Sony Xperia 1 VI announced — here’s what it can do that the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Pixel 8 Pro can’t

Sony Xperia 1 VI
(Image credit: Sony)

Pay attention to the newly-announced Sony Xperia 1 VI and Xperia 10 VI — they might just be Sony's best attempt ever at dragging users away from Galaxy or Pixel phones.

Xperias of the past have always been oddballs, but Sony's made its newest models more typical in terms of features and design. Couple that with the Xperia's creator-first attitude, impressive cameras and welcome durability and longevity features, and you get two phones that could turn heads at two different ends of the pricing spectrum.

There are no headline AI features like you'd get from a Google or Samsung launch, but Sony's banking on appealing to users who prefer handling things personally. Here's what you need to know about the Xperia 1 VI and Xperia 10 VI. 

Sony Xperia 1 VI: Cameras

Even among flagship phones, the £1299 Xperia 1 VI (U.S. pricing unconfirmed) is particularly fixated on its photography abilities. It's armed with 12MP ultrawide, 12MP zoom, 48MP main (using an Exmor T for Mobile sensor), and 12MP front cameras, which sound pretty good already, but there's more exciting stuff than just the megapixel figures.

Like on previous Xperia 1 models, the 1 VI's telephoto camera is equipped with a continuous optical zoom, letting you optically zoom in at any value between 3.5x and 7.1x magnification without losing detail by resorting to digital zoom. And with the maximum optical zoom now at 7.1x instead of just 5.2x, you'll be able to set your sights on further-away objects.

Sony says this upgraded camera is also great for portraits and telemacro extreme close-ups, so we'll definitely be trying those out once we get to try the phone.

Meanwhile, the main camera's apparently received improved low-light photography, minimizing noise and increasing the dynamic range of images. Sony also added the option to use the main sensor's full 48MP resolution for super-detailed shots like other rival phones.

To also simplify the user experience, Sony has unified its previous three different photo/video apps into a single Camera app. The usual wealth of Sony Alpha-inspired settings is available in Pro mode should you be interested though, and the Xperia 1 VI will still work as a monitor for your actual Sony camera, or as extra memory capacity should you accidentally fill up your SD card.

Sony Xperia 1 VI: Design and display

Sony Xperia 1 VI front and back

(Image credit: Sony)

Beyond its cameras, Sony's changed up one of the Xperia 1 series' longest-standing features, moving to a 6.5-inch FHD OLED display with a 1 - 120Hz LTPO refresh rate and most importantly a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, That's shorter and wider, but also lower-res, than the old 4K, 21:9 displays of Xperias past.

This was apparently done in the name of power efficiency and app compatibility, but screen quality fans may be interested by the "Powered by Bravia" tuning that Sony's given to the new panel, or that fact that it boasts 50% increased brightness compared to the Xperia 1 V, with improved outdoor visibility to boot.

You can enjoy that display with "full-stage" balanced speakers, which use two identically-sized drivers on the top and bottom of the phone, rather than having one primary speaker at the bottom and a smaller one at the top like most others. But if you want to keep the noise to yourself, Sony has once again included a headphone jack that supports high-quality audio codecs to try and give you the best-rounded music experience of any smartphone.

The Xperia VI's body, available in either Black, Platinum Silver or Khaki Green,  is clad in toughened glass back and front, with a Gorilla Glass Victus 2 display and a matte-textured back panel which uses Victus. The body's also rated IP65 and IP68, meaning it should be just as capable of shrugging off water as any other phone.

Sony Xperia 1 VI: Performance and AI

Driving the Xperia 1 VI is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, the same chip you'll find in other flagship Android phones. That's accompanied by 12GB of RAM, and either 256GB or 512GB of storage, plus support for 1.5TB of additional storage with a microSD card. Plus covering all of that is Sony's first ever vapor chamber cooling for an Xperia, hopefully meaning the 1 VI will offer better sustained performance too.

Inside the Xperia 1 VI is a 5,000 mAh battery, which Sony claims will last you two days of use. And you'll be able to enjoy that 48-hour battery life over and over again it seems, since Sony promises its Adaptive Battery system will deliver 4 years of "healthy performance."

Sony seems to like the sound of four years of support, as it's guaranteeing three years of full updates and four years of security updates. That's not great compared to rivals like Samsung and Google, who offer seven years, but it's still a decent amount of time.

As part of this launch, Sony also outlined its approach to AI features, saying that it would use it only to enhance the quality of content captured with the phone, not to generate new material. That's why AI on the new Xperia is dedicated to eye tracking, white balance, exposure and "pose estimation" for tracking subjects on video, rather than making complicated edits or custom wallpapers.

If you're interested in what Sony's offering here, the Xperia 1 VI is up for pre-orders as you're reading this, and available to pluck off store shelves from "early June."

Sony Xperia 10 VI

Official renders of the Sony Xperia 10 VI in Black, Blue and White

(Image credit: Sony)

As well as giving us a new flagship phone, Sony's brought out a refreshed budget model: the £349 Xperia 10 VI

This model also features a 2-day battery, Gorilla Glass Victus, a headphone jack, the new Camera app and dual IP65/68 dust/water resistance ratings like its big sibling. But at almost a quarter of the price, there are several areas where it differs too.

For one, its matte back panel is made of resin (don't say plastic) rather than glass, which has proved to be unpopular with users in the past, even for cheap phones. Hopefully the Blue, Black and White colorways will be more broadly appealing.

For its cameras, the Xperia 10 VI rolls out with a 48MP main camera, 8MP ultrawide camera and an 8MP front camera. The main camera does feature 2x in-sensor zoom for a little extra range, but it's limited to digital zoom only like other cheaper phones.

The Xperia 10 VI is arguably more faithful to its roots than the Xperia 1 VI. Its 60Hz 6.1-inch FHD OLED display is still 21:9, giving it a more familiar shape. That and its small display size (relative to other modern phones) could make it a contender for best small phones as well as best cheap phones.

Using a Snapdragon 6 Gen 1, and 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage, the Xperia 10 VI isn't likely to light up the benchmark charts. But it should hopefully offer enough power to deal with your everyday needs, and continue to do so down the line with the same 3-year/4-year update plan that we mentioned above.

If this sounds like the Xperia for your, the Xperia 10 VI is available from "the middle of June", with pre-orders open now.

Sony Xperia 1 VI and Xperia 10 VI: Outlook

It may be a while until you or I can actually try these phones, but Sony's made some smart-sounding changes to the Xperia 1 VI and 10 VI compared to previous models. 

Rather than fight against the Galaxy S24 Ultra or Google Pixel 8 Pro directly, or ignore them entirely and do its own thing, the Xperia 1 VI tries to strike a balance. It's got unique abilities like its continuous zoom camera, microSD support and dual IP ratings, but also offers a more typical display size and similar chipset and storage options to its opponents.

Meanwhile the Xperia 10 VI is attempting to undercut phones like the Pixel 8a or the Galaxy A55, offering the essentials, plus a little specifically Sony seasoning, in a small package. Hopefully the cheap pricetag will make it easy to forgive some obvious shortcomings in its hardware upon review.

We'll offer up our impressions of these phones, and a full review, whenever we are able to. But if you need a recommendation right now, check our best Android phones guide.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.