Diehard Sony fans love sticking it in with the rest of the iPhone/Android crowd with headphone jacks and microSD card slots – but such luxuries don’t often come cheap. The flagship of the Xperia 1 IV? It will cost you £1300. If only there was a way to get the extended enterprise features for less. Oh wait – there are.
At £420, the Sony Xperia 10 IV is firmly in the low to mid-range category. With Sony’s classic design (including the usual elongated screen), three rear cameras and the promise of exceptional battery life, thanks to a combination of a mid-range processor and a generous 5000 mAh battery, there is something to be excited about on paper.
Can you get similar spec handsets for less? Yes. The OnePlus, Xiaomi and Pixel are not lacking. Are you paying more for Sony prestige? That’s what we’re here to find out.
Design and construction: medium-sized monolith
Visually, the Xperia 10 IV is a Sony handset through and through, with the company’s proven minimalist design in full force. Like other Sony handsets, it stands out from the crowd with an elongated body, thanks to the screen’s less conventional aspect ratio.
That makes it pleasingly compact in the hands, and it feels more premium than its price suggests, thanks to the lack of garish patterns and a solid plastic body. And if you’re put off by the mention of plastic, don’t be. Sony has opted for a matte finish which, combined with the overall shape and thinness, makes for a pleasant phone to hold and use.
On the hardware side, you have the usual volume buttons on the right side, as well as a side power button with in-display fingerprint scanner – a classic hallmark of a Sony smartphone.
Normally we don’t bother to point out SIM card slots in reviews, but in this case it’s worth mentioning as it doubles as an expandable memory slot as well. Coupled with the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top, the 10 IV joins its Xperia brethren as one of the last remaining handsets to retain these useful physical traits, and we applaud Sony for that.
Available in four colors — black, white, mint and lavender — it’s also IP65/IP68 rated, meaning it’s both dustproof and waterproof, and can survive 30 minutes underwater at a depth of one and a half meters. This is a very big boon for crash-prone users, especially at this mid-range price.
The Xperia 10 IV has a 6-inch, 1080 x 2520 OLED display that, in true Xperia fashion, is narrower and taller than those found on other handsets. This makes it comfortable for one-handed use, especially when typing, since you don’t have to stretch your thumb out as far.
The downside, of course, is that it’s harder to get to the top if you have particularly small hands, but there are plenty of apps available (like Pie Control) that let you pull down the notification bar from a simple gesture. Sony has even included its own gesture shortcut down to the home screen, to make your life easier.
In terms of quality, we have nothing to complain about, as you would expect from an OLED display. Punchy colors and rich blacks provide an enjoyable viewing experience, and it’s crisp enough for movies and fine text reading, too.
Spec enthusiasts will be disappointed by the 60Hz refresh rate, especially when many other handsets hit 90Hz and 120Hz, but the extent to which that really matters will depend on your hustle. We guarantee most casual users will be perfectly happy with the consistently smooth 60Hz refresh rate, but if you’re coming from a 90Hz+ handset you might notice the difference.
Sony Xperia 10 IV cameras: three is a charm
Flip the Xperia 10 IV over and you’ll notice its neatly arranged triple-lens camera setup in a single column. It consists of a 12MP wide, 8MP telephoto, and an 8MP ultrawide, covering a decent amount of bases for most situations.
Using the main 12MP wide-angle camera, you’ll get crisp, clear photos in daylight and well-lit conditions. The only time it might struggle is when faced with challenging shots that feature particularly bright and dark areas. Enabling HDR helps maintain some balance, but we found dark areas lacked detail. It’s certainly not the best HDR implementation we’ve seen, especially since we’ve been spoiled by the performance of flagship devices from Samsung and Apple, as well as mid-tier offerings like the Google Pixel 6. But again, all of these handsets cost more than double the price of the 10 IV. In general, stick to the standard shots and you’ll be happy with the results.
The ultra-wide camera performs well in bright conditions, retaining detail well, although colors seem a little warmer compared to the sharper renders provided by the main camera. While it’s fine with simpler shots with a subject squarely in the middle of the frame, it struggles in more complex scenarios. Taking a picture of a church in the center of a frame is fine, for example, but if you take a picture with bushes and trees at the edge of the frame, you’ll easily notice some pretty bad distortion, blurring, and general badness of general illumination (aka, chromatic aberration). Therefore, we’d reserve the ultra-wide camera for situations where we know we could avoid that poor peak performance.
When it comes to nighttime shots, the 12-megapixel main camera performs reasonably well, although it won’t magically turn night into day like the more expensive flagship handsets. The further back an object is, the faster details disappear, but overall you’ll get a reasonable shot. However, as is the case with most phones, the ultra-wide camera performs noticeably less well at night, with the resulting shots being too grainy and blurry for our liking.
On a more positive note, the 2x optical zoom provided by the 8MP telephoto lens works well, retaining crisp detail in good lighting conditions. It’s obviously not as robust or as useful as the 5/10x optical zoom offered by more premium handsets, but it’s still nice to see it offered in this price bracket, and it’s far more useful than the normally worthless macro lenses that are often thrown away. to complement the specs of other low-end smartphones. If the lighting is good, you can even get usable 10x digital zoom photos with the Xperia 10 IV, which is a nice bonus.
Around the front you’ll find a capable 8MP selfie camera that will produce perfectly usable photos with enough detail for most people. You’ll have to be careful where you take them though, as bright backgrounds like clear skies can be blown out, even if at least the most important subject (your face) remains sharp and balanced. The artificial background blur for that all-important bokeh effect works reasonably well, but you definitely don’t want to crank it up all the way because edge detection loses intrigue and it becomes very noticeable.
Performance & software: safe bet
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor, 5G antenna, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of (thankfully) expandable storage, the Xperia 10 IV is a phone that’s perfectly suited to most people’s needs. It handled everything we wanted to throw at it with ease, including more demanding games like Asphalt 9: Legends.
Other than the occasional stutter with things like night shot processing in the camera app, we have little to report on the performance front. Again, those who want the latest and greatest chips will look elsewhere, but the reality is that smartphone processors have improved so much over the years, that even these small wafers of silicon are more than enough to handle everything. what the average user needs.
Running Android 12 out of the box, Sony continued its delightful tradition of not messing with Google’s stock market experience too much. If you hate the bloated apps and features that come with other Android handsets, the Xperia range offers a safe, minimalist haven. Aside from a shortcuts launcher you can swipe up from the side to access app shortcuts (which you can disable), there are very few extra tricks, and we like the pure experience it offers in result.
Battery life: overnight effort
Battery life is where the Xperia 10 IV really shines. Its less power-hungry processor, coupled with a very generous 5000mAh battery, means it can last you up to two days of use on a single charge. By today’s standards, that’s pretty darn impressive, especially since we managed to get through more than a full day with very heavy use, ie browsing, lots of Reddit browsing, some gaming and Bluetooth audio streaming.
The downside though is that it can take more than a few hours to charge to full capacity, a far cry from the sub-hour charging times offered by super-fast charging handsets like OnePlus and Xiaomi. . There’s also no charger included in the box, although you more than likely have a drawer full of USB-C cables by now.
Sony Xperia 10 IV Verdict
Can you get handsets cheaper than the Xperia 10 IV from Realme, Poco, Xioami and more? Yes. Will they exceed the specifications of various components of the 10 IV? Yes. From screens with higher refresh rates, to faster charging and individual cameras that might perform better, you can pick up a rival handset that might suit your needs better, for the same (or less) price.
As with all of Sony’s handsets, the Xperia 10 IV fills a niche. If you’re drawn to Sony’s unique design, more compact screen, and want incredible battery life, the Xperia 10 IV might be the phone for you. Its main camera and zoom capabilities will serve you well, but if night photography and wide-angle photography are more your bag, you’ll want to look elsewhere, like the terrific (and cheaper) Google Pixel 6a.
This makes the Xperia 10 IV a tough sell, and for most people it is. If you’re still drawn to its positive design and features after reading this review, chances are you’ll get along just fine.
Technical specifications of the Sony Xperia 10 IV
|Filter||6 inch, 2520×1080 OLED|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 octa-core|
|Memory||6 GB of RAM|
|Cameras||12MP, f/1.8 with PDAF, OIS + 8MP, f/2.2 telephoto with PDAF, 2x optical zoom + 8MP, f/2.2 ultra-wide rear.
8MP, f/2.0 front
|Storage||128 GB built-in, microSD expansion|
|Operating system||Android 12|