Sony Xperia 1 IV: what we want to see

Time stops for nothing, and just like winter makes way for spring, the Sony Xperia 1 III must eventually get replaced by the Xperia 1 IV.

The Sony Xperia 1 IV is expected to be the next top-end phone from tech giant Sony, due to - y'know - four following three. While the naming scheme is easy to predict, the rest of the phone isn't, and we don't know too much about the upcoming mobile just yet.

Sony never rushes its smartphones. The Xperia 1 III only went on sale roughly four months after launch, and even that seems fast compared to the Xperia 5 III's nine-month voyage to store shelves.

That means it's hard to know exactly when you'll be able to try out the new Sony Xperia 1 IV - but hopefully it'll get unveiled in the first few months of the year, so we'll at least know what specs it's packing.

Already there are a few rumors about the phone, all of which you’ll find below, along with details about the likely release date and price, and we’ll update this article whenever we hear anything more about Sony’s next flagship handset.

But as we don’t know much yet we’ve also included a wish list of things that we want the Sony Xperia 1 IV to offer, because great as the Xperia 1 III is, our four-star review noted a number of issues and areas that could be improved.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next flagship Sony phone
  • When is it out? Expect an announcement in early 2022
  • How much will it cost? Unknown, but the price is sure to be high

Sony Xperia 1 IV release date and price

There aren’t any real Sony Xperia 1 IV release date rumors yet, but it’s likely to be announced in early 2022, perhaps in April, given that the Sony Xperia 1 III was announced in April 2021. That said, the Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1 were unveiled in February of their launch years, so that month is possible too.

Whenever the Sony Xperia 1 IV is announced though the wait until it goes on sale could be quite a lot longer, as the Xperia 1 III isn’t going on sale until late August – around four months after it was announced, and the wait for the previous two models from announcement to launch was around three months.

There isn’t any Sony Xperia 1 IV price information yet either, but the Sony Xperia 1 III costs $1,299.99 / £1,199 (around AU$2,200), so the next model could have a similar price tag. Whatever the case, we’d expect it to be very expensive.

A Sony Xperia 1 III on a table, with the screen on

The Sony Xperia 1 III is a very expensive phone (Image credit: TechRadar)

News and leaks

While the Sony Xperia 1 IV is likely a way off yet, we’re already hearing some things about it, including that – according to @NodSikharulidze - it will apparently have a 50MP main camera.

Specifically, it will apparently have the same 50MP camera as the Google Pixel 6, but that phone also hasn’t launched yet, so even if this leak is right, we can’t get too specific about the camera. The source also doesn’t have much of a track record, so we’d take this with a pinch of salt.

Also in camera news we’ve heard that Sony might use a sensor it made itself for the front-facing camera in the Sony Xperia 1 IV, as well as sticking with self-made sensors for the rear cameras. 

The Xperia 1 III used a Samsung sensor for the front-facing camera, but it’s not clear whether moving from Samsung to Sony would be an upgrade or not.

What we want to see

There are plenty of things Sony could add or change to make the Xperia 1 IV a better phone than the Xperia 1 III, including the following.

1. An in-screen fingerprint scanner

Almost every flagship Android phone now has an in-screen fingerprint scanner, but not the Sony Xperia 1 III – that puts its scanner on the side of the phone.

While that’s not the worst place for it, we’d much rather see it move under the display, as that’s a far more modern position for a fingerprint scanner, and given how much Sony charges for its top-end phones we expect top-end tech.

2. A lower price

Speaking of the price, Sony’s flagship Xperia 1 range really is very expensive, with the Sony Xperia 1 III rivaling the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max for price.

With its 4K 120Hz display it arguably justifies the price, or at least comes close to doing so, but Sony doesn’t have the brand appeal of Samsung or Apple, so a lower price would help it shift more units.

3. A longer zoom

A photo of Sony Xperia 1 III, focused on the camera

We want longer range zoom than the Xperia 1 III offers (Image credit: TechRadar)

The star of the Xperia 1 III’s camera setup is arguably its adaptive telephoto camera, which has two lenses that share a sensor, and offer two different optical zoom distances, giving you a choice of 2.9x or 4.4x.

Having them share a sensor is quicker than switching between two completely separate telephoto cameras (as for example the Galaxy S21 Ultra does), so with all of this in mind it’s clear that Sony is taking telephoto seriously. Yet in the face of the 10x zoom offered by the Galaxy S21 Ultra and some Huawei phones, the range offered here isn’t very impressive.

Of course, a shorter distance zoom could be more useful to some people, but if Sony is going to the trouble of offering two different zoom distances we’d like them to be very different, with the top option ideally extending to 10x, so we can shoot all those camera-shy animals and distant buildings.

4. Long-term software support

Sony has stated that it plans to support the Xperia 1 III for two years after launch, likely meaning two major Android updates. That’s in line with some other phone makers, but when you consider how much the Xperia 1 III costs it’s really not very much support at all – especially given that Apple supports its phones for up to around six years, and Google is rumored to be offering five years of updates for the Pixel 6.

At the very least we’d like to see Sony match Samsung (and a few others) with three years of Android updates for the Xperia 1 IV, but ideally we want it to go even further and lead the way for Android software support.

Of course, some of this might be out of Sony's hands - if Qualcomm doesn't support the Snapdragon chipset the company will inevitably use then it might be stuck, but we want as much support as can reasonably be offered.

5. A bigger battery

In our tests we found that the Sony Xperia 1 III lasted quite a long time between charges, but it only has a middling 4,500mAh battery, so we’d like to see that upped to 5,000mAh in the Xperia 1 IV for hopefully even better life.

We’d also appreciate faster charging, as while the 30W of the Xperia 1 III is reasonable, it’s dwarfed by the speeds offered by the likes of Xiaomi and OnePlus.

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