Sony Xperia 10 review: Beautiful cinematic display, average performance! - Page 2

3 out of 5 stars

The smartphone experience on the Sony Xperia 10

We used the Sony Xperia 10 smartphone daily, for over two weeks. Our experience with it during this time was both good and bad. Its Snapdragon 630 chipset and 3 GB of memory are good enough for regular activities such as browsing the internet, chatting on Whatsapp, watching movies on Netflix or YouTube, or playing Candy Crush-like games. However, sometimes apps and the Android user interface stuttered.

The fingerprint sensor proved to be fast at unlocking the smartphone, but its positioning on the right edge was not great for me, personally. I tend to hold the smartphone with my left hand and, although I would not say that my fingers are short, I still had trouble reaching it. Furthermore, I had even more issues finding the power button: it is above the fingerprint reader, and hard to reach. If you usually hold your phone with the right hand, you should not have these problems.

A perspective of the Sony Xperia 10

As for the phone calls, their audio quality is excellent. We could hear the ones we called clearly, and they said the same thing about hearing us. The mobile coverage is not great in the mountainous town where I live, but I did not experience any call drops.

Making a phone call on the Sony Xperia 10

The best thing about Sony Xperia 10 is its screen. The 21:9 aspect ratio and the Full HD+ resolution make it an excellent choice for people who like to watch movies or TV series on their smartphones. The screen displays vivid colors with good detail and high brightness. Even if you use it outdoors in sunlight, you can see what's on the screen without having to look for shade. On the other hand, Xperia 10's best feature is also the one least exploited: there are not many movies, and even less TV series, available in 21:9 format. At least not on Netflix and HBO GO, the two streaming services that we're subscribed to. If you are watching a video with 16:9 aspect ratio, you're going to see some thick black bars on the left and right sides of the screen.

One of the home screens of the Sony Xperia 10

Sony's Xperia 10 also delivers excellent sound when you're using your headphones with it, wired or Bluetooth. Yes, this smartphone offers a 3.5 mm jack which you can use to plug in your wired headphones. It is nice to see that you're not forced to use a USB Type-C to audio adapter.

Although it has two grilles on its bottom edge, the Xperia 10 has only one loudspeaker, and the audio experience is not the best. It does not distort, and it's loud, but the high tones feel too high.

Another perspective of the Sony Xperia 10

Playing games on the Sony Xperia 10 can be a satisfying experience as long as you don't expect high graphics quality and are OK with games not rendering on the whole screen. There are not many games that are designed to work on 21:9 screens. Also, if you are the type of person who enjoys playing racing or any other fast action games, they might not run as smooth as you'd like.

If you enjoy watching movies on your smartphone often, you will probably like the Sony Xperia 10 because of its cinematic 21:9 screen. Otherwise, although it is a decent mid-range smartphone overall, it has a few quirks that might annoy you.

The camera experience on the Sony Xperia 10

On the back of the Sony Xperia 10, there's a dual-camera system. The primary camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, f/2.0 aperture, and support for PDAF (phase-detection autofocus). The secondary camera has 5 megapixels, f/2.4 aperture, and it's used for calculating what's in front of the smartphone and to add depth to pictures. We took photos in different lighting conditions and using various subjects. Most of the time, the camera focuses correctly on the subject, but, unfortunately, sometimes it takes a while until it's ready to shoot. That means that, occasionally, you might lose the scene that you were trying to shoot.

As for the image quality, most of the photos taken outdoors in natural lighting conditions look good, with detail, vivid colors, and proper exposure. However, when there was a lot of sunlight or bright clouds, the photos we took were sometimes oversaturated. In low light, the smartphone struggles: pictures lack detail and feel soft. Furthermore, in these conditions, photos also tend to have too much yellow.

The 8-megapixel camera on the front of the smartphone takes good selfies in good lighting conditions, but just like the main cameras, it does not do too well in low light.

If you want to see some samples of photos taken with the Sony Xperia 10, both indoors and outdoors, panoramic, landscape and closeups, check the gallery below:

Sample pictures taken with Sony Xperia 10

The Sony Xperia 10 can record videos at a maximum resolution of 2160p and 30 frames per second, as well as in 1080p/30 fps. However, all the videos we tried to film in 2160p were stuttering as the smartphone dropped a lot of frames when recording. But, we got smooth videos when we filmed in 1080p Full HD. Here is a sample in which you can see how the camera does when filming moving objects:

Moving subjects, filmed with Sony Xperia 10

Also, here is a more static video to get an idea of how the smartphone handles videos with less movement involved:

Static video filmed with Sony Xperia 10

Sony Xperia 10 manages to capture beautiful photos in ideal lighting conditions but does not do great in low light. Also, it performs well if you are OK with filming videos in 1080p, but doesn't have enough processing power to film 4K videos without stuttering.

Android 9 Pie and bundled apps

Sony Xperia 10 comes with Android 9 Pie installed and, although it lets you easily install a bunch of additional apps recommended by the company, it does not force you into it. When you configure it, the smartphone asks you what apps you want and which you do not. We prefer an operating system as clean as possible, so we didn't add any of the offered apps. However, you might find some of them useful. In the next screenshot, you can see the full list of recommended apps.

Additional apps available for quick install when configuring the Sony Xperia 10

On top of the recommended apps, Sony also pre-installs a few apps that you can't say no to: the default Google apps such as Gmail, Drive or YouTube, but also Facebook, Netflix, and Xperia Lounge. Though the others are arguably used by most of us, the Xperia Lounge app is not. Furthermore, when we opened it, we found that it's not even working: we were greeted with the message that "Xperia Lounge is no longer available."

Xperia Lounge is a preinstalled app that no longer works

Sony also modified some aspects of the user interface, so you need a bit of time adjusting to it if you are used to stock Android. First of all, getting to the apps drawer is done with a swipe gesture from the bottom.

The apps drawer on the Sony Xperia 10

And then there's the Side sense: a tool that is always accessible no matter what you're doing on your smartphone, designed to offer you easier access with only one hand, to the apps you use more often. To get to it, you have to touch the bar displayed on the right side of the screen. This action shows you a list of your apps that you probably want to use. The list is compiled by a sort of AI (artificial intelligence) based on the apps you use more often at certain times of day. Honestly, the Side sense can be useful when you do not want to use both hands, but it can also be annoying because its bar is always overlaid on top of your apps and their controls. Because of this, we accidentally opened Side sense, instead of tapping on a movie on Netflix.

What the Side sense looks like on the Sony Xperia 10

We like the fact that Sony Xperia 10 does not force its users to use a lot of bundled apps and that it lets you choose what apps you prefer. Although it is not perfect, we also appreciate the Side sense feature, because it can improve your experience.

Performance in benchmarks

We started with Geekbench 4, to see how fast the processor found on the Sony Xperia 10 is. It got a score of 878 points in the Single-Core tests and 4041 points in the Multi-Core tests. These are not impressive results at all. The single-core score is similar to that of the old Samsung Galaxy S5, and the multi-core score is similar to that of the Google Pixel (first generation). For further comparison, the ASUS Zenfone 5 that was launched last year (2018) has roughly the same price as the Xperia 10 but is 25% faster on multi-core and 58% faster on single-core!

Sony Xperia 10: Benchmark results in Geekbench 4

In the AnTuTu Benchmark, the Sony Xperia 10 showed similar low-key performance. It managed to get a score of only 88752 points, which places it in the bottom 11% smartphones that have been benchmarked by AnTuTu. It is slower than similarly priced smartphones, such as ASUS Zenfone 5 or Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018).

Sony Xperia 10: Benchmark results in AnTuTu

Next, we ran a few gaming benchmarks. First, we checked the gaming performance of the Xperia 10 using the 3DMark's Sling Shot Extreme tests. It got 811 points in Sling Shot Extreme - OpenGL ES 3.1 and 825 points in Sling Shot Extreme - Vulkan. Both scores are low, lower than what you get from the ASUS Zenfone 5 which manages 954 points on OpenGL, or the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) with 1341 points.

Sony Xperia 10: Benchmark results in 3DMark

GFXBench also showed poor performance results for the Sony Xperia 10. We used the on-screen tests because they are the ones that really matter: no matter what smartphone you use, you're likely going to want to enjoy graphics on the full resolution of your screen. Unfortunately, although the Sony Xperia 10 has an impressive and gorgeous display, you cannot benefit from it in games with beautiful visuals, because they also require graphics power. In GFXBench, the Xperia 10 managed to get just 25 frames per second in the T-Rex test (for older games), almost 8 fps in Manhattan 3.1, and less than 5 fps in Car Chase and Aztec Ruins.

Sony Xperia 10: Benchmark results in GFXBench

Users are also interested in battery life. That's why we also ran Geekbench's Battery test. It got a score of 2838 and the smartphone lasted for 6 hours and 2 minutes, which is OK but not great. It means that the Sony Xperia 10 can last you for a day of moderate use. If you are going to watch movies or play games, you'll have to charge it before getting into bed in the evening.

Sony Xperia 10: Battery benchmark result in Geekbench

The benchmarks results confirm our subjective impression when using this smartphone. The Sony Xperia 10 is not a fast device, and it is rather weak when it comes to games. Even if you are a regular user who does not play games or run demanding apps, you might still see this smartphone stutter or lag on occasion.

Do you like the Sony Xperia 10 smartphone?

After reading our review, you know that we like its 21:9 cinematic screen and its design and build quality. However, we found it to be slow compared to other smartphones with similar prices. What will you do? Will you buy the Sony Xperia 10 because of its great screen or will turn to other options from the market? Share your insights in the comments below and tell us what you think about it.