Technical Reviews

4K was overkill, but the Xperia 1 VI goes too far the other way

OPINION: The Sony Xperia 1 range has always stood out from the crowd, and for good reason: it’s the only smartphone line-up on the market that offers a true 4K display. At least, that was the case until Sony launched the new Xperia 1 VI this week which, to the chagrin of the company’s loyal fan base, ditched that famously high-res screen. 

Now, I’ve got to admit, I’ve always thought that having a 4K resolution on such a small screen was overkill. 

Sure, you can tell the difference between 1080p and 4K on a big 50-inch TV, but on a screen that’s just 6.5 inches? I’m not convinced. In fact, I’ve said in past Xperia 1 reviews that the 4K screen is just a bit of a waste, not to mention the detriment to overall battery life having to power all those pixels. 

Still, even I was surprised when Sony revealed that the latest top-end smartphone, the Xperia 1 VI, doesn’t have a 4K screen like its predecessors. 

What was more surprising, however, was that Sony had dropped the resolution right down to Full HD+, skipping the QHD+ and 1.5K resolutions that many of its premium competitors – like the Galaxy S24 Ultra, Xiaomi 14 Ultra and Honor Magic 6 Pro – boast. For the media buffs that the top-end Xperia has always been targeted at, it’s not good news at all. 

Sony Xperia 1 VI colour optionsSony Xperia 1 VI colour options
Credit: Sony

In fact, Sony has gone even further with its display changes, ditching the 21:9 aspect ratio that much of the Xperia range has utilised for years. The 21:9 aspect ratio did give the phones a rather thin-and-tall look, but they were perfectly suited to watching widescreen Hollywood blockbusters without annoying black bars on either side of the content. 

In its place, you’ll find a 19.5:9 aspect ratio that Sony claims is better for both portrait video playback and general use for social media. Given that plenty of the best Android phones share the same aspect ratio, there must be some truth there. However, it does mean the return of the black bars if you do want to watch a movie on the phone. 

Despite all this, Sony still frames the Xperia 1 VI as a great phone for watching video content, highlighting its ‘Powered by Bravia’ AI image adjustment technology at the announcement, which the company claims reproduces the image quality of Sony’s TVs. 

It’s also the first Xperia to get LTPO tech that lets the screen drop down to as little as 1Hz to save battery life, and it’s also 50% brighter than its predecessor, so it’s not a complete downgrade by any means.

It’s just a rather odd decision for one of the most expensive smartphones on the market, and it’ll be interesting to see how Sony fans react to this once the phone goes on sale in early June.

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