Sony is — and has been for a while — in a tough spot with its smartphone business. We still see regular releases from the company every year, but time and time again, its devices just fail to cultivate any sort of meaningful audience. In 2021, all eyes are set on the Sony Xperia 1 III, possibly being able to change that.
The Xperia 1 II was a great Android phone in more ways than one, but a lack of 5G and a steep price made it a difficult recommendation compared to its competitors. With the newly announced Xperia 1 III, Sony is upping its photography game with a never-before-seen dual focal length telephoto lens, along with louder stereo speakers and a 120Hz 4K display.
Here's everything you need to know about the Sony Xperia 1 III.
Sony Xperia 1 III Price
The Xperia 1 II is a device that flew under a lot of people's radar, but if there's one thing about it that did stand out, it was the price. Sony launched the Xperia 1 II in the United States for $1200, competing directly with the best from Samsung and Apple. Considering its lack of 5G and fast refresh rate display, it was ultimately a tough pill to swallow.
It would be great if Sony could lower the price of the Xperia 1 III down to at least $1000, but at the moment, we're unsure of exact pricing for the U.S. If Sony is determined to remain at $1200, it'll be going head-to-head with the Galaxy S21 Ultra — and that's not a fight we're sure Sony is up for.
Sony Xperia 1 III Availability
Sony's track record for shipping phones several months after unveiling them still holds true for the Xperia 1 III. Previously, Sony announced the Xperia 1 II in February 2020, but it wasn't until July that the phone was released in the U.S. Similarly, this time around, Sony is giving a vague "summer 2021" timeframe for the release of the Xperia 1 III, as well as the Xperia 5 III and 10 III.
One retailer leaked a possible ship date for the Sony Xperia 1 III, citing that the phone could be in customers' hands by August 31. That would certainly fall right inside the final few weeks of Summer.
To make things even more interesting, you can already buy Xperia 1 III cases from your favorite retailers and case manufacturers, hinting that the phone should be shipping sooner rather than later.
At this time, however, there are no official ship dates for any region of the world. Sony has not yet revealed which regions the Xperia 1 III will be available in, either.
Sony Xperia 1 III Design
Just like last year, we're looking at a phone that has a very narrow display, four rear sensors, and minimalistic styling with a predominantly glass build. Sony is one of the few manufacturers still offering a 3.5mm headphone jack on its flagship model, as well as front-facing stereo speakers — the first of their kind to feature 360 Reality Audio, allowing it to output 40% louder output than its predecessor.
Notably, the Xperia 1 III makes significant strides in the imaging department, with a new telephoto system that physically shifts optical elements within a single lens to offer two distinct focal lengths: 70mm and 105mm.
This will allow you to get closer to your subject without resorting to digital zoom, ensuring the sharpest image possible. This variable telephoto lens also features dual phase-detect autofocus, along with real-time tracking and eye autofocus for both humans and animals across all lenses.
Unlike its predecessor, the Xperia 1 III features a frosted matte finish on its Gorilla Glass Victus back panel, improving both fingerprint resistance and durability. You'll be able to pick up the Xperia 1 III in either Frosted Black or Frosted Purple when it launches this summer.
Sony Xperia 1 III Specs
While the design of the Xperia 1 III may not be anything groundbreaking, Sony is more than making up for that in the specs department. In addition to the latest Snapdragon 888 processor and Sub-6 5G support, the Xperia 1 III sports a 6.5-inch 4K display in Sony's signature 21:9 aspect ratio, upgraded with a 120Hz refresh rate with a 240Hz touch sampling rate.
This touch sampling rate, along with the new 240Hz motion blur reduction, should make for considerable improvements to the Xperia 1 III's gaming experience. There's also a 4,500mAh battery, which tops up with either 30W fast charging or wireless charging. As for internal storage, the Xperia 1 III offers 256GB of expandable UFS storage, backed by 12GB of RAM.
On the software side, Sony is backing its new and improved cameras with updated Photography Pro and Cinematography Pro shooting modes, which feature more powerful manual controls along with a simpler Basic Mode that aims to make automatic shooting quicker and easier.
The Xperia 1 III will launch with Android 11 since Android 12 isn't expected to be fully available by the end of August, but the company didn't take long to update the Xperia 1 II to Android 11; a good sign that Android 12 might make it to the Xperia 1 III sooner than some other companies might get it out.
Sony Xperia 1 III FAQ
Will the Sony Xperia 1 III have pro-grade camera features?
Sony launched the Xperia Pro in January 2021, and while it certainly isn't for everyone, it is one of the more unique releases we've seen from the company. The main appeal of the Xperia Pro is that it can be used with a Sony camera, allowing it to function as an external monitor and livestream video content over 5G.
Those same monitoring capabilities are making their way to the Xperia 1 III through the use of an HDMI to USB-C adapter. However, some features like the ability to apply LUTs aren't carrying over from the Xperia Pro. The new Cinema app makes it easier to view the different parameters of various clips to make sure the footage within a project remains consistent.
Is the Xperia 1 III going to support 5G in the U.S.?
The lack of 5G on the Xperia 1 II was a difficult roadblock to get around, but thankfully, the Xperia 1 III features support for Sub-6 networks in the U.S. and other 5G markets. There's no word on whether the phone will support millimeter-wave 5G.