Sony Xperia 10/Plus Hands-on: the tallest phones at MWC
Sony’s devices generally arrive without much fanfare. They’re typically just your average phone that works decently, without any crazy changes or features. The latest mid-range smartphones from Sony tell a different story, however, as there is one major change. These smartphones have a 21:9 aspect ratio, and if that seems tall, that’s because it is.
The Sony Xperia 10 Plus is a lot more practical than it looks
My first worry, when it came to this particular device, was, obviously, the height. I’m sure everybody worried about its height. Sony is aware that they have created a smartphone with a tall form-factor, and the first step they take to mitigating that is the introduction of a system-wide one-handed mode. It works exactly like the implementation of similar features on other smartphones. The whole display gets miniaturized into one corner on the bottom left or the bottom right, and you tap in the exclusion zone to switch it back off.
And that’s not all that Sony has that makes the really tall display practical. Sony recommends the use of multi-window in landscape mode so that you can make the most of the display size. It’s nothing hugely special, but it shows that the company is aware that there may be issues with this particular form factor. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, as Sony’s latest smartphones are even more examples of experimentation at this year’s Mobile World Congress. From Huawei to Samsung to Nokia to even newer brands like F(x), there’s something new and different at every corner.
All in all, the Sony Xperia 10 Plus is very usable, a lot more than it may seem at first look. Honestly, the height of this device isn’t an issue (at least in my short time with it), and if you can use other flagships like even the 19.5:9 OnePlus 6T, then you’ll be just fine. It’s only just a small bit taller, and unlikely to be the difference between one-handed usage and two-handed usage. That’s without even getting into media consumption, where 21:9 is close to the cinematic content standard.
Design of the Sony Xperia 10 Plus
The Sony Xperia 10 and the Sony Xperia 10 Plus are carbon copies of each other, they’re just different sizes. They have the same camera layout on the back, the same top bezel on the front, and same port layout around the chassis. For all intents and purposes, these are, more or less, the same devices. Think the compact and full versions of Sony’s old flagship devices. That’s all these are, and they’re designed well. There’s a couple of specification differences, but none all too huge. The only thing I dislike is that they are nearly uncomfortable to hold in the hand given how thin and flat they are. It’s not really a slight against the phones either, it’s just personal preference for the most part. To me, it feels like a somewhat unnatural way to hold a phone, but to you, it may be fine.
The side buttons include a fingerprint sensor on the right-hand side, something that may be annoying to those who are left-handed. The volume rocker is found below the fingerprint sensor, while the power button is above it. It would be nice to have the fingerprint sensor on the power button, but it’s not a big deal. The positioning still makes sense and feels natural, and that’s what matters the most when it comes to the design.
For better or worse, augmented reality is here
As previously mentioned, Sony has added a number of small features to accompany the tall 21:9 display. Other than that, it’s more or less the same software suite we’ve come to expect from Sony. It’s very close to stock Android with some UI changes and additional functionality. The cameras are decent as well, with an augmented reality mode that was kind of weird but definitely funny to play around with.
The camera application itself is pretty nice, although very run of the mill. It’s got all of the basic functions that you’ve come to expect from your smartphone – a pro mode, resolution, slow motion, all of that stuff. You can take 21:9 photos if you want as well, though it’s a non-standard aspect ratio and not something that you’ll really get anywhere else.
The Sony Xperia 10 Plus and the Sony Xperia 10 are great devices, though the pricing may be too steep for international readers. Both devices come in at $430 and $350 respectively, high prices for mid-range Snapdragon chipsets. Sony has made some very interesting devices, though most of their charm comes from the unique aspect ratio.