Sony has taken to MWC 2019 to unveil its latest flagship phone, which is the first to sport a 21:9 aspect ratio, so you’ll get an improved experience while watching films and shooting video… but how does it compare to last year’s device?
A little over six months old, the Xperia XZ3 was a triumph for Sony with it receiving a 4.5-star review from TechRadar with particular praise given to its improved screen technology.
The Xperia 1 is set to improve upon that phone in almost every way, but we thought we’d pit these two devices against each other as the Xperia 1 is also more expensive than Sony’s previous flagship.
Sony Xperia 1 vs Sony Xperia XZ3 display
TechRadar’s reviewer loved the screen on the Xperia XZ3, and it’s undeniably one of the best you can get on any smartphone, but the company has gone full throttle with improving it for the Xperia 1.
While the Xperia XZ3 has a 6-inch 1440 x 2880 P-OLED display, the company has jumped up to a 4K OLED 6.5-inch panel for the Xperia 1.
The aspect ratio of the phones is different too. The Xperia XZ3 feels like an older device immediately when you pick it up thanks to an 18:9 aspect ratio, while the Xperia 1 has a 21:9 ratio which makes it more suited to watching films when you’re on the go.
The new screen design on the Xperia 1 won’t be to everyone’s taste though, and the taller look may make it more difficult for you to navigate around the display, so the more conventional aspect ratio of the Xperia XZ3 might actually prove a selling point for the older phone.
Sony Xperia 1 vs Sony Xperia XZ3 design
If you like Sony’s phone design, you’re sure to like both of these handsets, as they share a similar design language, but there are some core differences you’re going to want to know about before you buy one.
The Xperia XZ3 features a wider screen (when held in portrait orientation) at 158 x 73 x 9.9mm, while the Xperia 1 is taller and thinner than that handset at 167 x 72 x 8.2mm. The Xperia 1 is set to be a lot slimmer in your hand, and you’re going to notice that extended, taller design at first. It may be something you quickly get used to though.
There’s a fingerprint scanner on both phones, but the placement is different. On the Xperia XZ3 it sits around halfway down on the rear, but the Xperia 1 has it on the right edge below the power button.
The Xperia XZ3 comes in black, white, green or red while the Xperia 1 comes in black and white too, but the other two colors to choose from are either a dark blue or a purple shade.
Sony Xperia 1 vs Sony Xperia XZ3 camera
The Xperia XZ3 has a single 19MP sensor on the rear, but the company has decided to include three rear lenses on the Xperia 1. They're not 19MP though, as the Xperia 1 instead features three 12MP shooters.
One is a telephoto, one is wide and one is ultra-wide. The idea here is that these will work in tandem to make images that are specifically suited to the Xperia 1's wider display.
We haven't yet had time to try out the camera on the Xperia 1, but we're hoping it will perform as well as the single shooter on the Xperia XZ3 or - hopefully - even better.
Sony Xperia 1 vs Sony Xperia XZ3 battery
On paper, these both have similar battery setups. The Xperia XZ3 comes with a 3,300mAh cell inside which we found will last a whole day from a single charge, while the Xperia 1 comes with a 3,330mAh cell. That’s only a slight increase in size, but the newer phone does come with a better optimized chipset.
That doesn’t mean we’re going to see phenomenally better battery on the Xperia 1 though. In fact, the Xperia 1's battery is going to be powering a 4K display, so it's possible that life will be worse.
We won’t know anything for certain in terms of daily battery life until we’ve had significant time with the Xperia 1 though, so we’ll be sure to test that out in our full review.
However, one interesting thing is that the Xperia XZ3 is capable of wireless charging, but it’s a feature the company has dropped for the Xperia 1.
Sony Xperia 1 vs Sony Xperia XZ3 specs
The most recent phone is more powerful on paper, but it's not set to be a huge jump up. Because there’s only six months between these phones being released you’re unlikely to see a big change in day to day performance between the two.
The Xperia XZ3 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset – one of the most powerful chipsets we saw inside phones last year – while the Xperia 1 is sporting the even more recent and superior Snapdragon 855.
At least we think it’s superior, as it should be but we’ve yet to spend a lot of time using any phones with this chipset inside. As for RAM, the Xperia XZ3 came with 4GB of RAM, which was enough to power it along on a day to day basis, but the Xperia 1 comes with an improved 6GB of RAM.
Whether you’ll notice that extra RAM when using the phone remains to be seen. You’ll also get double the storage on the Xperia 1, as the Xperia XZ3 only has 64GB of space while the newer phone has 128GB.
Both phones support microSD cards of up to 512GB, and each comes sporting the latest Android 9 Pie software right out of the box.
It is likely Sony will support the Xperia 1 with software updates for a little longer than the Xperia XZ3, but we wouldn’t expect either to stop getting updates for a couple of years.
Sony Xperia 1 vs Sony Xperia XZ3 price
Sony's Xperia 1 will sell for £849 (about $1,100, AU$1,550) when it's on sale later this year. That's quite a bit more than the launch price of the Sony Xperia XZ3, which was £699 / $899 (around AU$1,260).
The Xperia XZ3 is quite a bit cheaper now at £589 / $799 / AU$1,139 too, so if you're looking to save money you'll want to opt for that phone.
If you’ve already bought an Xperia XZ3, don’t be too disappointed that Sony has already announced a new phone. While there are a few interesting upgrades here, it’s unlikely to be anything you’ll need to snatch up immediately.
If you go for the latest phone from Sony you’ll get the big benefits of that wide-screen display and the top-end chipset, but the Xperia XZ3 already has a powerful processor inside as well as a gorgeous screen.
The Xperia 1 is much more expensive than the Xperia XZ3 is now too, which is a big differentiator between the two handsets. Both of these phones look to be suitable flagship options for your pocket, but if you want the latest and greatest from Sony you’ll need to spend extra to get the Xperia 1.
MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.