Sony announcing new phones at MWC 2019 is no surprise – it usually does the same every year – but the shape and style of its latest Xperia handsets are something out of the ordinary. Leading the way is the Xperia 1, the first phone with a 4K OLED display.
Take one glance at the Xperia 1 and you can see what makes it stand out – that's a 21:9 aspect ratio screen, meaning it's taller than most phones (or wider, depending on how you're holding it). Stretching to 6.5 inches in size and with a 3,840 x 1,644 pixel resolution, it's apparently designed with Netflix binge watching in mind.
Sony has also added in some of the picture-mapping tech of its Bravia televisions, and with HDR and Dolby Atmos support on board as well, it's going to appeal to anyone who spends a lot of time watching (or filming) movies on their phone.
Besides that screen, Sony has fitted a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage (expandable via memory card) inside the Xperia 1 – decent specs for a 2019 flagship. There's a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a triple-lens 12 MP + 12 MP + 12 MP camera on the back, offering 2x optical zoom.
If you're lusting after that 21:9 aspect ratio display but don't want to spend top dollar, there's also the 6-inch Xperia 10 and 6.5-inch Xperia 10 Plus, launched alongside the Xperia 1 at MWC 2019.
The aspect ratio stays the same, but the display resolution drops to 1,080 x 2,520 pixels, the RAM and storage get knocked down, and you have to settle for a dual-lens rear camera in return for saving some money: you get a 13 MP + 5 MP model on the Xperia 10 and a 12 MP + 8 MP model (with 2x optical zoom) on the Xperia 10 Plus.
As well as being bigger and carrying a better camera, the Xperia 10 Plus offers more RAM (4 GB rather than 3 GB) and a slightly faster processor (a Snapdragon 636 rather than a Snapdragon 630) compared with the standard Xperia 10. A rather paltry 64 GB of storage is on board, but again that can be expanded with a memory card.
Finally, dropping even further down the ladder, Sony also unveiled the Xperia L3 today. You get a 5.7-inch, 720 x 1,570 pixel display at the more conventional aspect ratio of 18:9, a 13 MP + 2 MP dual-lens rear camera, a Mediatek MT6762 processor, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage (expandable via memory card).
It's clear that the rebooting of the Xperia name (the last flagship was called the Sony Xperia ZX3) is an attempt by Sony to also reboot its fortunes in the smartphone market too – but we'll have to wait and see whether its 21:9 display panels draw in more fans. The compay has always made very good mobile handsets, without quite attracting the same kind of desirability that Apple and Samsung have.
Sony says the Xperia 1 will be available from "late spring," (Northern Hemisphere) with the Xperia 10, 10 Plus and L3 on sale from February 25. As yet no prices have been revealed, but when they do, it should give us a better idea of just how appealing Sony's new range is.