One of my all time favorite smartphones is the Sony Xperia Z2, which was launched back in 2014. The smartphone had the perfect balance between hardware and software performance. However, Sony’s last few flagship smartphones have been so off the charts. One cannot stop but wonder how the Japanese company with a storied history lost the plot in its first place. If you too are wondering that then look no further than Sony’s performance at Mobile World Congress 2019, which concluded in Barcelona on February 28.
For starters, Sony launched a total of three smartphones – Xperia 10, Xperia 10 Plus, and Xperia 1. The Xperia 1 at the demo stations turned out to be dummy unit. That left me with only two devices to check – Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus – and they adopt a new feature that makes you concerned even before you experience them for the first time.
Watch: Sony Xperia 10, Xperia 10 Plus First Look
Even before you read my initial thoughts below, I want to say that Sony does not plan to launch the Xperia 10 or Xperia 10 Plus smartphones in India. The company executives tell me that flagships like the Xperia XZ3, announced at IFA last year, and new flagships showcased at MWC were never conceived with the Indian market in mind. But looking at these two devices is important because they bring a feature that could become mainstream at some point but are not ready for use now.
The unique selling point of Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus is the new Cinema-wide display. It means the new Xperia smartphones offer a much taller display with cinema style aspect ratio of 21:9. Everything on the screen seems to stretch further than current breed of phones that come with either 18:9 or 19.5:9 displays. The design of these devices haven’t been updated much with metal back, thick forehead and considerably tiny chin.
Speaking about that display, the Xperia 10 has a 6-inch display while the Xperia 10 Plus has a larger 6.5-inch display. Sony is using LCD panels and not OLED and they have a resolution of 2520×1080 pixels. Sony showed some 21:9 content which looked close to cinema experience, but the library ran out very fast. It says Netflix has content tailored for that aspect ratio but I could not see them with my own eyes. Also, YouTube, the largest platform for video content, does not have a huge library for 18:9 content and watching a 16:9 video on this 21:9 display would be both stupid and absurd at the same time. Sony must be credited though for rebuilding it’s UI for this new taller display and I could not notice any glitch during my brief hands on time.
When you take that display out of the equation, the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus come with specifications that fit the mid-range category and not flagship. The Xperia 10 is powered by Snapdragon 630 with 3GB or 4GB of RAM and 64GB expandable storage. The Xperia 10 Plus, on the other hand, is powered by Snapdragon 636 coupled with 4GB or 6GB memory and 64GB internal storage. None of these devices are performance beasts but the specifications fit in the segment, which sells for sub-Rs 15,000 price in India.
Apart from the mid-range specifications and really tall display, Sony has also added horizontally stacked dual camera setup to the back of both the devices. The Xperia 10 has a combo of 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel setup while the 10 Plus has a combination of 12-megapixel + 8-megapixel sensors. These cameras should be decent in the mid-range category considering Sony’s expertise in the imaging segment. The show floor conditions were not really ideal for camera test. The Xperia 10 series offer a promising look into future of mobile entertainment, but it remains to be seen if Sony’s own devices are likely to drive the adoption.