The Sony Xperia 1 VI is Sony’s Best Smartphone But Isn’t Coming to the US

A Sony smartphone is pictured with its camera lens in focus. Behind it is a collage of various photos, including a waterfall, people in different settings, close-ups of nature, a campsite at night, and outdoor landscapes.

Sony announced the new Xperia 1 VI smartphone which is packed with a lot of exciting and novel features. However, unlike the Xperia 1 V and prior models, the new “One Six” isn’t coming to the United States.

Priced in the United Kingdom at £1299, or about $1,640, the Xperia 1 VI is every bit a premium flagship smartphone.

New and Improved Photography Features, Including an Impressive 85-170mm Optical Zoom

Like prior Xperia devices, it heavily emphasizes photographic capabilities. The Xperia 1 VI has a 48-megapixel main camera with a Sony Exmor T image sensor and a pair of 12-megapixel cameras for ultra-wide and telephoto photography.

This image showcases the rear camera setup of a smartphone, highlighting the specifications of its lenses. The phone features a 16mm ultra-wide lens, 24mm and 48mm wide lenses, and an 85-170mm telephoto lens, with ZEISS branding on the lenses.

Like the 1 V, the 1 VI sports optical zoom technology, allowing users to zoom across multiple focal lengths continuously. In the 1 VI’s case, it has a 48mm telephoto camera that can then zoom from 85 to 170mm (in equivalent terms). That’s considerable flexibility, especially for a smartphone camera system.

Compare that to the Xperia 1 V, which also has a triple-camera system. The V’s main camera has a 52-megapixel Exmor T image sensor, so a few more megapixels than the new phone. The main camera also has autofocus technology borrowed from Alpha, including a 399-point system with object tracking, touch tracking, and subject detection features.

However, the 12-megapixel telephoto camera is quite different — its optical zoom ranges from 85 to 125mm.

For the VI to add an extra 45mm may not sound like much at first blush; it is a significant change and more than doubles the overall zoom capabilities of Sony’s premium handheld. All this is achieved without digital zoom, like before, meaning that users can expect high image quality throughout the zoom range.

Sony particularly cites the new telephoto camera as well-suited to portraiture and macro photography. There’s no reason to doubt its relative advantages here.

Sony also claims that the new main camera offers improved performance in low-light conditions, although it’s not evident if this is due to hardware changes, software improvements, or both.

Three Sony smartphones are shown from the back at an angle, highlighting their triple camera setups. The phones come in three colors: black, dark green, and white. The camera modules are labeled with the branding "ZEISS T*.

4K/120p Video, New Display, and Two-Day Battery Life

As for video, the Xperia 1 VI can shoot “stunning” 4K video at up to 120 frames per second using any of its cameras, and it works alongside high-end color profiles like the S-Cinetone found on Sony Alpha cameras.

The phones also sport a new unified camera experience. Sony has previously put various features inside different apps — three of them, to be precise. Now, there’s just the one. And, as always, the camera system features Zeiss optical coatings.

The phone’s overall design is similar, but it is smaller and has a lower-resolution display. Sony has moved from its tall 21:9 display to a stouter 19.5:9 panel. This change has reduced the size from 7.1 to 6.5 inches and comes with a resolution drop from 4K to FHD+. There are some advantages, too, including a variable refresh rate on the Xperia 1 VI and 50% higher peak brightness.

Alongside good visuals must be good audio. Sony brings “full-stage” speakers to the Xperia 1 VI, including two large, symmetrical drivers on the top and bottom of the device. Many phones have a single primary speaker — not the Xperia 1 VI. It also has a headphone jack, a relative oddity these days.

A close-up of a person using a professional camera with an attached monitor displaying the same image as the camera's screen. The monitor shows a scenic outdoor path surrounded by greenery. The camera is branded "Sony," and the person's hand is touching the monitor's screen.

The new display is not just a bit smaller, it’s also more efficient. Between that and other changes, Sony promises two full days of use on a single charge. Impressive.

A close-up image showcasing a Sony Alpha camera with a wide-angle lens alongside a black smartphone featuring a triple-lens camera system. The camera lens displays "FE 1.4/24 GM" and the smartphone has "ZEISS T*" branding near the lens.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony Xperia 1 VI sounds like a great phone, although prior Xperia devices have also been great. However, they haven’t quite made much of a dent in the difficult U.S. market. For this reason, or perhaps others, Sony is skipping the U.S. this time.

The device is available to preorder now in the United Kingdom for £1,299 and comes in black, green, and silver colorways. It ships with 256GB of internal storage and will arrive to customers starting June 6.

Image credits: Sony