Sony Xperia 1 III smartphone review

Sony Xperia 1 III smartphone review

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6.50 inch 21:9, 3840 x 1644 pixel 643 PPI, capacitive touchscreen, OLED, 10-Bit-colours, X1 for mobile, glossy: yes, HDR, 120 Hz


256 GB UFS 3.1 Flash, 256 GB 

, 240 GB free


1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, USB-C Power Delivery (PD), Audio Connections: 3.5mm audio jack, Card Reader: microSD (up to 1 TB), 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer, compass, color spectrum


802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5/ax = Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.2, 2G,3G,4G(B1/​B2/​B3/​B4/​B5/​B7/​B8/​B12/​B13/​B17/​B19/​B20/​B25/​B26/​B28/​B29/​B32/​B34/​B38/​B39/​B40/​B41/​B46/​B66),5G(n1/​n3/​n5/​n7/​n8/​n20/​n28/​n38/​n40/​n41/​n77/​n78), Dual SIM, LTE, 5G, GPS


height x width x depth (in mm): 8.2 x 165 x 71 ( = 0.32 x 6.5 x 2.8 in)


0 Wh, 4500 mAh Lithium-Polymer, 30 watt charging


fast charging / Quickcharge

Operating System

Android 11


Primary Camera: 12 MPix f/​1.7,pcAF,colour spectrum sensor,OIS,LED-flash,[email protected]/​120fps(Cam1);12.0MP,f/​2.2,pcAF,wide angle(Cam2);12.0MP,f/​2.3,f/​2.8,pcAF,OIS,tele(Cam3);ToF(Cam4)

Secondary Camera: 8 MPix f/2.0, 24mm, 1/4″, 1.12µm, Videos @1080p/​30fps

Additional features

Speakers: stereo speakers, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, charger, USB-C cable, 24 Months Warranty, IP65/​IP68-certified, notification LED (front/​multicoloured), Hi-Res Audio, SAR: 0.49W/​kg (head), 1.28W/​kg (body), fanless, waterproof


186 g ( = 6.56 oz / 0.41 pounds) ( = 0 oz / 0 pounds)

Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

Sony officially charges 1299 Euros (~$1530) for its smartphone. That is a lot of money, even though 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of mass storage are on board.

The typical Sony design, which is a bit more angular and relies on a quite narrow but elongated screen, is also present in the Xperia 1 III. Compared to the predecessor, however, there is no longer a glossy back, but a chic matte surface. The slim design makes the phone feel good in the hand, and the smartphone is also well rounded at the corners. The large camera module clearly protrudes from the casing.

Thanks to IP68 certification, it is also possible to use the smartphone under water. Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, Gorilla Glass 6 on the back and a metal frame ensure a stable build.

Unusual for such an expensive smartphone: There is still a 3.5 mm audio jack, which can be used to connect microphones or headphones, for example. It is also nice that Sony has installed a USB-C port according to standard 3.1 Gen.1 so that data transfers via cable are faster. You can count on modern Bluetooth 5.2, 5G and NFC.

In terms of Wi-Fi, Sony also supplies a current standard with Wi-Fi 6. The transmission speeds that we ascertained with the reference router Netgear Nighthawk AX12 are on a high level, but do not stand out in comparison with other smartphones in the price range.

The smartphone is supposed to get Android updates for two years, which is okay, but manufacturers like Nokia show that even much cheaper devices can be provided with new software for longer.

Recording front camera
Recording front camera

The 12-megapixel main lens simply has large pixels and does not rely on a high resolution that combines pixels like other smartphones. This makes the camera a bit less flexible when you want to take extremely high-resolution pictures in good light.

In return, Sony’s camera module has a color spectrum sensor and numerous software helpers that are supposed to ensure an even more accurate reproduction of reality. Also great is the physical, lightly ridged shutter button on the left lateral side, which triggers autofocus when pressed lightly, just like on a camera, and records an image or even a series of images when pressed fully.

And what quality do the pictures from the main camera have now? The light situation is reproduced very naturally, the iPhone 12 Pro Max tends to brighten up a lot, and at the same time, the main subject on the Apple looks much more detailed and also sharper. When looking at the sky in the surroundings, it is noticeable that Sony achieves a very good reproduction here; hardly any pixel artifacts can be seen even in the magnification. Here, for example, the OnePlus 9 Pro does a much worse job. Sony achieves a good brightening and detail reproduction in low light.

A wide-angle lens is also available, and it takes decent pictures. However, you should not enlarge them too much, as is the case with all current smartphone ultra-wide-angle lenses.

However, the telephoto lens that Sony installs in its smartphone is even more interesting: With optical image stabilizer and variable focal length, it is actually also the largest and most striking lens on the back. It enables good zoom options, you can actually bring objects in a picture closer in quite high quality.

Videos are recorded in 4K by the main camera. You can record with all lenses, but you have to choose a lens before recording. Only digital zoom is possible in the recording.

The Camera Pro software is now the standard photo app on the smartphone, it offers numerous setting options.

When it comes to performance, the Sony Xperia 1 III is not easily outdone: Both the Snapdragon 888, and the very fast UFS 3.1 storage are on a very high level. Sony cannot keep up with the current iPhone, but it is one of the fastest among the Android phones.

The temperature increases very selectively, but reaches up to 43.7 °C (~111 °F), which is clearly noticeable and could also become unpleasant in warmer ambient temperatures.

The Xperia Phone is HiRes Audio certified and supports numerous codes like Dolby Atmos to further improve the sound. The stereo speakers then also sound decent, they even show some bass frequencies in our measurement. You can also connect external devices via the 3.5 mm audio port or Bluetooth, where you get powerful sound that can also be improved with numerous settings. If desired, the smartphone even vibrates to match the music.

The battery, compared to the Sony Xperia 1 II, has grown by 500 to 4,500 mAh, which also extends the runtime in our WLAN test. However, only as long as you do not activate the 120 Hz mode: Then you should expect runtimes that can even be below the predecessor’s level. Even in 60 Hz mode, all other comparison devices still last longer.

The Sony Xperia 1 III can be charged with a maximum of 30 watts. That is okay, but in view of charging rates of up to 67 watts in the current Xiaomi flagship, it does not seem quite up to date. Wireless charging is also possible with a maximum of 15 watts.

  37.4 °C

99 F
36.2 °C

97 F
35.1 °C

95 F
  38.5 °C

101 F
36.9 °C

98 F
35.2 °C

95 F
  39.9 °C

104 F
37.5 °C

100 F
35.8 °C

96 F
Maximum: 39.9 °C = 104 F

Average: 36.9 °C = 98 F
34.8 °C

95 F
36.7 °C

98 F
37.5 °C

100 F
34.5 °C

94 F
37.4 °C

99 F
42.3 °C

108 F
33.8 °C

93 F
38.4 °C

101 F
43.7 °C

111 F
Maximum: 43.7 °C = 111 F

Average: 37.7 °C = 100 F

Power Supply (max.)  42.3 °C = 108 F | Room Temperature 21.5 °C = 71 F | Fluke t3000FC (calibrated), Voltcraft IR-260

(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 36.9 °C / 98 F, compared to the average of 32.9 °C / 91 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.

(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 39.9 °C / 104 F, compared to the average of 35.2 °C / 95 F, ranging from 22.4 to 52.9 °C for the class Smartphone.

(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 43.7 °C / 111 F, compared to the average of 33.8 °C / 93 F

(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 25.8 °C / 78 F, compared to the device average of 32.9 °C / 91 F.

Sony Xperia 1 III test device provided by Sony Mobile Germany.
Sony Xperia 1 III test device provided by Sony Mobile Germany.

As with the last generations of Sony’s flagship, you get the feeling that Sony really delivers a great smartphone with unique features on the one hand, but lags behind the competition a bit on the other: You can hardly get such a high-resolution display in cinema format anywhere else, but the battery life suffers in return. The camera takes great pictures and the new telephoto lens allows zooming into objects in good quality, but at the same time the details are not always perfect.

The charging power is only passable at 30 watts, the battery is a bit smaller than other manufacturers and the temperature is a bit too high. Sony also installs some potentially unnecessary third-party apps ex-factory and charges a self-confident price of 1,299 Euros (~$1530).

But enough complaining, after all, the Sony Xperia 1 III also has its great sides: The unique design looks very high-quality, the physical camera shutter is simply ingenious, the smartphone works lightning fast, and so does the storage. A 3.5 mm port is hard to find in any other flagship phone, and Sony’s Xperia 1 III is also relatively light.

Sony’s flagship in 2021 is a high-quality camera phone that does a few things differently than the competition.

Sony’s Xperia 1 III is certainly not a phone for everyone, but Sony deliberately wants to appeal to individualists and professionals. They should take a look at the high-quality and powerful smartphone.

If you want to save money, do not need a 120 Hz display and want a slightly shorter battery life, you can also go for the predecessor Sony Xperia 1 II. If you are looking for a slightly less fancy flagship phone, you will be better off with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The Sony Xperia 1 III will be available at the end of August 2021. At Amazon, Cyberport and numerous other online retailers, you can already pre-order the device for $1,298.

Florian Schmitt

Editor of the original article: Florian Schmitt – Managing Editor Mobile – 861 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2009

I initially wrote about gaming laptops when I joined Notebookcheck in 2009. I was then involved with the setup of the comparison portal Notebookinfo and worked with social media concepts for large companies like BMW and Adidas, while also returning to work for Notebookcheck in 2012. Nowadays, I focus on smartphones, tablets, and future technologies. Since 2018 I have been Managing Editor for mobile device reviews, working alongside my colleague Daniel Schmidt.

Ninh Duy

Translator: Ninh Duy – Editorial Assistant – 186362 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017

My main responsibility as an editorial assistant is maintaining the Library section, which aggregates reviews from other publications and channels. In addition, my daily breakfast is Notebookcheck’s long list of new content, which I comb through to select the most interesting topics for translation from English to French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch.”

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