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Sony Xperia 10 Plus review

A longer screen that stretches its luck

Image credit: TechRadar

Our Verdict

The Sony Xperia 10 Plus is an intriguing device with its 21:9 aspect ratio, but while a novel screen size is beneficial in some situations, it’s not as useful for movie streaming – despite that being the entire point of the longer screen.

For

  • For some uses, 21:9 excels
  • Extra screen space is useful
  • Good low-light photography

Against

  • Short battery life
  • Uncomfortably big
  • Poor performance

Watching movies and TV shows is part of the everyday smartphone experience for many people, and so it makes sense for phone manufacturers to design phones with movies in mind – that’s Sony’s thinking with the Xperia 10 Plus, a plus-sized device with a novel 21:9 aspect ratio, which is the bigger sibling to the Xperia 10.

Since most theatrical releases are shot in 21:9, Sony is positioning the Xperia 10 Plus as the perfect mobile cinematic experience, with no black bars above and below the screen when you’re viewing content, and powerful speakers to to bring something of the big-screen experience to your hand-held device. 

This idea may appeal to some, for whom texting and calling are handy extra features of their portable home theater, rather than the point of a phone, but the rest of us may need a lot of convincing.

Sony may think the future of mobile entertainment is 21:9, but that means it’s up to the Xperia 10 Plus to sway us away from the 19:9 aspect ratio which most phones use, and persuade us it’s the ultimate handset for watching movies on, instead of just another fine entertainment device or, worse, a fad.

Sony Xperia 10 Plus review

The Sony Xperia 10 Plus vs Xperia 10. Image credit: TechRadar

Price and availability

  • Already out in the UK
  • Available in the US from March 18, Australian release unknown
  • £349 / $429.99 (roughly AU$650) 

If you live in the UK you can already pick up the Sony Xperia 10 Plus, but in the US you’ll have to wait until March 18 to get your hands on it, and an Australian release date is yet to be confirmed.

The handset will set you back £349 / $429.99 (roughly AU$650) for 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory – that’s £50 / $80 (roughly AU$95) more than the smaller Xperia 10, so whether its 0.5-inch bigger screen and 1GB extra RAM is worth that is up to you.  

Novel aspect ratio

  • Uses a 21:9 aspect ratio
  • Movies have no black bars to the top or bottom

The Sony Xperia 10 Plus’ unwieldy 21:9 screen is its primary selling-point – with it, Sony suggests, you’ll see movies the way filmmakers intended, as most movies are shot in 21:9.

As we’ll get into later, that is definitely true – when watching certain films, the device lends itself to a cinematic and captivating experience. 

However, TV shows and Netflix Originals – probably the two things you’re most likely to stream on your device – aren’t in 21:9, so the Xperia 10 Plus’ unique feature becomes far less of a point in its favor.

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Image credit: TechRadar

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The 21:9 aspect ratio is also an option for shooting your own movies or taking pictures which, we’ll get into in our 'Camera' section. It’s an interesting novelty for a smartphone, but it loses its appeal if you frequently send pictures to other smartphones which won’t support the aspect.

But the extended screen size also has a variety of other benefits that make it an interesting device for other functions: its bigger screen size means more text can fit on the screen for emails or ereaders, certain games make the most of the expanded real estate to great effect, and even the phone menu could display more apps thanks to the bigger size. 

We quickly grew accustomed to having more screen to play with, and the Xperia 10 Plus quickly began to feel comfortable and easy to use – even if we never really got used to the feel of the phone in the hand – and when we switched to a more conventionally sized phone the UI  felt cramped in comparison. 

Design and display

  • Feels unnaturally long
  • Impressively bright display

The Sony Xperia 10 Plus is a long, device, noticeably so for a smartphone – if you’re used to the standard 19:9 aspect ratio of most handsets, the Xperia 10 Plus will look and feel a little unnatural. 

And it is, to an extent, with its long but slim body feeling a little ungainly in the hand – more than any other device, even many plus-sized ones, the Xperia 10 Plus feels like a two-handed phone.

The slender design works in its favor looks-wise, although its 73mm width and 8.3mm thickness (compared to 167mm length) makes it feel quite delicate – more so than with most phones, it feels like you could probably snap it if you tried. 

It has a solid Corning Gorilla Glass front and sleek plastic back, broken only by the dual rear lenses which bulge out from the case.

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Image credit: TechRadar

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The 167mm length can also make the phone feel a little awkward when it comes to stowing the device – it’s noticeably longer than other large handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus or iPhone XS Max, which are both 157.5mm, and it doesn’t fit in any trouser pocket comfortably (unless you find repeated stabbing sensations comfortable).

There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the Xperia 10 Plus, and a USB-C port and twin speaker perforations on the bottom, while the power button, volume rocker and fingerprint scanner are on the right side. 

For such a big device these side buttons feel perfectly placed – they’re low enough that most hands will be able to reach them easily, yet not so low that they’re easy to accidentally press when you’re holding the phone horizontally to watch movies.

The Sony Xperia 10 Plus next to an A5 notebook. Image credit: TechRadar

The Sony Xperia 10 Plus next to an A5 notebook. Image credit: TechRadar

It’s not a light device, at 180g, but for such a big handset it doesn’t feel as hefty as other plus-sized phones. For comparison the Galaxy S10 Plus weighs 185g and the iPhone XS Max is a whopping 208g, so the Sony Xperia 10 Plus is by no means a heavy phone.

The display is below a pretty sizeable bezel, which houses the rear camera, a speaker perforation, and an LED notification light. The latter blinks when the device receives an incoming notification, however information about what these lights mean is buried deep in the settings menu, and it could be a little confusing for those not used to notification blinkers.

The display itself is a 6.5-inch Full HD panel, which can be pretty impressively bright, although its colors seem a little muted. We found it great when viewing films and TV shows featuring dark scenes, but when playing bright and colorful games it didn’t seem like anything special.