Sony Xperia 10 (Plus) hands-on review

Even before the new flagship smartphone, the Xperia 1, Sony will offer the 21:9 ‘Cinema-wide’ format on the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus. Our first hands-on test will show you what the new mid-range from Sony can do and how the Xperia 10 differs from the Xperia 10 Plus.

Mid-range becomes cheaper

If you want a Sony smartphone with a 21:9 display, you don’t have to put 949 euros (around $1075) on the table, as you need for the Xperia 1. For less than half the price, Sony is still offering the Sony Xperia 10 (349 euro/ around $396) and the Xperia 10 Plus (419 euro/ around $475) in March 2019.

Compared to last year, however, these are the only two mid-range devices that Sony seems to be offering. If you don’t like the 21:9 display format or a screen that’s larger than 6 inches, you’ll have to grab the new Xperia L3 from Sony in the first half of the year. This entry level smartphone which costs only 199 euros (around $225) has a 5.7 inch screen in the usual 18:9 format and is the cheapest MWC 2019 highlight from Sony Mobile.

A breath of fresh air

Visually, you also have to get used to a new look and feel with Sony’s new mid-range devices. The manufacturer has shrunk the bezels, but unfortunately only at the bottom. The upper one is still very wide, but at least Sony remains notch-free even on their mid-range devices.
Whether you like it or not is up to you. In addition, the two Xperia 10 models were given the same slimming treatment as the Sony Xperia 1. Said plainly, thanks to the 21:9 format, both models are pleasantly slim and light. While last year’s Xperia XA2 Ultra with its 221 grams felt like lead in the hand, the Xperia 10, which weighs 162 grams and the Xperia 10 Plus with its 180 grams have become much lighter.

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The back is now made of high quality polycarbonate. / © AndroidPIT

Responsible for the ‘weight loss’ is the new high-quality polycarbonate casing. Sony enthusiasts will also be delighted to find that the fingerprint sensor has been re-integrated into the side frame of the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus. However, the power button has been separated from it. With this measure, Sony can now finally ship these two mid-range smartphones in the USA with an activated fingerprint sensor.

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The fingerprint sensor is now back in its original position on the side of the frame. / © AndroidPIT

Cinema wide format for the mid-range too

The component which shapes the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus is the 21:9 display.
Unlike the Xperia 1 flagship, Sony’s mid-range smartphones have a Full HD+ LCD display (2,520 x 1,080 pixels). The Xperia 10 screen is 6 inches and that of the Xperia 10 Plus is 6.5 inches.

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The 21:9 display fills almost the entire front. Only the upper bezel is quite wide. / © AndroidPIT

Even though this is an LCD panel, the viewing angles, contrast and color on these devices are very good. A bit of practice is needed to get used to Side Sense, however, because unlike last year’s Xperia XZ3, the Xperia 10 (Plus) doesn’t have a curved edge display.

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Sony switches to 21:9 format. / © AndroidPIT

No big software surprises

The new display allows you to enjoy movies, most of which are also produced in the 21:9 format, without annoying black borders.
But what about games? With the new format, Sony is also working with publishers to help them adapt their games to the widescreen format. The first games that will be adapted for the 21:9 format are Asphalt 9, Arena of Valor and also Fortnite.

Otherwise, the Sony UI is based on the latest operating system, Android 9. Sony has added the Game Enhancer to the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus as a new software feature. With this little tool you can deactivate the notifications for undisturbed gaming fun, adjust the performance of the hardware and also record a gameplay video including video commentary via front camera.

More storage for more content

As usual, Sony is relying on Qualcomm as its chip supplier. For the Xperia 10, the Japanese manufacturer went for the Snapdragon 630, while the Snapdragon 636 can be found on the Plus model.
The Snpadragon 630 of the Xperia 10 may use 3 GB of RAM, the Xperia 10 Plus 4 GB. The expandable internal storage is also pleasantly large at 64 GB.

Dual cameras for both

The cameras are the second main difference between the two Xperia 10 models besides the display size. T

he smaller Xperia 10 Sony uses a double camera combination with 13 and 5 MP sensors, while on the 10 Plus there is a 12 and 8 MP combo.
While the aperture of the two lower-resolution cameras is f2.4, the 13 MP camera of the Xperia 10 has an aperture of f2.0. The 12 MP camera of the 10 Plus even has f1.8.

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This year Sony is using dual cameras for its mid-range smartphones. / © AndroidPIT

Unfortunately, we can’t say anything about the photo and video quality of the Xperia 10 dual cameras at the moment, as we have to wait for the final test devices. But that shouldn’t last long, because after all, both models are already on sale.

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The new dual camera setup of the Xperia 10 Plus. / © AndroidPIT

Will these batteries last?

The Xperia mid-range’s batteries are unfortunately quite mediocre. With 2,870 mAh and 3,000 mAh respectively, the two 10s are not exactly battery monsters.

Hopefully, the more modern hardware and Sony’s Stamina mode, coupled with Android Pie’s intelligent battery management, will be so effective that Sony’s Xperia 10 and 10 Plus will run for more than a day
. However, we can only check this once we have received the final review devices.

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Whether the small battery of the Xperia 10 will last for a complete day is still unclear. / © AndroidPIT

As with the Xperia 1, Sony is switching the Xperia 10 Series quick charge technology from Qualcomm’s Quick Charge to Power Delivery from the USB Consortium. Unfortunately, the manufacturer will once again not include a corresponding quick charger in the box.

Early Verdict

The new 21:9 format of Sony’s mid-range smartphones seems strange at first glance, but you quickly get used to it. The slim design also makes it easier to reach all screen corners without having to use both hands. It’s also good that Sony has doubled the internal storage, so you have a larger reserve before you have to use a microSD card. The installed hardware is otherwise standard, as one would expect from mid-range devices.

What’s interesting, is that the price of the Sony Xperia 10 Plus is slightly lower. In comparison, the Xperia 10 Plus (429 Euro) is 30 Euro cheaper than the XA2 Ultra from 2019. It’s only possible to get an even cheaper Sony device if you want to grab the Xperia L3. At 199 Euro Sony has a beginner smartphone, which finally also has an adequate price.

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