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The Sony Xperia 10 is a pretty run-of-the-mill phone, with one enormous, unmissable quirk – an enormous, unmissable screen. The phone's display measures 6 inches from corner to corner, and boasts a 21:9 aspect ratio – making the screen three times as tall as it is wide. It completely dominates the experience of using the Xperia 10 – for better, and for worse.
The Xperia 10 is Sony’s newest mid-range phone. It was announced at Mobile World Congress in February, alongside the larger Xperia 10 Plus and Xperia 1 flagship.
Sony needs these new phones to be a hit – the company’s mobile division has been struggling in recent years, with a series of largely forgettable phones (not least because of their unfathomable naming conventions).
The good news for Sony is that the Xperia 10 is far from a bad phone. The less good news is that, with the weirdly tall screen, we’re not sure anyone will buy it.
In this review:
- Sony Xperia 10 design – How does the Xperia 10 feel in-hand?
- Sony Xperia 10 screen – We know it’s tall, but is it any good?
- Sony Xperia 10 performance – Can it manage all your favorite apps?
- Sony Xperia 10 cameras – How strong are its photos?
- Sony Xperia 10 battery life – Can it last all day?
- Sony Xperia 10 cost and value for money – It costs $299, but is it worth it?
- Sony Xperia 10 – The verdict
Sony Xperia 10 design
Compared to previous Sony efforts, the Xperia 10 is a nice looking phone. It still looks a little blocky, but the bezels have been slimmed down on the sides, as well as at the bottom. This has removed a lot of visual weight from the Xperia 10, compared to older Sony phones.
In-hand, the Xperia 10 feels good. There’s a reassuring weight to the phone, and the gently curved sides make it comfortable to hold. The power button, volume controls, and side-mounted fingerprint scanner all feel solid, too. The plastic rear case can sometimes slip out of your hand, but this isn’t a problem unique to the Xperia 10.
However, while the individual components of the Xperia 10 are generally impressive, they don’t form a particularly cohesive package.
For example, while the power button and volume rocker feel good, they’re located too close to the bottom of the phone. This leads to some awkward moments as you try and shuffle your hand down the phone to adjust the volume. The side-mounted fingerprint sensor is also slightly too narrow, and can make unlocking the phone slightly finicky.
What’s more, the Xperia 10’s height makes it difficult to use one-handed. Taking photos, checking notifications, or even switching apps is incredibly difficult with one hand. Of course, this is the trade-off you have to make in order to get a phone with a 21:9 aspect ratio. There is a one-handed mode, which shrinks the screen down into a smaller area, but obviously it can’t make the phone any smaller.
Sony Xperia 10 screen
The Xperia 10 uses a 6-inch LCD display with a 1080×2520 resolution, with that unusual 21:9 aspect ratio.
We say unusual, but it’s only really unusual on phones. In fact, most TV shows and movies are shot in the 21:9 aspect ratio to ensure they work on widescreen displays. However, these widescreen displays tend to be found in movie theaters and in the corner of living rooms, not in people’s hands.
The Xperia 10’s display is, undoubtedly, impressive. For an LCD screen it is pleasingly sharp, with a high 457 pixel per inch count. Colors can look slightly muted at times, but this can be fixed with a few settings tweaks.
While the 21:9 aspect ratio – which makes the phone almost two-and-a-half-times taller than it is wide – can make handling the phone a challenge, it shines when playing games or watching videos.
When you’re watching Netflix or playing games such as Real Racing 3, you might find yourself wondering why more phones don’t use the 21:9 aspect ratio. But then, once you’ve finished watching and you turn the phone upright, you’ll remember why phones avoid this size.
We’re impressed that Sony tried to do something different with the Xperia 10, and the screen itself is pleasing to look at – but this screen shape simply isn’t suited to the way we currently use mobile phones.
Sony Xperia 10 performance
The Xperia 10 uses the Snapdragon 630 processor and 3GB of Ram (or 4GB, if you happen to live in China). While these specs aren’t exactly mind-blowing, the Xperia 10 makes good use of its meager resources, and can manage some pretty full-on mobile games and demanding apps.
However, the Xperia 10 seems to struggle slightly with multitasking. When swapping back-and-forth between apps, we encountered a few unexpected closures, and a lot of stuttering animations. This might be something to do with Sony’s Android skin, which is noticeably more intrusive than Motorola’s, for instance.
There’s also a fair amount of bloatware with the Xperia 10, with Sony recommending a load of apps to install when you set up the phone. These range from the useful (Netflix) to the bizarre (Booking.com). The bloatware isn’t quite as bad as you’d find on a Samsung phone, and you don’t have to install these apps, but it is strange that Sony continues to offer these options that most customers don’t want or need.
Sony Xperia 10 cameras
The Xperia 10’s dual rear cameras take some pretty impressive shots – particularly for a phone that costs $299. Photos have a surprising amount of detail, and its depth-sensing camera makes focusing the lenses quick and easy.
The rear cameras can struggle with high levels of contrast at times — between sky and buildings, for example — but it isn’t anything too catastrophic. The low-light shots aren’t much to write home about either, but with both cameras’ relatively narrow apertures – f/2.0 for the 13Mp and f/2.4 for the 5Mp depth sensor – this shouldn’t be surprising.
The front camera, however, is less of a success. Detail is lacking, and colors seem off – there’s a definite red shift that makes skin tones, in particular, appear over-saturated. The camera’s placement is strange, as well. It’s located in the very top right corner of the phone, which can make for some – erm – interesting photos if you don’t get your angles quite right.
As ever, there are a bunch of different photo modes – including a background-blurring portrait mode – but none of them work that well.
Sony Xperia 10 battery life
The Xperia 10 has, on paper at least, a surprisingly small battery – just 2,870 mAh. This is smaller than the Moto g7 Plus, for example. However, we regularly found that getting a full day of battery life was perfectly achievable.
Standby battery life is pretty impressive, with the Xperia 10 able to last well past a couple of days sitting undisturbed.
Sony Xperia 10 cost and value for money
For $299, the Xperia 10 is certainly decent value. Its screen is decent, the rear cameras are strong, and its general performance is impressive.
However, we feel the overall experience lets the phone down. While all the individual components are strong, the phone feels a bit misjudged, as though there are better options available.
Sony Xperia 10 Verdict – Should You Buy It?
While its $299 price tag is enticing, and its general performance is impressive, we’d probably opt for one of the Xperia 10’s more orthodox competitors.
The 21:9 display, while occasionally brilliant, is irritating more often than not – you really need to have hyper-flexible fingers to make the Xperia 10 manageable. It’s a shame, because the raw materials on show in the Xperia 10 would make for a very strong budget phone.
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