Sony Xperia 1 V vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: The battle of the flagships

The Sony Xperia 1 V is the latest top-end flagship from Sony with a particular focus on photography, but how does it compare to one of the most popular flagships around, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?

While both are at the top of their respective games, there are key differences between the two that may sway your vote one way or the other, from the type of camera tech on offer to varying display tech to long-term software support. Let’s break down some of the key differences on offer to help you decide which is best for your needs. 

The Sony Xperia 1 V has a higher-res display

Both the Sony Xperia 1 V and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra have top-end displays in their own right, with smooth 120Hz refresh rates, top-end HDR performance and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection that should protect from drops on asphalt, but there’s one area where the two differ: resolution.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 1440 x 3088 WQHD+ resolution certainly isn’t to be sniffed at – in fact we think it’s one of the best all-round displays on the market in 2023 – but it can’t quite compete with Sony’s offering. 

That’s because, like Xperia flagships before it, the Sony Xperia 1 V has a 4K (1644 x 3840) resolution – one of the only smartphones on the market to do so. That means that, unlike with Samsung’s option, you’re getting close to true 4K when watching 4K content from the likes of Netflix and YouTube, and the 21:9 aspect ratio means you won’t have those annoying black bars when watching widescreen Hollywood blockbusters either. 

Sony Xperia 1 V

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has built-in stylus support

The Xperia 1 V might have the higher-res display of the two flagships, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a trick up its sleeve in the form of a built-in stylus dubbed the S Pen. It pops out of the bottom-left corner of the phone when needed, providing a handy way to doodle and make notes on the phone.

It also boasts cool features like the ability to quickly make notes without turning the display on first, handwriting-to-text conversion for easy note sharing, and the ability to cut out segments of photos by tracing the subject with the stylus. You can even use it as a remote shutter when taking photos. 

It’s one of the key features of the Galaxy S23 Ultra that make it unique in the wider smartphone market, and it’s something that Sony’s Xperia 1 V can’t compete with, lacking any kind of stylus support.

The Sony Xperia 1 V has a unique main camera sensor

Given the fact that Sony has an entire camera division with some of the most impressive DSLR cameras around, it should come as no surprise that the Xperia 1 V has impressive camera chops including a rather unique setup for its main rear camera. 

The 52MP Exmor T sensor boasts a unique stacked CMOS with a two-layer transistor that Sony claims is twice as good as snapping low-light compared to last year’s flagship without needing a large 1-inch sensor like many rivals. That said, the sensor is 1.7x larger than that of the Xperia 1 IV, and Sony’s advanced computational photography allows it to take low-light shots on a par with dedicated DLSRs – according to the company, anyway. We’ll have to put that to the test once we go hands-on with Sony’s flagship. 

That doesn’t mean the S23 Ultra doesn’t have an impressive camera setup, because it certainly does. Like the Xperia, it doesn’t have a 1-inch sensor, but it doesn’t stop it from boasting significant year-on-year gains compared to the S22 Ultra, particularly in low light. 

That’s mainly down to the high-res 200MP camera and Samsung’s computational photography tech, delivering impressively detailed and vibrant images in both well-lit and low-light conditions. It also has some of the best zoom capabilities around with a 10x optical zoom and 100x Space Zoom.  

Sony Xperia 1 V

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has much better long-term software support

When it comes to software longevity, Samsung takes the win with one of the best long-term software support plans around, comprised of four OS upgrades and five years of security patches – a promise not even matched by Google itself and that company literally develops the Android OS. 

It’s also much better than Sony’s relatively paltry offering of two OS upgrades and three years of security patches across its Xperia range, especially when you consider just how expensive Sony’s flagship is. Speaking of… 

The Sony Xperia 1 V is more expensive

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is considered to be one of the most expensive flagship smartphones on the market with a starting price of £1,249/$1,199 with 256GB of storage, though it can go right up to £1,599/$1,619 if you want the top-end 1TB storage capacity. 

That’s no doubt expensive, but somewhat amazingly, the Sony Xperia 1 V is even more expensive than Samsung’s option starting at £1,299 (around $1,500) with 256GB of storage. Considering Sony’s shortcomings in long-term software support in particular, this seems like a lot of cash for a smartphone. 

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