Sony unveils flagship Xperia 1 III smartphone: triple cameras, 4 focal lengths, a variable telephoto lens, dual PDAF sensor & more


posted Thursday, July 1, 2021 at 12:30 PM EST


Sony today announced pricing and availability for its all-new flagship consumer-focused smartphone, the Xperia 1 III. Initially unveiled back in April, the Sony Xperia 1 III includes several new features and high-end specs, such as a faster processor and updated 6.5" screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. However, as smartphone photography continues to climb in popularity, the camera specs of new smartphones are getting a lot of attention. To that end, the new Sony Xperia 1 III features quite a few impressive photo and video recording features, including an upgraded triple camera system now with four focal lengths, ranging from ultra-wide-angle to telephoto. There is also a new focusing system, with a dual phase-detect AF sensor and support for Sony's Real-Time Tracking AF functionality that we've seen in their Alpha mirrorless cameras.


I mention "consumer-focused" because Sony also has a "Professional Smartphone" line with the Xperia PRO, which was announced alongside the flagship Alpha 1 mirrorless camera. The Xperia PRO smartphone is rather similar to the new Xperia 1 III in its general form-factor, but it has a ruggedized construction, a full-sized HDMI port, 5G mmWave and 5G Sub-6 connectivity and wired USB connectivity. The Xperia PRO is designed for a mobile content creator's workflow, including use as an HDMI monitor as well as a 5G-based mobile media transfer and live-streaming device. The PRO name matched its PRO pricing, with an MSRP of $2,500. Meanwhile, the new Sony Xperia 1 III arrives with a more palatable (if not still pricey) $1,300. This is still expensive, but the price point is more in line with similar, competing flagship smartphones.


For photographers, the Xperia 1 III features a triple camera system, much like the earlier Xperia 1 II, but the Mark III adds an additional telephoto focal length of 105mm thanks to its new "variable telephoto lens." The Mark III phone features a 16mm f/2.2 12-megapixel camera, a 24mm f/1.7 12MP camera, and then a 70mm f/2.3 + 105mm f/2.8 12MP camera. Fast autofocus is supported across all four camera lenses/units. The telephoto camera module is an optically-zooming unit and not a digital zoom system. Further, the telephoto camera features integrated dual phase-detect AF sensor; when you switch from 70mm to 105mm, the focal lens and AF lens work together for swift focusing performance.


Further, the Xperia 1 III camera system supports Real-Time Tracking AF for fast and continuous subject tracking. The phone has a built-in 3D iToF sensor, or Time-of-Flight sensor, that uses infrared rays to measure the distance from the camera to the subject by detecting time differences in the emitted IR rays and their bounced return to the sensor. Combined with AI technology, the Xperia 1 III is said to offer fast subject detection and focus tracking even if the subject briefly moves out of frame. What's more, the cameras also support Real-Time Eye AF for both people and animals, much like Sony's recent Alpha mirrorless cameras.


Behind the lenses, the Xperia 1 III has different image sensors depending on the lens. The 24mm f/1.7 camera unit features a larger 1/1.7-inch-type backside-illuminated stacked Exmor RS image sensor, while the other cameras use a 1/2.6" Exmor RS sensor. The 24mm f/1.7 camera with its brighter aperture and larger sensor makes it the ideal camera unit to use for low-light and nighttime photography purposes. The overall camera system is powered by Sony's Bionz X for Mobile image processing unit, which they state helps create images with lower noise and provide better light sensitivity.


Additional camera features include ZEISS camera lenses, a dedicated physical shutter button on the side of the phone, full manual exposure controls with adjustments for ISO, white balance and shutter speed, RAW image capture for improved file quality and image editing capabilities, and Optical SteadyShot image stabilization on all cameras except the ultra-wide 16mm camera. In addition to Manual shooting mode, there is also an easy-to-use Basic mode, that offers features such as a touch shutter mode, portrait mode, Bokeh effects and panorama shooting modes.


Other key features and improvements include:

  • Updated 4K OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate
  • 6.5" 21:9 "CinemaWide" display
  • 10-bit equivalent display (8 bit with 2 bit smoothing)
  • 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio with wide color gamut and P3 support
  • Dolby Atmos support and "360 Spatial Sound"
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • IP65/68 water resistance & Corning Gorilla Glass Victus display
  • 5G connectivity; Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile Platform
  • Qualcomm Kryo 680 CPU and Qualcomm Adreno 660 GPU
  • 4500mAh battery
  • Wireless charging with quick charging up to 50% capacity in 30 minutes

Pricing & Availability

The Sony Xperia 1 III is now available for pre-order starting today, July 1, 2021 at a suggested retail price of $1,299.99 USD. The Xperia 1 III will begin to ship to customers on August 19, 2021, unlocked, from Sony authorized retailers. For additional details about the Xperia 1 III's features and specification, visit the Sony Product Page.