Sony’s new Xperia 1 III smartphone is a love letter to photography enthusiasts

Xperia 1 II from last year It might have been a mobile photographer’s dream come true, but it was far from perfect – he didn’t have 5G in the US, his design might look awkward, and he was focusing on the experience. of the camera on just about everything else. But in designing the new Xperia 1 III, Sony seems to have tackled just about everything we didn’t like about the last one.

This is great news for a company that has long struggled to carve out a viable niche for smartphones, but right now there’s just one problem: Sony won’t tell us how much it costs. (Our hypothesis: this means it will be expensive.)

Sony’s silence on the matter means it’s hard to gauge the value of the Xperia 1 III, but this thing may be worth it if a professional-grade camera means more to you than anything else. The 12-megapixel and 24mm equivalent Exmor RS sensor will likely be used the most, and like last year, it can take photos as fast as 20 times per second, while performing lightning-fast focus calculations. . Burst modes aren’t new to smartphone cameras, but Sony’s approach produced some absolutely stunning photos when we tested the Xperia 1 II, and we expect similar feats from the 1 III.


That main sensor is flanked by a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a time-of-flight sensor that collects depth data, but the 12-megapixel telephoto lens might be the most impressive thing Sony has done this past. year. The company claims that the 1 III is the world’s first phone with “real” optical zoom – that is, it moves the telephoto elements inside the phone rather than just relying on it. to the trickery of digital zoom as competing smartphones do. We haven’t had a chance to try this out on our own, but in theory this mix of a smart camera setup and phase-detection autofocus should mean serious clarity at lengths. camera focal lengths of 75mm and 105mm.

Of course, these sensors wouldn’t matter much without the right software. New to the Xperia 1 line this year is full-fledged real-time object detection, which relies on this time-of-flight camera and some handy algorithms to better track moving subjects. You’ll be able to control tools like this (and many more) in the phone’s Photography Pro app, which now includes a useful basic mode for spontaneous shots. (Last year’s Xperia 1 II included two separate camera apps, which was confusing to say the least.) Sony’s camera obsession extends to video as well: the 1 III can capture images at resolutions as high as 4K120, while improving the SteadyShot algorithm, image stabilization helps control stuttering. And when it’s time to work with those footage, Sony’s Cinema Pro app returns for project-based shooting and on-device editing.

Gallery: Sony Xperia 1 III press images | 11 photos

If Sony’s approach to cameras this year seemed overdone, well – the Xperia’s screen offers more of the same. The Mk. III uses a 6.5-inch OLED display which Sony claims is the world’s first mobile 4K display with a 120Hz refresh rate. To be clear, no one needs a smartphone display. 4K, but Sony makes a strong enough argument to include one here. On the one hand, its 21: 9 aspect ratio offers visuals more suited to cinema and allows players to see more of the action around them. Photographers, on the other hand, might appreciate the ability to use this 4K display as an external monitor for some Sony cameras – provided they have a USB-C to HDMI adapter, that is. say.

The rest of the package is what you’d expect from a high-end smartphone in 2021. True to its flagship form, the Xperia 1 III packs one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chipsets with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. internal, as well as a larger 4500 mAh battery which finally supports wireless charging. From what we can tell, the 1 III’s long, lean body hasn’t changed much since last year – meaning it may still be ridiculously slippery – but a fingerprint sensor side-mounted and a 3.5mm headphone jack are still welcome.

That said, the Xperia 1 III does come with two other tricks to note. First off, it’s the first phone we’ve heard of that supports immersive 3D Reality audio playback through its front stereo speakers. (As you read this Google seems to be creating 3D Reality audio support directly in Android.) And unlike the latest Xperia I, this one should finally work well with 5G sub-6 networks in the US. Keep in mind: the 2020 Xperia 1 II was the company’s first 5G phone, but for some reason it never bothered to enable next-gen network support in the models. Americans.

Gallery: Sony Xperia 5 III press images | 9 photos

We’re pretty sure the Xperia 1 III will cost a bit, a fact that ensures the phone will remain a niche option for photography enthusiasts. For everyone, however, Sony has built a cheaper companion: the Xperia 5 III. It’s a bit smaller thanks to its 6.1-inch Full HD OLED display, and it lacks some of its bigger brother’s more ambitious camera tricks, like real-time object tracking, time sensor. flight and wireless charging. It also comes with just 8GB of RAM, paired with 128GB or 256GB of internal storage.

Other than that, the Xperia 5 III packs the same chipset, pro-grade camera setup, 3D Reality audio support, and a battery as Sony’s more expensive model. That’s no small feat for a smaller phone, and if we had to choose now, the Xperia 5 III presents itself as a much safer bet for most people. Unfortunately, Sony’s reluctance to talk about price applies here as well, so we have no idea how much better this model is. That said, the last year set a pretty lousy precedent – the Xperia 5 II sold for just under $ 1,000, and if Sony is trying the same this year, it’s not hard to imagine that people are flocking to more familiar devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Plus.

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