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Best Sony Phone for 2019

April 4, 2019

9:21 am

Sony phones haven’t had the greatest reputation in the last few years, with underwhelming designs, a lack of game-changing tech, and a confusing naming system.

However, the Japanese giant has been working hard to transform the fortunes of its phone business. It’s already announced three new handsets this year, including Xperia 1 – the first phone ever to boast a 4K HDR OLED display.

So should you buy a Sony phone? And, if so, will you be able to fathom the confusing line-up? We’ll be answering all this, and more, in this dedicated guide:

Which is the Best Sony Phone?

With a collection of infuriatingly similar alphanumeric names, it can be difficult to make sense of Sony’s line-up on first inspection. So, let’s clear it up now: The XZ range are Sony’s old flagships, with the XZ3 being the most recently launched, in August 2018.

The XA range is Sony’s old mid-range offering. We’ve not featured any of them here, because the new Xperia 10 phones have taken their place.

Finally, there’s the Xperia 1 – Sony’s new flagship phone. You can’t buy it just yet, but it should be available soon.

There’s also the Xperia L series, but the most recent model, the Xperia L3, isn’t available in the US yet.

With that out the way, let’s take a look at how they stack up:

  • Best Sony phone overall – At the moment, we’d consider the Xperia XZ3 to be the best overall Sony phone on sale. It’s got big flagship specs, and recent price drops have taken it down to $749.
  • Best value Sony phone – We’d go for the Xperia XZ2. You can now pick it up for around $450, and it has some decent specs despite being over a year old.
  • Best cheap Sony phone – Only one real option here, in the US at least – the new Xperia 10. It costs $359, and looks very acceptable for a low to mid-range phone in 2019.

Scroll horizontally to view the full table on mobile.

Xperia 10Xperia 10 PlusXperia XZ3Xperia XZ2 PremiumXperia XZ2Xperia XZ2 Compact
sony xperia 10 silver smallsony xperia 10 plus smallsony xperia xz3 smallsony xperia xz2 premium smallsony xperia xz2 smallsony xperia xz2 compact small
VerdictUnusually tall screen aside, the Xperia 10 is a decent, affordable smartphoneDoesn’t do enough to justify the premium over the Xperia 10Last year’s flagship will be more than adequate in 2019Big price cuts bring it into genuine contention – it won’t be for everyone, thoughAgain, recent price cuts make this one of the best value Sony phonesLike the XZ2, but smaller. Great for those after a more handy Android
Price$359$429$749$699$499$449
Screen size (in)66.565.85.75
Ram (GB)344644
Storage (GB)646464646464
Front cameras (Mp)88131355
Rear cameras (Mp)13 + 512 + 81919 + 121919
Buy it nowClick to BuyClick to BuyClick to BuyClick to BuyClick to BuyClick to Buy

Are Sony Phones Good?

Sony’s phones have been a bit hit-and-miss. The company was a pioneer in waterproofing and camera tech, but has fallen behind Apple and Samsung in recent years. Sony’s phones have, in recent years, also a bit, well, ugly. They’re getting better though, with smoother corners and slimmer bezels. But, even the new ones aren’t what you’d necessarily call attractive.

However, the brand is turning out some pretty good, if unspectacular phones. Buy one, and you certainly won’t be disappointed – but you’re unlikely to be blown away, either.

Sony Xperia 10

Launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, the Xperia 10 is Sony’s new low to mid-range phone. As such, it has a pretty unremarkable spec sheet: A middling Snapdragon 630 processor, 3GB of Ram, a surprisingly small 2,870 mAh battery, and a 6-inch Full HD+ (1080×2520) LCD display. It costs a pretty affordable $349.

However, it does have one pretty interesting quirk. The Xperia 10 uses a 21:9 display aspect ratio, meaning that the phone is about 2.3 times taller than it is wide. Sony claims that this will give you a more immersive viewing experience – particularly for TV and films. It also allows for top-and-bottom split screen multitasking.

However, lots of content and apps aren’t optimized for this type of screen. Of course, more might become available in the future, but it’s not there at the moment. All told, it’s a pretty average mid-range phone with one interesting quirk.

Like the sound of it? Click to read our full Sony Xperia 10 review

sony xperia 10 medium

Pros

  • Tall screen makes watching some stuff better
  • Not too expensive
  • Runs the latest version of Android

Cons

  • Plasticky design doesn’t feel brilliant
  • Underwhelming battery life

Sony Xperia 10 Plus

The Xperia 10 Plus was launched alongside the Xperia 10 at MWC. The Xperia 10 Plus’ display is half an inch taller than the 10’s, and keeps the same 21:9 aspect ratio. That makes the Xperia 10 Plus taller than the already very large Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

The battery is slightly larger than the Xperia 10’s at 3,000 mAh, and it has 12Mp and 8Mp rear cameras, instead of the 13Mp and 5Mp snappers found on the Xperia 10. These minor changes have bumped the price up by $80 to $429.

If we’re honest, there’s no real compelling reason to get the Xperia 10 Plus over the Xperia 10. If you’re after a more premium version of the Xperia 10, it’s worth waiting for the Xperia 1 when it comes out.

sony xperia 10 plus medium

Pros

  • That tall display might make watching some stuff better
  • Slightly improved cameras over the Xperia 10

Cons

  • More expensive than the Xperia 10, with no really impressive upgrades
  • Almost certainly too tall for most people

Sony Xperia XZ3

Until the Xperia 1 launches, we’re crowning the Xperia XZ3 as the best Sony phone you can buy. It runs the powerful Snapdragon 845 processor with 4GB of Ram. It has a decently-sized 3,330 mAh battery, and has a single 19Mp rear camera.

The highlight of the XZ3 is the display. It uses a 6-inch 1440×2880 resolution OLED display with a very impressive 537 pixels per inch, making the Xperia XZ3’s display a real treat. Thankfully, the Xperia XZ3 doesn’t have the weird 21:9 aspect ratio of Sony’s newer phones, sticking with the more conventional 18:9 ratio.

The Xperia XZ3 also does away with Sony’s boxy design language, with Samsung-esque slim bezels and curved screen corners. It also comes with a curved glass rear panel, making it fit nicely into your palm.

Recent price cuts have seen it drop from $899 to $749. Don’t get us wrong, that’s still a lot of money, but you’re getting quite a lot of phone for the amount you’re paying.

sony xperia xz3 medium

Pros

  • Very impressive screen
  • Powerful processor
  • Runs the latest version of Android
  • Better looking than previous Sony phones

Cons

  • Single rear camera
  • Still quite expensive for a six month-old phone

Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium

As you can probably guess, the Xperia XZ2 Premium is like the XZ2, but more premium-y. As such, you’ll find slightly improved features and specs on the Premium compared to the regular XZ2. It also costs about $200 more.

Your extra cash is mainly going towards the screen. The XZ2 Premium has a 5.8-inch 4K LCD panel – 0.1 inches bigger than the regular XZ2, and with a higher resolution.

The XZ2 Premium’s display also features a 16:9 aspect ratio, unlike the regular XZ2’s tall-but-skinny 18:9 ratio. Neither ratio is quantitatively better, but you’ll likely find one-handed use easier on the regular XZ2.

You also get a slightly larger battery on the XZ2 Premium, as well as dual rear cameras featuring 19Mp and 12Mp lenses.

The XZ2 Premium started life costing $899, but has dropped to a more reasonable $649. If we’re honest, we’d still go with the even cheaper regular XZ2.

sony xperia xz2 premium medium

Pros

  • Sharp 4K display
  • Dual rear cameras

Cons

  • Large top-and-bottom bezels
  • Significantly more expensive than the XZ2

Sony Xperia XZ2

The Xperia XZ2 recently celebrated its first birthday, having been released back in February 2018. This means prices have dropped from $699 at launch to a much more reasonable $499.

It uses a 5.7-inch 1080×2160 resolution LCD display, the powerful Snapdragon 845 processor, and almost exactly the same 19Mp rear camera as the one found on the newer XZ3. It runs Android 8 out of the box, but it can be upgraded to Android 9 Pie.

It’s still quite a boxy phone, which might be appealing if you’re a fan of brutalist architecture, but in 2019, the phone looks quite outdated.

sony xperia xz2 medium

Pros

  • Price drops make a decent mid-range choice
  • Upgrade to Android 9 Pie is pleasing to see
  • Processor will be able to handle almost everything you throw at it

Cons

  • Boxy design with large bezels
  • Single rear camera

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

Rounding out the Xperia XZ2 lineup is the Compact version. Like the Premium, the Compact does what it says on the tin: It’s like the XZ2, but smaller.

The screen drops from 5.7 inches to 5, but it retains the 1080×2160 resolution. The Compact’s battery shrinks from the 3,180 mAh power pack in the regular XZ2, to 2,870 mAh. You also lose out on wireless charging. Meanwhile, the cameras, processor, storage, and memory all stay the same.

The Xperia XZ2 Compact was a very popular phone in its day, with consumers not quite ready to move to bigger displays – not to mention a $200 saving on the XZ2.

However, that popularity has meant that you’ll only find a $50 saving on the phone now, compared to the $250 savings on its larger brothers. You can pick up an Xperia XZ2 Compact for around $449, though, so there is some money to be saved.

One thing to bear in mind before pulling the trigger on an Xperia XZ2 Compact is that you can’t update it to Android 9 Pie. At the moment, you’re stuck on Android Oreo, unlike the other Xperia XZ2 models.

sony xperia xz2 compact medium

Pros

  • Small, handy size
  • Sharp display
  • Powerful processor

Cons

  • Hasn’t seen the same price drops as other Xperia XZ2 models
  • No update to Android 9 Pie yet

Should You Buy a Sony Phone?

If we’re honest, Sony phones aren’t going to be for everyone. Each of them seems to have a unique quirk which, while differentiating it from the competition, might not make it everyone’s cup of tea.

However, Sony’s 2018 phones (the XZ3 and XZ2, in particular) are very attractive options given their recent price cuts. Buy one and you won’t be disappointed, but it might not be what you’re used to.

Read more about the latest phones on Tech.co

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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media and website builders when he's not reviewing the latest phones, gadgets, or occasionally even technology books.