Sony has a new flagship phone called the Xperia I IV, and it is brimming with top-tier hardware (and some glaring caveats) that will burn a $1,600-sized hole in buyers’ wallets. So far, Sony hasn’t really managed to leave a mark in the flagship segment. The Xperia 1 and 10 series are both populated by devices that offer a compelling set of features in an easily recognizable design. But when it comes to the value aspect, they are far outclassed by rivals from Samsung, Google, and Apple.

But more than just raw hardware comparisons, Sony’s software update cycle has also been far inferior to what the competition has to offer, and it takes a serious toll on the longevity aspect of its phones. Samsung, for instance, has promised four years of OS upgrades and five years of security updates for its phones. In comparison, the Xperia 1 III flagship launched in 2021 will get only two years of Android OS updates.

Related: Sony’s Xperia Pro-I Is Basically A DSLR Camera With A Phone Built-In

The Xperia 1 IV recycles an old design that blends scratch-resistant glass and metal rails to create an IP68-certified package. Its 6.5-inch screen uses a 4K HDR OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and a tall 21:9 aspect ratio that Sony claims will offer a cinema-like viewing experience. Under the hood is Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor that is coupled with 12GB of RAM and a healthy 512GB of onboard storage. Sony’s latest phone actually offers a pair of perks that have almost vanished from the high-end smartphone segment — a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSDXC card slot for storage expansion by another 1TB. There’s a new violet trim on the table, aside from the usual black. Android 12 runs things on the software side with a mostly stock flavor.

Why Should You Consider Sony’s Pricey Phone?

Sony Xperia I IV smartphone

Spending $1,600 on a phone means there should be some standout features or meaningful upgrades, but unfortunately, there aren’t enough to justify that price tag. The addition of mmWave 5G support is neat, but the camera hardware remains the same triple 12-megapixel sensor array at the back as its predecessor. The battery fitted inside is a 5,000mAh unit with support for wireless charging. Even though the charger comes bundled in the retail package, the fast charging speed maxes out at 30W. For a third of its price, brands like OnePlus go all the way up to 150W. Another huge shortcoming is that the Sony Xperia I IV is slated to go on sale in September, which is still far off. By that time, the iPhone 14 series will be on the horizon, and the Pixel 7 pair might have also hit the shelves.

The Xperia I IV offers a trio of 12-megapixel wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras. A key upgrade is that all three cameras now support slow motion 4K video capture at 120 frames per second, and 20 frames per second burst capture from all three lenses. Moreover, 4K HDR video capture is possible across the 24, 25, 30, and 60 frames per second range, too. Then there’s the usual set of proprietary Sony imaging tricks such as Optical SteadyShot and real-time Eye AF for both pets and human subjects. There’s also a mini-HDMI input port that allows direct live-streaming when connected to a DSLR camera or simply using the phone as a 4K hi-res monitor, a premise sold by the $2,500 Xperia Pro 5G as well.

But the most important upgrade has been made to the phone’s zooming capabilities. The Xperia I III had a variable telephoto lens that could switch between two focal lengths. The telephoto camera on the Xperia I IV will let users seamlessly change the optical zoom values between 85mm and 125mm focal lengths, resulting in a near-lossless zoom experience without any hybrid zooming or digital cropping. It is achieved by allowing the lens elements to move inside the camera module, instead of using a set of fixed lenses. Oppo recently showcased a similar continuous zoom tech, but that is yet to arrive on a commercially available phone. Sony’s new offering is squarely targeting smartphone photography enthusiasts who have the patience to wait until September before they spend a hefty $1,600 on a phone, disregarding what the competition has to offer.