Sony Xperia 1 VI: Why won’t Sony commit to updating Android?

First Samsung announced they were committing to 5 years worth of updates to their Samsung Galaxy range of smartphones, then Google went one better and announced 7 years worth of updates . That’s a lot of updates, and potentially a long time with a phone, especially when the march of progress with hardware presses forever onwards.

But then again, it seems carriers and even device manufacturers still want to encourage people to upgrade their phones every year which, unless the previous handsets are resold/recycled, just end up as e-waste. While a smartphone is undoubtedly one of the most personal, most important computing devices that we use on a day-to-day basis, is there really any need to have the latest and greatest every year?

I’ve been looking back over my photos over the years taken on a variety of iPhones – (I’ve generally had every iPhone model since the iPhone 4) and a few Androids – and many of the photos still hold out very well. There’s some outstanding photos from a trip to London and Edinburgh 7 years ago that I took with a OnePlus 3T!

All of the following photos come from the 3T.

One of the recent benefits of moving away from the iPhone 15 Pro Max was moving to the Pixel 8 Pro camera system. I’ve thought the Pixels have taken some absolutely outstanding photos – every bit as good as using a dedicated compact camera (like my Sony RX100m3 and m5, or the Canon Powershot G5 – all of which are sadly no longer in my possession). The Pixel 8 Pro has multiple 48MP sensors – all of which can produce images at that size.

I recently tried a Sony Xperia 1V, and while it is a lovely phone – ideal for viewing ultra-wide cinematic movies, or having many rows of application icons on the home screen – the problem was that the fingerprint sensor was too sensitive and that there wasn’t much consistency between the different photo applications. It felt too fiddly. What made it special was that it could accept microSDXC cards for expandable storage (and no tool needed – you could potentially swap cards out as often as you like pretty easily – though given the size, *carefully*). It had 12Gb RAM, and was snappy.

When I compared it my Pixel 8 Pro, there was little competition between them. The Pixel 8 Pro was the clear winner because Google has committed to 7 years worth of Android updates whereas Sony is very non-committal about these kind of things. I was incredibly frustrated with them when I was searching for a new TV a few years ago and they wouldn’t tell me how long they’d support Google TV for, or whether it’d be getting an Android TV update (not that it really matters – Google TV is still chugging along nicely for now). I want assurances from Sony that they’ll keep their devices’ software updated for at least 5-7 years (or longer) for security purposes. Last thing I want is to discover a major vulnerability in the TV or smartphone software which gives them access to my, or third party, networks. Then there is the e-waste issue. As for the TVs, I don’t feel I need to buy a new one for at least 10 years (or more). Given the state of broadcasting and streaming, there is little in the way of new features that are appealing enough to buy a new set.

The Pixel 8 Pro also won on the photo side too. It Just(tm) Works. I feel Pixel’s video could be better, but Google appear to be putting in the effort in make it extraordinarily good. The Xperia 1V’s video is very good indeed, absolutely, but still not as good as Apple. But ultimately, the Xperia still falls within my potential Android purchase list.

So the Xperia was returned, and I am confident in my choice of the Pixel 8 Pro. If I were to rank the latest Android phones:

  • Pixel 8 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
  • Sony Xperia 1V

With the launch of the Xperia 1VI, it’s disappointing to see that they’ve still stuck with 12MP sensors for the telephoto and wide lenses, though the good news is that there is improvement with optical zoom. And the main camera can generate full 48 megapixel images. But there’s still no commitment as to the number of Android updates the device will get. Ultimately even with the improvements, from what I can see, if I had stuck with the 1V, there wouldn’t be much reason to get the 1VI apart from guaranteed Android 15 support. Beyond that, who the heck knows?