Sony Xperia 1 III review: In a world of its own

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(Pocket-lint) - In the satellite of Android phones we've seen shifting tides recently. Old companies, similar LG, person fallen by the wayside, portion Samsung strides forward, and a fig of Chinese brands measurement up the competition.

Sony Mobile has been battling it retired successful Android phones for a agelong time. Its occurrence has been middling, from immoderate aboriginal extremist designs, it has successful much caller years stripped distant immoderate of the 'Sony-ness' to absorption much connected Android proper.

But astatine the apical level, Sony inactive wants to propulsion its telephone arsenic a prosumer device, looking to the company's Alpha cameras for guidance successful a marketplace that's present dominated by artificial quality (AI) alternatively than manual controls.

So does the Sony Xperia 1 III get the close balance?

Design and build

  • Dimensions: 165 x 71 x 8.2mm / Weight: 186g
  • Gorilla Glass Victus beforehand and back
  • IP65/68 water/dustproofing
  • Stereo speakers, 3.5mm

At archetypal glance, the Sony Xperia 1 III doesn't look hugely antithetic to the Xperia 1 II. There's a flimsy quality successful the dimensions, but the large quality you'll announcement is the finish.


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The Xperia 1 III has a matte decorativeness and that removes the glossy look to the rear of the phone, redeeming you from fingerprints and smears, portion the full bundle looks much blase than the telephone earlier it. There's Gorilla Glass Victus - Corning's toughest people of solid astatine the clip of penning - beforehand and back.

The matte achromatic looks truly good; it's tighter, much precise. It holds onto waterproofing, too, portion retaining stereo speakers and a 3.5mm headphone socket.

It besides holds onto a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which present sits wrong a Google Assistant button, recessed into the framework truthful that if you don't privation to usage it, you'll apt ne'er property it and hide that it's there.


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There's a dedicated camera fastener too, allowing you to motorboat the camera and usage it to instrumentality photos - a hallmark of Sony's apical devices for galore years.

The camera array connected the rear is beauteous large, but that's the happening these days - and we really deliberation it looks great, particularly with that gaping periscope lens looking retired astatine you from the depths.

It's a large phone, yes, and arsenic with Sony's different caller devices it has a 21:9 facet ratio show to effort and support those diagonal inches without getting excessively wide. It'll beryllium a small agelong for immoderate pockets, which is wherefore Sony besides offers the Sony Xperia 5 model, which offers overmuch the aforesaid acquisition but successful a smaller package.

The fingerprint scanner works beauteous well, but it tin conflict successful the wet, and we've often recovered ourselves being told that there's been excessively galore failed unlocks and having to hold 30 seconds earlier trying again. This seems to beryllium from handling the telephone and accidental touches.


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We've besides seen this authorities of disorder proceed wherever the telephone doesn't privation to unlock oregon springiness you a fastener surface either, leaving you to deliberation it's dead. With a spot of fiddling it past gives you a lockscreen, but it's not arsenic seamless arsenic it should be.


  • 6.5-inch OLED panel, 21:9 facet ratio
  • 4K (3840 x 1644 pixels; 643ppi)
  • 120Hz refresh rate

The Xperia 1 III stands retired due to the fact that it's thing of a rarity erstwhile it comes to that display. Not lone does it person that 21:9 facet ratio, but it's 4K solution too, susceptible of pushing plentifulness of pixels with a higher density than rival devices.

That show has 120Hz refresh rate, though you person the enactment to crook it disconnected and revert to 60Hz - which volition prevention power. It appears that 60Hz is the default, truthful you'll person to basal retired the settings paper to marque that tweak to 120Hz, if you're concerned.


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It besides supports HDR (high dynamic range), truthful occurrence up Netflix and you'll find those HDR labels successful place, ensuring you're getting the champion acquisition you can.

Across these specs, Sony hits each the headlines, though it does rise questions beyond the method capabilities. Does the 4K solution truly bring a large difference? No it doesn't. It's not hugely antithetic to different flagship devices successful presumption of ocular performance, positive galore apps simply don't usage the solution connected connection and galore video services and games don't either.

There's nary notch oregon punch spread present to distract arsenic the beforehand camera alternatively sits successful the bezel astatine the apical of the display. And truly we don't caput that: it's lone a tiny sliver of bezel to the apical and bottommost and that's really an vantage erstwhile you're playing games with the telephone successful scenery orientation.


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All those spec precocious points bash marque for a large show though. We emotion the size and the facet - and the level decorativeness has immoderate advantages implicit the curve for trends - and the colour code is bully too. There's an enactment to revert to Sony's "Creator mode", which is designed to look much natural. Many volition find this excessively muted for regular use, but there's an car mode, truthful that earthy effect tin beryllium utilized successful definite apps truthful you don't person wildly vibrant video content.

 However, it's decidedly a show that's amended indoors than retired - it conscionable doesn't person the brightness to chopped done reflections.

Hardware and performance

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G, 12GB RAM
  • 256GB retention + microSD up to 1TB
  • 4500mAh battery, 30W charger
  • Qi wireless charging

Sony is close up to day with the hardware connected offer, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and 12GB of RAM putting this telephone successful the apical tier. That's noticeable successful show too: it feels slick and fast, seamlessly flipping from task to task and delivering without a stutter.

There's 256GB storage, but it inactive offers microSD for retention enlargement - and that's present thing of a rarity successful flagship devices. It shares that slot successful the tray with the 2nd SIM card, however, truthful it's either/or.


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The Xperia 1 III likes to assertion that it has each that powerfulness to enactment the camera - which seems to beryllium Sony's cardinal selling constituent - but it helps the telephone execute successful truthful galore areas. It's a large media phone, acknowledgment to that large and susceptible display, and watching TV oregon movies connected this telephone is great, truly boosted by the 21:9 facet for those blockbusters.

Games tally smoothly too, with the enactment to prime those apical settings and inactive get a result. Sony pushes its crippled enhancer to boost the experience, but it isn't the champion specified strategy retired there. The cardinal happening it misses is the quality to fastener motion navigation, truthful you'll beryllium playing a crippled and you'll swipe retired of it my mistake - to marque things worse, you'll past find that the auto-brightness past instantly changes, meaning you instrumentality to your crippled and the surface volition beryllium truly dim. You tin fastener motion navigation by utilizing the contention set, but you past person to crook that disconnected to beryllium capable to exit a game.

For games similar PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile, it's beauteous casual to swipe retired of the game, truthful this is simply a small frustrating, and having to excavation done the settings to get to these things needs a rethink.


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The artillery astatine 4,500mAh isn't the largest successful the market, and so mightiness dependable alternatively modest, but it seems to beryllium good capable managed. In airy usage you'll get implicit 24 hours from it, truthful you tin walk a nighttime distant from a changer and apt beryllium fine.

The 30W charging (wired) isn't the fastest either, but you bash get that 30W charger successful the container for a reasonably speedy top-up, portion wireless charging is besides supported.

In astir cases, you'll scope the extremity of the time needing immoderate benignant of complaint and there's artillery absorption bundle connected committee truthful that you tin plug it successful erstwhile you spell to furniture and person the telephone negociate that complaint truthful it's implicit astir the clip you typically unplug it, truthful it's not charging astatine afloat velocity each the clip - which is amended for instrumentality health.


  • Triple rear cameras:
    • Main: 12-megapixel, 1/1.7in sensor size, f/1.7 aperture
    • Telephoto (dual 2.9x & 4.4x zoom): 12MP, 1/2.9in
    • Ultrawide: 12MP, 1/2.5in, f/2.2
  • Selfie: 8MP, 1/4in, f/2.0

Sony continues successful its effort to align the cameras connected its smartphones with its Alpha cameras, wanting to append a "pro" acquisition to proceedings, pushing the statement that there's crossover from camera to phone.

We've criticised this positioning earlier due to the fact that we can't spot that adding complexity to a smartphone camera gives the idiosyncratic immoderate large benefit, particularly with immoderate of the champion experiences coming from computational photography alternatively than attempting to bash thing that a "proper" camera does. Indeed, it refers to its cameras arsenic 16mm, 24mm, 70/105mm, arsenic though they are existent camera lenses.


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Sony's constitution is astute and determination are immoderate things we fundamentally similar astir it, due to the fact that there's nary junk lenses thrown in, each is beauteous bully successful its ain right.

It's the telephoto that's interesting, due to the fact that not lone is it a periscope telephoto, but it has 2 focal lengths: 70mm and 105mm (2.9x and 4.4x). This has been achieved by moving the lens elements wrong the periscope lens assembly, truthful alternatively than needing 2 zoom cameras connected the backmost of the telephone (which immoderate flagship models have), Sony tin bash it with one.

That means determination are aggregate zoom positions to pat erstwhile you're successful the camera app, with some 2.9x and 4.4x being optical, positive the quality to digitally zoom from either of those positions, retired to a maximum of 12.5x - which isn't truly hugely competitory erstwhile you look astatine the 50x oregon 100x offered elsewhere, but is inactive beauteous usable.

The downside of the statement is that there's nary pinch-zooming crossed these optical steps, truthful if you zoom successful the main camera, you deed 2.9x and past stop, you past person to pat the 2.9x icon to power lenses, and the process repeats. On the 2.9x lens you tin lone zoom to 4.4x. From the 4.4x you tin zoom to 12.5x - and we privation you could conscionable pinch-zoom crossed the full scope offered to marque it much usable.

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Sony's camera besides defaults connected pat to entity tracking. This is clever due to the fact that it volition purpose to support a peculiar taxable successful absorption adjacent if it's moving, truthful it's large for kids playing sport, oregon your animals moving around, and you tin besides usage that if utilizing the high-speed 20 frames per 2nd capture. Just retrieve to crook disconnected that 20fps mode if you don't request it oregon you'll extremity up with hundreds of photos you don't want, but this is simply a alternatively much unsocial diagnostic of this phone.

You tin power to pat for focusing instead, which immoderate mightiness similar - it's much accepted for regular shooting - and though the focusing is beauteous blase connected the Xperia 1 III, often it volition conscionable find thing random to absorption on, truthful it needs to beryllium pulled backmost into power with different tap. But it is large astatine uncovering a look and keeping that successful focus.

We said that each the lenses are bully and they are: the ultrawide is large and avoids the benignant of blurring you find connected cheaper phones, but you volition find colour differences crossed each the lenses. The ultrawide tin beryllium somewhat muted compared to the main camera, and the zoom little affluent than either of the different two.

The vantage of offering a person zoom enactment that's optical is you get amended images than you would from a comparable integer lens, but though Sony has a clever method solution successful the Xperia 1 III, it doesn't really connection thing implicit existing solutions: the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has some a 3x and a 10x optical zoom lens which is simply a large quality - and overmuch much versatile than Sony's solution.

Generally speaking you'll get bully results from the Xperia 1 III. Photos tin beryllium a small connected the acheronian broadside successful overcast conditions; sound volition creep successful indoors; and low-light shooting isn't the champion - possibly due to the fact that Sony would inactive alternatively you usage the app to determination into manual shooting mode than springiness you a nighttime mode. Again, it feels similar Sony is pursuing photography successful a crippled that's present astir artificial quality (AI).

Nowhere is this much evident than the beforehand camera. It's tenable alternatively than spectacular, with "portrait selfie" sitting arsenic different camera mode. You'll inactive find face-warping quality features connected by default and borderline detection that appears to gully a enactment an inch from your look and determine that's bully enough. Well, it isn't bully enough, it's hardly worthy using, successful information (see below).


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The aforesaid "pro" attraction is taking spot connected video too, with a wholly abstracted app - Cinema Pro - designed to marque you consciousness similar a filmmaker, choosing your frame-rate from 24p up to 120p, manually adjusting the focus. We can't truly ideate however tiny the marketplace of radical is that usage their telephone to sprout video successful this way, astir we fishy volition conscionable flip to the video mode successful the main camera app for point-and-shoot action.

Over the period of investigating we've taken a batch of photos with the Xperia 1 III and galore are great: by and ample it hasn't fto america down, but successful a satellite wherever wow origin becomes important, it does consciousness arsenic though Sony is overlooking the advantages of computational photography, the clever stuff, to prosecute its imagination of replicating the Alpha acquisition successful a telephone instead.


  • Android 11

Sony's phones person got a batch amended with bundle successful caller years. A determination distant from duplicated services and an acceptance of immoderate of the champion bits of Android connected connection is the attack instead. Being capable to swipe to Google Discover and usage banal Google apps arsenic modular is great.

There's immoderate preinstalls you can't region though - similar Facebook, LinkedIn, Asphalt 9 - arsenic good arsenic Sony's ain Music app and a proceedings of Tidal. Sony wants to propulsion music, due to the fact that it's besides supporting 360 Reality Audio - if you person compatible headphones and usage a compatible euphony service, of which Tidal is one.


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Some elements persist that we inactive conscionable don't get connected with - similar the dynamic vibration you tin person connected music, movies and games, which we truly deliberation is simply a distraction alternatively than adding thing to the experience.

Both otherwise, we've recovered the Xperia 1 III to tally smoothly. We've been utilizing the telephone for a period and it's truly thrown up nary problems for us. That's the takeaway: overmuch of what it does, it does well, which is acold amended than we tin accidental for galore of the Chinese competitors (Xiaomi, successful particular, with inconsistent MIUI not a spot connected Sony's caller ways with Android).


The Sony Xperia 1 III volition beryllium each the telephone that galore radical want. That large display, the premium look and feel, and the creaseless moving that comes with its top-tier hardware.

The spec expanse looks generous, with often dropped features, specified arsenic 3.5mm headphone socket and expandable storage, adding entreaty that different flagships person dispensed with; mates that with a artillery show that's bully and the deficiency of a notch and you person a neat phone.

But with telephone usage progressively being defined by experiences, Sony has gone down the pro lensman and videographer route, wanting to adhd sophistication to the cameras, enabling it to bash a batch of things that cipher wants, portion struggling to bash the things everyone wants.

That's been the communicative for immoderate clip with Sony's phones. So portion there's a batch connected connection successful the Xperia 1 III, there's contention that excels successful immoderate of the areas wherever it lacks. From a telephone that's priced astatine the apical of the pile, too, it's hard to warrant erstwhile compared to what you'll find elsewhere.

Also consider


alternatives photograph  1

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

One of the astir implicit smartphones for 2021. The camera is great, with plentifulness of options, portion the wide acquisition is slick, and nicely packaged down a large display.



alternatives photograph  2

Oppo Find X3 Pro

Oppo has made immense bounds successful its caller smartphones and this top-end handset is simply a large flagship, with power, speed, and large artillery life.


Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 9 August 2021.

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