back to article Long phone is loooong: Sony swipes at flagship fatigue with 21:9 tall boy

Five years ago, LG, Sony and HTC roamed the Earth like all-conquering warlords. But then the engines of the Chinese manufacturing economy cranked up, and thanks to the gift of Android that Google gave them, Huawei and OnePlus stole much of their thunder. And market share. So what are they up to these days? Let's provide the …

  1. MiguelC Silver badge

    21:9 ratio, you say

    We're almost at parody level ratios, now...

    1. AIBailey

      Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

      The ratio thing really bugs me now.

      I understand why they do it, but I really wish screen manufacturers would scale down their ratio figures.

      Two years ago it was all about 18:9. Just call it 2:1

      Now we have 21:9. Or 7:3.for those of us that were taught maths beyond the age of 8

      Somehow we're all meant to be incapable of understanding anything without a ratio measured against 9.

      Old TV programmes will now presumably be broadcast in 12:9 format.

      What's next? A square screen that needs to be sold as 9:9 so that people can understand it?

      /rant.

      1. BrownishMonstr

        Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

        Can't blame them doing this.

        People ranted at Microsoft for not updating their phone to WP8 (or whatever) when the whole OS changed, even though it wasn't possible. They were updated to a newer version of 7 with ports of some of the features (where possible). Had MS just called it WP8 they wouldn't have complained even though it's a just a number.

        Expect stupidity to hit even the wisest people.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

          There was some story about a fast food place that tried to one-up their quarter-pound competition by making a third-pound burger. It failed because people didn't recognize that 1/3 lb. was bigger than 1/4 lb. After all, 4 is bigger than 3, right?

          Before anyone sneers at the use of pounds as a unit of weight, keep in mind that a fraction of a kilogram would have been the same way. And I thought the "I don't get fractions!" thing was a trait of young children...

          1. Def Silver badge

            Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

            Except of course that really wouldn't be a problem with metric weights because you would have said 113g instead of 1/4 lb, and 150g instead of 1/3 lb, and even Drumpf would recognise that 150 is bigger than 113 - although he may claim otherwise at his rallies because, you know, liberals or something.

            1. fandom Silver badge

              Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

              Yes, you know the kind of people that have to put political shit into a converstation about screen ratios.

              You wouldn't want to spend time listening to them, even if they happen to get something right from time to time.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

        In theory it is easier to understand for people as it is to be compared with the standard 16:9 TV ratio.

        1. Dwarf Silver badge

          Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

          Do the Yoof of today still own a TV, or do they just watch everything off their mobile phone and tablet ?

        2. Immenseness
          Pint

          Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

          I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the faffing about with ratios is some perceived artistic benefit/director's vanity. TV drama is the most difficult to fathom. They create stuff for broadcast TV sets, which are mostly 16:9 receivers anyway, but they seem to make their dramas with just a half inch off top and bottom for "stylistic effect". In the same vein as "ooh, let's shoot into the light for every shot so that all the poor viewer can see is silhouettes", "make sure you get the lens flare though", "oh and make sure to have a really narrow depth of field so only a fraction of the screen is in focus, and be sure to switch the focus point suddenly while the viewer is trying to work out what's going on." and "make the actors whisper almost inaudibly, but hey, keep the background sounds nice and loud so it is hard to follow what they are saying, because it is 'edgy'", and "don't forget to map the colours to something that looks like a faulty TV from the 70s."

          Sorry, but it wicks me off that I have to spend the first 10 minutes of a programme trying to find an aspect ratio that is neither a ridiculously narrow letterbox across the middle of the screen, that we all have to huddle round to see, nor a distorted mess, and then faff about with the colour/contrast/brightness/temperature to get it somewhere where I can enjoy the film and not be distracted from the story by stupidly wrong colours. I used to like to sit down and lose myself in a relaxing film. Now they are bloody hard work, both to set up, and to follow - "3 weeks earlier (weird colours, whispering dialogue while a brass band plays loudly in the background and someone shines a torch in my face), 4 days later... 2 weeks earlier (is that earlier than now, or from the beginning or end of the 4 days later than the 3 weeks earlier?)... 18 hours later (someone describing a key plot point in a hoarse whisper while using a vaccuum cleaner)"..." By the end, I'm exhausted! Beer helps, beers all round!

      3. Sleep deprived
        Happy

        Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

        Time to come up with prime number ratio. 23:7 anyone?

        1. jmarked

          Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

          Can't imagine how much of the it would stick out of my pants pocket.

          1. A Nonny Moose

            Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

            Try putting it in your trousers instead

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

            >Can't imagine how much of the it would stick out of my pants pocket.

            Some of us are born with that problem:)

        2. Guzlr

          Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

          What about 22:7? ...or Pi as we like to call it in the trade. This would also work for circular screens!

    2. Groaning Ninny

      Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

      But I *love* the idea of the guitar!

    3. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

      I'm sure that there's a "Video killed the ratio star," joke in this somewhere...

    4. cd

      Re: 21:9 ratio, you say

      I'm holding out for 42:18.

  2. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Verry nice

    I've had a couple of xperias alongside a mixed bag of lg's and Motorola phones and the Sony kit has always lasted longest and gotten the most consistent and long patch life cycle.

    I stopped buying them when the price went sky high so a return is most welcome.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Verry nice

      Xperias have always been very good. Sadly Americans hate them, because American websites never got kickbacks from Sony like they do from Samsung and Apple, so the American press constantly down review Xperia models in the hope that Sony change their payola practices to match that of Samsung and Apple (the big offenders).

      As a result, you have blogs stuffed full of fake news about how Sony phones suck because they didn't have fingerprint unlock (patent trolling by Samsung), or the camera sucked because it didn't have fake over saturated images like Apple and Samsung did...

      Also worth mentioning, Sony aren't "basically a components company these days", they are on record as stating that they only sell last generation sensors to other manufacturers. This gen sensors are exclusive to Sony products...

      https://petapixel.com/2017/03/22/sony-keeps-best-sensors-cameras

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Verry nice

        Also worth mentioning, Sony aren't "basically a components company these days", they are on record as stating that they only sell last generation sensors to other manufacturers.

        Since in handset terms they're well behind Sammy and Apple (and some others) in terms of market share and profitability, then holding back premium components is only harming one company. If Sony actually do (and continue) to hold back their sensors, they'll soon find somebody else is providing the premium sensors, and then they'll be a "has been" phone maker, and "has been" sensor maker.

        I don't say that vindictively, I respect Sony's hardware prowess in many areas, but they have to maximise the value of their technology rather than looking to cling to past glories through preferential availability.

  3. kuiash

    Stand?

    Does it have a kick stand or a case so it can be stood up on it's long edge? That'd be great for travelling.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      Re: Stand?

      according to the manufacturer site, it does

      1. kuiash

        Re: Stand?

        Thank you!

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    LDAC

    Sony contributed LDAC to the AOSP a couple of years back and so a good many phones support it. What is missing is a good range of Bluetooth headphones that support it, though Sony's widely esteemed (usually rated a bit higher than Bose's Quiet Comfort ) XM noise cancelling headphones do.

  5. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I do like Sony kit - it's the only android phone I actually liked. The two-step camera button is a welcome feature. Generally very well made. They're certainly competing at a sensible level now anyway.

  6. BrownishMonstr

    Android always feels like Windows 95 on LSD, not that the competitors are much better. But the crapware and malware on the play store puts me off, especially suggesting it to my parents who will no doubt install everything from the play store and wonder why ads are popping up on the phone at the OS level (my dad's samsung does this).

  7. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Fingerprint sensor location? Waterproofing?

    Xperia had 2 distinguishing features in recent year, a side mounted fingerprint sensor and decent waterproofing. I can't tell from this article or the Sony site if either or both of these have been retained.

    1. MT Field

      Re: Fingerprint sensor location? Waterproofing?

      Only two things needed to make it my next phone, a headphone jack and the fingerprint sensor on the side. Is it so?

    2. Retro_Rabbit

      Re: Fingerprint sensor location? Waterproofing?

      IP 67/ 68 and on the power button (side) according to the blurb Sony sent me... I'm still happily using my XZ, been holding off to see what new stuff was coming rather than plopping my money on the XZ3 the getting the buyer's remorse 2 months later.

    3. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Fingerprint sensor location? Waterproofing?

      > a side mounted fingerprint sensor

      Yes, but this phone's so tall the fingerprint literally is the whole finger!

  8. Buzzword

    10-bit smoothing tonal gradation (8 bits in hardware, 2 in software)

    So, an ordinary 8-bit display then?

  9. K Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    "Huawei and OnePlus stole much of their thunder"

    More like they willing gave away their thunder (along with Google, Samsung, Apple etc), by trying to move the "premium price" range from £400-£600, to £800-£1000+. They vacated the consumers it that market. All that Huawei, OnePlus and Xioami have done is step in to fill the void -

    Personally, I'm a darn sight more happy with my OnePlus handset, than I ever was with either my old Xperia and Galaxy handset.

    1. nkuk

      Re: "Huawei and OnePlus stole much of their thunder"

      Same here, my OnePlus 6 is far better engineered and reliable than the Xperia Z2 I used to have. The X2 was one of the worst phones I have ever owned and the screens had a bad reputation for an unresponsive touchscreen, brittle glass front and back and overheating problems. I was so put off I will probably never buy another Sony phone.

      1. Julian Garrett

        Re: "Huawei and OnePlus stole much of their thunder"

        WHICH ONE WAS IT - THE X2 OR THE Z2?

        Sorry, started in all caps and caught myself halfway through.

  10. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    'Smart amplifier'

    Phones are generally already loud enough, I don't want any more opportunity for some idiot on public transport to pump their shite music around.

    How about a removable battery, five years of guaranteed operating system and security fixes, insisting on open source drivers so when it's out of support someone else can fix it, and finally bringing in a desktop dock so you can run productivity apps on it with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

    I'd also ask for a landscape keyboard, but F(x)tec (was Livermorium) are at MWC showing off pre-production samples of their landscape keyboard phone. I'm dearly hoping it's decent and not obscenely expensive, as I plan to buy it as soon as I can.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Smart amplifier'

      @BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Modern phones use USB-C for input/charging/output. Modern docks supply power and connect to devices over USB-C. You see where I am going with this?

      I have tested various Huawei, Samsung and other phones through USB-C docks, and so far I have only had trouble with installing Display port drivers, but I was able to download an app for display port which provided that, so essentially, you can already dock a USB-C based phone and use Keyboard, mouse and monitor, it's standard functionality in Android.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: 'Smart amplifier'

        OK, that's good, in that case it's just a matter of packaging it up, and fixing a few Android apps to work properly in a pointer driven environment, as last time I tried it, too many apps were designed to be swiped.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: 'Smart amplifier'

      "...insisting on open source drivers so when it's out of support someone else can fix it..."

      How can you do that when it's the component manufacturers who won't open their specs due to intense competition in their market?

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: 'Smart amplifier'

        If you're large enough, say that it's a condition of gaining business. Stick it under escrow if need be. Include the condition that it must be supported for N future versions of Android, with suitable funding. It would help if Android had a backwards compatible binary driver model, too.

        I fully realise this is a little pie in the sky at the moment, but the current situation is one of widespread insecure phones, and excessive levels of waste.

        Also, yes, such a position generally leads to less choice but greater security, viz OpenBSD.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: 'Smart amplifier'

          "I fully realise this is a little pie in the sky at the moment, but the current situation is one of widespread insecure phones, and excessive levels of waste."

          Which is EXACTLY what they want, if you don't realize it. The component manufacturers are string-pullers and are pretty much bigger fish than most of the phone manufacturers or otherwise hold key Trade Secret Sauce protected by patents and so on. Basically, the only things the component manufacturers fear is each other. No one else can force them to do anything; the market's such that they can counter-threaten or simply slide to another market like IoT.

          1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: 'Smart amplifier'

            Of course I realise that's exactly what they want, I'm trying in a very small way to change that.

            They can be threatened - it'll probably take legislation. We're all living on borrowed time here - so far there haven't been any widespread exploits that have serious consequences, but I tend to think it's only a matter of time.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: 'Smart amplifier'

              I don't think they can be threatened. They're either in a hostile government's pocket or have enough influence to counter-threat, influence, or simply raise a campaign to change the government wholesale.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just wish it was easier to backup the TA area

    I just wish it was easier to backup the TA area. Since the dirtycow exploit was patched the is no way to backup the TA area which has the drm key specific to the phone that enables the useful features like eco cancellation and low level iso settings, auto focus. So if you want to get rid (mostly) of the google stuff and say want lineageOs or Saltfish like myself, when you unlock the bootloader the drm keys are erased and you can't put the phone back to it's pristine condition if you want to ( because you can't backup the keys in the TA).

    BTW it is so nice not having to have a google account an just using f-droid instead.

  12. Dwarf Silver badge

    2001

    Anyone else thinking about the black monolith scene from 2001 ?

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: 2001

      Anyone else thinking about the black monolith scene from 2001 ?

      That was 1:4:9, not 21:9.

      1. Adrian Harvey

        Re: 2001

        4:9 = 9:20.25 though, so not far off 9:21 really....

  13. Tripp

    Headphone jack

    I'm happy to see that the mid range 10 has a headphone jack but it is a shame they missed this this feature on the high end Xperia 1.

    1. Colin Ritman

      Re: Headphone jack

      Actually not surprised, as anyone with even an ounce of technical knowledge, or a par of moderately working ears will know that the built in DAC and analog stage in every phone that has a headphone jack sounds totally shite compared to an inline DAC. Headphone jacks are the integrated soundcards of the mobile world - adequate for casual use, but not very good when you want quality.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Headphone jack

        You're missing the point that being wired headphones

  14. rutskiuk

    Ratio for video masochists

    Doesn't anyone realise that a video taken in portrait mode will look like a stick when viewed in landscape mode?

    I wish phones locked the camera to only record in landscape

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. molletts
        Trollface

        Re: Ratio for video masochists

        If you are the type who has to watch landscape videos in portrait, or portrait videos in landscape, one would have to ask why?

        I know I should probably upgrade to the latest all-singing, all-dancing gear but my TV dates from that primitive, dimly-remembered era before TVs came with automatic motorised swivel-stands that rotate the screen into the right orientation whenever they show mobile-phone footage on the news.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Ratio for video masochists

          But was the person filming an escaped chimp in the zoo doing so to send to a news broadcaster or doing so to send to her friends who are more likely than not to watch the clip in portrait orientation?

          That said, I would sometimes like to be able to film in landscape whilst holding the phone in portrait - it's just more comfortable and secure to hold that way.

      2. Retro_Rabbit

        Re: Ratio for video masochists

        I've always thought video in portrait mode was done because the person doing it was a muppet or a best a bit of a sadistic git, especially, if like me, you ping YouTube to a wide screen TV (I don't own a tall screen TV).

      3. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Ratio for video masochists

        Only n00bs record video in portrait mode, no ifs, buts, or maybes!

        There is absolutely NO reason to record in portait mode, none, just a n00b holding the recording device ... video playback material (computer screens and tv's) expect video in landscape mode.

    2. Nosher

      Re: Ratio for video masochists

      I concur - that thing they have to do when showing crummy portrait videos in, for instance, BBC News, drives me nuts. You'd think it would be easy enough to make all video record in landscape but add metadata to say "this was actually shot in portrait, so display the relevant clipped portrait region if displaying on another phone", but keep the raw video in landscape so it could be used on TV news, or on a phone in landscape.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Ratio for video masochists

        Perhaps they should stretch it to fit 16x9 from 9x16

        Imagine how people woul dlook!

  15. tony2heads
    Joke

    better audio

    That's music to my ears

  16. fishman

    Silly ratio.

    Most video done these days is at 16:9.

    Most times when a phone is bent it is bent due to its length. Phone length often is more important than width in fitting into a pocket.

    If you hold the phone upright while viewing the web, the width of the phone usually determines how large the text and images are.

    1. Cederic

      Re: Silly ratio.

      Phones keep getting longer and bigger. I think phone designers all carry handbags.

      I've given up looking at new phones. I'll keep buying old ones that actually fit in a pocket.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Silly ratio.

        What happens when (not if) the software (even the basic stuff) starts getting too slow to run on your phone (and holding onto the old stuff stops becoming an option)? I've been hanging onto Note 4's for years, but software performance has become increasingly clunky, to the point I may have to eventually jump to an LG V20 if something newer WITH a removable battery doesn't come along before then.

  17. SkippyBing Silver badge

    No F****ing Notch

    Sold.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: No F****ing Notch

      I think they should have a notch which brings the inner screen ratio down to 16:9. You'd have all the marketing benefits of 21:9 with all the marketing benefits of a notch. It'd sell loads.

  18. Stuart21551

    "very slim, very tall 21:9 ratio display"

    Wot happened to the good old 7 : 3?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      No one can wrap their heads around the numbers (it's like quizzing someone which is bigger: 21/32

      or 2/3). At least 21:9 is easy to compare to say 16:9 (which you'll note can't be reduced).

  19. DeeCee

    if i was in the market for a new phone this would seem a nice option among those awful notches and holes in screens

  20. hoola

    Nice products

    I have had a few Sony Xperia Z series phones in the family and they have always survived remarkably well. A durable case has resulted in teenagers not damaging a Z5 and Z5 Compact for years. My own Xperia has been dropped and dunked and I have always been surprised that there is no damage.

    Screens are excellent as is the battery life. I am sure there are many who have equally bad experiences but that is generally true of most things.

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