Sony Xperia 1 III review: An expensive flagship phone with a superb 21:9 screen Review

Nancy J. Delong

We’re used to flagship handsets costing around £1,000 SIM-no cost, and Sony has included a different to this special team with its Xperia I III. At £1,199 ($one,299.ninety nine in the US), it truly is a minor more highly-priced than the Oppo Discover X3 Pro 5G and matches the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, both reviewed in this article in new months. The Xperia one III stands out for its significant refresh rate (120Hz), 4K OLED monitor and a lavish function established constructed all around Qualcomm’s best-close Snapdragon 888 chipset and an fantastic rear camera array. 

The 6.5-inch Xperia one III operates Android 11 on Qualcomm’s best-close Snapdragon 888 5G chipset with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage (expandable by way of MicroSD card at the cost of a person of the two SIM slots). The monitor is a 4K OLED panel with a greatest refresh rate of 120Hz.

Graphic: Sony

The screen’s 21:9 facet ratio would make for a tall (165mm) handset. 

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony requires a distinct strategy to handset design and style, with its Xperia variety incorporating a tall (or wide, in landscape manner) 21:9 monitor that is suited to video observing, game titles taking part in and images. The handset’s elongated 165mm by 71mm by 8.2mm chassis can poke out of a pocket, and although I could access across the monitor effortlessly when navigating a person-handed in portrait manner, you will find no way I could sweep from best to bottom. When you are performing a person handed, even though, the Xperia one III feels nicely well balanced and not too significant at 186g. 

In terms of dimensions, you will find almost no variance involving Sony’s 2021 flagship and previous year’s Xperia I II — just small gains on thickness (8.2mm vs 7.6mm) and weight (186g vs 181.4g). This may possibly have something to do with the incorporation of a much larger battery this time all around (4500mAh vs 4000mAh). 

Style-wise, Sony’s handsets have characteristically squarer corners and a more slab-like appearance than rival phones. The organization will not ring the modifications each individual yr, as some makers do, and if I experienced the Xperia one II sitting side by side with this year’s design, it would be tricky to convey to the variance. 

The handset’s edges and Gorilla Glass 6 backplate have a matte finish compared to previous year’s reflective glimpse. This would make it less complicated to maintain the cellphone securely, although the back again is significantly less inclined to capturing finger-marks. The camera lozenge positioning and shape is unchanged, and Sony should really most likely have produced design and style modifications in this article, as the tall, slender lozenge protrudes considerably. This means the cellphone has an troublesome inclination to bounce all around on a desk if the higher remaining or bottom suitable quadrants of the monitor require a tap. 

Buttons on the suitable edge (from best): volume, energy, Google Assistant, camera.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The suitable edge residences a energy button incorporating a fingerprint scanner, a compact volume rocker and a raised, tactile camera shutter button in direction of the bottom. This will commence up the camera software program when pressed, making it possible for you to seize fleeting photo possibilities. These a few buttons ended up present on previous year’s design, but the Xperia one III adds a fourth — a Google Assistant shortcut button. 

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The SIM caddy on the remaining edge pops out effortlessly without having the require for a unique tool. The cellphone accommodates two SIMs or a one SIM and a MicroSD card. Some handsets aid two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the exact same time, and a flagship cellphone at this price tag place definitely should really be more flexible. 

There is a three.5mm headset jack on the best edge, and a USB-C connector on the bottom. Speakers are embedded in the front, previously mentioned and under the monitor. They are obvious and, as ever with this type of design and style, may possibly grow to be repositories for fluff. That claimed, the Xperia I III has an IP65/68 rating, which means it truly is wholly dust-evidence and can stand up to both ‘water jets’ and immersion in one.5 metres of h2o for up to thirty minutes. 

The 6.5-inch OLED monitor, which is secured by Gorilla Glass Victus (Corning’s toughest), is a crucial advertising place for Sony. Some may possibly blanche at the obvious bezels, which are a few of millimetres thick along the lengthy edges and relatively broader on both limited edges. As a end result, the screen to body ratio is only eighty four%. 

Nonetheless, this is the initial smartphone monitor to offer 4K resolution (three,840 x one,644 pixels, 643ppi) with a 120Hz refresh rate. However, you have to help 4K output as ‘Creator mode’ in the Exhibit configurations, the place it truly is hidden beneath the ‘Image high quality settings’ submenu. As soon as enabled, 4K resolution will kick in when ‘specific apps’ are used, but you will find no checklist of these apps readily available when you use the location. In the same way, the 120Hz refresh rate has to be established manually: you will find no location to quickly change refresh rate, although presumably the handset does a little bit of this to preserve battery everyday living when a decreased refresh rate is satisfactory. 

All this is relatively fiddly looking at 4K at 120Hz is a headline function. Nonetheless, the moment established, observing video in 4K was a satisfaction. For me, this was not just due to the fact of enormously improved subtlety of colour rendition and definition on the visible side, but also due to the fact of the screen’s wide facet ratio and the wonderful speakers that pump out a good deal of volume and robust bass tones. 

White equilibrium configurations (remaining) and Multi-Window manner (suitable).

Visuals: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

There are controls for the white equilibrium which deliver very a significant level of customisation, and game titles players can also use the Match Increase configurations to regulate a lot of in-match configurations, together with location the refresh rate (although undertaking so is to some degree fiddly). 

The speakers also provide terrific high quality spoken term output, and have a great bass/treble mix that handles orchestral and chamber audio well. On the significantly less positive side (for me, at the very least), Sony has once more implemented its dynamic vibration program, which triggers the handset to provide haptic opinions. I find this irritating, but some others may possibly enjoy it. If, like me, you do not, you can only disable it. 

Sony supplies its Aspect Feeling mini-menu program to deliver fast access to apps and configurations, and to the split-monitor manner called Multi-Window. This has its personal (relatively neat) consumer interface with pre-selected application pairs and an quick scroll-and-find program for finding apps to view split monitor. Aspect Feeling is very intuitive, and Multi-Window is also obtainable by way of an application icon on the household monitor. 

Run by Qualcomm’s best-end Snapdragon 888 5G chipset with 12GB of RAM, the Xperia one III turned in excellent Geekbench 5 benchmarks: 1128 one main and 3629 multi main. The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and Mi 11 both just defeat it with one main scores of 1134 and 1129 and multi main scores of 3718 and 3704 respectively, although the Oppo Discover X3 Pro 5G was just powering with scores of 927 and 3302. These dissimilarities are marginal, even though, and all Snapdragon 888 handsets we’ve tested so much accomplish superbly. 

With 256GB of internal storage and 27GB used out of the box, you will find 229GB no cost for personal use. Sony’s chunk of the out-of-box utilization consists of its interface tweaks and usability enhancements as well as pre-put in apps these kinds of as its personal PS application for PlayStation followers. 

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (no cost PDF) (TechRepublic)

There are a few 12MP cameras at the back again moreover an 8MP f/2. front-dealing with camera. The primary rear camera is a 12MP f/one.7 wide-angle device with OIS. This is joined by a 12MP f/2.2 extremely-wide-angle (124°) camera and a 12MP adaptive telephoto camera with OIS and twin lenses — f/2.three 70mm and f/.2.8 105mm. The idea is that when you’re undertaking telephoto shooting, the change involving the two lenses is smooth and seamless. 

Maximum zoom is 12.5x hybrid, with stops at 2.9x and 4.4x for each and every of the two telephoto lenses. This may possibly sound sophisticated, but in practice it truly is fast and quick to get the job done with. Just place the camera, and find which of the zoom choices you have to have from the on-monitor buttons, and then slide involving the presets to regulate as expected. 

The 2nd fantastic function in this article is Twin PDAF sensors, which help quick autofocus, together with on transferring topics. I combined the zoom and autofocus capacity to terrific result, managing to effortlessly get zoomed-in pictures of my cat transferring all around the lawn. The picture proven in this article was taken at 4.4x zoom and was a one place-and-shoot image as the cat arrived in direction of me to request for a little bit of awareness. 

Photo taken with the 4.4x zoom location on the Xperia one III’s twin-lens telephoto camera.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

The Xperia one III’s 4500mAh battery retained it heading for 10 several hours 27 minutes beneath the PCMark for Android Work three. battery rundown examination. For comparison, all of the best twenty handsets tested with this benchmark lasted for around 15 several hours, although the longest-lasting Snapdragon 888-centered cellphone — Xiaomi’s Redmi K40 Pro — managed just around fourteen several hours. In my assessments, it dropped 29% from a total charge in a a few-hour YouTube streaming session, suggesting battery everyday living of all around 10 several hours.  

Sony claims the battery can quick-charge to 50% in thirty minutes. On a person occasion with the battery at twenty%, it acquired up to 66% in half an hour. Wireless and reverse wireless charging are both supported.  

Graphic: Sony


The Xperia I III brings Sony’s flagship handset up to day with a Snapdragon 888 SoC, improved cameras and a 4K OLED monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate as headline attributes. It retains the uncommon 21:9 facet ratio, and delivers great-high quality video and fantastic audio. There is a ton to like if you’re into images, video, gaming or media use, and the twin-lens telephoto camera is a usable remedy. Battery everyday living could be greater, specially if you make significant use of 4K resolution and the 120Hz refresh rate, but quick charging should really retain downtime to a minimum if mains energy is obtainable. 

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