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(Pocket-lint) - Sony announced the successor to its Xperia 1 III smartphone during a May event, offering a similar design but upgrades here and there, including in the camera department.

Should you upgrade if you have the Xperia 1 III? Or if you are deciding between the two models, which is the right one for you?

We've put the Xperia 1 IV and the Xperia 1 III up against each other to evaluate the similarities and the differences and what they mean to see how the old model and new model compare.

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Design

  • Xperia 1 IV: 165 x 71 x 8.2mm, 185g, IP65/IP68
  • Xperia 1 III: 165 x 71 x 8.2mm, 186g, IP65/IP68

There's little difference between the Sony Xperia 1 IV and the Xperia 1 III in terms of design, unless you look really closely, so it won't matter which you pick if you're deciding between them in terms of look, and you won't notice much difference in design if you're upgrading.

Both the Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 1 III have a flat-slab design that fans have come to know and love in Xperia devices, with bezels at the top and bottom of the display and flat, squared off edges. There's glass on the back of both - Corning Gorilla Victus in the case of the Xperia 1 IV, a vertical camera housing in the top left corner of both and they both come with a dedicated camera shutter button on the right edge - something the flagship Xperia handsets have long offered.

The two handsets also feature identical measurements at 165 x 71 x 8.2mm, though the Xperia 1 IV is a gram lighter at 185g compared to 186g. The main noticeable difference is the Xperia 1 IV has a different lens on the rear, meaning some differences in appearance compared to the Xperia 1 III, and it also ditches the Google Assistant button.

Otherwise, both devices are IP65 and IP68 water and dust resistant and they both have a front facing camera in the top bezel of the display.

Display

  • Xperia 1 IV: 6.5-inch, OLED, Real-time HDR, 3840 x 1644, 50 per cent brighter
  • Xperia 1 III:  6.5-inch, OLED, HDR, 3840 x 1644

Both the Sony Xperia 1 IV and the Xperia 1 III have a 6.5-inch OLED HDR display that offers a 4K (3840 x 1644) resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate so you'll get the same detail and speed from both devices when it comes to scrolling and watching content. 

They also both have a 21:9 aspect ratio - which has been the case on the Xperia 1, Xperia 5 and Xperia 10 ranges since they launched in 2019 so it will be a very similar experience, and one that's expected to be great when it comes to watching movies.

Where the Xperia 1 IV differs however is the brightness. The 2022 flagship is claimed to offer a 50 per cent brighter display to its predecessor, along with what Sony calls Real-time HDR support.

This should make everything punchier and more vivid on the Xperia 1 IV display, which in turn should offer a better viewing experience for photos and media. We thought the Xperia 1 III could have done with a brighter display when we reviewed it so it's an improvement we are pleased to see.

Hardware and specs

  • Xperia 1 IV: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 12GB RAM, 256GB storage, microSD, 5000mAh
  • Xperia 1 III: Snapdragon 888, 12GB RAM, 256GB storage, microSD, 4500mAh

As you might expect, there are some upgrades when it comes to hardware too. The Sony Xperia 1 IV runs on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform, while the Xperia 1 III runs on last year's Snapdragon 888 chipset. Naturally the SD 8 Gen 1 is the more powerful chipset, but the SD888 ran some of the best devices of 2021 so it's still more than capable.

Both devices offer 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage so there's no difference there, and they both come with support for microSD up to 1TB - something competitors like Samsung don't offer.

There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack on the Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 1 III, which is also a feature many other flagship smartphones omit, but for those looking to use the speakers rather than headphones, the Xperia 1 IV has full-stage stereo speakers.

There a battery increase on the Xperia 1 IV too, with a 5000mAh cell powering the device, compared to the 4500mAh cell in the Xperia 1 III, and this should make a difference. It's worth remembering that the Xperia 1 IV's screen is brighter though and there are more camera features too so this might eat up some of that extra battery capacity.

Both the Xperia 1 IV and Xperia 1 III come with 30W fast charging for 50 per cent charge in 30 minutes and they both offer wireless charging too. The Xperia 1 IV doesn't offer the charger or the charging cable in the box though.

Camera

  • Xperia 1 IV: Triple rear camera, 12MP front camera
  • Xperia 1 III: Triple rear camera, 8MP front camera

The camera is where the biggest changes have been made on the Xperia 1 IV. Sporting a triple rear camera, the Xperia 1 IV has a 12-megapixel main camera with a 24mm lens and optical image stabilisation, a 12-megapixel 16mm lens and a 12-megapixel Optical Zoom lens offering 85mm to 125mm equivalent, also with OIS. There's a 3D time-of-flight sensor too.

All three main lenses are capable of shooting 120fps and all three lenses offer real-time Eye AF, while Eye AF has also been added to video along with object tracking. There's a wider dynamic mode too, as well as live streaming so there's quite a few updates.

Not everyone will use some of these features, and we said in our Xperia 1 III that the camera system was quite complex and perhaps unnecessary when some great results come from computational photography, though they will be appealing features for some.

The Xperia 1 III has a triple rear camera made up of three 12-megapixel sensors. One of these sensors is a periscope lens that is able to switch between 70mm and 105mm for two different telephoto options of around 3x and 4.4x, both optical and both offering OIS. The Xperia 1 IV improves on this, with the lens itself moving.

There's also a 12-megapixel 1/1.7in main camera on the Xperia 1 III and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera on board and it too has a 3D ToF camera too to feed data into the real-time tracking system.

The front camera of the Xperia 1 III is a 12-megapixel sensor, while the Xperia 1 III has an 8-megapixel sensor so the latest device offers improvements for selfies too.

Conclusion

The Sony Xperia 1 IV offers a very similar design and look to the Xperia 1 III but it delivers some improvements to the display, updates to the camera system and advancements in hardware.

The biggest talking point of the Xperia 1 IV is the Optical Zoom lens, delivering a 85-125mm equivalent, which is said to be a first for a smartphone, but it also offers a brighter screen, increase in battery capacity and it moves to the latest Snapdragon processor so you automatically get a bump in performance too. 

Should you upgrade over the Xperia 1 III? That will depend on how well that Optical Zoom lens performs in the real world and whether that's a feature you are looking for from your smartphone. If you're looking at which device to pick between the 1 IV and the 1 III then the 1 IV is clearly the better on paper, though you'll save yourself some cash opting for the older - and still very capable - device if the new features aren't something you're desperate for.

More about this story

We do a lot of versus features on Pocket-lint, but we aren't just comparing the spec sheets when we write them. We are using our knowledge and experience of previous devices, as well as the wider market to draw conclusions designed to help you in making your choices.

In this case, we have reviewed the Xperia 1 III in full but we are yet to review the Xperia 1 IV in full so this feature is partly based on our real-life experience, and partly based on information about the latest device that is available in the public domain, combined with the extra details we were provided with.

We have a good understanding of Sony devices which helps us to highlight where the differences lie and where improvements have been made, and the aim is to provide you with as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision between the two handsets being compared.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.