The Sony Xperia 10 IV is a bit of a mixed bag: it does really well in some areas, and not so well in others, and it arrives at a price point that’s reasonable enough for what you get in return. Taking all of that into consideration, it’s likely to appeal to some, without really standing out in its price bracket.
This is the cheapest of the Xperia range for 2022, positioned alongside the flagship Sony Xperia 1 IV (it’s that last number that goes up each year). There should be a phone in the middle, but at the time of writing there’s still no sign of the Sony Xperia 5 IV.
Starting with the good, the battery life on this smartphone is among the best we’ve seen lately, and the Xperia 10 IV can stretch to a couple of days quite easily. That’s a key consideration for a lot of phone buyers, although the slow charging speed and lack of wireless charging should also be noted.
As is usual from Sony, the build quality and the screen quality are both at a premium level, even in this budget phone. Again though, there are caveats, because its construction relies on a lot of plastic, and the screen’s refresh rate tops out at 60Hz.
Camera quality continues to be a big factor when choosing a phone, and on the whole, the Sony Xperia 10 IV performs better than a lot of other similarly-priced handsets. However, occasional inconsistencies and only average low-light performance mean it’s not all positive.
From that summary you can see some of the pluses and the minuses that you’re dealing with when weighing up whether or not to go for this phone. Whether or not you already own a Sony Xperia handset will probably play a part too – if you like the style and finish of this phone series, you’ll find the 10 IV follows a familiar pattern.
Of course, your budget plays a part too – this is a solid handset for the price, but there are a lot of value-for-money offerings in the same sort of bracket (or even less, if you take a look at our rundown of the best cheap phones, available right now). As always, it’s important to do plenty of research before making a final decision.
Sony Xperia 10 IV price and availability
- Yours for $449 / £429
- A single configuration option
- On sale in the UK and US now
The retail price for the Sony Xperia 10 IV is set at $449 / £429 (which is about AU$650, although it’s not officially on sale in Australia). Of course, you might find variations on that as well as special deals, depending on your region. In the markets where it is available, the phone has been on sale since June 2022.
You can see from the pricing where this phone is positioned: the lower mid-range, just above the budget handsets that are the cheapest on the market. If you set your expectations accordingly, in line with that price, then it actually represents a pretty decent level of value for your money.
Sony Xperia 10 IV design
- Traditional Xperia 10 aesthetic
- Comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack
- Four different colors on offer
There are no surprises when it comes to the design of the Sony Xperia 10 IV, and it looks a lot like its predecessors – most recently the Sony Xperia 10 III from 2021, of course. It’s a relatively compact, relatively blocky slab of plastic and glass, with corners that are ever so slightly rounded.
With a thickness of 8.3mm, a weight of 161 grams and a 6-inch display, the Xperia 10 IV is one of the smaller Android phones you’re going to come across in the market at the moment. We like the matte finish on the plastic around the sides and on the back, and the unfussy look of the phone as a whole.
Down the right-hand side of the phone as you look at it are the volume controls and the power button (with an integrated fingerprint sensor), while the SIM card tray is on the left (it doubles up as a microSDXC card slot). Sony has included a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the unit, and there’s the standard USB-C port down at the bottom. You don’t get anything else in the box by the way, so it’s bring your own charger and cable.
You can find this phone in four colors, depending on your region: black, white, Mint and Lavender. We tested the black model, and while it doesn’t offer much in the way of design innovation, it’s neat and tidy and minimal enough to appeal – and it feels solid and comfortable to hold.
The IP65/IP68 rating gives a reassuring level of dust and water protection too, and the phone is able to survive 30 minutes underwater at a depth of 1.5 meters, without any ill effects. That said, we wouldn’t recommend deliberately submerging this phone if you can avoid it.
Sony Xperia 10 IV display
- 6-inch, 1080 x 2520 OLED
- 60Hz refresh rate
- One of the smaller displays out there
Sony has plenty of experience making screens for all manner of devices of course, and the 6-inch, 1080 x 2520 pixels OLED display on the Xperia 10 IV is as good as you would expect given that expertise. It’s bright and vivid, and because it uses Corning Gorilla Glass Victus it’s more scratch resistant than most too.
The bezels around the sides of the screen aren’t super-thin, but they’re fine. Perhaps the biggest complaint we have about the screen is that it sticks with a 60Hz refresh rate, which makes it less fluid than most of its competitors. It’s perfectly okay, and we were all making do with 60Hz screens a few years back, but you will notice the difference if you’re switching from a 90Hz or a 120Hz panel.
We didn’t really have any other major complaints about the screen, which looks good whether you’re streaming video or flicking through your social media feeds. It’s about right for a mid-range phone like this, though be aware of it’s relatively small size – some people will prefer that, but it can feel cramped if you’re used to a bigger screen.
Sony Xperia 10 IV cameras
- Triple-lens rear camera
- Capable of very good shots
- 2x optical zoom
We said at the start of this review that the Sony Xperia 10 IV is a bit of a mixed bag, and that’s perfectly demonstrated by the camera system on the phone, which is hit and miss in terms of the results that you get back.
On a technical level you’ve got a triple-lens 12MP wide + 8MP telephoto + 8MP ultrawide rear camera on the back of the phone, which is actually almost an exact match for the rear camera module on its predecessor. On the front of the phone there’s a single-lens 8MP wide camera that’s a perfectly capable selfie taker.
When it comes to the rear camera, there’s no doubt that you can take some excellent shots with this device, as you would expect from a Sony Xperia phone. However, the occasional problems with focus or color correction that we had take away some of the appeal.
It was a similar scenario with the HDR processing, which we left on auto – this often worked very well but sometimes seemed to get tripped up. On the plus side, there are plenty of options to play around with in the camera app, and it’s possible that with more effort configuring these we might have got more consistent results.
Low-light photography isn’t particularly impressive, but then we wouldn’t be expecting to get dazzling low-light shots in a handset at this price. With the help of the night mode, you can get some usable images at night and in the dark, but you shouldn’t rely on it.
The potential is there then – you can see that in some of the sample images we’ve included below – but the reliability and low-light performance leave something to be desired. Having 2x optical zoom and optical image stabilization at this price point is definitely to be welcomed though.
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Sony Xperia 10 IV performance and specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 CPU
- Mostly snappy performance
- Ready to connect to 5G networks
The Sony Xperia 10 IV is firmly in the mid-range when it comes to internal specs, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor inside, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of on-board storage (which you can expand with a memory card if you need to). This phone is fully 5G ready, if you can connect to a next-gen network wherever you live.
On the whole, performance was snappy and smooth, though we did notice the phone occasionally stuttering when tackling particularly challenging maneuvers, like quickly switching between complicated apps. It’s not a major issue though, and apps and games mostly glide along just fine.
The Geekbench scores of 660 (single core), 1819 (multi core) and 1353 (OpenCL) that the phone registered are indicative of the sort of level of performance you’re getting here – a lower mid-range level. By comparison, the Google Pixel 6a hit 2837 in its multi-core score, which is more towards what you get with the top-end premium handsets.
If you’re expecting to do a lot of movie watching or podcast listening on this phone, it’s worth noting that the single speaker is rather weak – it doesn’t carry much of a punch, even at maximum volume, and you’re not going to be relying on this for high-fidelity music playback. The solitary speaker does an okay job, but nothing more than that.
The headphone jack is a different matter: it supports Sony’s 360 Reality Audio (surround sound) and DSEE Ultimate (AI-powered upscaling) standards, and you can control these features through the software on board the phone.
Sony Xperia 10 IV software
- Android 12 on board
- Minimal bloatware
- Extra Side Sense utility
The Sony Xperia 10 IV comes with Android 12 out of the box, and – as normal for Sony – there isn’t much in the way of tweaks or customizations on top of stock Android. That’s absolutely fine with us, as we suspect it will be with most people.
There’s very little bloatware to speak of, just a Music app made by Sony, plus Facebook and LinkedIn (which you can easily uninstall). Sony doesn’t mess with the main operating system settings too much either, although there is a home screen clock widget you can customize, plus the audio settings we mentioned above.
One extra you do get is a Side Sense launcher at the side of the screen, which gives you easier access to your favorite and most-used apps. We didn’t find it particularly useful, but it’s not difficult to turn off if you don’t like it.
Sony Xperia 10 IV battery life
- Impressive 5,000mAh battery capacity
- You won’t need to charge it every night
- Disappointing charging speeds
One of the main reasons to pick the Sony Xperia 10 IV over rival handsets is the excellent battery life that’s on offer: the 5,000mAh capacity battery that Sony has packed in here will run and run and run between charges. It’s no exaggeration to say that you can get a couple of days use per charge, unless you’re running demanding games non-stop.
It’s not all good news though, because charging is relatively slow – a full charge can take more than a couple of hours, which isn’t ideal if you’re in a hurry. The best handsets charge up way, way faster than this, and it’s one of the compromises you make by going for a more affordable phone.
Another compromise is the lack of any sort of wireless charging functionality here, a convenience that you can now rely on with a lot of other handsets. You have to charge up the handset via a USB-C cable, and as we said there isn’t one in the box – though at this stage most of us will have one lying around somewhere.
All that said, what matters most is battery life, and that’s great. We ended most days with more than 50 percent still in the tank, and in our one-hour video streaming test (with the display brightness set to maximum and the speaker volume relatively low), the battery level dropped by a mere 3 percent – which works out at more than 30 hours of video playback in total.
Sony Xperia 10 IV score card
|Design||It’s a simple and straightforward design, but it is appealing in a minimalist sort of way.||4/5|
|Display||The display on the Xperia 10 IV is decent, though there’s also room for improvement.||3.5/5|
|Performance||Don’t expect top-tier performance from this phone because you’re not going to get it.||3/5|
|Camera||The Xperia 10 IV can take some very good snaps – though there are also a few issues.||4/5|
|Battery||One of the highlights of the Xperia 10 IV experience is the excellent battery life you get.||4/5|
|Software||The phone uses a clean version of Android 12 that’s very close to the stock version.||4/5|
|Value||You can get the Xperia 10 IV for a reasonable price, though the competition is strong.||3.5/5|
Should I buy the Sony Xperia 10 IV?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
First reviewed August 2022