Sony Xperia 1 III: Everything we know so far and what we want to see

Sony Xperia 1 III: Everything we know so far and what we want to see

sony xperia 1 iii 2

The Sony Xperia 1 II is one of the Japanese company’s best smartphones in years. It melded practical features and swift hardware inside an attractive shell. The company will be looking to continue this momentum with the Sony Xperia 1 III. Like its predecessor, we expect the Sony Xperia 1 III to carry over several design touches and features. But according to rumors, Sony might not be holding much back in the performance stakes.

Ahead of the phone’s launch in mid-April, we’ve rounded up rumors, leaks, and news snippets detailing the Sony Xperia 1 III below.

Name and release date

Sony’s naming scheme was far from simple in the past, but we don’t expect it to deviate from its modern formula with this device. The previous iteration was known as the Sony Xperia 1 II, so we expect the next device to bear the Sony Xperia 1 III title.

Sony confirmed it would host an Xperia launch event on April 14, beginning at 9:30 AM CEST (3:30 AM ET). The company didn’t confirm the list of devices it plans to launch, but a Weibo tipster suggests that Xperia 1 III will appear. Reportedly set to join it is the mid-range Xperia 10 III and compact Xperia 5 III.

Sony Xperia 1 III: Design

Alleged renders of the Xperia 1 III leaked pretty early. In late January, shots of the phone shared by tipster Steve Hemmerstoffer suggested that Sony may recycle the design of the Xperia 1 II. This means visible top and bottom bezels and no punch-hole selfie camera. View the 360-degree video, which Hemmerstoffer also shared above. As for its dimensions, the Xperia 1 III reportedly measures 161.6 x 67.3 x 8.4mm — slightly smaller but thicker than its predecessor.

The Xperia Pro‘s shortcut button is slated for inclusion, too. The 3.5mm headphone jack, dual speakers, and similar vertical rear camera array will also reportedly be retained.

Sony Xperia 1 III: Specs and features

Sony targets high-end hardware for its Xperia 1 series, and the third iteration is no exception. Per Steve Hemmerstoffer, the phone will continue to use a 6.5-inch 4K OLED panel with a 21:9 aspect ratio. On April 1, a Weibo tipster dubbed ZackBuks leaked additional specs, suggesting the display will support a 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit color support, and a peak brightness of 1,300 nits.

Keeping with the trend of using flagship Qualcomm chips, the Xperia 1 III is said to feature the Snapdragon 888 SoC with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. There’s an alleged top-end 16GB/512GB variant, too. A 5,000mAh battery, backed by 65W charging, allegedly powers the device.

As for camera hardware, ZackBuks suggests a 64MP primary shooter will headline alongside a 12MP wide-angle snapper. A 12MP periscope zoom camera with 60x zoom could be the big new inclusion. It would be a first for Sony’s Xperia line.

Keep in mind that the tipster did post these specs on April 1, so take them with a generous pinch of salt. That said, all mentioned specs seem largely within the scope of Sony’s capabilities. That being said, Sony has usually been conservative on the charging front, so 65W seems quite high for the company.

Pricing and availability

If you were hoping Sony might rein in its flagship line’s pricing, you might be disappointed. ZackBuks added that the Xperia 1 III might cost a sizeable 8,999 yuan (~$1,369) in China. The phone will reportedly go on sale beginning June. The Xperia 1 II launched at $1,199 in the US. We can expect Sony to eclipse this figure with the Xperia 1 III in the west.

What we want to see from the Xperia 1 III

A streamlined camera experience

Sony Xperia 1 II back camera macro 1Sony Xperia 1 II back camera macro 1

The Sony Xperia 1 II delivered three camera-related apps, with your standard camera app, a Photo Pro app, and a Cinema Pro app. Right from the get-go, we’d like to see the brand combine the Photo and Cinema Pro apps into one Pro app for the sake of simplicity.

It’s understandable that Sony would want to go for two separate camera apps, with one being for casual use and the other being for a pro-level experience. What isn’t understandable however are a few other bizarre decisions, such as restricting HDR to the Pro app. The main camera app also doesn’t automatically switch between lenses as you zoom in and out, forcing you to manually switch instead. You’d expect the main camera app to offer both of these options.

Related: The Sony Xperia 1 II camera is a case study for nonsensical software design

This isn’t the first time we see oddball camera app decisions from the firm, as it previously opted to make 4K a separate mode in years gone by instead of a video quality option. Hopefully, the Xperia 1 III marks the beginning of more sensible camera app design.

More photography smarts

Google Pixel 4 dual exposure controlsGoogle Pixel 4 dual exposure controls

Credit: Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Sony does offer multi-frame processing features on the Xperia 1 II, such as HDR and a night mode. But there’s definitely room for more smart photography features that reduce the need to hop into an editing suite.

For one, we’d love to see the brand deliver something similar to the Pixel’s Dual Exposure Controls. This way, you can adjust shadow levels before taking that shot. We’d also like to see functionality to help newcomers get to grips with advanced camera settings (e.g. ISO, exposure, etc). For example, LG offered the Graphy app on its last few high-end phones, which showed off a variety of great photos and associated camera settings. This also lets you quickly apply those settings to your camera app so you can try to get similar results.

We’d also add improved selfie quality to our Xperia 1 III wishlist, as selfie snaps were rather disappointing on the Xperia 1 II.

Please keep the headphone port

Sony Xperia 1 II headphone jackSony Xperia 1 II headphone jack

The Xperia 1 II marks one of the few occasions where a smartphone manufacturer has revived the 3.5mm headphone port for its flagship phones after previously killing it. We definitely applaud the company for this, even if its reasoning was a bit weird.

More reading: The best smartphones with a headphone jack 

So we’re definitely adding the 3.5mm port to our Xperia 1 III wishlist, and the presence of the port on the Xperia 5 II gives us some hope that Sony will keep it this time. Thankfully, the latest leaked renders show that Sony might be keeping the 3.5mm port with the new phone. Our own Rob Triggs also wants to see Sony do away with extra headphone apps and build support directly into the platform.

A high refresh rate

Sony Xperia 1 II front bottom of displaySony Xperia 1 II front bottom of display

The early 2020 Xperia flagship follows in the footsteps of the Xperia 1 and Premium line by offering a 4K display. We don’t blame you if you think it’s a pointless move given that many consumers can’t tell the difference between QHD+ and 4K resolution with this screen size. Still, they’re the only major brand offering this option nowadays, so we’re expecting it on the Xperia 1 III.

We’re holding thumbs that a 4K display is accompanied by a high refresh rate as well. The high refresh rate doesn’t need to take effect at 4K either, as that would likely cause extreme battery drain. We’d be perfectly happy if it kicked in at a lower resolution such as FHD+ or QHD+. High refresh rate support would definitely be handy with Remote Play via the PS5. Speaking of…

Step up the PlayStation connectivity

PlayStation Remote PlayPlayStation Remote Play

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Microsoft is bringing Xbox Game Pass and associated cloud gaming functionality to Android, allowing subscribers to stream a wide library of games on their mobile devices. Sony has Remote Play for Android as well, but unfortunately it’s not compatible with the PlayStation Now streaming service.

Related: A PlayStation Phone should be Sony’s answer to Xbox game streaming

So we’re definitely putting PlayStation Now Remote Play on our Xperia 1 III wishlist, allowing subscribers to play PlayStation titles without needing to actually own a Sony console. We’d also like to see Sony integrate its PlayStation controller/accessory and messaging apps into the platform itself as opposed to making it a separate download.

Faster charging speed

USB-C connector orange cableUSB-C connector orange cable

Sony improved its charging situation in 2020, with the Xperia 1 II delivering 21W wired charging and 15W wired charging. The latter is pretty solid nowadays, but we’d definitely like to see improved wired charging in 2021.

Faster charging does generally present a higher risk of degrading the battery at an even faster rate, but we don’t need to see 65W or 100W charging here. Even 30W or 40W charging would be a welcome improvement over the current 21W charging solution. Faster charging is also integral today as battery capacity increases in the 5G era.

In saying so, one rumor does point to the phone having 65W wired charging. It would be a major upgrade for a company that’s been conservative in this area, so we aren’t holding our breath.

That’s all we know about the Sony Xperia 1 III for now. Be sure to bookmark this rumor hub and check in regularly for the latest updates.

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