The Sony Xperia 1 IV has a 4K display and a real zoom lens.


Inside the sleek, understated body of the new Sony Xperia 1 IV is a telephoto camera lens with a small element that can move freely back and forth for zooming in and out. You cannot do this on other phones. last year The Xperia 1 III had a similar lens.However, that small lens element was limited to one of two positions. and as innovation The dual telephoto lens of the Xperia 1 III isWhen used, it did not provide any real advantage over its rivals: Galaxy S22 Ultrausing two separated A telephoto camera to achieve something similar.

The Xperia 1 IV is the world’s first phone with a true optical zoom lens. But most people will be surprised that Sony still makes phones. Whether you’re the creative type, photographer, filmmaker, gamer or audiophile, the Sony and Xperia line of phones will pursue your heart, creativity and wallet. After all, the Sony Xperia 1 IV costs $1,600 (about £1,300, AU$2,300), making the new phone one of the most expensive models sold today.

The Xperia 1 IV represents the ideal Sony has been pursuing since 2019. The Tokyo-based company isn’t trying to compete with mainstream phones, including: iPhone 13, Samsung Galaxy S22 or Google Pixel 6 Pro. Instead, with the Xperia 1 IV, Sony has carved out its own corners of the sandbox and is building an impressive castle.


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Let’s go back to that $1,600 price tag. Sticker shock aside, you get a phone that not only has a cutting edge zoom lens, but one with a 4K high-refresh rate display (which no other phone has aside from Sony), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, a 5,000-mAh battery, Gorilla Glass Victus as well as Android features of yesteryear you won’t find on most flagship phones. These include a headphone jack, a slot for expandable storage and an LED notification light on the front.

For most people, including me, the Xperia 1 IV will be too expensive. At $1,600, I’d be more inclined to buy a dedicated camera. But if you can afford it and you want a cutting-edge phone that’s steeped in the intricate processes of photography and filmmaking, the Xperia 1 IV is waiting for you.

The Xperia 1 IV will be out in the US on Sept. 1 and is available for preorder now. Sony has a limited time deal where you can buy an Xperia 1 IV and get a free pair of Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds, which have a $280 value. I wish Sony had offered to bundle the Xperia 1 IV with its shooting grip and remote controller and tiny magnetic vlogging monitor that lets you film yourself using the rear cameras.

A Sony Xperia 1 IV in a shooting grip with a tiny monitor on the back of the phone

The Xperia 1 IV works with Sony’s shooting grip, remote control accessory and magnetic vlogging monitor. This lets you use the rear cameras to film yourself.


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Sony Xperia 1 IV and the missing Music Pro app

Sony lent me a preproduction sample of the Xperia 1 IV. The software isn’t final and some features didn’t work fully or were completely absent. One missing app is Sony’s Music Pro app which can provide studio tuning for vocals. In a video from Sony, a singer on a windy beach records her vocal track with the Xperia 1 IV and the Music Pro app.

Music Pro applies a combination of noise reduction, deReverb and studio mic simulations to remove the noise from the wind and make her voice sound more present and full. I found the demo impressive.

Sadly, the new app wasn’t ready for me to try. Next to the cameras, Music Pro could be the biggest new feature on the Xperia 1 IV.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV's rear camera bump

The Xperia 1 IV has three rear cameras and a 3D iToF sensor used for focusing.


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Sony Xperia 1 IV gets all-new cameras

You could write a book with the number of details Sony sent me about the cameras on the Xperia 1 IV. And the photography nerd in me loves that. But I’ll keep things concise for this review.

All of the cameras on the Xperia 1 IV have new and faster sensors, meaning they’re capable of multiple calculations and processing within fractions of a second. You can shoot bursts of 20 photos per second with auto exposure and autofocus enabled, using any camera on the phone.

Rear cameras on the Xperia 1 IV

Aperture Focal length equivalent OIS Megapixels
Ultra-wide angle f/2.2 16mm No 12MP
Wide angle f/1.7 24mm Yes 12MP
Telephoto f/2.3-2.8 85-125mm Yes 12MP

Let’s go back to that telephoto camera. Between 85mm and 125mm (or 3.5x and 5.2x) magnification, it’s all optical zoom all the time. There isn’t any digital zooming or cropping happening unless you zoom past 5.2x or are shooting between 1.1x and 3.4x magnification. If you can zoom optically, in other words, the image quality won’t degrade like it does with digital zoom.

I got to use the Xperia 1 IV for a week and a half and I was impressed with the new cameras. Take a look below at some of my favorite photos that I took with the Sony Xperia 1 IV.

A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of people lined up on a sidewalk

Every Saturday a bunch of people line up outside the church. This photo was taken with the telephoto camera at 3.5x magnification.


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A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of a dog waiting next to her owner

This was taken with the telephoto lens at 3.5x magnification indoors. Despite the lack of light, the Xperia 1 IV’s Eye AF (autofocus) found and tracked the dog’s eyes perfectly.


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A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of a long pointy plant

This was taken with the main 24mm camera. I like how the background falls out of focus. 


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A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of a Giants baseball game at Oracle Field

This was taken with the ultrawide camera. I like the contrast of dark and light.


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A photo from the Xperia 1 IV of a windmill in Golden Gate Park

Just a quick stop during a bike ride through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The Xperia 1 IV is thin enough to fit in the back of a cycling jersey.


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The Xperia 1 IV vs. the iPhone 13 Pro, Google Pixel 6 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro are two of the best phones you can buy today for photography. Apple and Google use a combination of solid hardware and computational photography to make photos and videos look the best they can. Sony focuses more on the hardware to achieve great photos. The Xperia’s lack of computational magic gives the iPhone and Pixel the edge when comparing models.

Under good light, and even medium lighting, all three phones are capable of taking excellent photos. Look at the pictures below that I took of a vase of flowers indoors. The photo from the iPhone looks the sharpest, but I love the way the Xperia captures the colors.

Photo from the Xperia IV of a vase of floors

Photo from the Sony Xperia 1 IV.


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Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro of a vase of floors

Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET
Photo from the Pixel 6 Pro of a vase of floors

Photo from the Google Pixel 6 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Below are some shots of motorcycles parked outdoors. The Xperia’s photo has the most contrast and the Pixel’s photo the least. The iPhone’s photo lands right between the two.

Photo from the Xperia IV of a bunch of red motorcycles

Photo from the Sony Xperia 1 IV.


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Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro of a bunch of red motorcycles

Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET
Photo from the Pixel 6 Pro of a bunch of red motorcycles

Photo from the Google Pixel 6 Pro.


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When things get dark is where you can see the biggest difference between the phones. The Xperia 1 IV doesn’t have a night mode. It can take an OK low-light shot like the below photo of a cocktail in a dark bar.

Photo from the Xperia IV of a cocktail in a dimly lit bar

Photo from the Sony Xperia 1 IV.


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But look at these photos of a street that I shot handheld. The photos from the iPhone and Pixel, which both used Night mode, look so much better. The Sony’s photo looks soft and the details are muddy. Notice all the noise reduction going on in the sky and with the telephone wires.

Photo from the Xperia IV of a city residential street at night

Photo from the Sony Xperia 1 IV.


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A night mode photo from the iPhone 13 Pro of a city residential street at night

Photo from the iPhone 13 Pro.


Patrick Holland/CNET
A Night mode photo from the Pixel 6 Pro of a city residential street at night

Photo from the Google Pixel 6 Pro.


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For video clips from the Xperia 1 IV, including some that I compare with clips from the iPhone and Pixel, check out the video below.

Photo Pro, Video Pro and Cinema Pro

The Xperia 1 IV has three apps (Photo Pro, Video Pro and Cinema Pro) that focus on taking photos and videos. The Photo Pro mimics the interface of Sony’s Alpha line of mirrorless cameras. Cinema Pro is aimed at filmmakers and is inspired by Sony’s line of Venice Cinema cameras.

Video Pro is a less demanding app to use for video recording compared to the Cinema Pro app. Video Pro offers a lot of manual controls, but there’s an automatic mode that leaves everything to Xperia. Video Pro has become one of our favorite ways to capture video from your phone.

Image quality is also important, but these three apps help set Sony apart from the iPhone, Pixel or Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Xperia 1 IV with Photo Pro app open

The Photo Pro has a PSM dial based on the PASM dial found on mirrorless cameras.

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I think you moved me, but I’m holding back my judgment

I had a prototype that Sony lent me for 10 days. And while that’s usually more than enough time to review the phone, the problem is that the initial software I used was a bit rough. But if you want to know more about my impressions of the Sony Xperia 1 IV, Check out my in-depth hands-on video..

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