Sony launched the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus at MWC alongside the flagship Xperia 1. We got an advanced preview of the two new mid-range handsets before the show and were suitably impressed.
They boast unusual but endearing 21:9 displays for a cinematic landscape, Android 9 Pie, dual cameras and decent build quality. As sequels to the Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra, they’re looking quite promising.
We also went hands-on with the Sony Xperia 1.
Price and availability
While prices weren’t confirmed at our briefing a Sony executive said the Xperia 10 should be around £329 with the 10 Plus at £429. This does place them at the higher price bracket of the mid-range which could be their undoing, but we’ll have to see what contract prices are like.
For comparison the Moto G7 Plus with the same Snapdragon 636 processor as the Xperia 10 Plus only costs £269.
The Xperia 10 and 10 Plus have unusually tall screens, even for 2019. Much like the Xperia 1, both the 6in 10 and the 6.5in 10 Plus have 21:9 aspect ratios – the same ratio that most movies are filmed in.
Sony sees this crop of phones as entertainment and multitasking devices. Turn the Xperia 10 landscape and you have a phone that, with no notch or cut out, can play films in the exact ratio they display in without letterboxing. It’s a niche sell, but we think it’s pretty cool.
Sony told us over half of the films on Netflix are in 21:9 and will display full screen on these phones. That’s a solid if niche sell, but the company is also working with YouTube and Prime Video to display as much content as possible in this cinematic ratio.
In the hand both phones are pleasingly slim and narrow, but obviously if you want to attempt to use either with one hand then the regular Xperia 10 is the one to go for.
Aside from the screen size, there are some internal differences. The 10 has a Snapdragon 630 with 3GB RAM while the 10 Plus has a 636 and 4GB RAM. There’s dual 13Mp and 5Mp cameras on the 10 with an upgrade to dual 12Mp shooters on the 10 Plus.
The 10 Plus gets a bigger 3,000mAh batter in comparison to 2,870 too. Otherwise, both are expandable to 512GB with microSD, both have side mounted fingerprint sensors, both have FHD+ LCDs, both have a front facing 8Mp camera and both can record video in 4K. Aside from the processor, the smaller Xperia 10 still manages to keep up with the larger 10 Plus, at least on paper.
The 10 comes in black, silver, navy or pink while the 10 Plus comes in the slightly different black, silver, navy or gold. Go figure. All the plastic backed versions we saw look as good as plastic phones can, and we still prefer this to glass on a phone that won’t have wireless charging anyway.
And yes, both have headphone jacks! Considering Sony is still including high resolution audio codecs and an LDAC in both phones, it’s kind of mad that it’s taken it out the Xperia 1 (as it did on the XZ2 and XZ3).
Sony made a point of showing us how the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus are great for multitasking for business and pleasure. The extra tall screens mean you can snap, for example, YouTube to the top third of the screen and still use a messaging app in the bottom two thirds.
Even with the keyboard on the screen, there was enough room (especially on the 10 Plus) to comfortably type, read a thread of messages and watch a video. It’s a millennial dream come true.
But it also means viewing emails, calendars and presentations remotely when working becomes less tedious in split screen than it is on phones with smaller or shorter displays.
We’re sceptical of Sony’s claim that Google Assistant is clever enough to enter split screen mode via voice commands but you can use side sense. This is carried over from the XZ3 and Xperia 1 and lets you tap a tab at the side of the screen for a quick menu of app shortcuts.
There’s also a button to let you quickly enter split screen mode. Whether or not you’ll do this much is a personal thing and it’s quite a niche thing to hook a phone’s marketing on, but really these are phones that are best for one handed scrolling and landscape video.
With Android 9 Pie out the box, the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus carry on Sony’s decent early adoption of the newest Android versions. We’d like to hope the phones will get Android Q later in the year but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
With dual cameras on both phones you’ll get a bit of a higher end feature for less, though two rear lenses is becoming more common on mid-range phones. If you like the look of the Xperia 1 but don’t want to fork out, the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus have a similar look for half the price.
We quite like the smaller phone as the form factor gives you a 6in display in a compact size, but you get a lower clocked processor. Either way, we’ll have full reviews soon to see if these mid-range Sony phones are worth the asking price.