Sony Xperia 10 IV review: Hail the battery life champion!


As it turns out, the Xperia 10 IV’s frame is glass fiber reinforced plastic, and the back is polycarbonate resin. We apologize for the mistake (we got conflicting info on this one). Still, the front is Gorilla Glass Victus, and the phone feels pretty solid, without any flex when you push down on the back. Sony apparently did this to save weight and bring the phone down to the 161g cited above.

The 3.5mm audio jack is still here (on the top of the frame), and under a rubberized flap (IP65/68 water and dust resistance confirmed) there’s a SIM tray that features an SD card slot as well. There’s a volume rocker on the right side which is a bit on the smaller side but click-y enough, and the capacitive fingerprint scanner/power button resides under it as well.

Gone is the dedicated Google Assistant button (for better or worse, I’d say it’s a good call). The pill-shaped triple camera system can be found in its usual abode at the back. And now it’s time to turn our attention to the display – there’s some good news, and some bad news.

Display

The good news is that the display of the Xperia 10 IV is quite bright, and the color accuracy is also pretty decent as well. Sony claims 15% more brightness compared to the previous model, and our test confirms that. It’s a 6-inch OLED screen that’s just gorgeous to look at, and in typical Sony fashion there are no camera cutouts and notches.

The bad news is that the refresh rate is solidly locked at 60Hz. This might not be a deal breaker but more and more midrange phones in the same price range now offer 90Hz (or even 120Hz) refresh rates. With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with the display, and for watching movies and videos it’s just great.

The resolution is the same FullHD+ (1080 x 2520 and 479 PPI) as in the previous model, and it translates to a crisp and vivid image. Speaking of vivid, there are two color modes – original and standard (strange naming scheme). The first one boosts the colors a bit while the second offers the most realistic color reproduction. You can also adjust the white balance to your liking and make the display cooler or warmer respectively.

Performance and software

The Xperia 10 IV features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G chipset. It’s a slight evolution compared to the 690 found in the previous generation, and its 6nm manufacturing technology helps a ton with efficiency.

The silicon inside consists of 2 Kryo 660 Gold (Cortex-A78) cores clocked at 2200 MHz and 6 Kryo 660 Silver (Cortex-A55) cores at 1700 MHz. This proves to be a very clever architecture, offering decent performance while keeping battery life at record-setting numbers.

There’s 6GB of RAM coupled with 128GB of internal memory, with the latter being expandable via the microSD card slot with up to 1TB. The GPU is Adreno 619 – nothing to write home about but you can play almost any mobile game out there, as they’re optimized to run on any phone imaginable anyway.

On the software side things are very clean – when you set up the phone you can choose to install a slew of apps created or endorsed by Sony but you can also choose not to, which is fine. There are a couple of software features that are Sony-exclusive, however.

The Side Sense shortcut is still here as a tiny strip near the edge of your screen. You can do various things with it (open a shortcut menu, split the screen, etc.) and if you’re already familiar with it, you can use it to your advantage.

The Window Manager is another software gimmick that makes use of the tall 21:9 aspect ratio of the screen. You can split that in two and use those two parts of the screen for different things (watching YouTube while chatting, reading a Wikipedia article while writing an email, etc.)

Camera

The Xperia 10 IV sports the same triple camera setup on the back as its predecessor. The system consists of a wide 27mm lens, an ultrawide 16mm one, and a telephoto 54mm lens. In theory, this system offers a lot of flexibility, and should cover most shooting scenarios.

In reality, the shots taken with the Xperia 10 IV are almost identical to the samples I took with the previous model. This might come as a disappointment but it is what it is. The phone tends to overexpose certain areas, mainly due to the narrow dynamic range.

The same color shift is present when you switch lenses, and the colors, while pleasant to the eye, are a tad oversaturated and not exactly real. Overall, images also lack detail even in bright lighting conditions, and turn out rather soft-looking.

Now, the above sounds like a truckload of criticism but it’s not that simple. The camera system is not that bad and it’s absolutely adequate compared to other phones in the same price range. I’m just a bit frustrated with the lack of upgrades and development in that specific area.
The Xperia 10 III was a great midrange phone, and the camera performance was the only big lackluster, so I was hoping Sony would somehow rectify this – to some extent, at least. It’s still a good package that gets the job done but no big improvements camera wise.Video recording is not great either, and it caps at 1080p, 60fps. This is a bit strange, though – the Xperia 10 III was capable of doing 4K@30fps but this option is lacking on the Xperia 1 IV. Other than that, the video quality is again very similar to what I got from the previous model.
There’s a portrait selfie mode that will help you look a bit cooler and more handsome (although in my case nothing can be done), and Night Mode is also present. As always, if you have a steady hand the results will be much better. The processing is not as aggressive as with some other manufacturers’ low-light enhancing modes but the end result is more pleasing and true to reality.

Audio Quality and Haptics

There is a single front-firing loudspeaker on the Xperia 1 IV, again very similar in design and sound to the one found on its predecessor. No stereo setup here but it’s completely understandable in this price range (although, the speakerphone is right there, all manufacturers need to do is get it in the loop).

The sound quality is decent but the volume is a bit on the low side. On the other hand, front-firing is always better than bottom-firind, so when you’re looking at the phone the sound comes straight at you.

If you own a pair of good wired headphones you can elevate your listening experience quite a bit thanks to the 3.5mm audio jack. The phone also supports Sony’s 360 reality audio, and if you have the right headphones you could enjoy this feature as well.
Haptic feedback is mediocre, enough to make you notice something is going on, but definitely won’t rock your world.

Battery life and Charging

Another section of the review with the bad news/good news trope in it. Let’s start with the bad one first this time. There’s no charger inside the retail box, and no cable either. That’s it, I’ve said it. Now, Sony claims that by doing so it will ease the burden on the planet but I’m not entirely convinced.

It’s hard to give the company any flak though, especially with every big smartphone manufacturer hopping on the eco-train nowadays. You probably already have a charger or two lying around anyway, and if so, the Xperia 10 IV can receive juice with up to 30W of power. There’s no wireless charging on board.

Let’s get to the good stuff now! The battery capacity has grown to 5,000mAh (from the 4,500mAh in the previous generation), and coupled with the 6nm chipset, and the 60Hz OLED screen, it results in record-setting battery life numbers.

The Xperia 10 IV is the undisputed champion when it comes to browsing (albeit at 60Hz). The phone managed the astounding 21:20 hours of continuous browsing, obliterating the competition.

Video playback is also solid with 17:27 hours of continuous YouTube blast (beating the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and falling second only to the Redmi 11 Pro+ with its crazy 20 hours result). Gaming is the least impressive result here but it’s understandable – games put the two 2.2Ghz cores to the test and this takes a toll on the battery life, no way around it.

In reality you can absolutely get two full days out of the Xperia 10 IV, and if you’re not into mobile gaming you can stretch that even further.

Competitors

The Xperia 10 IV will hit the stores at 499 euros (approximately $526) and in this price range there are a lot of predators lurking. The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is an obvious choice with its 120Hz Super AMOLED display and $449 price tag.

Then you have the OnePlus Nord 2 5G – another high refresh rate phone that’s also in the sub-$400 segment. Avid Sony fans should also consider going for the previous generation – the Sony Xperia 1 III, as it’s now way cheaper than the new model, and also offering almost the same experience.

Even the Google Pixel 6 could be seen as a competitor with its $599 price tag and all the bells and whistles baked in. And I won’t even get into Motorola phones because the length of this section will blow out of proportion in a split second.

Summary and Final Verdict

The final and most important question of them all. Should you buy the Xperia 10 IV? Yeah, definitely, if you want a solid phone with maybe the best battery life in this price category, a top-grade 6-inch AMOLED display and snappy performance, by all means – go for it.

If you absolutely need a faster refresh rate on your smartphone screen, and you also aim for the best camera experience out there, then you should probably look elsewhere. Truth be told, the Xperia 10 IV is a nice evolution and a pleasant device to hold and use but the price is slowly creeping out of the comfortable budget segment that this phone thrives in.

And up there there are a lot of nice phones to consider. It also seems that all Xperia models have contracted the same illness characterized with a raise in price rather than in temperature. Whether or not it will prove problematic or potentially incurable, only time will tell.





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