Sony Xperia 1 III Review: Not Like the Others

When Sony unveiled its Xperia Mark III lineup again in Spring, the corporate showcased what seemed like an unmistakably acquainted face. Whilst the new flagship Xperia 1 III would possibly resemble its predecessor, on the other hand, it guarantees a handful of notable upgrades and additions that stick out from the established order.

Sony has occupied a somewhat tiny nook of the smartphone marketplace lately, additional tailoring its Xperia smartphones to emblem loyalists who price the corporate’s technical experience and distinct taste of {hardware} and instrument above all else.

The Xperia 1 line – now in its 3rd technology – serves as the pinnacle of its smartphone portfolio; every new revision provides a tighter and extra subtle enjoy than the closing, leaning closely on the corporate’s experience and applied sciences inside of different product classes; like its Alpha cameras, Bravia TVs and audio wares.

Design & Construct

  • Gorilla Glass Victus entrance
  • Frosted Gorilla Glass 6 again
  • Devoted Google Assistant key
  • IP65/68 mud/water resistance

For those who appreciated the glance of closing yr’s Xperia 1 II, you can be extremely joyful to find that the Mk III is reduce from very equivalent fabric; a tall, slim glass sandwich, surrounded via a chamfered colour-matched steel body.

Design-wise, Sony’s method of refinement over reinvention takes the type of adjustments to complete and texture, at the beginning. The shiny again of the 1 II is now rendered in a extra refined frosted Gorilla Glass 6, which no longer most effective appears higher however extra readily repels smudges and fingerprints, in comparison to closing yr’s phone.

Sony Xperia 1 III design

As with the Mk II, it makes for a assured, daring design that sticks out from the crowd, even with the straight-sided iPhone 12 circle of relatives now in the combine. Actual main points, like the knurled bodily dual-detent shutter button and toolless SIM/microSD card tray talk to Sony’s eye for element, whilst the design additionally occurs to be IP65/68 mud and water resistance (nozzle projection and submersion for water).

A left-field tweak to the Mk III’s shape is an extra aspect button on the phone’s proper edge, underneath the centrally-positioned energy key; with its (pleasingly responsive) built-in fingerprint sensor.

Its sole serve as is to summon the Google Assistant, however why Sony made up our minds such an inclusion had to be added to this technology of Xperia 1, specifically, is unclear; particularly when there are already no less than 3 different ways to get entry to the Assistant, to not point out this option may have simply been added to the energy key behaviour.

Sony Xperia 1 III side button

The truth that it sits flush to the body and employs a pill-shaped design identical to mentioned energy key makes for a problematic tactile enjoy; as in spite of being smaller and extra down the phone’s proper aspect, each buttons really feel confusingly equivalent when the use of contact by myself to have interaction with them.

In markets, together with the US and UK, the Xperia 1 III will also be had in Frosted Black (pictured) or Frosted Crimson, however different areas – similar to Sony’s local Japan – even have the choice of Frosted Gray.


  • 6.5in 120Hz 21:9 ‘CinemaWide’ demonstrate
  • 4K HDR OLED panel
  • 10-bit color (8-bit w/ 2-bit smoothing)
  • One-handed mode

There are a large number of components right through the Xperia 1 III that do not apply the developments set via the pageant and the Gorilla Glass Victus-protected demonstrate is an ideal instance of this. Sony has apparently led the price on gadgets with tall, slim 21:9 facet ratios and it is a trait that endures in this yr’s Xperia flagship.

Sony Xperia 1 III display closeup

There is additionally no notch, cut-out or under-display digital camera to talk of on the entrance; with a thicker peak bezel than maximum competitors that hosts the selfie snapper and earpiece as a substitute – identical to the majority of telephones used to.

This in the long run falls to a question of private desire, however there may be little to take factor with in the case of Sony’s implementation right here; specifically as the ones bezels permit for a greater hand-hold when viewing content material in panorama orientation.

We described the demonstrate on closing yr’s Xperia 1 II as not anything in need of “astounding” and, typically talking, the Mk III can ship similarly arresting visuals, if no longer extra so. The massive improve here’s refresh price, with Sony confirming that you’ll theoretically revel in 4K decision media at 120fps, natively – one thing no different phone in the global can be offering, presently.

Content material at those figures is rather restricted at this time; specifically gaming or video content material you shoot with the Xperia 1 III’s personal cameras.

In on a regular basis use, the demonstrate adjusts decision dynamically; serving up super-crisp visuals when it detects high-enough decision supply subject matter, on the other hand, refresh price does not proportion on this adaptive high quality. The phone runs locked at 60Hz out the field and you have got to dip into the settings menu to allow 120Hz mode.

Supplied you are prepared to simply accept the further pressure this puts on the battery (true of any phone with a excessive refresh price demonstrate), the result’s properly value it, regardless that.

Even simply transferring round the person interface is a pleasure, with a responsiveness that higher represents the robust internals at the 1 III’s disposal. The dimensions and wider area of view (in comparison to extra standard facet ratios), paired with the 120Hz refresh price and a 240Hz contact pattern price make high-intensity gaming (on titles like Name of Accountability Mobile) an actual excitement, as properly.

Sony’s demonstrate experience manifests in an entire host of different visible wizardry too, like Author Mode – with its calibrated 10-bit color and HDR viewing “powered via (Sony) CineAlta”, intensive guide keep watch over over attributes like white stability and extra.

Sony Xperia 1 III front on table

The only-handed mode is very important when making an attempt to succeed in the peak of the person interface, set inside of that tall facet ratio (shrinking the whole lot down quickly to carry UI components inside of achieve) and Sony’s implementation of split-screen multitasking paired with the phone’s measurement and the demonstrate’s form continues to be most probably the perfect on any smartphone.

For all the hard earned and well-merited reward, this distinctive 120Hz ‘CinemaWide’ 4K HDR OLED panel merits regardless that, there’s one vital wrinkle that is value bringing up: brightness.

Samsung has proven that you’ll get nice, vivid, high-resolution OLED panels on telephones, however in spite of all the boundary-pushing the Xperia 1 III’s display manages to do, it may be challenging to look in vivid environment and incessantly must be brightened up above the automated brightness stage that the phone generally lands on, with the intention to ship impactful viewing.


  • “Complete-stage” front-facing stereo audio system (40% louder than Xperia 1 II)
  • 360 Fact Audio
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

Like the demonstrate, the audio enjoy on the 1 III is outlined via a number of inventive applied sciences, the aggregate of which you will not in finding on some other smartphone. Simply as 120Hz viewing is now a part of the enjoy in this yr’s peak Xperia, so too is speaker-based 360 Fact Audio.

Sony’s spatial audio tech works perfect with authorized headphones by the use of supported audio services and products (like Tidal, Deezer, Amazon Track HD and nugs.web) however even with out the state-of-the-art same old improve, the Xperia 1 III nonetheless delivers spectacular sound high quality thru each its front-firing stereo audio system and with stressed out (by means of the 3.5mm headphone port) or wi-fi headphones.

Both means, you have the benefit of high-resolution audio upscaling (branded ‘DSEE Final’) and Dolby Atmos, too.

Essentially the most divisive facet of the 1 III’s audio options is not one thing you can listen however quite one thing you’re feeling, with Dynamic Vibration routinely including drive comments in your gaming periods or hand held film screenings. Happily you’ll range the depth of the vibrations from a slider that sits along the same old on-screen quantity stage, as most probably no longer everybody will respect the function or need it working along each and every piece of media being performed.

Tool & Options

  • Recreation Enhancer w/ R.T. File
  • Android 11
  • Aspect Sense

Sony has lengthy labored to maintain a blank and easy-to-navigate Android enjoy whilst including significant options that do not undermine its total cleanliness; one thing that is still true with the person enjoy on the Mk III.

Working Android 11 out the field, there used to be preliminary worry that this characteristically top rate flagship would not be receiving a lot in the means of long-term instrument improve from Sony, generally a given the place high-end Android telephones are involved.

Sony Xperia 1 III split screen

Sony used to be fast to explain that this is not the case and that customers can be expecting no less than two years of OS updates. This, on the other hand, appears like the naked minimal that are meant to accompany a flagship Android instrument in 2021.

Standout instrument inclusions that you will not in finding in different places come with Aspect Sense – the system-wide shortcuts menu that may be summoned with a double-tap towards the fringe of the phone’s display. The power to, no longer most effective get entry to pinned apps, however split-screen app pairings is a specific spotlight right here.

Sony Xperia 1 III settings menu

The opposite large improve comes with Recreation Enhancer. In addition to serving one thing of a secondary launcher for all the video games put in for your Xperia and making an allowance for keep watch over over the likes of instrument efficiency, color and settings, and notifications behaviour on a sport via sport foundation, one among the smartest new additions is R.T. recording.

Very similar to Nvidia’s Shadowplay on PC, R.T. recording (brief for ‘Rewind Time’) permits you to seize the closing 30 seconds of gameplay from prior to you tapped the report button. It is nice in case you are a prepared cellular gamer, short of to proportion a snatch kill in PUBG Mobile or an inventive betrayal in Amongst Us and speaks to Sony’s belief of the 1 III as a major cellular gaming instrument.

There are boundaries to decision and body price with R.T. seize (720p at 60fps), however should you don’t want the flexibility of retroactive recording and are merely glad to seize gameplay from the second you press the ‘cross’ button, you’ll in fact log photos at as much as 1080p at 60fps or 720p at 120fps.

Efficiency & Battery

  • 30W immediate charging
  • Wi-fi charging
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC
  • 12GB RAM

Whilst a phone wearing Qualcomm’s hotly-anticipated Snapdragon 888+ chipset is but to hit the marketplace, it is type of disheartening to suppose that the days of the same old 888 inside of maximum of 2021’s present flagship Android telephones are already numbered.

It is specifically irritating in the case of the Xperia 1 III, as Sony first confirmed the phone off close to the get started of 2021, when the 888 used to be nonetheless relatively fresh-faced and now we are staring down the barrel of September, with the phone having most effective simply made it to marketplace.

For no matter the slight efficiency improve the 888+ would possibly carry to the desk, on the other hand, the Xperia 1 III does no less than glance to be amongst the perfect examples of a typical Snapdragon 888-powered phone available in the market, in keeping with my time with it.

Like the remainder of the crop, it is an absolute powerhouse in real-world use, taking high-intensity gaming and fast moving multitasking in its stride, however in synthetic trying out, it is usually one among the highest-scoring flagships we’ve got noticed – specifically in graphical trying out.

That is in part right down to the soar from 8GB of RAM to a whopping 12GB in comparison to closing yr’s Mk II (which is in fact nonetheless a phenomenal performer in its personal proper).

The one minor worry on this division is the phone’s tendency to warmth up below load (i.e. lengthy gaming periods or heavy digital camera use) and when fast-charging. This was once an issue on older Xperias that Sony looked as if it would have got below keep watch over, however the factor turns out to as soon as once more be rearing its head in the Mk III.

Sony Xperia 1 III USB port

Like the phone’s reminiscence, the phone’s battery has additionally been upscaled, in comparison to closing yr’s Xperia 1, clocking in at 4500mAh quite than 4000mAh. Then again, even with the bump up in cellular measurement, the 1 III nonetheless lags in the back of its competitors; realistically requiring nightly charging.

Notice: As with the benchmarks above, all trying out used to be carried out with 120Hz viewing enabled.

One silver lining is that, not like similarly high-priced top-tier flagships from Samsung and Apple, Sony does come with a quick charger in-box with the Xperia 1 III, which at 30W refills the phone’s battery to over 50% in half-hour and 80% inside of an hour.


  • International´s first phone with variable telephoto and Twin PD sensor
  • 3-D iToF sensor w/ Actual-Time Monitoring
  • Triple rear 12Mp digital camera

Not like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely – which options two separate telephoto cameras to supply up lossless optically-magnified photographs at two discreet focal lengths – the 1 III provides us the first instance of a variable telephoto setup on a smartphone (ruling out the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Ok Zoom, S4 Zoom and W880 from yesteryear, that have been slightly other).

Sony Xperia 1 III rear camera closeup

This implies the 3 major sensors that make up the rear digital camera setup on the Mk III can seize photographs throughout 4 focal lengths, with none type of virtual trickery or compression (the telephoto sensor can seize photographs at each 2.9x and four.4x magnification). It is a boundary-pushing function that once more serves as a reminder of Sony’s technical expertise and proves that it may nonetheless innovate on this crowded house.

Consequently, relating to versatility no less than, the 1 III competitors the likes of the S21 Extremely, whilst Sony nearly stands by myself relating to the intensity and high quality of the guide taking pictures controls throughout each stills and video seize. The 1 III additionally possesses some improbable autofocus talents too, which will monitor with rock-solid reliability; making this an excellent choice for many who incessantly snap fast-moving or hard-to-capture topics like athletes, cars, pets and/or kids.

Sony Xperia 1 III Photography Pro app

That extraordinary guide keep watch over does come at the price of a a ways steeper and extra intimidating finding out curve, it is value bringing up; cut up throughout two separate apps: Photograph Professional (which confusingly includes a mode referred to as ‘Fundamental’ that incorporates video recording) and Cinema Professional (a extra unfettered video seize enjoy).

The primary 12Mp sensor is a smart all-rounder and there is a pleasant consistency when taking pictures throughout the ultrawide and telephoto snappers too.  Then again, any disparities in high quality, dynamic vary and color accuracy are exponentially amplified as you progress from the major thru to the telephoto below tougher taking pictures prerequisites.

Sony Xperia 1 III camera test

A loss of easy-to-use options like Night time Mode approach low mild taking pictures simply does not examine towards its maximum like-minded competitors.

Bearing in mind how a lot of a focal point the digital camera enjoy is on the Xperia 1 III, as prior to, the 8Mp selfie snapper appears like an afterthought – a tiny sensor, tucked away in the phone’s bezel that in all probability provides up higher color copy than its predecessor on the Mk II however another way lacks the talent to provoke in the identical means the phone’s rear snappers so simply do.

If you are into the extra technical and guide taking pictures enjoy that the 1 III facilitates (and type of calls for of the person with the intention to get the maximum out of it) you may additionally like the incontrovertible fact that the phone borrows the UVC (USB video magnificence) improve from the Xperia Professional, letting you flip the phone right into a fine quality exterior demonstrate for a suitable digital camera.

Value & Availability

Sony introduced the Xperia 1 III again in April 2021, with a staggered unencumber that reaches way back to 10 August in areas like Norway and Denmark, however 31 August in Germany, for instance.

As for pricing, it is one among the costliest Xperias but (save for the Xperia Professional), priced at £1,199/€1,299/US$1,299 – on par with similarly-specced uber-flagship competitors, like the 256GB Galaxy S21 Extremely and iPhone 12 Professional Max.

In the UK, the phone is to be had beginning 19 August. It is on sale SIM-free from Sony at once or on-contract from carriers similar to O2, whose plans come with a £44-a-month providing with 15GB knowledge for £30 prematurely, and – if bought prior to 15 September – it comes with a loose pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones.

Stateside, the Mk III is to be had for pre-order, direct from Sony’s web page, with a boat date of 24 September. Different shops come with Adorama, Amazon (US), B&H and Center of attention – a few of whom make point out of a boat date of 24 August. 

There were reviews of telephones turning up on purchaser’s doorsteps previous than anticipated, in addition to phrase that some orders are being behind schedule into September, so it is value tempering your expectancies, in relation to a well timed arrival.


If the Xperia line proves anything else, it is that Sony enjoys strolling its personal trail; one thing that is completely mirrored in the sheer quantity of global firsts that the Xperia 1 III brings to the desk.

Present Sony fanatics will don’t have any bother discovering price in the 1 III’s distinctive function set (except they personal closing yr’s 1 II, as this appears like a extra incremental improve in that regard). However for everybody else, it is a topic of weighing up whether or not the ones USPs trump the small missteps Sony has made with a few of this phone’s basics.

Not most effective do competitors like Apple’s and Samsung’s top-tier possible choices include higher selfie cameras, brighter presentations and longer-lasting batteries, however they provide higher peace of thoughts. The promise of long-term instrument improve and tighter integration with their respective product ecosystems is one thing Sony is aware of it can not compete on and so does not attempt to with the 1 III.

For a greater breakdown of the place the Xperia 1 III suits into the wider cellular panorama, take a look at our perfect smartphones and perfect Sony telephones charts and watch episode 79 of our weekly podcast Rapid Fee, which contains impressions and a evaluate of the Xperia 1 III in video shape:


Sony Xperia 1 III: Specifications

  • 6.5in 120Hz 21:9 ‘CinemaWide’ 4K HDR OLED demonstrate
  • 240Hz contact sampling price
  • Gorilla Glass Victus entrance, Gorilla Glass 6 again
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor
  • 12GB RAM
  • 256GB or 512GB garage
  • microSD expandable as much as 1TB
  • 12Mp f/2.2. 16mm 124° ultrawide w/ dual-PDAF
  • 12Mp f/1.7 24mm 84° major w/ dual-PDAF & OIS
  • 12Mp f/2.3 70mm 34° or f/2.8 105mm 23° variable telephoto w/ dual-PDAF & OIS
  • 3-D iToF sensor
  • 8Mp f/2.0 78° front-facing digital camera (1/4in sensor)
  • Android 11
  • “Complete degree” stereo audio system
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Prime-Res Audio improve (stressed out & wi-fi)
  • DSEE Final
  • 360 Fact Audio (headphones & audio system)
  • Knurled devoted shutter button
  • IP65/68 mud/water resistance
  • 5G
  • WiFi 6
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • 4500mAh battery w/ 3-years lengthy lifestyles promise from Sony
  • 30W immediate stressed out charging
  • Wi-fi charging & opposite wi-fi charging
  • 186 grams
  • 165mm x 71mm x 8.2mm
  • Colors: Frosted Black, Frosted Crimson, Frosted Gray


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