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

We are utilised to flagship handsets costing over £1,000 SIM-free of charge, and Sony has extra a different to this distinctive team with its Xperia I III. At £1,199 ($one,299.99 in the US), it truly is a tiny extra costly than the Oppo Come across X3 Pro 5G and matches the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, each reviewed right here in modern months. The Xperia one III stands out for its large refresh level (120Hz), 4K OLED monitor and a lavish characteristic set designed all-around Qualcomm’s prime-stop Snapdragon 888 chipset and an outstanding rear digital camera array. 

The six.five-inch Xperia one III operates Android 11 on Qualcomm’s prime-stop Snapdragon 888 5G chipset with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of inner storage (expandable by way of MicroSD card at the cost of 1 of the two SIM slots). The monitor is a 4K OLED panel with a maximum refresh level of 120Hz.

Impression: Sony


The screen’s 21:nine aspect ratio can make for a tall (165mm) handset. 

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Sony can take a unique method to handset design and style, with its Xperia range incorporating a tall (or extensive, in landscape manner) 21:nine monitor which is suited to online video looking at, games actively playing and pictures. The handset’s elongated 165mm by 71mm by 8.2mm chassis can poke out of a pocket, and when I could access across the monitor easily when navigating 1-handed in portrait manner, you can find no way I could sweep from prime to bottom. When you are operating 1 handed, while, the Xperia one III feels properly balanced and not much too significant at 186g. 

In conditions of dimensions, you can find practically no distinction involving Sony’s 2021 flagship and final year’s Xperia I II — just very small gains on thickness (8.2mm vs seven.6mm) and bodyweight (186g vs 181.4g). This may perhaps have one thing to do with the incorporation of a bigger battery this time all-around (4500mAh vs 4000mAh). 

Style-sensible, Sony’s handsets have characteristically squarer corners and a extra slab-like look than rival telephones. The firm doesn’t ring the modifications each year, as some brands do, and if I had the Xperia one II sitting down facet by facet with this year’s model, it would be really hard to convey to the distinction. 

The handset’s edges and Gorilla Glass 6 backplate have a matte complete as opposed to final year’s reflective seem. This can make it simpler to keep the cell phone securely, when the again is a lot less vulnerable to capturing finger-marks. The digital camera lozenge positioning and condition is unchanged, and Sony should potentially have made design and style modifications right here, as the tall, slender lozenge protrudes appreciably. This usually means the cell phone has an bothersome tendency to bounce all-around on a desk if the higher still left or bottom right quadrants of the monitor need to have a tap. 


Buttons on the right edge (from prime): volume, electric power, Google Assistant, digital camera.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The right edge homes a electric power button incorporating a fingerprint scanner, a modest volume rocker and a raised, tactile digital camera shutter button in direction of the bottom. This will commence up the digital camera program when pressed, permitting you to capture fleeting photograph chances. These 3 buttons had been existing on final year’s model, but the Xperia one III provides a fourth — a Google Assistant shortcut button. 

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The SIM caddy on the still left edge pops out easily without having the need to have for a distinctive instrument. The cell phone accommodates two SIMs or a solitary SIM and a MicroSD card. Some handsets assistance two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time, and a flagship cell phone at this cost issue seriously should be extra flexible. 

You can find a 3.5mm headset jack on the prime edge, and a USB-C connector on the bottom. Speakers are embedded in the front, earlier mentioned and down below the monitor. They’re recognizable and, as at any time with this form of design and style, may well become repositories for fluff. That said, the Xperia I III has an IP65/68 rating, which usually means it truly is completely dust-proof and can stand up to each ‘water jets’ and immersion in one.five metres of drinking water for up to 30 minutes. 

The six.five-inch OLED monitor, which is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus (Corning’s hardest), is a vital offering issue for Sony. Some may well blanche at the recognizable bezels, which are a couple of millimetres thick together the long edges and rather wider on each short edges. As a end result, the screen to system ratio is only 84{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd}. 

However, this is the initially smartphone monitor to supply 4K resolution (3,840 x one,644 pixels, 643ppi) with a 120Hz refresh level. On the other hand, you have to permit 4K output as ‘Creator mode’ in the Exhibit settings, where by it truly is concealed beneath the ‘Image good quality settings’ submenu. After enabled, 4K resolution will kick in when ‘specific apps’ are utilised, but you can find no record of these applications available when you implement the placing. Similarly, the 120Hz refresh level has to be set manually: you can find no placing to routinely switch refresh level, although presumably the handset does a little bit of this to conserve battery life when a decreased refresh level is adequate. 

All this is rather fiddly considering 4K at 120Hz is a headline characteristic. However, as soon as set, looking at online video in 4K was a enjoyment. For me, this was not just due to the fact of significantly enhanced subtlety of colour rendition and definition on the visual facet, but also due to the fact of the screen’s extensive aspect ratio and the fantastic speakers that pump out a lot of volume and sturdy bass tones. 


White equilibrium settings (still left) and Multi-Window manner (right).

Photographs: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

There are controls for the white equilibrium which deliver really a large amount of customisation, and games gamers can also use the Activity Boost settings to regulate a lot of in-video game settings, such as placing the refresh level (although executing so is fairly fiddly). 

The speakers also provide terrific good quality spoken phrase output, and have a excellent bass/treble combine that handles orchestral and chamber new music very well. On the a lot less beneficial facet (for me, at least), Sony has again implemented its dynamic vibration procedure, which causes the handset to provide haptic feed-back. I uncover this irritating, but other people may perhaps really like it. If, like me, you do not, you can just disable it. 

Sony offers its Aspect Perception mini-menu procedure to deliver quick obtain to applications and settings, and to the split-monitor manner named Multi-Window. This has its own (rather neat) person interface with pre-designated app pairs and an effortless scroll-and-pick procedure for choosing applications to watch split monitor. Aspect Perception is rather intuitive, and Multi-Window is also obtainable by way of an app icon on the dwelling monitor. 

Powered by Qualcomm’s prime-end Snapdragon 888 5G chipset with 12GB of RAM, the Xperia one III turned in excellent Geekbench 5 benchmarks: 1128 solitary core and 3629 multi core. The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and Mi 11 each just conquer it with solitary core scores of 1134 and 1129 and multi core scores of 3718 and 3704 respectively, when the Oppo Come across X3 Pro 5G was just at the rear of with scores of 927 and 3302. These variances are marginal, while, and all Snapdragon 888 handsets we have tested so far conduct superbly. 

With 256GB of inner storage and 27GB utilised out of the box, you can find 229GB free of charge for personal use. Sony’s chunk of the out-of-box utilization consists of its interface tweaks and usability enhancements as very well as pre-set up applications this sort of as its own PS app for PlayStation followers. 

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free of charge PDF) (TechRepublic)

There are 3 12MP cameras at the again additionally an 8MP f/2. front-experiencing digital camera. The major rear digital camera is a 12MP f/ extensive-angle device with OIS. This is joined by a 12MP f/2.2 extremely-extensive-angle (124°) digital camera and a 12MP adaptive telephoto digital camera with OIS and twin lenses — f/2.3 70mm and f/.2.8 105mm. The idea is that when you happen to be executing telephoto capturing, the switch involving the two lenses is sleek and seamless. 

Maximum zoom is twelve.5x hybrid, with stops at 2.9x and four.4x for every of the two telephoto lenses. This may well seem challenging, but in practice it truly is quick and effortless to do the job with. Just issue the digital camera, and pick which of the zoom options you need from the on-monitor buttons, and then slide involving the presets to regulate as expected. 

The second outstanding characteristic right here is Twin PDAF sensors, which permit quick autofocus, such as on moving topics. I blended the zoom and autofocus functionality to terrific influence, running to easily grab zoomed-in photos of my cat moving all-around the garden. The picture proven right here was taken at four.4x zoom and was a solitary issue-and-shoot graphic as the cat came in direction of me to talk to for a little bit of focus. 


Photo taken with the four.4x zoom placing on the Xperia one III’s twin-lens telephoto digital camera.

Impression: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

The Xperia one III’s 4500mAh battery kept it heading for ten hrs 27 minutes beneath the PCMark for Android Work 3. battery rundown test. For comparison, all of the prime twenty handsets tested with this benchmark lasted for over 15 hrs, when the longest-lasting Snapdragon 888-based mostly cell phone — Xiaomi’s Redmi K40 Pro — managed just over 14 hrs. In my checks, it dropped 29{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd} from a complete cost in a 3-hour YouTube streaming session, suggesting battery life of all-around ten hrs.  

Sony claims the battery can quick-cost to 50{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd} in 30 minutes. On 1 event with the battery at twenty{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd}, it received up to 66{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd} in fifty percent an hour. Wireless and reverse wireless charging are each supported.  


Impression: Sony


The Xperia I III brings Sony’s flagship handset up to day with a Snapdragon 888 SoC, enhanced cameras and a 4K OLED monitor with a 120Hz refresh level as headline functions. It retains the abnormal 21:nine aspect ratio, and provides excellent-good quality online video and outstanding audio. You can find a ton to like if you happen to be into pictures, online video, gaming or media usage, and the twin-lens telephoto digital camera is a usable alternative. Battery life could be far better, specifically if you make significant use of 4K resolution and the 120Hz refresh level, but quick charging should hold downtime to a minimal if mains electric power is obtainable. 

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