The Sony Xperia 1 V is all about camera experience, that is for sure, and it nails the one thing the majority of cameraphones fail - having a top-notch design with superb grip experience.
Indeed, having a proper grip for a cameraphone is a thing few understand, and we are glad that Sony is improving it with each year. But the design language remains the same - simple, classic, timeless.
The Sony Xperia 1 V keeps the Xperia signature look - it has two Gorilla Glass Victus flat panels (Victus 2 front and Victus 1 rear) and a solid metal chassis in between. The Victus panels are not the only protection you get, of course, as the Sony Xperia 1 V is also IP65/IP68 certified for both water jets and clean water submersion - just like many of the previous models.
There are two major improvements in the design of the Xperia 1 V since the previous model.
The first notable change is the back panel - it is completely matte, as before, but now it also has this tactile blister texture - thousands of tiny humps spread as a barely visible mesh. The pattern is reminiscent of the grip on the Sony's Alpha ZV-E10 camera. And the Xperia 1 V grip is incredible, and the whole thing is completely smudge-proof. How about that?
Then comes the frame, borrowed straight from the Xperia Pro-I - this means it is made of metal and has a unique riged pattern that makes for a firm grip and extra comfort. And let's not forget the two-step hardware shutter key, with the same grippy finish as the back panel.
The triple camera is one of the two centerpieces of the Xperia 1 V. It's a small island made of metal that houses the entire camera kit (12MP ultrawide, 52MP primary, 12MP telephoto). You can spot the LED flash and the microphone for voice enhancement here, as well as the Zeiss - logo. The housing is jutting out a bit of the back, but the wobbling of the Xperia 1 V is minimal, which is commendable.
The other centerpiece is the notch-free 6.5-inch 4K OLED screen at the front. The top and bottom bezels are hardly eyesores. In fact, not having a cutout is a sight for sore eyes, and we do love it.
Each of the bezels has a long and thin speaker outlet. The top one also packs a 12MP selfie camera and a bunch of sensors.
Let's explore the sides of the Xperia 1 V now.
There is nothing on the left but endless stripes.
The right one has the volume control, the power/lock key, and the two-step shutter key. The power key's surface accommodates the always-on fingerprint reader. It is blazing-fast and nicely reliable, and you can change its scanning trigger from Touch to Press like on many other phones.
The top of the Xperia 1 V has a 3.5mm audio jack and another microphone.
The bottom houses the primary microphone, the USB-C port, and the hybrid-SIM card tray. The latter doesn't need a pin to eject (another Xperia perk) - you can pop it with the tip of your fingernail. The tray can either take two nano-SIM cards, or you can use the second bed for a microSD card instead.
The Xperia 1 V measures 165.0x71.0x8.3mm and weighs 187 grams - about the same as the 1 IV. This makes it one of the most compact, lightweight and yet solid smartphones on the market.
The timeless Xperia design remains a lovely classic that has its spot on the market, too, and doesn't feel dated. On the contrary, the Sony Xperia 1 V is probably one of the few phones to be equally presentable for both casual and very formal events. It is available in Black, Khaki Green and Platinum Silver.
Furthermore, the Xperia 1 V is a pleasure to work with - it has a compact and lightweight body, very well protected, with the best grip we've experienced on a non-rugged smartphone. If we had to rate its design and grip, it would have been the only phone to get 10 out of 10.
Long story short, the Sony Xperia 1 V is currently the best smartphone on the market as far as design, build and handling are concerned. No other than Sony can offer such a thoughtful build and yet compromise nothing while achieving it. Great job, Sony!