Sony has just announced a new smartphone, the Xperia 1 IV, and it is a revolutionary one. The company is known for its capabilities in camera sensors, providing outstanding phone sensors for many manufacturers. But the new phone aims to overcome the only big flaw that photography has on the smartphone: the lack of optical zoom.
With a regular camera, you can rotate the lens or press a lever to zoom in and out without loss of resolution. With smartphones, there’s a problem. Almost every smartphone ever has fixed focus lenses. The only way to solve this problem is to connect to digital zoom (which quickly reduces the quality of the image until it becomes almost unusable) or multiple lenses.
Even the multi-lens solution has great limitations, with full resolution possible only on the native focal length of each camera. Adjust from this and you’re in digital zoom again.
So Sony’s new phone is significantly different. There are three cameras on the new phone, and one of them has a variable focal length, 85-125mm. This means that, compared to the 24mm main lens, it offers the equivalent of a 3.2x zoom, but which can then be adjusted to just over 5x.
Because a 3x optical zoom is common, you will really notice the step up to 5x and it is sensational to be able to do it without losing image quality.
It doesn’t come cheap. When the phone is launched (September in the US, June 16 in the UK) it will cost $ 1,599 (£ 1,299 in the UK).
There are other great new features, though none as unique as genuine optical zoom.
You can record slo-mo videos in Ultra HD quality on all three 12 MP cameras. Sony has another specialty: real-time autofocus to make sure your subjects’ faces are focused very well. The 5,000 mAh battery is enough to keep your phone running for a long time and it is worth noting that, unlike other manufacturers, Sony puts a 4K display on its premium phones. This is a 6.5-inch display in Sony’s preferred widescreen ratio (21: 9). This makes it easier to fit in your hand, for sure. Oh, and it has the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 1 processor that powers it.
Optical zoom itself makes this an extremely intriguing proposition, and while it’s far from cheap, Sony’s immaculate build quality and sleek design are extremely appealing.