Sony Xperia 1 VI vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Can a mainstream Xperia challenge the iPhone?


Sonny rattled some feathers with the official announcement of the Xperia 1 VI on May 15. The phone drops two of Xperia’s most iconic features: the 4K screen and the 21:9 aspect ratio. The Japanese company hopes that by doing this, it will cater to a wider audience, and maybe, just maybe, some people will buy the Xperia 1 VI instead of, let’s say, the iPhone 15 Pro Max.Today, we’re going to explore this idea in detail. Is the Xperia 1 VI properly equipped to take on the iPhone 15 Pro Max? What are the main differences between the two phones? And which one should you buy? To find answers to these pressing questions, read on!

Xperia 1 VI vs iPhone 15 Pro Max differences:

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

Bezel vs island
These two animals are radically different when you put them side by side, no matter the new and more mainstream aspect ratio of the Xperia 1 VI. This phone looks like a Sony, and it retains the top and bottom bezels around the screen instead of going for a notch or a cutout.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max, on the other hand, employs the so-called Dynamic Island, which is just a pill-shaped cutout with some fancy software on top to mask it from time to time.

The camera bumps on both phones are also radically different. The Xperia follows in the footsteps of a long line of vertically positioned, elongated camera systems, while the iPhone uses a squarish design.

When it comes to materials, there are differences again. The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a titanium frame, while the Xperia 1 VI uses aluminum. Even though both phones use glass, they feel different in the hand because Sony does this texture thing with the Gorilla Glass Armor.

Size-wise, the iPhone is still shorter and wider than the Sony by around two millimeters, but it’s also 30 grams heavier.

Both devices use different design routes to get to the smartphone result, and it’s up to you which one you will go for.

Display Differences

Here comes the big one. The Xperia 1 VI sports a 6.5-inch OLED display with FHD+ resolution (1080ร—2340) and a flexible refresh rate ranging from 1 to 120Hz. This offers around 396 PPI, which isn’t the best pixel density for a flagship phone. The aspect ratio is now 19.5:9, similar to what you find in many modern premium phones, including the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Speaking of the iPhone, it comes with a bigger screen at 6.7 inches and also has higher resolution and pixel densityโ€”2796 x 1290 and 460 PPI, respectively. It’s not a huge difference, but some eagle-eye users out there might be able to spot it.

In terms of brightness, Sony claims that the Xperia 1 VI is 50% brighter than its predecessor, and we will test this, so stay tuned. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has 2,000 nits of advertised peak brightness (we measured 1100), so it will be an interesting battle.

When it comes to biometrics, these two use different methods of making sure it’s you using the phone. The Xperia 1 VI uses a side-mounted capacitive fingerprint scanner, while the iPhone relies on the Face ID system. We have to test the Xperia, as there used to be some gremlins inside the fingerprint sensor, and we all know how good Apple’s Face ID is.

Performance and Software

Snapdragon is catching up
The usual caveats when comparing Android and iOS phones apply here. The Xperia 1 VI uses Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, while the iPhone comes with an A17 Pro chip inside. Not only are these two different, but the way Android and iOS handle apps and tasks is also not the same.

That being said, synthetic benchmark scores are getting closer and closer between the two hardware platforms, with the A17 still owning the single core performance tests. In reality, you shouldn’t expect any perceivable difference, as these two are flagship phones and work as smoothly as it gets.

The Xperia has more RAM, but we all know that this is not exactly relevant due to the different philosophy behind the ecosystem, the app optimization, and other things like that. The Sony phone also comes with a vapor chamber cooling for the first time, so this should alleviate any overheating issues. Tests will be added pretty soon, so stay tuned.

The software side of things is more similar than different, believe it or not. While other big companies (Samsung, Google) are going all guns blazing with AI, Apple is biding its time, and the iOS experience is rather vanilla in that regard. The Xperia uses Sony AI to help with image processing and photography in general (exposure, white balance, and focus), but it’s far from comprehensive AI systems such as Gemini or Galaxy AI.

One more important and pressing subject concerns the software support. Xperia phones used to lag behind big time in the past with only two major OS updates, while iPhones offer at least five. The new Xperia 1 VI comes with three years of OS updates and four years of security patches. It’s not the best out there, but it’s an improvement.


To zoom or to zoom more?
Sony pioneered the continuous zoom smartphone camera with the Xperia 1 Mark III, and since then, the company has been ironing out the kinks and perfecting the concept. The latest model comes with a huge telephoto range (for a smartphone); it’s the equivalent of an 85โ€“170mm vario objective lens, or compared to the main camera, in absolute magnification, it’s 3.5xโ€“7.1x.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max, on the other hand, has a fixed focal length telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom, so on paper, the Sony is unique and much more flexible when it comes to zoom shots. Sony also boasts a new telephoto macro mode with 4cm closeups, but we have to test all this to see what’s what.

The main and ultrawide cameras are quite similar, specs-wise. It’s not a secret that Apple uses Sony sensors for its iPhone models, so there’s a good chance we’re talking about very similar hardware here. What’s more important nowadays with smartphone photography is post-processing algorithms.

Xperia phones used to produce very natural and close-to-reality shots, but with the Mark V generation, the algorithms have changed, probably to please all the people who want a bit more pop in the color department. As always, we will include side-by-side samples here, so you can judge for yourself which phone performs better.

Audio Quality and Haptics

The audio quality and haptics of the late Pro Max generations have been exceptional. That being said, the Xperia 1 VI comes with front-firing stereo speakers, which is always a plus when you watch videos or play games on the phone. Furthermore, the Xperia 1 VI retains the 3.5mm audio jack, allowing users to plug in their favorite high-end wired headphones.

When it comes to haptics, the Taptic engine is one of the best in the industry, so the iPhone might have a bit of an advantage here. This is a preliminary comparison, and we have to hear and feel the Xperia 1 VI before jumping to conclusions.

Battery Life and Charging

A FHD screen equals two days on a single charge
Sony milked the resolution downgrade of the Xperia 1 VI to the max. Fewer pixels to push results in longer battery life. This is also fortified by the dynamic refresh rate. Even though the Xperia 1 VI features the same 5,000mAh battery capacity as its predecessor, Sony now advertises the phone as a “two-day smartphone.”

The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a slightly smaller battery, but it can also stretch its legs to cover two days, especially if you’re not pushing it to the limit all the time. Well, the dispute will be resolved once we run our battery tests. We do expect the Xperia to have a slight edge over the iPhone, so once again, stay tuned for some hard numbers pretty soon.

As far as charging is concerned, these two are rather similar. The iPhone charges with around 27W of power, and the Xperia supports 30W wired, so we expect similar results in our charging test. Both phones support wireless charging, too.

Specs Comparison


Which one should you get? Who wins the fight? Very, very difficult questions. The Xperia 1 VI clearly aims to attract a new audience with its more mainstream aspect ratio and simplified camera controls. The price, however, is still a hard pill to swallow. At $1,399, this phone is more expensive than its rival, and it also lacks long-term software support.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a known entity and a safe choice for all iPhone enthusiasts, and it can do most of the things the Sony can, barring the continuous zoom. The Pro Max also comes without a microSD card slot and 3.5mm audio jack, but are these really important nowadays when you can get a 1TB phone and there’s a huge choice of Bluetooth earbuds?

We will update this comparison with some test results and give you a final verdict soon. Stay tuned!

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