I’m doing things a little differently with this review with the fact that I’ll be reviewing two smartphones at once. This is mainly because these two smartphones are in essence, the same device, just that they are slightly different sizes with slightly different specs. The two smartphones I’m taking about are the new Sony Xperia 10 and Sony Xperia 10 Plus. This is Sony’s latest mid-range device that attempts to differentiate itself from the crowd by offering the first 21:9 HD wide display, the same aspect ratio that many movies are recorded in.
Let’s first talk about the design of both the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus. These two phones look virtually identical to each other, one is just larger than the other. Both feature a plastic body with rounded edges and corners and a large glass screen. That’s not the most obvious thing about the phones though. What you’ll notice because of its 21:9 aspect ratio is just how tall and skinny these two devices are.
There are several advantages to this. First, the skinny size does make both devices much easier to hold. The Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus are probably two of the skinniest devices out there of this size and because of this and the rounded edges, these are also two of the most comfortable devices to hold. Another advantage to the elongated, skinny size is that you’ll also be able to see more of the app your using. For instance, you’ll be able to see more of your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever other posts at once.
These are also one of the few devices left on the market that still has a 3.5mm audio jack.
Other notable design features is a side mounted fingerprint reader, a separate power button, and a volume button. This might be a bit jarring for some who are used to having the fingerprint reader either up front or on the back. While it might work great if you’re using your right hand and thumb, it’s a bit less intuitive when using your left hand and one of your fingers. Also for Xperia fans who loved Sony’s inclusion of a dedicated camera button, you’ll be sad to hear that the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus do not have this anymore.
You’ll notice that there are two speaker holes at the bottom of the device. Only one of them is actually a speaker.
Lastly, the back of the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus features two cameras. This is one are where the two phones differer. The Xperia 10 features a 13MP and 5MP units on the rear while the Xperia 10 Plus has a 12MP and 8MP units on the rear. Both however use a 8MP front facing camera. More on the cameras later on in the review.
Overall the design of both the Sony Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus are nice. Aside from the size, there’s nothing else really too special about these two devices. Also while the Xperia 10 Plus is larger than the Xperia 10, I don’t really see why there is a need for two different sized devices that are virtually the same. The Xperia 10 Plus could have been the only device Sony made for this range and they would have been just fine with it.
For the most part, while the Sony Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus may look near identical, there are actually a lot of differences between them internally. We’ll first look at what’s the same.
Both phones feature 21:9 aspect rations for their screens with full HD+. Both have Gorilla Glass 5 screens, side mounted fingerprint reader, same button layouts, and Android 9 Pie. The two also feature high-resolution audio with DSEE HX and LDAC. And that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
The Xperia 10 Plus is the superior device here, both in size and internal hardware. The specs only confirm this more. The Xperia 10 Plus has a 6.5″ display vs a 6.0″ display. The processor is a Snapdragon 636 with 4GB or RAM vs a Snapdragon 630 with 3GB of RAM. The Plus also has a larger 3000mAh battery vs a 287mAh unit and when it comes to the rear cameras, the Xperia 10 Plus also outclasses the smaller Xperia 10. The Xperia 10 Plus actually uses both rear cameras and features 2x optical zoom whereas the smaller Xperia 10 uses the second camera to create depth maps to blur the background in artistic defocus.
It’s obvious really that the Sony Xperia 10 Plus is the better device here both in specs and size. While the smaller Xperia 10 might appeal to some users, there really isn’t that much of a size difference in my opinion to warrant purchase of this one nor a real reason for Sony to even make the smaller device. The Xperia 10 Plus fits in your hands just fine and at least for me, fits in my pocket comfortably thanks to its slimmer profile.
Here’s one area where I think these new Xperia 10 devices have stepped up. Both Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus are running Android 9 Pie and because these are unlocked devices, you should also be getting updates more frequently. Also, while Sony has its own launcher placed over stock Android, it doesn’t really seem to change it all that much. IT just kind of enhances it with a bit of Sony flavor.
The main addition here is Sony’s Side Sense. There’s a little bar on the side of the screen that you can double tap and bring up a shortcut menu. Here you can add all your most used apps and settings to get to them more quickly. It’s a neat little addition, but how often you’ll use it is up to you.
Another interesting little thing here is that there aren’t many propitiatory Xperia apps here. It uses a lot of stock Google apps, which seems to be the trend lately. What it does have that is Xperia is the phone, email, music, album, and files app. Also it comes with SwiftKey Keyboard installed as the default, which I always change right away because I dislike it so much.
Aside from that, the UI seems quick even though this is a mid range device. I didn’t notice any lag for the most part except with apps that are processor intensive.
Now on the negative side of things, Sony still seems to be leaving some things out when it comes to features that everyone has now come to expect from Android devices. For instance, you can not unlock the device via face detection. You also can’t double tap the screen to turn it on. There doesn’t seem to have an always-on-display feature either. Lastly, there is no PS4 Remote Play capabilities for the Xperia 10 or Xperia 10 Plus. What was once Sony’s biggest weapon in differentiating their devices from other Android phones is now only available on their most powerful flagship models.
We’re at that point now where pretty much any smartphone you buy right now is going to have a pretty good camera on it. The Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus are no different. Because these are mid-range devices though, you’re not going to see crazy camera configurations here. They both have dual cameras, though the smaller Xperia 10 uses its second camera for something else other than actually taking photos. If you want 2x optical zoom, go for the bigger Xperia 10 Plus. If you don’t care about zoom, you can go with either device.
I’m not going to go all in-depth with this, but I will tell you to not set your aspect to 21:9 when taking photos. Leave it at 4:3. In fact, don’t even set it to any of the other ratios either. You’ll get the most detail out of 4:3 and all the other ratios do is crop from this. You’re better off cropping your own images.
Aside from that, the photos look pretty good. Lots of detail and colors. I also really like how the bokeh mode works. The software however doesn’t include AR effects like on the higher end Xperia devices. You do get a manual mode however.
For a mid-range device, both the Sony Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus are interesting choices. The 21:9 aspect ratio makes them unique, but I don’t know if it’s enough to make you want to choose these over others in the market. If you were to go with one of these, I’d choose the Xperia 10 Plus over the smaller sibling mainly due to the slightly better specs, larger screen, and better cameras. I really see no reason why the smaller Xperia 10 exists to be honest.
While I really wanted to like the Sony Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus, there’s just not enough that makes it any better than other mid-rangers or phones in its price range. While I think the 21:9 screen is a really cool talking point and does make media consumption somewhat better, it’s not enough in my opinion. Both models are quick enough for mid-rangers, able to play games with ease, social media apps, etc, but most phones in its class can do the same. I’m also not sold on the side mounted fingerprint reader as it’s difficult to use with anything other than your right thumb. It needs to be moved back to the rear of the device. Lastly, I”m still baffled by the lack of face unlock.
With that said, the the Sony Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus aren’t terrible devices. They’re pretty good mid-rangers to be honest. They’re just missing some things that would really make them stand out more, other than the screen.
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