REVIEW: Sony Xperia 10
Announced back at MWC in February, we’ve finally had the chance to take Sony’s newest midrange handset, the Xperia 10, for a spin. Sporting a uniquely 21:9 tall aspect ratio, the phone is being pitched as the ‘go-to’ device for consuming wide screen movies and games at a decent price point. Screen aside, how does the phone stack up in every day use? Read on to find out in our review of the Sony Xperia 10.
Design and Display
The second you pick up the Xperia 10, you’ll notice just how different its form factor is. Yes, it’s still a rectangular shape but its extra long and thin design help it to stand out from the crowd whilst still maintaining some of the design language Sony has become known for. The front is home to a 6-inch display with a unique 21:9 aspect ratio. Bezels are minimal except for the chunky forehead at the top which is home to the notification light, earpiece, and front-facing camera.
The back of the phone is made of a thin plastic shell that wraps around to meet the screen. While it looks sleek, it doesn’t feel as premium as we would like. A prominently placed flash sits at the very top of the back panel. Below it is an oblong camera module for the dual sensors that juts out ever so slightly from the body. There are also prominent Sony and Xperia logos.
At the top of the top you’ll find a 3.5mm jack, while the right is home to a hybrid SIM/microSD slot that can be easily opened without a SIM key. On the left side of the phone, you’ll find the power and volume rocker buttons, along with the fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor is well placed and accurate, but inconvenient for lefties. A USB-C charging port and speakers sit on the bottom of the phone.
The 6″ LCD has a 21:9 aspect ratio and a 1,080-by-2,560-pixel resolution. Pixel density comes in at an impressive 463ppi given this handset’s price point. We found the colour profile of the display to be pleasant if a little undersaturated though you can easily adjust the white balance in the settings. The phone is bright enough to use in direct sunlight without problems.
Sony calls its 21:9 aspect ratio display ‘Cinema Wide’, for multimedia streaming and shooting video. The company says the aspect ratio is the industry standard for filming movies and television, but that statement appears to be only half true. Most movies display without issue on the screen, but we had problems with a few TV shows. This could be down to the fact that most television shows are shot in 16:9, which means you must choose between large black bars on either side of the screen or an extremely cropped image.
The Xperia 10 shares the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor and 3GB of RAM as its predecessor, the Sony Xperia XA2. It has 64GB of storage with 48GB available out of the box. If you require additional room, you can add up to 512GB via the microSD slot.
Performance is respectable but not eye-wateringly fast. In our tests, we found apps took a few seconds to open. When more than a half dozen apps were open, multitasking slowed significantly, and we even experienced a crash when switching between the camera app and the browser.
Unfortunately, if you’re a big mobile gamer, The Xperia 10 might not be the best choice phone for you, even with it’s Cinema Wide screen, which was touted for it’s gaming prowess. During our review, we tried out some Asphalt 9. Initially opening the app took upward of four minutes and, during gameplay, we noticed quite a few skipped frames and the occasional stutter. On a positive note, battery life depleted by just 11 percent during an hour of gameplay.
The Xperia 10 has a rear dual-camera array with a 13 MP primary sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and a secondary 5MP lens with an f/2.4 aperture for depth mapping. An 8MP selfie camera with an f/2.4 aperture sits in the bezel atop the display.
Sony has made a few tweaks to the stock camera app. The main difference is that the camera can shoot photo and video in 21:9 for wide-angle shots. There are several modes for more creative shots including Portrait Selfie, Creative Effect, a beauty filter, and a skin softening function that’s enabled by default in the settings.
We found the rear cameras to be acceptable in daylight. Full-size images show some blurring and loss of detail, but the dynamic range is good. In low-light settings, however, image quality degrades quickly. Our low-light shots are blurry and there is significant background noise.
The front-facing camera is also acceptable in daylight. Color accuracy is good in our test shots, but there is a noticeable loss of detail when viewing images at full size. Low-light photos are poor, with lots of noise and blurring in the foreground.
The special camera features are a mixed bag. The skin softening looks natural and does a good job defining faces without looking overly processed. The beauty filter doesn’t work as well as on the Xperia 10 Plus, but you can still tweak eye size, facial shape, and skin luminance with ease. Both Bokeh and Portrait modes are grand but we did spot some uneven background blurring and even blurring of the subject in a few test shots.
The Xperia 10 ships with Android 9.0 Pie with Sony’s custom UI. Sony adds some useful changes to the phone, like Side Sense, a feature that allows you to quickly access frequently used apps and settings from an icon on the side of the screen. But there are a few apps that feel redundant, like custom Gallery and Music options.
Sony has a pretty good track record when it comes to software updates, but there are no guarantees it will upgrade the Xperia 10 to Android Q when it launches later this year.
Under the hood, there’s a 2,780mAh battery powering the Xperia 10. While Android Pie and Sony have battery-saving features baked in, we still found the battery life on the X10 to be only okay. During our review period, we used the device quite intensely and found the battery depleting faster than we would have like. Admittedly, this is a mid range phone so we shouldn’t expect exceptional battery life we were hoping for a little more. If you’re willing to sacrifice performance to squeeze out more battery life, there are Stamina and Ultra Stamina modes available. High-speed charging is also available with the included power brick, but there’s no option for wireless charging.
If you’re a Sony fan and are on a bit of a budget, the Xperia 10 is the handset for you. Just be aware that, at this price point, the slower processor and reduced RAM might affect your time with the phone if you’re a heavy user. If you’re willing to splash out that little bit extra, the Xperia 10 Plus will offer you better performance thanks to its faster processor and marginally better battery life. It’s 21:9 display is quite the feature but we feel the rest of the offering doesn’t quite match it.
The Sony Xperia 10 is available to buy at Eir and Three stores nationwide now and retails from free on a €39.99 bill pay tariff or €299.99 on prepay.