Sony Xperia 1 III evaluation: Elegant, exhilarating, costly

Patrick

After a sequence of lackluster flagships, the final couple of years has seen Sony closing in on a really nice smartphone setup. The corporate’s newest try to excellent its multimedia powerhouse is the Sony Xperia 1 III. However in addition to new {hardware}, this newest entry additionally comes with Sony’s highest ever smartphone price ticket. The sheer expense is sure to show contentious.

Nonetheless, Sony is aware of its viewers and it is a smartphone undoubtedly designed for fans quite than mainstream shoppers. Has Sony lastly distilled its TV, digicam, and gaming experience right into a smartphone that’s price your cash? Let’s discover out in our Sony Xperia 1 III evaluation.

About this Sony Xperia 1 III evaluation: I examined the Sony Xperia 1 III over a interval of seven days. It was working the Android 11 61.0.A.4.42 construct on the June 2021 safety patch. The telephone didn’t obtain any updates throughout the evaluation interval. The unit was supplied by Sony for this evaluation.

What you must know in regards to the Sony Xperia 1 III

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Sony Xperia 1 III (12GB/256GB): $1,299/£1,199/€1,299

Sony’s Xperia 1 III is the follow-up to 2020’s ultra-premium Xperia 1 II smartphone. Initially launched again in April 2021, the Xperia 1 III grew to become obtainable for pre-order on July 1 with a launch date set for August 19 within the US and chosen different markets.

Priced at $1,299 and packing in its newest and best applied sciences, Sony’s 2021 flagship has the most costly telephones from Apple and Samsung in its sights. For those who’re on the lookout for a extra fairly priced Sony flagship, the marginally downgraded Xperia 5 III could be extra what you’re after.

The Xperia 1 III leverages Sony’s Bravia OLED TV, Alpha digicam, music applied sciences, and extra to create a smartphone purpose-built for multimedia, images, and gaming. As you’d anticipate, Sony tweaks and modernizes its Xperia components with every iteration. One of many extra notable new inclusions with the Xperia 1 III is a periscope zoom digicam that includes movable lenses for a switchable focal size. This novel thought gives enhanced zoom qualities with out doubling up the variety of cameras. Mixed with a high-end Snapdragon 888 processor, wi-fi charging, twin front-facing audio system, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, there’s plenty of know-how below the hood.

Not like a few of its rivals, Sony features a 30W USB Energy Supply adapter and USB-C cable within the field. It additionally performs good with third-party USB Energy Supply equipment. The Sony Xperia 1 III is offered in Frosted Black and Frosted Purple colorways.

Design: Traditional Sony

Sony Xperia 1 III back

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Gorilla Glass Victus (entrance) and Gorilla Glass 6 (rear)
  • 165 x 71 x 8.2mm
  • 186g
  • Aspect-mounted fingerprint reader
  • IP65/IP68
  • 3.5mm headphone jack and front-facing audio system
  • Devoted Google Assistant/digicam buttons
  • Frosted Black and Frosted Purple colours

Sony retains its acquainted design aesthetic with the Xperia 1 III. The edges are squared-off in Sony’s signature fashion with rounded edges for straightforward dealing with. Sony hasn’t embraced the notch or punch-hole digicam look of its rivals, as a substitute choosing a skinny chin and brow bezel that’s slender sufficient to go unnoticed. The result’s a daring monolith that continues to face out subsequent to its rivals.

It’s nonetheless one of many few telephones providing a devoted two-step digicam shutter button, a right-side-mounted fingerprint reader, and an IP65/IP68 score for mud and water resistance. The SIM/microSD tray can be eliminated with out using a software, which is useful should you swap reminiscence playing cards round typically. The audio bundle continues to face out all these years later, boasting a 3.5mm headphone jack, an assortment of high-end Bluetooth codecs, and twin front-facing audio system that, though somewhat gentle on the bass, sound strong.

However the customary design doesn’t imply there isn’t something new in regards to the telephone’s construct. The handset sports activities Gorilla Glass Victus safety on the entrance and Gorilla Glass 6 on the again for scratch safety. I additionally discovered fingerprint unlocking a fraction snappier than final 12 months’s mannequin, regardless that it’s nonetheless not an prompt unlock. The brand new matte end additionally helps the handset keep away from the grubby fingerprint that plagued earlier fashions.

One other new function is the addition of a devoted Google Assistant button positioned under the fingerprint scanner. This concept has by no means been massively fashionable previously (cough Bixby) so it’s attention-grabbing to see Sony carry again an thought trialed by the likes of the Nokia 4.2, Xiaomi Mi 9, and LG G8. Then once more, Sony performs it very near Google’s ecosystem. As somebody who doesn’t use Google Assistant, it’s a disgrace that this button can’t be remapped to a extra helpful function, reminiscent of launching an app or turning on don’t disturb mode.

The Xperia 1 III seems to be and feels very acquainted to anybody who’s taken a have a look at Sony’s smartphones previously 5 years. We’re undoubtedly speaking iteration quite than renovation right here.

Show: Greatest within the enterprise?

Sony Xperia 1 III front

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • 6.5-inch 4K OLED show
  • 3,840 x 1,644 decision
  • 428 pixels per pinch
  • 21:9 facet ratio, 120Hz refresh price

Sony’s 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED show seems to be improbable to the attention, with correct colours and an overkill pixel density. 4K HDR is definitely a premium function however it’s a little pointless on such a small show, particularly as you’re unlikely to retailer or stream such giant information on a cellular gadget. When you will discover it, cutting-edge content material playback definitely seems to be nice right here, though most content material, YouTube movies, and the like look equally good on different handsets. The show can be good and shiny, though you would possibly wrestle to see in very shiny direct daylight.

If Sony’s manufacturing unit settings don’t fairly fit your tastes, the Xperia 1 III packs in a strong array of show customization options. This ranges from forcing on the 10-bit, BT.2020 shade gamut “Creator Mode” to adjusting the panel’s white steadiness, together with movement blur discount and video picture enhancement toggles.

The 4K HDR OLED show is a marvel for multitasking, video, and gaming.

I’m more and more a fan of the longer/wider 21:9 facet ratio too. The Xperia 1 III is a big telephone however stays very usable in a single hand, not like a few of its rivals, and the tall show is nice for stacking apps atop each other. The one downside is that the telephone feels somewhat bizarre to carry in panorama and also you’ll be left with black bars when watching again widespread 16:9 video content material. However that’s a really minor criticism.

Talking of drawbacks, Sony’s show doesn’t supply more and more fashionable adaptive refresh price know-how. Whereas it’s nice to lastly see a Sony telephone with the next refresh price display — mixed with a 240Hz touchscreen sampling price — Sony has additionally opted to disable the panel’s 120Hz mode by default, leaving you in a 60Hz mode out-of-the-box that feels somewhat dated. This resolution is clearly to assist save on battery life, and though common consumers would possibly overlook this feature, it’s there for fans to flick on at will.

Efficiency: Snappy however lacking mmWave 5G

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor
  • Adreno 660 GPU
  • 12GB RAM
  • 256GB storage with microSD card slot

With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and 12GB of RAM on board, there are not any quibbles or qualms in regards to the efficiency on supply from the Sony Xperia 1 III. Even with out the approaching Snapdragon 888 Plus, which is able to solely supply marginal enhancements, apps are as zippy as you’d anticipate from a high-end telephone and this turns out to be useful when utilizing the telephone’s multi-window mode to run a number of apps side-by-side. Benchmark outcomes are a few of the finest round and but this doesn’t come on the expense of multi-day battery life (extra on that later).

We examined the Sony Xperia 1 III utilizing our in-house Pace Take a look at G benchmark and it carried out admirably with a time of 1 minute 16 seconds. That’s proper up there with the Xiaomi Mi 11’s 1:12, the OnePlus 9 Professional’s 1:15, and sooner than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely, which took 1:21. Avid gamers are nicely catered for right here, though the Xperia 1 III does turn into quite heat that means that sustained efficiency could be a problem.

256GB of quick UFS onboard storage mixed with a microSDXC card for as much as 1TB extra provides as much as a monstrous quantity of house, must you want it. It’s overkill for every part however the largest lossless music and HD film collections.

For avid gamers seeking to squeeze most efficiency from the telephone, there are a few issues to notice. As talked about beforehand, the show is about at 60Hz to assist lengthen battery life, however you might wish to run at 120Hz for a good smoother expertise. Then there’s Sony Recreation Enhancer software program, which lets you change preferences from all-out efficiency to battery longevity on a per-game foundation. This app additionally consists of Sony’s Warmth Suppression Energy Management function, which passes energy straight by with out charging the battery whereas plugged in, to keep away from overheating and keep optimum battery well being. There’s an virtually bewildering vary of goodies right here to optimize your gaming expertise whether or not at house or on the go.

Associated: The most effective 5G telephones you should purchase proper now

Whereas we’re on the subject of blazing-fast efficiency, the Xperia 1 III is a 5G-equipped handset. This consists of the US market this time round, not like the Xperia 1 II which was 4G-only within the US. Nevertheless, the telephone solely helps sub-6GHz bands and never ultra-fast mmWave spectrum. This isn’t a problem for many 5G shoppers in the meanwhile however signifies that clients on the quickest networks in Japan, Korea, and the US gained’t be capable to leverage their 5G community’s mmWave capabilities. That is not like rival smartphones, such because the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely. This setup could also be higher for battery life and avoids a bulkier handset, however it’s a notable omission for a premium-tier product.

Battery: Greater than a day

  • 4,500mAh battery
  • 30W wired charging
  • Qi wi-fi and reverse wi-fi charging

With a bigger 4,500mAh battery onboard than the final technology, the Sony Xperia 1 III will final a full day of use. Actually, you’ll be able to most likely anticipate two full days with a lighter routine. My typical day noticed the telephone supply about seven to 9 hours of 60Hz screen-on time. That’s above common however I didn’t enterprise removed from house, so mileage could range on cellular knowledge. Enabling the 120Hz show and lengthy images and gaming classes will clearly knock battery life down loads sooner. However you’ll be able to prioritize battery life on the expense of gaming body price to keep away from working out of battery whereas on the go.

30W quick charging through USB Energy Supply is a pleasant improve from final 12 months’s 21W charger, though I clocked nearer to 22W truly reaching the telephone’s USB-C port. Totally charging the telephone took one hour and 47 minutes, which continues to be quite sluggish by fashionable requirements — though the handset reaches 50% cost in a extra cheap 26 minutes, sufficient to get you thru a day. Whereas we’re on the subject, Sony permits its Battery Care software program by default, which optimizes charging round your typical charging occasions to extend battery well being.

On prime of that, the Sony Xperia 1 III helps Qi wi-fi charging, which is best for brief common top-ups quite than a full cost. Sony hasn’t disclosed how briskly the wi-fi charging is, which suggests it gained’t compete with the likes of the OnePlus 9 sequence. We’ve reached out for clarification and can replace this evaluation once we hear again.

The Xperia 1 III can even cost different devices each wirelessly, due to reverse wi-fi charging, in addition to through the USB-C port. This can be a fairly useful function to cost up your Qi-enabled wi-fi earbuds whereas out and about.

Digicam: Good but flawed

Sony Xperia 1 III camera app

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • 12MP OIS, dual-pixel PDAF ( f/1.7, 1/1.7-inch sensor)
  • 12MP ultra-wide, dual-pixel PDAF ( f/2.2, 1/2.6-inch)
  • 12MP periscope zoom, OIS, dual-pixel PDAF (f/2.3 70mm focal size, f/2.8 105mm, 1/2.9-inch)
  • 3D time-of-flight sensor
  • 8MP entrance digicam
  • Cinema Professional 4K video at as much as 120fps

Earlier than diving into the photographs, I wish to give kudos to Sony for addressing a serious bugbear of mine from the Xperia 1 II. The Xperia 1 III ships with a single digicam app, combining primary performance with its Alpha-inspired Digicam Professional capabilities. The result’s a extra refined expertise that avoids the headache of juggling apps to search out the settings you need. The setup will even assist much less skilled photographers dabble with a few of the digicam’s highly effective settings extra simply, such because the unbelievable 20fps burst mode.

Nevertheless, the app expertise nonetheless isn’t excellent. The Fundamental mode is lacking HDR controls, seamless pinch-zooming between digicam lenses, and a devoted Evening mode, for instance. Portrait Selfie, Panorama mode, 120fps video recording, and Sony’s Artistic Results are nonetheless oddly housed in their very own separate apps (full with particular person app permissions) below the Extra button. However the modifications are undoubtedly a step in the precise route.

In terms of picture high quality, the Sony Xperia 1 III takes a few of the best-looking photos out of all of the telephones we’ve examined. Even with out resorting to Professional settings, the digicam’s colours and white steadiness are simply among the many finest within the enterprise. The primary digicam’s 12MP sensor nonetheless gives sufficient element which is extra subtly processed and softer in comparison with different flagship cameras. This smartphone can take some significantly wonderful photos.

Sony appears to have addressed some underlying publicity and HDR detection capabilities this time round. Consistency is improved, with fewer darkish or overblown photos. That mentioned, the telephone’s HDR implementation isn’t as highly effective as that present in rival handsets so that you’ll often see some clipping, notably on overcast days.

Associated: The most effective digicam telephones you may get

Sadly, all the cameras carry out worse in low gentle. The Xperia 1 III pauses to seize even in dimly lit circumstances, though the principle digicam’s photos maintain up fairly nicely for probably the most half. Nevertheless, turning the lights down decrease leads to a notable lack of publicity and a rise in grain. The shortage of a multi-exposure Evening mode means you’ll be able to neglect about utilizing the zoom cameras in low gentle as they’re too noisy. Low gentle capturing basically is a combined bag even should you can grasp the telephone’s Professional controls.

The standout function within the Xperia 1 III’s digicam bundle is the brand new periscope digicam. It gives 70mm and 105mm switchable focal lengths with a single 1/2.9-inch sensor. This equates to roughly a 2.9x and 4.4x optical zoom, which extends out to 12.5x digitally. In addition to offering longer zoom, a single picture sensor ensures constant picture high quality and colours when switching focal lengths. It’s by no means been simpler to border and seize the perfect shot.

Sadly, picture high quality ranges from wonderful to unusable. I like the depth of subject obtainable for macro due to the switchable focal lengths, however the periscope digicam often suffers from poor focus and/or object monitoring. That is most prevalent when switching to 105mm and capturing panorama and long-distance photographs.

I’ve reached out to Sony to make clear what might be inflicting the issue. It’s a bit disappointing, as Sony makes an enormous deal about its AI and ToF sensor combo for real-time monitoring. However these zoom points apart, Sony’s object monitoring performance appears to works nicely, retaining an object you choose in focus because it strikes across the display.

The 16mm wide-angle digicam can be first rate, providing a really large, distortion-free subject of view. Particulars are fairly smooth, however that’s preferable to the over-sharpening we are inclined to see. It really works OK for macro images too. Sony consists of the choice to prioritize high quality over distortion correction. This mode leads to fractionally sharper photos however with a really noticeable fish-bowl look. It’s probably not price utilizing apart from for impact.

Sadly, the wide-angle digicam has a hotter white level than the principle and zoom cameras, leaving some photos with a pinkish tint. You too can spot ugly purple fringing in HDR environments, so the setup is somewhat inconsistent.

Sony’s selfie digicam is a major letdown in comparison with the rear digicam bundle. Even in shiny lighting, face textures seem tough, highlights clip, and there’s noticeable noise within the background. In decrease lighting, particulars rapidly smudge and blur much more. Worse nonetheless, the telephone’s Portrait Selfie mode gives embarrassingly dangerous edge detection for a flagship smartphone.

Sony redeems itself with some cutting-edge video options. 4K video is supported at as much as 120fps, and the standard lives as much as the identical normal because the nonetheless photos due to some first rate stabilization. Nevertheless, the telephone does turn into quite heat when capturing video and it’s an enormous drain on battery life. There’s the essential video mode within the picture app alongside the separate Cinema Professional app, which relies on the Sony FS cinema cameras. There’s a bewildering assortment of management right here that can swimsuit educated videographers. Nevertheless it’s undoubtedly not a software for the everyday smartphone person.

Software program: Google’s take

Sony Xperia 1 III Google Assistant

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Not like plenty of different massive tech manufacturers, Sony sticks very near Google’s imaginative and prescient for Android. There’s minimal skinning and reliance on Google apps for issues like Calendar, Messages, and even Google Photographs for the telephone’s gallery. You’ll nonetheless must pay for Google One if you would like all of Photographs’ enhancement choices, however no less than this model of the app doesn’t bug you to improve. With a devoted Google Assistant button this time round, Sony clearly expects its clients to already be closely invested in Google’s ecosystem.

Sony closely leverages Google’s ecosystem however is not afraid to place its stamp on the software program.

That mentioned, Sony packs in quite a lot of additional options and choices tucked away within the settings menu. It’s fairly a job to undergo all of them. For instance, there’s a slew of customized show, battery, and audio settings to assist set the telephone up simply the way you prefer it. The Xperia 1 III additionally helps navigation gestures or conventional buttons, multi-window, slide-sense shortcuts, and native DualShock 4 controller help for avid gamers. The Android pores and skin could look near inventory Google, however Sony isn’t afraid to place its stamp on the person expertise.

There’s a well-known assortment of additional apps included out of the field which verges on somewhat bloated. Together with a few video games, Fb, LinkedIn, Netflix, a Tidal free trial, and others, Sony consists of its personal music, sport enhancer, and information apps. Annoyingly, these third-party functions can solely be disabled quite than uninstalled, should you don’t need them.

For photographers, there’s now only a single Picture Professional app that features a extra beginner-friendly primary mode. For videographers, the traditional Cinema Professional app of yesteryear stays unchanged. Sony’s apps are positive for his or her functions, however emulating the format of its professional-grade cameras leads to an absence of shared design language that makes navigating menus and contains a studying expertise for every app.

In terms of updates, Sony hasn’t pledged to match a few of the higher insurance policies round, reminiscent of Samsung’s four-year replace pledge for brand spanking new handsets. Sony sometimes gives two years of OS upgrades together with common safety updates in between.

Sony Xperia 1 III specs

Sony Xperia 1 III
Show

Sony Xperia 1 III:

6.5-inch OLED
21:9 facet ratio
4K decision
120Hz refresh price
240Hz contact sampling price
Gorilla Glass Victus

Processor

Sony Xperia 1 III:

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

RAM

Sony Xperia 1 III:

12GB

Storage

Sony Xperia 1 III:

256GB UFS
microSD card help

Energy

Sony Xperia 1 III:

4,500mAh battery
30W wired charging
Charger included in field
Qi wi-fi charging
Reverse wi-fi charging

Cameras

Sony Xperia 1 III:

Rear:
1) 12MP primary (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
Entrance:
1) 8MP single

Video

Sony Xperia 1 III:

Cinema Professional 4K at 120fps

Audio

Sony Xperia 1 III:

3.5mm headphone jack
Dolby Atmos and DSEE Final
360 Spatial Sound

Connectivity

Sony Xperia 1 III:

5G help (Sub6 solely, no mmWave)
[SIM + SIM] or [SIM + microSD]
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 6 a/b/g/n/n/ac/ax
A-GPS, A-GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS

Safety

Sony Xperia 1 III:

Aspect-mounted fingerprint sensor

Sturdiness

Sony Xperia 1 III:

IP65/IP68 in opposition to water and mud
Gorilla Glass Victus
Gorilla Glass 6

Software program

Sony Xperia 1 III:

Android 11

Dimensions and weight

Sony Xperia 1 III:

165 x 71 x 8.2mm
186g

Colours

Sony Xperia 1 III:

Frosted Black and Frosted Purple

Worth and competitors

Sony Xperia 1 III press image

Sony Xperia 1 III

Premium product, premium worth

The Xperia 1 III packs within the newest and best know-how from Sony to create a smartphone purpose-built for multimedia, images, and gaming.

The Sony Xperia 1 III is a very costly handset. The $1,299 price ticket is a full $100 greater than the previous-gen mannequin for what appears like a really comparable telephone, though Sony has beefed up the digicam, efficiency, charging, and battery capabilities to assist cushion the blow. Sony can be working a pre-order bundle packing its WF-1000XM3 noise-cancelling earbuds ($230) and 43,200 Name of Responsibility: Cell CP factors ($540), which is a barely extra palatable deal, no less than within the brief time period.

Whereas the Sony Xperia 1 III is an excellent telephone, the corporate is asking an terrible lot of cash for an enthusiast-targeted handset that lacks 5G mmWave capabilities, doesn’t surpass the perfect digicam telephones, and doesn’t have the perfect replace file both. For those who’re going to make full use of all the additional media capabilities, then maybe Sony’s 2021 flagship is a worthwhile funding. For people who aren’t as within the energy person tweaks and toggles, there are many nice and extra reasonably priced flagship telephones to take a look at, such because the OnePlus 9 Professional ($969), iPhone 12 Professional ($999), and the Asus ROG Cellphone 5 ($999).

Sony Xperia 1 III evaluation: The decision

Sony Xperia 1 III hero 2

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

I just like the Sony Xperia 1 III, I actually do, however $1,299 makes it one of the costly flagships to ever grace the market. Granted, the handset gives loads of storage, a novel digicam system, and the most effective shows within the enterprise, not forgetting its assortment of charging, multimedia, and different applied sciences. However at this worth level, it’s important to evaluate the telephone to its opponents, and it’s lacking a couple of key issues.

5G mmWave is a hit-and-miss function relying in your market however it’s a futureproof addition it’s important to anticipate from this worth bracket. Likewise, the digicam’s low gentle and selfie capabilities aren’t fairly as much as scratch. The software program is equally hit or miss. With Google apps and a devoted Assistant button, Sony retains its model of Android near Google’s imaginative and prescient. On the similar time, the telephone is loaded with Tidal, Name of Responsibility, Fb, and extra bloat that we’ve chastised different manufacturers for in earlier years. For purchasers on the lookout for the perfect all-around flagship, the Galaxy S21 sequence and even Sony’s personal cheaper Xperia 5 III might be the higher purchase.

The Sony Xperia 1 III oozes fashion and substance, however it’ll make your pockets weep.

That being mentioned, there’s undoubtedly a distinct segment viewers that the Sony Xperia 1 III will attraction to. It gives arguably the perfect all-around multimedia expertise in a smartphone, loads of storage for shutterbugs, and gaming chops which can be pretty much as good as some other within the enterprise — though the $100 worth improve continues to be more likely to be a tough tablet to swallow even in these circles.

General, the Sony Xperia 1 III stumbles to supply a flawless flagship bundle, however it’s as shut as the corporate has ever come to constructing an distinctive smartphone. There’s fierce competitors at this worth level, and until you’ll completely profit from Sony’s extra area of interest options, there are higher all-rounders you should purchase for a similar and even much less money. For those who do wish to dive head-first into the Xperia expertise, then that is undoubtedly Sony’s finest telephone so far and also you’ll find it irresistible. Personally, it’s a telephone I’d like to personal however may by no means justify shopping for.

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