Sony introduced two mid-range smartphones with 21: 9 screens at the start of the year, the Xperia 10 and the Xperia 10 Plus . The second has been with me for a little while now. Enough to give you a complete test.
Sony is very well established in a number of markets, such as televisions, cinema, consoles or even digital photography.
The mobility sector unfortunately continues to elude him.
However, the manufacturer does not intend to give up and has chosen to dust off its ranges this year by reviewing their names. The Xperia 1 is therefore the new flagship of its catalog, while the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus are positioned on the mid-range … and suddenly replace the Xperia XA and XA Ultra.
In this video, we will start by reviewing the design and ergonomics of the phone. Then, we will talk about all the technical part and we will also discuss its photo module.
Design & Ergonomics
The Xperia 10 Plus doesn't really look like other smartphones on the market. It is indeed much longer than its competitors due to the presence of a 21: 9 format screen.
This format put me off a lot at first. I was worried that the terminal would be too bulky for everyday use. In fact, this is not the case.
The device is quite narrow and therefore fits well in the hand. Sure, the things at the top of its screen are hard to reach, but Sony has done it right by incorporating several software optimizations aimed at making our lives easier. We will of course have the opportunity to talk about it a little later.
The slab is framed by thin borders on the sides and at the bottom. We have a band at the top, but the latter is not really annoying.
In my grip, I hypothesized that Sony had mounted the screen of its phone upside down to save space at the bottom. The video uploaded by PBKreviews seems to point in this direction.
Unlike many of its peers, the Xperia 10 Plus does not offer glass or metal and is therefore content with a polycarbonate casing. Sony has however given it the greatest care. The finishes are therefore the most correct.
The use of a plastic case has two direct advantages. For starters, the phone will be less sensitive to fingerprints. So we won't need to wipe it off constantly. Then, well it is also very light in the hand and we will feel less obliged to equip it with a protective shell.
The ergonomics are not bad, but they could be better. The buttons are indeed too many and badly placed. Sony chose to disassociate the fingerprint reader from the power button and that's hardly what you can call a happy choice. I would have preferred a system like the old Xperia, or at a pinch a button on the back. It would have actually saved a little more space.
The volume buttons are far too low. They will suddenly fall under our middle finger when we hold the phone in our hands.
On the other hand, Sony has been generous with the connectivity and that's a good thing. We will therefore have a USB Type-C connector on the lower edge and a headphone jack on the top. We will therefore not have to go wireless.
Screen, Processor & Autonomy
The Xperia 10 Plus is not equipped with an OLED panel, but an LCD. It reaches 6.5 inches diagonally and is capable of displaying Full HD +.
Sony offers quite a few customization options. By going to the settings of the device, we can in particular opt for a standard mode or a very lively mode similar to the rendering of an OLED panel. We will also have the possibility of modifying the white balance and pulling it towards warm or cold colors.
In fact, the panel is in any case of good quality. Bright enough to be usable in direct sunlight, it will also offer a good contrast ratio and will therefore be able to display beautiful images. This is of course a plus since the terminal focuses precisely on this use with its 21: 9 screen. And this format, precisely it is not common.
In my grip, I expressed doubts about this format. Most of the content is indeed distributed in 16: 9 and if more and more manufacturers tend towards 18 or 19: 9, Sony is the only one to push up to 21: 9.
My fear was therefore to find myself with videos cut or surrounded by thick black bands.
And unfortunately, this is often the case.
In fact, currently only Sony Interactive optimizes its content for 21: 9. Most other studios limit themselves to 16 or 18: 9. So when you start playing a series or a movie on a platform like Netflix, for example, well it will be a bit like Russian roulette.
For Luther, for example, which is an excellent series, we will see two very thick bands appear on the left and on the right due to the fact that the format of the series tends more towards 16: 9. It will of course be possible to stretch the image with a pinch, but suddenly the video will be cut off at the top and bottom. Which also means that we will lose information.
Triple Frontier was shot in 18 or 19: 9. On the screen of the Xperia 10 Plus, we will therefore once again have black bands on the sides. However, these will also be much thinner and we can once again make them disappear by pinching the screen. The video will of course be cut off at the top and bottom, but we will still lose less information than with Luther.
This format “problem” is of course not unique to Netflix. It actually applies to all platforms and so goes for YouTube. Once again, there is little content optimized for 21: 9 and you will therefore have to choose between large bands on the sides or a cut video at the top and bottom.
There, you may tell me that the format will take off and that Sony will succeed in imposing it on the market. That would be great, of course, but you have to be realistic. Sony does not have the strike force of a manufacturer like Samsung or Huawei. And it does not have control over all the film studios on the market either.
Suddenly, in terms of multimedia, this format is not necessarily an advantage. Not at present anyway. That being said, we will see later that 21: 9 can be an asset from a productivity perspective.
On the processor side, Sony has chosen to equip its terminal with a Snapdragon 636… and it is disappointing. It's disappointing, because a Snapdragon 660 would have made more sense given the terminal's selling price. It should be remembered that the Xperia 10 Plus is offered around € 429. To put this figure in perspective, it should be remembered that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 ships a Snapdragon 660 for a price below the € 250 mark.
I'm not a big fan of benchmarking solutions, but I still ran AnTuTu on the terminal and it got 116,109 points.
If in current use the Snapdragon 636 is more than enough, it will not allow you to play the headlines of the Play Store with maximum detail. We will therefore have to be reasonable.
The time has of course come to talk about autonomy. On paper, we can not say that the offer is breathtaking since the terminal has a battery with a capacity of 3000 mAh. And if she does it honorably in most cases, she will also quickly show her limits.
For mixed use, with a lot of web, social networks and a little video, the phone will generally last all day, or even a little longer if you are careful enough. In games, on the other hand, autonomy will drop drastically.
Fortunately, Sony has integrated the usual STAMINA modes and these will allow us to hold out a little longer. As far as I'm concerned, my personal best is around a day and a half.
As usual, I ran one of the PC Mark benchmarks to get a second look at the battery life of the phone. The Xperia 10 Plus lasted for 9.26 hours exactly. We are therefore far from what the Redmi Note 7 offers since it had lasted more than 16 hours on the same test. Now, it's still better than the Galaxy S10 and its 7:30 a.m.
Now is the time to talk about speeds and modems. As usual, I tested the nPerf terminal to find out what's going on on that side.
With my Sosh subscription and from the Paris region, the Xperia 10 Plus has therefore reached 45 mbps in reception and 15 mbps in sending with a latency of 38 ms. For the scores, we are 93% in video and 80% in web with a total score of 87,000 points.
Photo, Video & Sound
Sony has always had a privileged relationship with the photo and it still is today. The Japanese firm sells hybrid cameras by entire pallets and has even established a partnership with a big name in optics, namely Zeiss.
Crazier still, the company is very present in the mobility market and most of the large flagships on the market are therefore equipped with its photo sensors. This is particularly true for the Galaxy S10 or even for the P30.
Strange as it may be, the brand's own terminals have often lagged behind in this market, especially due to the poor performance of the on-board processing system.
We could have hoped that the Xperia 10 Plus would correct the situation, but unfortunately this is not the case.
On paper, the Xperia 10 Plus' photo module is quite correct. It consists of two optics and two sensors with a 12 million pixel sensor surmounted by an optic opening at f / 1.75 on one side and an 8 million pixel sensor accompanied by a telephoto lens offering an aperture of f / 2.4 and a magnification x2. The focal length of course changes quite a bit from one lens to another with a field of view of 76.3 ° on one side and 44.6 ° on the other.
Sony has also equipped the terminal with hybrid autofocus and digital zoom to achieve 5x magnification. The second sensor can also be used to generate background blur.
The Xperia 10+ does well in terms of sharpness and is thus able to output very detailed images. Focusing is rather fast for its part and the terminal had no difficulty finding its subject during these two weeks of intensive testing.
No worries about colorimetry either. It falls fair and the colors in the photos are not too saturated.
The problem mainly comes from the dynamics. It is indeed very perfectible and this applies as much to the shadows as to the highlights. The Xperia 10 Plus quickly shows its limits on contrasting scenes. If the light is very strong, then the shadows will be constantly blocked. The reverse is also true and highly exposed areas will tend to burn indoors or after dark.
This problem, I am not the only one to have noticed it. Jaysen, of the RestezConnecte channel , had the same concerns with his own loaner copy.
However, it seems that the problem is not a hardware problem, but rather software. Sony has indeed recently deployed an update on the Xperia 10 Plus and the phenomenon seems a little less marked. A tiny bit, actually.
To be frank, given this dynamic problem, I was very afraid that indoor photography would just be impossible. Strangely, this is not the case. At least not on condition of staying on the wide-angle. The beautiful opening of its lens will indeed compensate for the drop in ambient light.
The colorimetry, for its part, will remain correct and we will not encounter any problem in terms of focusing.
On the other hand, the concerns related to the dynamics will still be there. White balance will also frequently miss the mark.
As indicated above, the Xperia 10 Plus has a 2x optical zoom and it can even go up to 5x with its digital zoom.
And frankly, the results are once again very mixed. In bright light, the 2x zoom will offer relatively little loss, but that will be a whole different story when the light runs out. There, we will lose a lot of details and the photos generated by the phone will be almost unusable.
The Xperia 10 Plus also has an 8 million pixel front camera, with optics opening at f / 2.0.
And here again, the results leave much to be desired. When we take the photo, the screen gives an impression of rather crazy sharpness… but which fades as soon as we look at the result of the shooting. This feeling of sharpness disappears in an instant and we end up with a rather blurry photo with runny contours. As if the software processing seeks to make our selfies ugly.
At first I thought the problem was with a filter meant to soften the skin, but disabling the associated option didn't improve matters.
I'm not going to lie to you, I really would have liked to be more enthusiastic about this part.
Sony is a brand that I admire a lot, I'm literally crazy about my A7 III, but the performance of the Xperia 10 Plus really disappointed me. For me, they are simply unworthy of the brand. Especially since we are talking about a phone that is offered around 350 €.
Finally, we are not going to go on forever on this point, because we still have to talk about sound.
Sony announces heavy on its site with the support of LDAC and DSEE HX. If these acronyms leave you cold or pensive, then know that LDAC is an audio coding techno developed in-house by the brand, a techno that is supposed to allow Bluetooth connections of up to 990 kbps, which is three times more than SBC. . DSEE HX is also home-made techno, this time used for high-resolution music.
Basically, focusing on sound was a pretty good idea, but Sony unfortunately didn't go far enough.
Proof of this is that the Xperia 10 Plus comes on board in all and for a single speaker and it will therefore not be able to offer sound spatialization. Worse yet, the built-in speaker clearly lacks depth and bass. Good point, however, it does not saturate even when pushed to the bottom.
Platform & Functions
Now that we've gone through all of the hardware, it's time to quickly tackle the issue of the software platform.
Quickly, because in the end nothing really changes. The Xperia 10 Plus still ships with Android 9.0 and Sony's overlay is just as discreet as ever.
The Japanese brand has indeed chosen not to distort the platform and that is of course a very good thing.
What is a little less nice, however, is that it has not changed its widgets or the shortcuts of its icons either. We therefore have the impression that the entire platform is frozen in time and this is obviously very regrettable.
It also lacks a gesture navigation system. Most manufacturers now offer one, but Sony prefers to stick to the touchscreen navigation bar. However, it is difficult to be surprised by this choice since Android 9.0 also skips such a system.
The most surprising thing is that in parallel, Sony has implemented a system of shortcuts based on a sidebar. The user will only have to tap twice on the marker located to the right of his screen to bring up a list of shortcuts pointing to the last applications used and the most common settings.
However, this is not the only function of this marker, since it will also suffice to stroke it from bottom to top to return directly to the home screen.
This function is really nice. It makes the terminal more manageable despite its gigantic screen. On the other hand, we say to ourselves that if Sony found the time to set up this function, then the manufacturer could also have developed a gestural navigation system.
At the very beginning of this test, I told you that the screen format of the Xperia 10 Plus was not only interesting for multimedia use, but that it also opened up the possibilities in terms of productivity.
All the options related to multitasking are indeed there. And if nothing really changes on that side, the elongated format of the screen of the device clearly lends itself to this type of use. There will indeed be more space to display each of the applications hung on the screen. And that should be of great interest to those who often use this function.
The time has come to conclude this test. Not always easy.
Design level, the Xperia 10 Plus may be limited to polycarbonate, but it still offers neat finishes and its beautiful elongated screen will not affect its handling.
The problem is that this screen, and its astonishing size, is currently underused. In reality, once out of the Sony Interactive Pictures catalog, there are very few shows available in this format and that of course ruins the party. It will indeed be necessary to choose between sticking borders to the left and right or cropping the image at the top and bottom.
It's a shame, because the format itself is really very nice. Better, it even promotes the immersion of the spectator and it helps him to enter more easily in the film or the series in reading.
Now behind, the Xperia 10 Plus is not flawless and the biggest black dot remains on the side of the photo.
The terminal is paying dearly for its lack of dynamics and I sincerely hope that Sony will be able to raise the bar through future updates to its phone.
And even if it means going a little further on the software part, I also hope to soon see the arrival of a gestural navigation system and, why not, new icons.
In the end, the Xperia 10 Plus gives a bit of a taste of unfinished business. We have a very nice screen with a great format, but underused, and a photo module which promises a lot of things on paper, but which turns out to be almost constrained by the software part.