)

That said, the Sony Xperia 1 IV is the only current flagship capable of natively playing 4K content. With a 21:9 aspect ratio and an unbroken canvas, it’s clear what Sony is aiming for here.

Both displays are equally fluid as they refresh at up to 120Hz.

Sony increased the brightness of the display by 50%. It remains to be seen whether that will help it compete with the powerful iPhone panels that are among the best in the industry.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max Camera

Both of these phones feature a triple 12MP camera system, and both manufacturers are known for their natural color science. But it’s about where the similarities end.

Apple and Sony take radically different approaches to photography. iPhone is all about fire and forget-me-not experiences without the burden of having to think through complicated menus and frames.

Sony’s Xperia 1 line is all about pro-level control with a deep camera app mirroring the high-end Alpha camera line and a physical two-stage camera shutter button on the right edge.

The biggest advancement of the Xperia 1 IV is in the telephoto system. This time you get a continuous zoom of between 70mm and 125mm, which is roughly equivalent to an optical zoom that can drop anywhere between 3.5x and 5.2x. It’s my first time.

In contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 3x zoom looks a bit tiring.

Still, the image quality of the iPhone 13 Pro Max camera is well recognized at this point. It is arguably the best smartphone camera system on the market right now.

iPhone 13 Pro Max lies face up on a table showing the home screen.

(Image credit: Future)

This is driven by a large (and wide-angle at f/1.5) main sensor capable of capturing seriously impressive images in all lighting conditions with the aid of an incredibly stable sensor shift stabilization system. This time, clear night shots are possible even in ultra-wide angles.

Hardware aside, much of the fantastic image quality depends on Apple’s leading image processing technology, which allows you to get great results with minimal input. Sony’s phones haven’t been able to achieve the same results as ever, but they give you unmatched control over your shots.

Apple’s cameras have always outperformed their rivals in video recording, but Sony is looking to advance with the Xperia 1 IV. Sony’s latest phone captures 4K 120fps slow-motion recordings at 4K/60fps on the iPhone. Sony also introduced the Xperia 1 IV with a wider dynamic range and Videography Pro mode for live streaming.

iPhone 13 Pro Max has its own video tricks, including a cinematic mode that lets you apply portrait-like bokeh effects to footage and adjust focus in post.

Both phones have a 12MP selfie camera, but the Xperia 1 IV is the larger of the two.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max Specifications and Performance

We know the story by now. Android phones can go up a notch in performance, but still fall short of Apple’s latest phones.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV hasn’t been up to speed yet, but now I can confidently say it won’t be as fast as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Because it runs the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip used in most of its competitors, from the Xiaomi 12 Pro to the Oppo Find X5 Pro.

Sony Xperia 1 IV rear camera close-up

(Image courtesy of Sony)

And in all of our tests and benchmarks, that phone comfortably outperforms the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The key is the monster Apple’s latest custom A15 Bionic chip.

Excluding the benchmarks, you won’t notice a performance difference between the latest iPhone and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phone. Both chips offer much more than you need for modern tasks, from juggling multiple apps to playing advanced 3D games.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV Pack doubles the RAM of the iPhone 13 Pro Max (12GB vs 6GB). But given the fundamental difference between how iOS and Android handle resources, this is not a big deal.

Apple’s devices offer far more storage options than Sony’s. Choose from 128, 256, 512 or 1TB wherever you are. With the Sony Xperia 1 IV, you get 256GB in the UK and Europe and 512GB in the US.

Sony Xperia 1 IV vs iPhone 13 Pro Max Battery Life

Sony has increased the capacity of its flagship battery up to 5,000 mAh. It’s a decent size for a flagship Android phone, and is significantly larger than the 4,352mAh cell in the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

But, as I just said, iOS and Android treat hardware resources very differently, and I want a rough equivalence between the two.

But the Sony Xperia 1 IV needs to get the cat out of the bag to match the iPhone 13 Pro Max. With the Xperia 1 III, I tended to have around 10% left in the tank at the end of a long day. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has 1/3 of the tank left. We hope Sony’s brute force increase, along with the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and software improvements, can close that gap.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image courtesy of TechRadar)

Neither phone is the least impressive when it comes to charging speed. Sony has put the same 30W wired charging support as before on their latest phones, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max could use a similar 27W.

When rivals boast 80W, 100W, and even 120W charging, those specs aren’t that great. Nonetheless, both manufacturers claim that the phone can be charged to 50% in just 30 minutes.

Neither manufacturer includes a charger in the box, but at least Apple does provide a cable.


Sony seems to have made another media enthusiast’s dream come true with the Sony Xperia 1 IV. With a much more flexible camera system, a brighter 4K display, and longer battery life, the Sony Xperia 1 III continues where it left off.

It remains to be seen whether these updates are enough to close the one-point review score gap between the previous model and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. We’re impressed with Apple’s latest offerings with great Fire and Forget cameras, great battery life, and unparalleled performance.

One thing seems certain. Sony will always have a place in the hearts of certain types of fans obsessed with serious photography, audio fidelity and proper video playback. But can you mix it with mainstream iPhones this time around?

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