Sony’s Xperia 1 III isn’t a huge change over its predecessor, but it does bring a few new features to the fold that may interest you for your next smartphone purchase. We’ve put together all of the details you need to know about the next big Sony smartphone.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Sony’s next flagship smartphone
- When is it out? Some time in “early summer”, but possibly August 31
- How much will it cost? Likely around $1,199 / £1,099 (around AU$1,840)
Sony Xperia 1 III release date and price
The Sony Xperia 1 III was revealed on April 14, 2021, but it’s set to be landing around the world at some point during “early summer 2021”. That’s summer for the northern hemisphere, which runs from June to September we’d most likely anticipate it around June or July.
The Xperia 1 II was revealed in February 2020 and then released in May. If Sony follows that pattern here, you should expect a couple of months wait before you’re able to buy the Xperia 1 III.
Saying that, a US retailer has listed the phone as coming out August 31, so it could release later than we expected.
Sony has confirmed to TechRadar that this phone will be coming to those in the US and UK, but we’ve yet to hear whether it’ll go on sale in Australia. We don’t currently expect the phone to be available there.
We’ve also yet to learn the Sony Xperia 1 III price in the US or UK. Expect it to be a high though, as the Xperia 1 II cost a remarkable $1,199 / £1,099 (around AU$1,840) at launch. We’ll update this article as we hear more on pricing.
Sony has put the phone up for pre-orders on its Russian store where the price is RUB99,990, which translates to around $1,300 / £950 / AU$1,700. This is unlikely to be reflective of the final price in these markets, but it’s a sign that Sony is opting for a high price for this handset.
Sony Xperia 1 III: design and display
The Sony Xperia 1 III hasn’t changed the design of Sony’s flagship phones much, so if you’ve seen previous handsets from the company you can expect a similar affair here.
There is a 6.5-inch 21:9 aspect ratio display, and it has a 4K resolution. As with other recent Xperia flagship phones, Sony is the only company that makes handsets with such a high resolution.
It’s an OLED panel, and this is the first time the company has adopted a 120Hz refresh rate. That means your phone’s screen refreshes at 120 times per second, and that should ensure mobile gaming or scrolling through social media will be smoother than on other smartphones.
Sony claims to have more accurate color reproduction than on its previous smartphone displays, and it also features a new white point calibration tech.
The front-facing selfie camera sits in a bezel along the top of the device, so you won’t have a notch on this smartphone. It’s also important to note that the 21:9 aspect ratio display and this bezel means this device is longer than most other top-end smartphones.
The rear of the Xperia 1 III is made of glass, and it’s protected by Gorilla Glass technology. It is also IP68 water and dust resistant, so you can expect this to survive the odd dunk into water.
You’ll find a dedicated camera button on the edge of the Xperia 1 III, and unlike previous Sony smartphones you’ll find this is now embossed so you can easier differentiate it from the power button.
The 3.5mm headphone jack makes a return here, and the phone features two front-facing speakers. The speakers on the Xperia 1 II were impressive, but Sony claims these will be 40% louder than its predecessor.
There are also new software features to improve audio, including a feature called 360 Reality Audio. You’ll need a Tidal subscription to use this, but it should provide more authentic audio than other smartphones.
Sony Xperia 1 III: cameras and battery life
The Sony Xperia 1 III’s camera may not look that different to the last-gen device on paper, but the company has made some serious improvements to a whole host of new features.
Sony has included a 12MP 24mm main camera with an aperture of f/1.7 and features such as optical image stabilization. There is also a 12MP 16mm ultra-wide camera with an aperture of f/2.2.
Then there’s the 3D time of flight sensor that we’ve come to expect from top-end Sony phones in recent years.
The big change from Sony comes with the new 12MP variable telephoto camera. It can switch between two focal lengths of either 70mm or 105mm. Plus, it uses Dual PDAF technology – which is essentially a super fast autofocus – to ensure the image can focus as quickly as possible.
How will this compare to other smartphones with powerful telephoto cameras is currently unclear, but we’re excited to try this out alongside some other top-end phones.
There are a whole host of other upgrades in the camera, too. Sony has brought its Real Time Tracking features from its Alpha cameras to its smartphones, which allows the camera to better focus on moving objects and can even predict when objects will exit and re-enter a shot.
Sony’s previous improvements to autofocus make a return here on the Xperia 1 III, plus there is a new “Basic Mode” inside the Photography Pro app that is designed to make it easier to use for camera novices.
The Xperia 1 III has a larger battery than the Xperia 1 II with a 4,500mAh battery doing the heavy lifting. That larger battery is to ensure it can keep up with the 120Hz refresh rate, and we’re hoping it’ll offer a long lasting battery life.
It features fast-charging technology too, that allows for 50% charge in 30 minutes. There’s a charger included in the box, which isn’t an option on other smartphones like the Galaxy S21 or iPhone 12 series.
Sony Xperia 1 III: Performance and software
The Sony Xperia 1 III comes running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset that we’ve seen powering a variety of top-end smartphones in 2021 so far, and it’s one of the most powerful chipsets available.
We’re yet to know how it’ll perform here, but we’d expect it to do well considering the other handsets that are on the market sporting similar technology. The Xperia 1 III will also feature either 8GB or 12GB of RAM.
You’ll get 256GB of storage no matter what variant you opt for, and there is microSD support if you want extra space on your smartphone at a later date.
This smartphone will support 5G in the UK, but it won’t be suitable for everyone in the US as it doesn’t support mmWave 5G technology. Some US networks only use sub-6 technology (which the Xperia 1 III does have) so you’ll be fine to use this, but bear in mind it may not work on your carrier of choice.