The Sony Xperia 1 V is a top-end flagship that looks a lot like its predecessor, the Sony Xperia 1 IV. The question is, what is the difference between the two flagships?
While the phones may look near-identical on the surface, the Xperia 1 V fixes some of the biggest complaints with its predecessor not only in terms of camera prowess but performance and thermal performance in particular.
Both phones look near-identical
Let’s get this out of the way first; you probably won’t notice much of a difference in build and overall design whether you opt for the year-old Xperia 1 IV or the new Xperia V.
Both sport the same boxy, angular design that Sony has used for years at this point, though the Xperia 1 V sports a ribbed grippy texture along the sides of the phone for added grip.
That’s great if you appreciate the look and feel of Sony’s smartphone collection, but if you were hoping for something sleek and curvy like the Honor Magic 5 Pro or Xiaomi 13 Pro, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
There is a plus side to Sony’s approach to design though – the inclusion of features that many other flagships have ditched in recent years. This includes not only a 3.5mm headphone jack – a rarity in phones in general, let alone flagships – but a microSD card slot to further increase the storage by up to 1TB post-purchase if need be.
Both phones also sport dual-SIM connectivity, ideal for those that usually use two phones.
The Sony Xperia 1 IV has overheating issues
One of our biggest complaints about the Sony Xperia 1 IV was its thermal performance.
The phone sports the infamous Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that suffered from overheating issues not only on the Xperia 1 IV but other flagship smartphones that used the chipset. However, it seems that the Sony Xperia 1 IV was the worst hit of the bunch – likely due to the design of other internals – that resulted in major overheating problems after just a few minutes of use.
Our reviewer noted that the phone became hot to the touch after just a few minutes of using the camera or recording a video, and benchmark stress testing showed severe frame rate throttling in games after just a minute of play, and performance only got worse over time.
It could be a real dealbreaker not only for smartphone addicts constantly scrolling through apps and playing games, but also for those that want to use the phone for photo and video capture – arguably the features Sony champions most with its flagship Xperia devices.
The good news is that the newer Sony Xperia 1 V and its updated Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset don’t suffer from the same poor thermal performance, offering stable and smooth support regardless of what you’re doing. Our reviewer remarked that the chipset “makes it fly in day-to-day use” with no notable heat spots on the phone.
The Sony Xperia 1 V has an improved main camera
More specifically, the Sony IMX557 on offer is fairly small in comparison to the flagship competition, and it shuns pixel-binning tech too – a feature used by competitors to improve not only the detail but light by combining multiple pixels (up to 16 in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200MP lens) into one.
As such, our reviewer found the camera array “a little disappointing” with rather unintelligent picture processing delivering unnatural tones (a slight shade of green in what’s supposed to be a blue sky, for example), with most photos captured needing an edit to really bring out the detail and colour. Night mode photography was fine, but it lacked the detail of competing 2022 flagships like the Huawei P50 Pro.
That has finally changed with the Xperia 1 V though; it sports a new main 52MP Exmor T sensor that the company claims delivers a 2x boost to night mode performance compared to the IV, and that’s something we found to be the case in our review. It’s not quite the best out there still, but it is a vast improvement with much less noise, more light and better colours in low-light conditions.
It’s also better in well-lit conditions, with Sony apparently doing a lot of work on its camera tuning tech to deliver more accurate colours than its predecessor. Even in well-lit conditions, it’s still not the ultimate camera phone, but it’s certainly a solid flagship experience this time around.
Both have high-end 4K displays
Regardless of the model you opt for, you’ll get access to a true 4K display – yes, that’s right, true 4K. Sony is the only smartphone manufacturer to offer 4K resolution on a smartphone display, and it has been a staple of the top-end Xperia since the Xperia Z5 Premium back in 2015.
However, reviewers of both the Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 1 V remarked that the 4K resolution is pretty pointless in most scenarios, with the phone automatically defaulting to an FHD+ resolution in any app that doesn’t specifically require 4K – and even then, some 4K video apps don’t get the 4K resolution treatment. Besides, it’s just as pixel-packed at the downscaled resolution too, with no notable downgrade in overall screen quality.
Resolution aside, both phones sport a 6.5-inch OLED panel with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, delivering deep blacks, vibrant colours and great HDR performance. There’s also a Creator display mode that boasts a warm-looking tone you’d expect to see in the “pro calibrated” modes of a Sony TV.
The Sony Xperia 1 IV is now much cheaper
While the Sony Xperia 1 IV was initially priced at the same (ridiculously high) Sony Xperia 1 V at £1,299/$1,399, the 2022 flagship has since dropped in value, with the phone available at a slightly more tempting price of around £999 at the time of writing. Whether the discount makes up for poor camera performance and the overheating issues is another problem altogether, though.