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Sony Xperia 10 IV review: The wrong priorities

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £429
inc VAT

Sony’s compact mid-ranger has some stand-out features, but remains weak in key areas


  • Epic battery life
  • Rare IP65/IP68 rating
  • Super-clean software


  • Feels expensive for what you get
  • Screen only 60Hz
  • Poor performance

If Sony’s Xperia 1 family is all about unflinching flagship phone perfection from a unique film and photography angle, then the Xperia 10 family is all about quiet compromise.

While the Sony Xperia 1 IV (£1,299) wows with its ludicrously tall and sharp display, cutting-edge camera system, and eye-watering cost, the Sony Xperia 10 IV demonstrates classy restraint at a mid-market price.

It’s an incredibly easy phone to live with day to day, but that sense of restraint goes a bit too far. In an unexpected parallel to the Xperia 1 IV, Sony has arguably gotten a little turned around with its priorities.

Sony Xperia 10 IV review: What you need to know

Aside from a broadly similar aesthetic and Sony’s super-clean software, the Xperia 10 IV has very little in common with the flagship Xperia 1 IV.

It’s a firmly mid-range proposition, with a compact 6in FHD+ 60Hz OLED display and a humble Snapdragon 695 processor wrapped up in an atypically tall and light body. Sony has also supplied a triple camera system led by a 12MP wide sensor and an 8MP ultra-wide, with the stand-out addition of an 8MP 2x telephoto.

Despite its compact dimensions, Sony has equipped the Xperia 10 IV with a large 5,000mAh battery, though there’s no charging brick bundled in the box, which is unusual for a mid-range phone.

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Sony Xperia 10 IV review: Price and competition

The Sony Xperia 10 IV landed slap bang in the middle of 2022, which just so happens to have seen one of the best runs of mid-range smartphone releases we’ve ever seen. At £429, the Sony Xperia 10 IV is competing in a hugely impressive field, populated by phones that are capable of punching well above their weight.

The Nothing Phone (1) (£449), OnePlus Nord 2T (£369), and Google Pixel 6a (£391) are all available for around £400, and all have something to shout about on the specs front. Sony undoubtedly has some decent specifications of its own, but not in the typical areas.

Sony Xperia 10 IV review: Design and key features

Sony’s wilfully blocky and unadorned design language has pretty much become a bit of a calling card, which is especially welcome in a mid-range market that often surfaces visual gimmicks like flashing lights and racing car decals.

Much like the Xperia 10 III (£330) before it, the focus here is on the screen’s tall and unbroken 21:9 aspect ratio. To accommodate this cinematic canvass, the phone itself is unusually tall and narrow at 153 x 67 x 8.3mm.

Besides that stretched-out screen, the Xperia 10 IV’s height can be attributed to its extended forehead and chin bezels. The former is primarily there to house the phone’s selfie camera, rather than disrupting the picture with the usual hole punch notch.

At 161g, the Xperia 10 IV is extremely light. Despite this, and despite that price tag, it’s made of surprisingly stern stuff. This is the rare mid-range phone that comes with an IP65/68 rating water resistance. The display is also covered with Gorilla Glass Victus, while the frame and back are plastic.

One slightly glaring omission, given Sony’s media focus and those chunky bezels, is proper a set of stereo speakers. There’s a 3.5mm audio jack on the top edge, but the lack of true stereo sound output doesn’t look good when the top opposition supply just that.

Sony Xperia 10 IV review: Display

Sony has gone a lot smaller than most of its rivals with the Xperia 10 IV’s 6in OLED display. This makes it one of the more compact phones on the market, and not far away from the dinky Asus Zenfone 9 in single-handed usability.

In some ways, the Xperia 10 IV is even easier to wield, with Sony’s 21:9 aspect ratio making it extremely narrow. It’s easy to reach the opposite side of the screen with your holding thumb.

Conversely, the phone is very tall, so you still won’t be able to reach up to the top of the screen with that same thumb. Thankfully, Sony’s software lets you access the notification pane by dragging down from anywhere on the home screen.

With an FHD+ (2,520 x 1,080) resolution, this compact screen is suitably sharp, and with OLED’s punchy colour profile, it’s plenty vibrant too. Sony’s default ‘Standard’ display quality mode is a little punchier and more set up for the DCI-P3 profile. Flip to the ‘Original’ mode and you’ll get a more natural, muted look in the sRGB space.

In the latter mode, I recorded a 96.2% sRGB gamut coverage and a 96.7% gamut volume, with a reasonable average Delta E score of 1.57. A measured luminance of 491cd/m2, with auto brightness turned off, is perhaps the biggest display improvement from previous models.

The main shortfall here, however, is a matter of refresh rate. At just 60Hz, the Sony Xperia 10 IV display falls well short of its mid-range rivals on fluidity. Using it day to day is perfectly fine, but it’s a noticeably less premium experience than the 90Hz OnePlus Nord 2T or the 120Hz Nothing Phone (1).

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Sony Xperia 10 IV review: Performance and battery life

The Snapdragon 695 chip that powers the Xperia 10 IV is a far more humble processor than we’re accustomed to seeing from a phone that costs more than £400. This is the CPU that runs the £279 OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G and the £299 Poco X4 Pro 5G.

Unsurprisingly, it simply doesn’t stand up to its mid-range rivals in terms of raw performance. An average Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 1,883 drops well behind the OnePlus Nord 2T, the Pixel 6a and the Nothing Phone (1) by around 40%.There’s an even bigger gap when we consider the GPU-focused GFXBench suite that we run all phones through. You can see the table below, but it’s a bit of a mauling across the board, showing that the Sony Xperia 10 IV simply isn’t performing up to its price tag.On the positive side, Sony has kitted its latest mid-ranger with a 5,000mAh battery, which is a big advance on the Xperia 10 III’s 4500mAh cell. Combined with that small 60Hz display and such a low-power processor, it’s a recipe for monstrous stamina.I found that the phone would last me two days of intensive usage quite easily. A whole day of fairly heavy use, with five hours of screen-on time, still left me with just shy of 60% remaining.

What’s more, the Xperia 10 IV absolutely aces our looping video test, lasting an epic 29hrs 36mins. That’s a whole 40 minutes longer than the Xperia 10 III managed last year, and multiple hours longer than any of the current mid-range crew.

Sony hasn’t bundled a charger in with its phone, which is a bit of a downer compared to other phones of this price. It doesn’t state a maximum charging rate either, but using a 25W Samsung charger I was able to get from zero to 22% in 30 minutes, which is pretty slow.

Sony Xperia 10 IV review: Cameras

We’re used to seeing so-called triple-camera systems in cheaper phones, with useless depth and macro sensors making up the numbers. The Xperia 10 IV, however, is far more generous with its 12MP wide camera, 8MP ultra-wide, and a genuine 8MP 2x telephoto.

None of these cameras are particularly great, but they provide an all-round competent and unusually flexible shooting experience.The main 12MP sensor falls well short of the sharp, vibrant results of the OnePlus Nord 2T and the Pixel 6a. Sony’s natural colour science is on display here, which is quite pleasing, but the ultra-wide goes with a much more oversaturated and cooler tone.

Night shots are nothing to write home about, either and I found that it would occasionally whiff the focus on a shot entirely. Sony has at least included OIS in this year’s model, so they do look reasonably clear when they manage to lock focus. Again, though, they’re far from best in class.The offering of a dedicated 2x telephoto zoom camera really is the one big plus here. Without the need to crop, there’s less of the fuzzy indistinct edges on those zoomed-in buildings, while the exposure and general look of these shots occasionally bested the main sensor.

Sony’s 8MP selfie camera isn’t up to much, however, producing washed out, poorly exposed snaps with slightly off skin tones. The whole experience is also weighed down with a certain sense of lag, with a wallowy shutter control making you feel like you’re using a sub-£200 phone, not a more-than-£400 one.All in all, it’s a somewhat understated camera offering from Sony, with a main sensor that lacks the aspirational flagship-ish quality of some of its rivals. However, don’t underestimate the appeal of having a dedicated telephoto camera at this end of the market.

Sony Xperia 10 IV review: Verdict

Mid-range phones are always a matter of priorities, and in the Xperia 10 IV Sony has made some unusual choices. Like the Xperia 10 III before it, the phone feels somewhat overpriced, with a low-end processor, an underwhelming main camera, and a disappointing 60Hz display.

On the other hand, the Xperia 10 IV is unusually water-resistant, has a dedicated telephoto camera, and has the best battery life in its class.

Overall, Sony still hasn’t quite managed to hit upon a mid-market formula that will sing to most people. Not in such a competitive market, that’s for sure, and not for the money it’s asking.

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