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Sony Xperia 1 III Smartphone Review

The Sony Xperia 1 III updates the Sony Xperia 1 II in quite a few ways, including the camera, so we're putting it to the test to find out if it can impress us more than the previous flagship device.


|  Sony Xperia 1 III in Compact Cameras
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Sony Xperia 1 III
 

Quick Verdict

The Sony Xperia 1 III is a flagship smartphone with premium features and a price to match. Its quirky shape also means it won't be for everyone but those who have used Sony Xperia smartphones previously or for the customer looking for something a bit different, the Sony Xperia 1 III could be the smartphone for them. We like the camera improvements, the display is great and the battery life will keep you capturing photos all day. Sony bill it as the 'next level of Xperia' and we have to say, we most certainly agree. 

+ Pros

  • Great screen
  • Impressive image quality 
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Great battery life

- Cons

  • Price
  • Tricky to hold
  • Pro mode still takes a while to figure out
 

 

The Sony Xperia 1 III is the latest flagship smartphone to join the Sony line-up and amongst the improvements are a better battery and a new variable telephoto camera. In fact, there are quite a few praises we want to make a camera but that'll come further in our review where we'll also look at the Sony Xperia 1 III's quirky shape which has become somewhat of a USP for Sony Xperia smartphones as has the fact that the Xperia range harnesses technology developed for the Sony Alpha interchangeable lens camera line up. 

 

Sony Xperia 1 III Features

Sony Xperia 1 III
 

The Sony Xperia 1 III smartphone features a 12 MP, f/1.7, 24mm wide lens, 12 MP, f/2.2, 16mm ultra-wide lens and an adaptive telephoto camera that features 2 lenses - an f/2.3 70mm telephoto lens and an f/2.8 105mm lens giving you access to 2.9-4.4x optical zoom. You also get access to Sony's fast autofocus Dual PDAF technology as well as Optical Image Stabilisation. On the front of the Xperia 1 III, is the same selfie camera found on the Xperia 1 II (8MP f/2.0 24mm). 

Previously, we've seen Pro modes that are separate from the main camera app on Sony Xperia smartphones but on the Xperia 1 III, the apps are all-in-one so you access the Pro modes from the same place as the auto camera. 

What is obvious is the smartphone's size which it inherits from previous Sony Xperia smartphones as it's long and tall measuring 165x71x8.2mm. This is because it frames a 21:9 aspect ratio 6.5" display - something which has turned into a bit of a USP of Sony Xperia smartphones that some will be attracted to. It's also a tiny bit thicker than the Xperia 1 II but that's because it's housing a better battery with more power. 

Other features include 4K video, a 4,500mAh battery that's fast-charging, a headphone jack, Zeiss optics, Zeiss T* lens coating, IP65/IP68 dust/water resistance, 3 colour options and expandable memory with a microSDXC memory card. 

 

Sony Xperia 1 III Features

  • Variable telephoto lens
  • AF performance like the Sony Alpha range
  • 16mm ultra-wide
  • 24mm wide
  • 70mm, 105mm telephoto (f/2.3, f/2.8, 1/ 2.9inch dual PD) – telephoto lens zooms between 70 and 105mm (equivalent)
  • 2.9-4.4x optical zoom
  • 20fps continuous shooting with AF/AE
  • AI Super-resolution zoom
  • 4K HDR OLED 120Hz refresh 21:9 screen with white point display calibration
  • Full stage stereo speakers, 40% louder with richer bass
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • 4500mAh battery
  • Fast accurate continuous AF across all lenses
  • Face and eye detection focus
  • All three cameras use a 12mp Dual PD (phase-detection) sensor
  • Portrait Bokeh available with 24mm, 70mm, 105mm
  • Dimensions: 165 x 71x 8.2mm
  • Weight: 186g

 

Sony Xperia 1 II

Sony Xperia 1 II

 

Sony Xperia 1 II Features (For Comparison) 

  • Quad Rear Camera: 12MP Wide f/1.7, 12MP f/1.4 Telephoto, 12mm f/2.2 Ultrawide & 0.3MP TOF Depth Sensor
  • Front Camera: 8MP f/2.0 24mm Wide Angle Lens
  • Display: 6.5" 4K HDR OLED display
  • Zoom: 3X optical zoom (telephoto lens)
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • Phase-Detection Autofocus
  • ZEISS Optics
  • Pro video and camera modes 
  • Video: 4K - 24, 25, 30, 60fps, 1080p - 30, 60, 120fps (5-axis gyro EIS, OIS)
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Type-C USB
  • 4000mAh battery with fast charging 
  • 256GB/8GB RAM + MicroSDXC slot 
  • Dimensions: 165.1 x 71.1 x 7.6mm
  • Weight: 181.4g

 

Sony Xperia 1 III Handling

Sony Xperia 1 III
 

Those who have owned Sony Xperia smartphones previously won't be surprised to see the 21:9 aspect ratio screen design return which makes it a rather tall and long smartphone that makes it harder to hold one-handed (although it fits the palm well). You do get used to it and it's also safer to use a smartphone with both hands but those who are firm fans of small dimensions probably won't like the design of the Sony Xperia 1 III, preferring instead the look of other flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. 

Dimension wise, it measures 165x71x82.mm which is slightly thicker than the Xperia 1 II to fit in the improved battery but it doesn't feel any more awkward to hold. The straight edges are quite as comfortable as the rounded edges we see on other smartphones but, again, it's something you do get used to. It's also a few grams heavier than the Xperia 1 II but nothing that you'll notice. 

Even though the back is constructed from glass the finish prevents fingerprints from ruining the overall look and it also means it's a bit more grippy but do pop on a case, still, as it'll help protect it from knocks. The huge glass screen that has minimal bezels is easily marked, though, so you may find yourself getting out your lens cloth quite a bit. 

 

Sony Xperia 1 III
 

The aluminium frame surrounding the 6.5" display is home to the volume and power buttons then below the power button is a Google Assistant button which is a nice add-on but it isn't something we really used during testing. There's also a camera shutter button that's embossed so you can easily find it without having to tilt your phone to see which button you're pressing - handy when you've already framed your shot and don't want to spoil it. It's also in the perfect position for landscape shooting as you can keep a decent grip on the phone while hitting the shutter button rather than having to reposition your hands to tap the on-screen shutter button. 

On the bottom of the Xperia 1 III is the USB-C port and SIM tray while on top you find a headphone jack. Stereo speakers are front-facing and the sound is great from them. 

 

Sony Xperia 1 III

 

The 6.5 inch OLED display might be a weird shape but it's lovely to look at, colours are accurate and it's easy to view outdoors. Sony has also built in a standard image viewing mode as well as a Creator mode which is said to offer a more true-to-life viewing experience so content creators get out exactly what they see on the screen. 

Turn the Xperia 1 III over and you find the camera unit top left which doesn't sit entirely flush so there is a little movement if you pop it down on a desk and tap the screen. The unit is one line of cameras and the Zeiss T* branding is visible to promote the fact that quality optics are built-in. 

The camera set-up is as follows: 12MP f/1.7 wide-angle, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide and a 12MP variable telephoto camera that offers 70mm f/2.3 and 105mm f/2.8 focal lengths. The 70mm lens will give you 2.9x optical zoom while the 105mm lens offers 4.4x optical zoom. If you need more zoom, digital is available up to 12.5x but we're not massive fans of digital zoom. It's also not the longest zoom we've seen on a flagship smartphone so if you do want more reach, you may want to look elsewhere. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, for example, offers 3x optical zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. On the front is an 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm camera that sits in a small bezel right at the top of the smartphone. 

Sony is well-known for sharing its digital camera technology with its smartphone users and the Sony Xperia 1 III is no different. The Dual Pixel Phase Detection Auto Focus is quick and has no trouble tracking moving objects, people or animals with Rea-time Tracking. You also get accurate continuous AF and real-time Eye AF is built-in. Optical Image Stabilisation can't be complained about either, offering excellent performance and utilising Sony's latest Optical SteadyShot technology. For those who capture action shots, there's a 20fps burst shooting mode built-in and low light photography should be slightly improved thanks to the larger sensor. 

Like its older siblings, the Xperia 1 III feature the Photography Pro function. Developed in collaboration with professional photographers, it mirrors many of the manual controls available in Alpha series cameras including ISO, shutter speed, EV Indicator and RAW support. For those who want to 'press and go', there's a 'Basic Mode' which enables fast access to a range of easy-to-use photography features including a touch shutter button, portrait orientation, artistic bokeh effect, panorama, and more.

Video is can be captured in 4K at various frame rates and there's also a 1080p mode available. Both are supported by 5-axis gyro-EIS and OIS to keep footage steady. The selfie camera captures video at 1080p, 30fps. 

 

Sony Xperia 1 III

 

The camera app is very similar to other camera apps you'll have used with basic modes such as panorama, selfie assistance and creative filters built-in. There are also round buttons to switch to the different lenses, modes found across the top of the screen and a big shutter button. You can click the screen to focus and adjust the exposure of an image, too. You'll occasionally see a symbol pop up which is the AI looking at the scene in front and ensuring the optimal settings are selected to capture the best photo. A message will appear when your finger is over the lens as well. As mentioned, you also have access to a physical shutter button on the side of the smartphone which is a great feature. 

One thing that is new in the camera app is the fact that the Pro modes are now merged with the basic modes as previously, they were in separate apps. You now wheel through the various modes available by clicking the mode you're currently in on-screen which then brings the other options up. When you wheel through, you're given descriptions of how each mode works and you'll notice the tools also change depending on what mode you are in. The fact that all of the modes are now in one place makes the Xperia 1 III camera modes much more streamlined and you're probably more likely to give the Pro modes ago as you no longer have to leave the camera app to find them.  

 

Sony Xperia 1 III Pro Mode

 

For most, the normal auto mode will be their go-to choice as it's simpler to use and produces great results without too much effort. However, if you do take the time to learn how the functions available in the Pro modes work, you will be rewarded with great images but it will take a lot of patience to get to grips with. You can't 'snap and go' with it either so won't be a tool that's suited to everyone. 

For those of you who like stats, the benchmarking stats for Geekbench is, on average, 3235.

Battery life - The 4500mAh battery doesn't seem much bigger than the 4000mAh battery found on the Xperia 1 II but it did seem to last longer. You also get fast charging and the 20W charger is still provided which is good to see as some other smartphone companies have stopped supplying them. 


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