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Sony Xperia 1 III unveiled: release date, price and specs

Sony's latest flagship phone will boast the world's first 4K 120HZ smartphone display and 360-degree sound.

Sony Xperia 1 III release date

Sony’s latest range of Xperia 1 phones was recently unveiled – and there’s lots to be excited about with the trio of new phones that are due to arrive later this year. Sleek, ambitious, high-spec and distinctly premium, the new III series also sports a couple of major camera and audio innovations.

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The latest additions to the Xperia series are the Xperia 1 III, the scaled-down 5 III and the mid-range 10 III. If you find all those numbers and numerals as confusing as we do, it’s maybe worth noting that Sony officials refer to them as the ‘Xperia 1 Mark Three’ series.

These three smartphones were officially unveiled by Sony on Wednesday 14 April in a livestreamed event on YouTube – and a number of Sony representatives, plus several photographers, filmmakers and video game developers, were on hand to explain what the new III series had to offer. It’s worth remembering that Sony is as much an entertainment company as it is a tech giant, which is why there was such an emphasis on high-quality images, film and sound.

Read on for more about what you can expect from the Sony Xperia 1 III and its fellow handsets from the III series. And for a wider list of smartphones due to launch this year, don’t miss our new phones 2021 round-up.

Sony Xperia 1 III release date

Mitsuya Kishida, the president of Sony Mobile, said that all three of the new handsets are new to launch in the ‘early summer’. This is, of course, a little vague – but it sounds likely it won’t arrive in the late-May slot that the Xperia 1 II series did in 2020.

We’re keeping an ear to the ground and will update this page when we have a date for pre-orders before the phones finally hit shelves.

Sony Xperia 1 III price

Again, this is an area where the representatives from Sony were vague – we suspect prices for these three handsets are still being figured out. But a couple of days before the Xperia 1 III launch, there was a leak on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that suggested the flagship phone will cost 8999 Chinese Yuan – that works at as, more or less, £1,000, which would put it on a level with the iPhone 12 Pro.

But that’s actually less than the current cost of the Sony Xperia 1 II handset – so for now, we’re all best off waiting for a confirmed list of RRPs for the III series. Ultimately, we should all expect top-end prices for top-end handsets.

There will also be pay-monthly contracts from networks to look out for. We’ve put together a list of providers that offer tariffs for the Xperia 1 II – they’re all likely to stock the Xperia 1 III.

Sony Xperia 1 III specs: what to expect

In the livestream on April 14, Mitsuya Kishida passed the proverbial mic over to Yosuke Kiyama, head of Product Planning at Sony. Although there are three different phones on their way, he focused primarily on the flagship Sony Xperia 1 III.

Sony Xperia 1 III camera

Sony Xperia 1 III camera

Cameras are always a major selling point with pricy flagship phones – and the Xperia 1 III is certainly no exception.

The new Sony Xperia series will boast the world’s first variable telephoto smartphone camera, which will let you focus at lengths of either 70mm or 105mm. The all-new zoom function makes (pun intended) dizzying advances in phone camera technology: you’ll be able to zoom in up to 300mm with the image remaining crystal-clear.

There’s also an exciting-sounding new real-time AF function that will allow you to track subjects while they’re moving. In a rather sweet nod to the days of analogue photography, the Xperia 1 III will have a dedicated shutter button and one that autofocuses if you press it halfway down.

Sony Xperia 1 III audio

Here’s yet another first for the smartphone world: the Xperia 1 III will deliver two-channel sound converted into a ‘360-degree’ experience that feels totally immersive. This the sort of tech we at RadioTimes.com are more used to writing about in relation to televisions – indeed, it was a central point of the recently released Sony Bravia XR A90J.

This sounds fantastic, but the spatialised sound promised by Sony in the Xperia 1 III  is something we’re a little sceptical about. Can something that fits inside your pocket really deliver anything that can truly be described as ‘immersive’? Of course, we’ll be reviewing the Sony Xperia 1 III ahead of its launch date, and we’ll confirm then how this audio performs.

Sony Xperia 1 III display

The event’s biggest highlight was the unveiling of the world’s first 4K 120HZ smartphone screen. It will definitely appeal to gamers who are looking for those super-smooth refresh rates. Gaming fans will also, no doubt, appreciate the Rewind Time Record function, which lets users retroactively record gameplay that can be streamed and shared.

The display itself is OLED – an expectation of flagships these days – and 21:9 when in display ratio. This unusually long and thin aspect ratio has divided opinion, but it’s good to see Sony stick to its guns.

Sony Xperia 1 III design

There were actually very few close-up shots of the new handsets in Sony’s livestream launch, but we can confirm in overall design, the III series very much stays in the tradition set by its predecessors. On the subject of tradition, a classic 3.5mm headphone jack is also included. This might seem slightly archaic, but Sony is a company that values high-quality playback and knows that many people out there still want the quality offered by a corded connection or else own high-end corded headphones.

The display will be made of extra-tough Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, while the casing will be IP65/68 water-resistant, which sets it up to survive ‘sudden rain’ – a definite boon in this fair country of ours. Lastly, the Xperia 1 III will come in Frosted Black, Frosted Grey and Frosted Purple, the Xperia 5 III will come in Black, Green and Pink, and the Xperia 10 III will come in Black, Blue, White and Pink. Oh, and they’re all 5G-compatible.

Seriously though, Sony: enough with the numerals after this!

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