I thought a comparison between the two would be a better starting point than a straight review. Much of the common areas have been covered already by Steve Litchfield and myself on Phones Show Chat, The Phones Show, AAM and this very blog. Here's some links to be going on with for catch-up reading and viewing... Xperia 5 vs 5ii, Xperia 5, Xperia 1iii itself, Xperia 5ii, Xperia 1ii and Xperia 1ii (by guest reviewer Sethu Pillai).
Before we get to the comparison though, one aspect which is clearly different from the 5ii and 5iii is the size. The 1 range are significantly bigger, as indicated above, moving away from the dinky size of the 5-series which is very pocketable and small enough for plenty of one-handed use. The 1-series is simply bigger, in all directions. I can just about get my finger and thumb to meet around the phone's waist with a TPU in place, though it is much easier without. One advantage of that increased size is the increase in width for keyboard use. Instead of it feeling just a little cramped, as for the 5, the 1 lifts that up to be perfectly usable.
That matt back is constructed with Gorilla Glass 6 protection and the front, Victus. The frame is aluminium which houses a volume rocker, capacitive fingerprint scanner/power button, Google Assistant button and shutter button on the right. There's a USB-C port and microphone at the bottom and just that SIM Card Tray on the left (which is a Hybrid Dual tray for 2x5G SIM Cards or one and a microSD Card). I don't like the Sony SIM Card Trays - they feel plasticky and floppy - I'm not even sure about the no-tool thing any longer. Up the top is a 3.5mm audio-out socket and sticking out slightly on the back (hidden by TPU) is the long and thin camera island. The front top and bottom edges house the (now incredibly rare) front-facing stereo speakers, one at each end. The bottom (right channel) is longer than the one up the top but we'll come to sound later.
As you would expect, much like the 5ii the screen is bright and vibrant, colourful with deep blacks - a gorgeous panel which I had no difficulty using outside even in bright sunshine. This seems to have apparently improved since the 1ii, which many found to be less than useful when ambient light levels were high. There are the same white balance controls, Creator Mode colour gamut and contrast tech which I've covered before (see links above) in settings. Bottom line is that the flat panel seems all-but faultless to me.
Some will not like the fact that there are black bars top and bottom housing the speakers and Selfie camera along with other sensors, but I actually prefer this than the screen going out to all the edges, all the time. It's somewhere to swipe from using Gesture Navigation and with the tall 21:9 aspect it really doesn't matter. It's not going to eat into anything much that you're likely to want to view on the screen, including (obviously) 21:9 cinema releases! The only argument might be that the overall footprint of the phone could have been less tall.
The starting point is probably the front screen. The Sony of course has a completely flat panel whereas the Moto has the outrageous waterfall edges around left and right. Which do we prefer, is the question. They both have pros and cons, some of which is usability and some look/feel. When the fingers slide over the edges of the Moto, the reaction is one of admiration here. How classy it feels, how premium, smooth as silk. But there's also vulnerability. This unit has already been repaired by Moto for a faulty screen component - with a flat screen you don't have that physical vulnerability, laying aside any manufacturing faults. This is going to be a subjective one, like much of the following. My head tells me that a flat screen is a much more sensible option but then I pick up the Moto and sigh!
Both devices have 256GB of storage and 12GB RAM. Both fly with any task thrown at them. Copying data and switching tasks, leaving stuff open in the background - it's all near-faultless and the two phones get a draw on this. Where the Sony wins however, is that it has a microSD Card option, playing nicely with my 512GB card here. The Edge had a card slot, but not the Edge+ sadly. Still, 256GB is a substantial amount onboard.
I have been surprised by the speaker output with the Edge+ over the months. I don't know if they've tweaked it in updates, but it sounds even better now than it did on arrival. The test though here is less about volume but more about tone, bass and equalisation. Next to each other, the sound is firing from the front (totally) with the Sony and front/top-bottom with the Moto. But this doesn't seem to make any difference really, beyond fingers blocking grilles. The sound output is fine on both and stereo separation good. No equalisation used, 3rd party Music App used, the Sony is very, very slightly louder than the Moto, but the Moto wins on quality. The Sony sounds just a little bit uncomfortable/stretched at top volume whereas the Moto is very happy.
Playing with equalisation via both phones' built-in tools, 'Audio Effects' for Moto and Dolby for Sony, the sound can be further advanced, but again, the Moto seems more tolerant. Effects can be more usefully added and adjusted at higher volumes overall. This is nit-picking though as the sound from both phones is excellent and my difficulty in criticising here reflects how close they are. One annoyance is how far the Dolby controls are from the user on the Sony. There's no quick-route to it - it takes FOUR screen-taps to get there via Settings. All they need is what the 5ii had - a shortcut in the drop-down status area - but they seem to have taken it away! Bizarre.
Again, both phones have a 3.5mm audio-out socket which works perfectly well. I shall have to nit-pick here again when it comes to wired, as I do believe that even though there's no official enhanced audio on the Moto as there is with the Sony (24-bit) they both sound fabulous with wired 'phones. Very slightly louder sound from the Sony, I guess, but both as bass-orientated as each other. Net result again is that they're very close. It is possible that Moto have some sort of enhanced audio through the 3.5mm but just haven't documented it - they do that sometimes, like not mentioning waterproofing! Switching to Bluetooth brings very similar results. Turning the volume as high as my ears can stand, there really isn't much between them. Both stunningly good quality. Moto made a largely unspecified fuss about audio when releasing the Edge+ in 2020 and it really is very good. In top quality company here, it holds its head up high even if we don't know about the components exactly.
The Phones Show 427 where he shares his conclusions on the performance and results. What I would add to that is that the Sony provides the user with the fabulous two-stage shutter button (fabulous for confirming focus) in hardware and also the Photographer Pro and Cinema Pro apps. I have come from a background of using 'proper' cameras and this is as close as you can get with a phone just now. If I owned the Sony I would spend weeks-into-months getting to know the controls, limitations and capabilities which could be had from this fabulous interface - and only rue that I can't (yet) control the aperture. But I guess we just haven't got there yet in phones! Anyway, deep-dive into Steve's video for more.
The thoughts of Steve and myself on the Edge+ for photography can be read towards the end of my Motorola Edge+ Review but Steve's conclusion was "Having looked through Ted's sample photos, there are no major horrors in terms of image processing. Which is good. The optics don't seem flagship level, as in competing with the Samsung and iPhone flagships, but the whole camera package seems well thought out. The Edge+ is flexible, with 3x optical zoom and [other] options, and with AF on the wide angle, [so] fine for everyday photos of a variety of subjects." So yes, in fairness, probably a bit of a different ballpark in terms of cameras/photography and Sony certainly gets the win here.
The side-mounted capacitive fingerprint scanner gets Sony this vote as it's faultless. Works every single time, no question. It's quick to set up and well, just perfect! The only argument against it could be, by some, that it's on the side and is a thin target, so might be better on the back. But that's again subjective. What it is, however, is much better as a solution than Moto's under-glass optical version. It's not that it doesn't work - it does. And the hit-rate is very good indeed, but it's not perfect. And the Sony solution all-but, is. More about the Moto's version in my review again. Moto wins back a point here for including Face Unlock, which is simply not present as a security option on the Sony.
Connectivity with both phones seems to be faultless, be it cellular at 4G (sorry, can't test 5G), WiFi 6, NFC, Bluetooth or GPS. Signals are strong, locked quickly by apps and held onto. I tested phone calls and data with both phones, much longer-term with the Moto of course, and all parties and/or services reported loud and good interactions.
This mainly leaves us with the software experience, UX and UI. Moto keep things very clean and close to Vanilla Android. They add some of their own (hopefully useful) tweaks and gestures, wrapped into a single App pre-installed. There's no bloat, no additionally installed apps, no trials and certainly no huge games! Sorry, Sony, but it's bad form to pre-install Call of Duty and Asphalt 9 and to make matters worse, set to auto-install 5GB of data when the Play Store Updates are invoked. For those who don't know better, this will just go on in the background. There's also a Game Enhancer app, LinkedIn, TIDAL, Facebook and Sony's Music app (I'll let them have that one as it is genuinely useful) and more! I just don't understand why, when paying £1,200 for a phone they need to add these items. If it were a £159 Poco, I get it. No problem. But for shed-loads of cash, I would expect a clean software experience and to add what I want to add! Winning point for Moto here.
Home screen settings are clean on both, though limited options on both compared to many other phones. But that's good. Again, clean. Moto does add a range of 'styles' for icons, text etc. which Sony used to do but appear to have dropped now. Probably a moot point anyway as it looks like Google might force everyone away from it in Android 12 - we shall see! Google Feed to the left on both, as an option, and Sony offers a Pixel-like Search box option for the homepage via Home settings whereas the Moto does not except via Widgets. Niggles might include a maximum 10 minute screen stay-on time for Sony instead of the 'standard' 30 minutes which the Edge+ allows, stock-Android flavour.
The Always on Display nudges Sony ahead of the Moto again here because as fabulous as the Moto Approach/Peek system is, there is no option to set it for (truly) always-on. You must wave/tap to invoke it. Sony's however does give you that option and it works excellently well, with one caveat. When lifting the phone from the AoD screen, nothing happens. You have to double-tap it. With the Moto (and many others), the nudge/lift gives you the lock-screen with any notifications etc. Laying that aside, I love the way in which the Sony echoes the AlbumArt of last played audio. It really works well and further instils the historic notion of Walkman. Oh, and I forgot to mention that there's a Notification LED on the Sony! Good old-fashioned values indeed.
I'm sure that there are gaps in all the above, but hopefully they are covered by what I have reviewed directly previously and/or covered by Steve in his reviews - all linked to extensively throughout, above.
The question is, which would I use as my main phone, right now, if they both belonged to me. As you can see from the above, it's in many ways a close-call even though technically the Sony's hardware is ahead of Moto's. I do admit to having a large soft-spot for Motorola devices, but those who know me will also tell you the same about Sony! I love Sony gear, always have. It usually feels, looks and behaves in a classy, premium way. There are exceptions of course, like cheap plastic radio units, but generally, there has been a pedestal for Sony gear.
There are pros and cons on both sides. I value very highly the sound produced by speakers which slightly leans me back to the Edge+ but then I'm drawn back to the Sony by the classy way in which the sound arrangements are implemented, especially with Dynamic Vibration. There are little things like the Notification LED, Always on Display and confidence going forward with software updates. Then there's the cleaner version of Android and no clutter from the Edge+ along with that gorgeous, curved screen that I only have to touch and hold to sway me back!
You will have got the message by now that I'm completely torn on the matter. I want both! Price is a factor, of course. The Edge+ can now be found for about £600 if you look around (as it is last year's model and was never officially a UK release) and the Sony is £1,200. That's a lot of money, which is a serious investment. Is the Sony worth twice the cost of the Edge+? No. But maybe it's better to think about that in terms of release-price, being £1,049 back in 2020. So, the verdict - if I had to choose for here and now, I'd go for the Sony. But I'd sure miss the Moto!