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Sony's new Xperia 1 flagship phone needed to be so much more

Sony's Xperia 1 has some good points, but it does little to stand out above any of its rivals.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

With the glossy Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and powerhouse Huawei Mate 20 Pro on offer, the competition in the flagship phone arena has never been more fierce. Time then, you'd have thought, for Sony to pull something really special out of the bag with its latest launch.

But the Xperia 1 is, at best, entirely forgettable.

It's the screen that leads this year's flagship. It's a huge 6.5-inch affair with a 21:9 aspect ratio. The display has a 4K resolution, and uses OLED and HDR technology to make colours look vibrant. Sony's screens have always impressed, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this supersized display compares to those on the Galaxy S9 Plus and Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

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Camera-wise, you'll find three lenses on the back, a standard zoom, a telephoto zoom and a super-wide angle lens -- much the same setup as you'll get on the S10 Plus and Mate 20 Pro. But Sony's mobile team has apparently been chatting up the company's other divisions, as the cameras have been made under the supervision of Sony's pro camera team. As such, you can apparently expect great colour accuracy and creative cinema modes.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

It's not a huge physical departure from other recent Xperias, which were already looking tired. And beyond the display and potential camera skills, there's not much to get excited about. There's a fingerprint scanner on the side -- no in-screen technology at play here -- and there's 6GB of RAM on board, half as much as the 12GB you'll find on Samsung's top ceramic flagship.

The Xperia 1 is joined by a pair of midrange offerings in the form of the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus. These are 6-inch and 6.5-inch (respectively) phones, both of which pack dual rear cameras and 21:9 displays.

There's no pricing available for the phones yet but we expect to hear more in the coming weeks.

Xperia 1 specs

  • 6.5-inch 4K OLED HDR display
  • Three rear cameras (16mm, 26mm, 52mm all at 12-megapixels)
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • IP68 water resistance
  • No headphone jack
  • Snapdragon 855 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 3,330-mAh battery
  • 128GB storage
  • Android 9 Pie

Xperia 10 Plus specs

  • 6.5-inch display
  • Dual rear camera
  • 3,000-mAh battery
  • Snapdragon 636 processor
  • 4GB RAM

Xperia 10 specs

  • 6-inch display
  • Dual rear camera
  • 2,870-mAh battery
  • Snapdragon 630 processor
  • 3GB RAM
Mentioned Above
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
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