Sony Xperia 1 III headphone port official edit

Credit: Supplied by Sony

Sony launched the Xperia 1 II in early 2020 and followed up with the Xperia 5 II in the second half of the year. But the company isn’t waiting around in 2021, as it’s simultaneously launched the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III.

As we saw last year with Sony’s flagships, the Xperia 5 III is the one to get if you value a more sensibly sized phone compared to today’s large flagships. Meanwhile, the Xperia 1 III is slightly taller and heavier, being more in line with rival flagships.

Xperia 1 III: The more premium offering

Sony Xperia 1 III screen official edit

Credit: Supplied by Sony

The biggest difference between the two phones lies in the screen category. The Xperia 1 III serves up a 6.5-inch 4K OLED panel (21:9), while the Xperia 5 III sticks with a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED screen (21:9). This difference is in line with their predecessors, which offered identically sized screens and broadly similar dimensions. Fortunately, both panels deliver a 120Hz refresh rate, unlike last year when the Xperia 1 II stuck with a 60Hz refresh rate.

Other notable features seen on the Xperia 1 II but missing on the smaller phone include Gorilla Glass Victus (the Xperia 5 II gets Gorilla Glass 6 instead), wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, better quality speakers, and a 3D ToF sensor with real-time focus tracking.

Sony’s larger phone also sports 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage versus 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage on the Xperia 5 III. We previously noted that the Xperia 5 III didn’t support storage expansion, but it turns out the phone actually does indeed offer microSD support.

Xperia 1 III and 5 III: A ton of shared DNA

Sony Xperia 5 III official edit

Credit: Supplied by Sony

There are loads of shared features between the two phones otherwise. That means a Snapdragon 888 flagship processor, sub-6Ghz 5G (no mmWave here), a 4,500mAh battery, 30W wired charging, side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and IP65/68 rating. Sony is also guaranteeing three years of battery health when using its adaptive charging setting, so you shouldn’t see significant degradation over time.

Sony’s flagships offer a similar camera experience, featuring an 8MP selfie camera in a thin bezel and three 12MP rear shooters. The three rear cameras consist of a 12MP main camera (f/1.7, OIS), 12MP ultra-wide sensor (f/2.2), and a rather interesting 12MP periscope camera.

The latter camera features lens elements that are capable of moving to f/2.3 aperture at a 70mm focal length (~3x) or f/2.8 aperture at 105mm focal length (~5X), although it can’t move to any intermediate aperture and focal length. In plain English, this means you’ve got a periscope camera capable of switching between 3X and 5X zoom, reducing the need for two zoom-focused shooters.

Sony Xperia 1 III variable periscope camera

We’ve seen the likes of Oppo demonstrate tech like this before, but Sony says this is a world first for commercially available smartphones. Either way, it’s a very smart addition and we’d love to test it out.

One possible concern with this periscope camera is that zoom quality between 3X and 5X might suffer, as the camera likely won’t be able to combine shots from separate 3X and 5X shooters to get decent results. But it’s presumably for this reason that Sony is using AI-based super resolution zoom technology, which is also capable of a focal length of up to 300mm (~12X zoom or thereabouts).

 Sony Xperia 5 IIISony Xperia 1 III
Display6.1-inch OLED
21:9 aspect ratio
FHD resolution
120Hz refresh rate
240Hz touch sampling rate
Gorilla Glass 6
6.5-inch OLED
21:9 aspect ratio
4K resolution
120Hz refresh rate
240Hz touch sampling rate
Gorilla Glass Victus
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM8GB12GB
Storage128 or 256GB
Expandable
256GB
Expandable
Power4,500mAh battery
30W wired charging
Charger included in box
No wireless charging
4,500mAh battery
30W wired charging
Charger included in box
Wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
CamerasRear:

1) 12MP main (24mm)
1/1.7" sensor
ƒ1.7, dual-PD auto-focus, OIS

2) 12MP ultra-wide (16mm)
1/2.6" sensor
ƒ2.2, dual-PD auto-focus

3) 12MP telephoto (70mm/105mm)
1/2.9" sensor
ƒ2.3/ƒ2.8, dual-PD auto-focus, OIS

Front:

1) 8MP single
Rear:

1) 12MP main (24mm)
1/1.7" sensor
ƒ1.7, dual-PD auto-focus, OIS

2) 12MP ultra-wide (16mm)
1/2.6" sensor
ƒ2.2, dual-PD auto-focus

3) 12MP telephoto (70mm/105mm)
1/2.9" sensor
ƒ2.3/ƒ2.8, dual-PD auto-focus, OIS

4) 3D iToF sensor

Front:

1) 8MP single
VideoCinema Pro 4K at 120fpsCinema Pro 4K at 120fps
Audio3.5mm headphone jack
Dolby Atmos and DSEE Ultimate
360 Spatial Sound
3.5mm headphone jack
Dolby Atmos and DSEE Ultimate
360 Spatial Sound
Connectivity5G support (Sub6 only, no mmWave)
Single SIM
5G support (Sub6 only, no mmWave)
[SIM + SIM] or [SIM + microSD]
SecuritySide-mounted fingerprint sensorSide-mounted fingerprint sensor
DurabilityIP65 against dust
IP68 against water
Gorilla Glass 6
IP65 against dust
IP68 against water
Gorilla Glass Victus
SoftwareAndroid 11Android 11
Dimensions and weight157 x 68 x 8.2mm
168g
165 x 71 x 8.2mm
186g
ColorsBlack or greenFrosted Black
Frosted Purple

The Japanese manufacturer has also paid attention to its Photo Pro mode by introducing a Basic mode here. This basic mode offers features like panoramas, bokeh effects, portrait orientation and more.

Both phones also offer Zeiss lenses with the firm’s special coating, 20fps burst photography with auto-focus/auto-exposure and noise reduction, and eye autofocus for humans or animals. The devices also both offer 4K/120fps recording support, but we don’t see any 8K recording here. The latter omission is expected as the feature requires a ~33MP+ camera, and we’ve only got 12MP cameras here.

Last year’s Xperia 1 II and 5 II resurrected the headphone port after they went missing on Sony’s 2018 flagships. Fortunately, the 3.5mm ports are still present on the Xperia 1 III and 5 III, with the firm also offering stereo speakers, 360 Reality Audio, 360 Spatial Sound, Dolby Atmos capabilities, and Hi-Res Audio support. It’s also worth noting that the phones only top out at Dual Shock 4 support rather than supporting Dual Shock 5 controllers.

Xperia 1 III and 5 III: Pricing and availability

Sony Xperia 1 III front and back official edit

Credit: Supplied by Sony

The Sony Xperia 1 III and 5 III will only be available to US customers in “early summer” 2021, so you’ll have a fair while to wait for these new phones. It’s unclear if the industry-wide chip shortage is to blame for this long period between launch and availability, although Sony is no stranger to these occurrences. In any event, the former model will be available in Frosted Black and Frosted Purple, while the latter device is offered in black and green color options.

There’s no word on pricing either, but last year’s phones give us a rough idea of what to expect. The Xperia 1 II launched at $1,199 in the US, while the Xperia 5 II came in at $949. So here’s hoping Sony either sticks to this price window or goes a little lower.

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