Sony has announced the Xperia 1 Mark IV, a smartphone packed with features that prioritize the needs of video shooters, but don’t hold back much for everyone. It is also the first smartphone with a real optical zoom capable of filming between 85 mm and 125 mm.
The Xperia 1 IV is specially designed for content creators. Talk to PetaPixel, Sony explains that most smartphones are designed to do everything well, but few are designed to perform a specific subset of tasks extremely well. This latest smartphone is what Sony is trying to do, and the Xperia 1 IV is designed to fit perfectly into a niche of photo and video content creators thanks to its impressive camera lineup, top camera features range and its live streaming capability.
Three cameras, three sensors, true optical zoom
Sony’s new smartphone has three rear-facing cameras, all of which are 12-megapixels. The first is a 16mm ultra-wide with an f/2.2 aperture and placed in front of a 1/2.5-inch sensor. The second is a 24mm-wide camera with an f/1.7 aperture and a 1/1.7-inch sensor that also has image stabilization in the form of Sony’s Optical SteadyShot. Under this camera is a 3D iToF (time-of-flight) sensor. The latest camera is a periscope-style camera with an 85-125mm f/2.3-f/2.8 lens in front of a 1/3.5-inch sensor that also has an optical SteadyShot.
This zoom lens allows any focal length between 85mm and 125mm and functions as a full size zoom lens. Sony says it’s the first of its kind and although it shows how the optics are laid out, the company is keeping the mechanism that moves the optics a secret, which somewhat underlines the technological achievement.
In addition to the three cameras featuring the same 12-megapixel resolution, they also share the same high-speed playback of 120 frames per second (FPS), which means that all rear-facing cameras are capable of recording 4K up to at 120 FPS.
All three cameras are also equipped with Sony’s autofocus (AF) and real-time tracking capabilities, technologies seen in recent Xperia smartphones that were originally developed for the company’s Alpha line of cameras. Sony says it uses the iToF 3D sensor and AI-based subject detection to enable precise, precise autofocus and tracking in low light. Finally, Sony indicates that the Zeiss optics have been calibrated specifically for the Xperia 1 IV and that the T* coating contributes to precise rendering and contrast by reducing reflections for all rear camera lenses.
In addition to the rear cameras, the front camera has also been improved. It also has a 12-megapixel resolution in front of a larger 1/2.9-inch sensor that’s grown in size without distracting from the OLED screen. Thanks to this sensor, the Xperia 1 IV can record 4K HDR videos and 12-megapixel photos from the front camera.
Sony says the Xperia 1 IV combines this powerful optical telephoto lens with both bokeh and advanced autofocus technology to deliver high quality photos. It can shoot up to 20fps while real-time Eye AF is active on any of the three rear cameras, a feature that works for both people and animals and even if they move quickly in the frame.
The 12-megapixel resolution is low compared to many other smartphones on the market, but Sony claims that content created with this smartphone tends to linger on screens. The company says the need for more than 12 megapixels isn’t often needed outside of printing, which isn’t expected for subjects shot on this device. By keeping the resolution lower, the company was able to equip all of the smartphone’s cameras with improved speed and accuracy performance.
The Xperia 1 IV enables real-time Eye AF and 20fps burst with AE (auto exposure)/AF in HDR on all three rear lenses for capturing portraits of people and animals. Sony promises it can keep performing even when shooting fast-moving subjects and in difficult shooting conditions. Additionally, the Xperia 1 IV uses AI white balance to capture and correct colors in difficult lighting conditions, which it claims will deliver realistic results.
For the video
Sony has devoted significant resources to orienting the Xperia 1 IV Video Content Creator. The company claims that the smartphone improves the quality of live streaming while simplifying the process. The device enables Eye AF and Object Tracking when using Videography Pro while live streaming to YouTube and other social media platforms.
It also works with Sony’s Bluetooth handle and Vlog monitor. For those who prefer to use a large format camera, it can also work in tandem with this use case. Users can stream high-quality video from a compatible Alpha camera while using the Xperia 1 IV as an external monitor.
Improved OLED display, better sound, big battery
That aforementioned OLED display is around 50 per cent brighter than the previous generation Xperia 1 phone and is a true 4K display that can refresh at up to 120Hz and display 21:9 HDR widescreen content. Sony says the 120Hz display delivers exceptionally smooth graphics performance and the phone’s high-speed 240Hz touch swipe rate meets the needs of a growing mobile gaming market.
That screen is backed by a set of redesigned full-stage stereo speakers that Sony says were tuned in conjunction with Sony Music Entertainment. The speakers have a new driver and enclosure design that produces more power and improves the low end. The company says the speakers can also output its 360 Reality Autio sound and quality-boosting hardware decoding when streaming music through services like Tidal.
The speakers are improved, but that’s not the only aspect of sound that’s been beefed up. Sony has also improved the device’s recording capabilities and claims that its Music Pro feature converts vocal sounds in a way that mimics recording in a professional studio:
“Cloud processing removes unwanted noise from recorded audio using sound source separation technology. It then reproduces the frequency response of Sony’s high-performance condenser microphones while producing reverberation similar to that of a professional studio.
If a recording is made that combines acoustic guitar and vocals, the phone is smart enough to separate those sounds and mix them at any balance. Recording and editing of audio is free, while cloud processing for high-quality audio is subject to monthly fees in an amount that Sony did not disclose at the time of publication.
The phone has 12GB RAM, 512GB ROM, is powered by Snapdragon 8 processor and also comes with a microSD card slot for easily expanding storage. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack. Since it’s as much a camera as it is a phone, it also has a dedicated shutter button.
The battery is a robust 5,000mAh battery, but Sony stops short of saying how many hours users can expect to get from a full charge. That said, the battery has a promised three-year lifespan and a fast-charging feature that can reach 50% charge in 30 minutes. The phone also supports wireless charging.
Price and availability
The Sony Xperia 1 IV will be available in the US on September 1, 2022 for around $1,600. It will be sold unlocked nationwide, but the purple colorway will only be available direct from Sony. Pre-orders start today.