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Sony Xperia 1 III is the first smartphone ever with this kind of screen

The Sony Xperia 1 III and 5 III were announced in a virtual event and continue Sony's focused appeal toward creative types, photographers and audiophiles.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Expertise Apple, iPhone, iOS, Android, Samsung, Sony, Google, Motorola, interviews, coffee equipment, cats Credentials
  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
3 min read
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The new Sony Xperia 1 III (read as "one mark three") has a 6.5-inch 4K OLED screen with a 120Hz high refresh rate, which is a first for any smartphone. It was announced at a virtual event earlier this month alongside the smaller Xperia 5 III, which has a 6.1-inch full HD 120Hz display. Both phones have a telephoto camera with an actual zoom lens that changes focal lengths and they mark Sony's continued shift away from mainstream appeal and toward creative types like photographers, filmmakers, audiophiles and mobile gamers.

The new phones are follow-ups to last year's Xperia 1 II, which impressed us with its 4K display and stellar Pro Photo and Cinema Pro apps. The apps included features from Sony's Alpha line of mirrorless cameras and Venice line of cinema cameras. In fact, to test out its features I wrote, shot and starred in a 4-minute film called I, Robber filmed on the Xperia 1 II.

Both the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III have a triple rear camera system with wide, ultrawide and telephoto cameras. The telephoto camera has a variable zoom lens. Optical elements in the lens move to switch between two focal lengths: a 70mm lens equivalent and a 105mm one. Compare that to other phones that switch between multiple cameras to achieve zoom. Like the 10x telephoto lens on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Sony zoom lens sits in the phone horizontally and uses a mirror to reflect the image onto the dual-phase detect sensor, which Sony claims has fast and accurate autofocus under a variety of lighting conditions. The zoom lens has an aperture of f2.3 and f2.8, depending on the focal length, which should allow for good performance in low-light situations.

Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III

On the left is the Sony Xperia 5 III and in the middle is the Xperia 1 III.


All of the rear cameras on the Xperia 1 III and 5 III also have Eye AF autofocus, which can automatically detect and track the eye of human and animal subjects like cats, dogs and birds, even if they turn their head away. The Xperia 1 III has a time of flight sensor to gather depth information.

Sony paired down its camera apps from three to two: Photo Pro and Cinema Pro. The Photo Pro app includes a new Basic mode that replaces the standalone default Android camera app Sony included on previous phones. For a rundown of some of the features both apps include, read my review of the Sony Xperia 1 II.

Sony Xperia 1 III

The new phones have Eye AF, which can detect and follow your pet's eyes for the best possible focus.


Xperia cameras have numerous features aimed at people wanting the most from their photos and videos like optical stabilization and AI Super resolution zoom for photos. Like the Xperia 5 II, the new phones can record 4K 120fps video in the Cinema Pro. Take a look below at 4K 120fps slow-motion footage from the Xperia 5 II.

Similar to the Xperia Pro, both phones can be used as an external monitor for a dedicated camera (like Sony's Alpha series) and support livestreaming workflows. But instead of having a built-in micro HDMI port for input, the new Xperias can connect via USB-C.

Other key features and specs include:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chip
  • 5G sub-6 support including the US
  • Android 11
  • 4,500-mAh battery
  • Stereo speakers
  • Headphone jack
  • Dedicated hardware shutter button
  • IP65/68 rating for dust and water resistance
  • 256GB storage on both phones or 128GB on the Xperia 5 III
  • 12GB of RAM on the Xperia 1 III
  • 8GB of RAM on the Xperia 5 III
  • Wireless charging on the Xperia 1 III
  • Reverse wireless charging on the Xperia 1 III
  • Gorilla Glass Victus display on the Xperia 1 III
  • Gorilla Glass 6 display on the Xperia 5 III

The Xperia 1 III comes in either black or purple while the Xperia 5 III in black or green. Both phones will be available this summer and at this time pricing has not been announced. For perspective, last year's Xperia 1 II had a price tag of $1,200 (£1,099, roughly AU$1,840), and the Xperia 5 II was $950 (£799, about AU$1,350).