Sony Xperia R1

Sony Xperia R1, déjà vu

Introduction:

Sony is absolutely no stranger to anyone in this planet. From gamers to, entertainment consumers to music labels, Sony owns them all. Sony is a fairly old competitor in the smartphone marketspace but it never actually saw the limelight that Samsung, LG or HTC saw. Sony has a record of making good hardware at reasonable prices but when it comes to smartphones, they just fall short from everybody else. Often the devices at their targeted price points are either under-spec’ed or not balanced enough, leading to many people ruling them out as their buying choices.

Sony made a comeback into the budget and mid-tier smartphone market with their XA series of smartphones which sported fresh designs and a new set of colours. Sony has never fallen short of making good looking devices and the Xperia R series is no different. It follows the design policy of the Sony XA series but these phones are aimed at a much lower budget segment than the premium XA series,which makes us wonder, why Sony ever bothers to enter these market segments. The simple answer is that there are still people for whom the brand image is more important than the actual device itself. With that said, let’s have a look at what the Sony Xperia R1 has to offer.

Design and Display:

The Xperia R1 has a rather split personality when it comes to design language. The front of the device is really attractive, has a 2.5D all glass construction which looks rather good with rounded edges making it a comfortable fit for any sized hands. The front is devoid of any physical buttons are all navigation buttons are software based. The device has a notification LED near the earpiece and a noise cancellation mic at the top and the speaker grille at the bottom. The side has the usual 3 button layout of power and volume rockers and that’s pretty much it for the front. Moving to the back the split personality comes in because while the front of the device is good looking the rear is just bland. It is flat and just has the camera and a flash with the Xperia logo. While some may argue that many manufacturers are going this route, so why I’m ranting here. It would be because the Xperia doesn’t really balance it out as the others.

Coming to the display, the Sony Xperia R1 features a 5.2’inch IPS LCD display with a 720p resolution. The display is largely good but not the best. Phones like the Motorola G5 has superior displays at the same price point. Also the top and bottom bezels are quite thick and Sony doesn’t really seem all that excited to hop on to the bezel less display trend anytime soon.

Performance:

The Sony Xperia R1 is equipped with a Snapdragon 430 which is a decent performer but Sony should have implemented the newer Snapdragon 435 that is found in many budget phones these days. The Snapdragon 430 has an 8 core CPU based on ARM’s A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz. The graphics are handled by an Adreno 505 GPU which isn’t really the most powerful performer and heavy gaming should be a challenge. Oddly enough, the R1 comes with just 2GB of RAM which should limit your multitasking experience. Also since most smartphones in this price range come with 3 or even 4GB of RAM, it is really questionable as to why Sony decided that 2GB was enough.

Software:

The Sony Xperia R1 comes with an almost stock version of Android 7.1.2 Nougat. The skinning is really limited in the device and apart from a few icons and some minor UI changes, the experience is almost similar to stock android which is good. I appreciate what Sony has done because it UI isn’t as bland as the stock version but isn’t as system heavy as some of the other OEM’s. The UI retains the default Android app drawer and the amount of pre-installed apps has been kept at a minimum. The Sony comes with a custom camera app that has a lot options to tweak the image. Other than it, it also has very good audio processing.

Camera and Storage:

The Xperia R1 comes with a 13MP primary camera with an Exmor Sony Sensor. It has 8x digital zoom and up to 12 capturing modes for photos. The photos captured with it have reasonable amount of detail although the advertised sports mode doesn’t really work as fast moving images still end up blurry. The camera also doesn’t have any image stabilisation whatsoever. Other than that it has settings for ISO adjustments, Exposure compensation, tap to focus and HDR support. It also has what Sony calls a hybrid autofocus that helps it to focus on subjects really fast. It is also coupled with a single tone LED flash for capturing photos in the dark.

The secondary camera is an 8MP unit which also comes with the predictive hybrid autofocus technology as the rear camera. It also has 8x zoom and the aforementioned shooting modes as the primary camera. The Front camera clicks decent pictures in good lighting conditions.

Storage wise, it has just 16GB of storage with the option to expand up to 256GB with a dedicated micro SD card slot. We thank Sony for not making us chose between sim cards and memory cards.

Battery and Connectivity:

The battery is one area where the Sony seems to lag behind. It has a 2620mAh battery without the option for fast charging despite having a USB type-c port. The Sony should see you through the day with moderate usage but you might end up charging it a lot if you are a power user.

Connectivity wise, it has already been launched at India and supports Indian network bands including 4G VoLTE, 3G and 2G. It also has Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with Bluetooth 4.2 support and GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS and BDS support courtesy of the Snapdragon 430. For interfacing it has USB Type-C ports.

Conclusion:

The Sony Xperia R1 is a good device in general. It has everything that the buyer in the price point might need but it has three glaring emissions:

  1. No Fingerprint Sensor
  2. No Fast charging
  3. No gorilla Glass protection

The inclusion of just 2GB of RAM doesn’t help its case. The Sony Xperia R1 price in India is Rs.12,990 in online retail stores, which puts it in direct competition with some other well established heavy hitters such as the XiaomiRedmi Note 4 and the Huawei Honor 6X, all of which come with better overall specifications.

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