Does the Sony Xperia 1 have the best phone display?
- The Xperia 1 has a 4K HDR OLED display without a notch – the first time we’ve seen this combination on a smartphone.
- The 21:9 ratio is unique, too, and makes for a phone that’s great for watching movies shot in the widescreen format.
- It’s generally a decent, accurate display; however, not as good as the OnePlus 7 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S10 – even with those extra pixels
If you love big numbers on spec-sheets then prepare to be wowed by the sheer number packed into the Xperia 1’s display. Not only does it benefit from a 4K resolution (that’s 3840 x 1644), but there’s support for HDR content and it’s an OLED panel, too. While Sony has included 4K HDR displays on its devices before, these have all been with LCD rather than OLED. Switching to the latter results in perfect blacks, an infinite contrast ratio and, in general, greater vibrancy to the screen.
Even though the resolution is super-high, the more interesting aspect that actually makes an obvious difference in how you use the phone is the 21:9 aspect ratio. Most phones offer an 18:9 or 19.5:9 display, so in comparison the Xperia 1 is super-tall and long.
It’s certainly odd, and watching a regular video will see you having to stretch out content to avoid black bars on either side of the screen. Yet it does allow for a lot more vertical content to be packed in – especially with two-app multitasking. Much of Netflix’s original content is shot in 21:9, and these videos look great. Whether or not you’ll actually want to watch a full film on your phone will come down to personal preference.
4K feels more of a gimmick here. Regardless, this remains a great panel, displaying good colour accuracy and a pleasing overall look. I’d have preferred that Sony followed in the direction of OnePlus with the OnePlus 7 Pro, upping the refresh rate from 60Hz to 90Hz to offer a smoother overall look.
One of the other benefits of this display is the lack of notch. There’s enough bezel above the screen to fit in the front camera, so there’s no need to cram it in elsewhere. This continues to support the media-watching focus of this device, since most annoying when trying to watch videos on your phone is any kind of interruption.
Sony Xperia 1 display: Brightness
Brightness is in nits, which is a measure of intensity divided by area. Max brightness here capped out at around 286 nits, which is slightly disappointing. This will pump up further when you’re watching HDR content. Still, it’s more than usable in most conditions, and you’ll only probably find yourself pushing it right to the max when it’s very bright outside.
Related: What is HDR?
Sony Xperia 1: Black levels
The use of OLED as opposed to LCD means the screen can offer perfect levels of black. This is the reason that you’ll find all the displays with an OLED panel scoring the same.
Sony Xperia 1: Contrast ratio
Like all the big flagship phones – aside from the iPhone XR – the Sony Xperia 1 has an OLED panel. And as is the case with all OLED screens, it has an infinite contrast ratio. Contrast ratio is based on the white and black levels, measuring the distance between the darkest blacks and brightest whites.
Sony Xperia 1: Colour accuracy
Colour temperature on the Xperia 1 is close enough to the 6500k ideal to ensure whites aren’t tinged with yellow. There are more colour accurate displays out there, though.
Colour gamuts are metrics used by artists and photographers. A higher coverage indicates that the colours you see on-screen is what you’ll see in printed form. Colour gamuts give a good overview of how good a screen is.
The bog-standard sRGB space is the one used day-to-day, and the easiest to cover. The 99.5% coverage here is excellent, even if some phones manage to hit 100%.
The Adobe RGB metric is a little long in the tooth. Nevertheless, it’s still used by many artists and designers. The 81.6% scored here matches many of the other big flagships out there.
DCI-P3 is the standard used by cinemas and it’s becoming a big f0cus for smartphone makers. The 96% scored by the Xperia 1 is great and shows Sony is more than hype when it comes to this display.