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(Pocket-lint) - Sony Mobile revealed the third generation of its flagship Xperia 1 smartphone during an online event in April 2021. Continuing to follow the naming structure of the Sony Alpha cameras, the Xperia 1 III offers a very similar design to its predecessor - the Xperia 1 II - but with several upgrades. 

Here's how the Sony Xperia 1 III compares to the Xperia 1 II and the original Sony Xperia 1 to help you work out which to buy and whether to upgrade.

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What's the same?

  • Design similarities
  • Display size and resolution
  • IP65/68 water and dust resistance
  • Fingerprint sensor 

The Sony Xperia 1 III offers the same Omnibalance design we have come to expect from Sony Xperia devices, with a metal frame sandwiched between two glass panels like the Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1. There are some differences, which we will go into in a minute, but it's clear the Xperia 1 III, Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1 are part of the same family.

All three Xperia 1 devices are IP65/68 water and dust resistant and they all have a 6.5-inch CinemaWide display with a 4K resolution and a 21:9 aspect ratio - though the third-gen model does offer some advancements here too. The Xperia 1 III, Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1 also all have a single front camera, fingerprint sensor and a number of Sony technologies including Stamina Mode for the battery.  

What's different?

Despite looking similar and sharing many of the same technologies, there are a few differences between the Xperia 1 III, Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1 which are worth considering if you are planning to upgrade or choosing between the three models.

Design

  • Xperia 1 III: 165 x 71 x 8.2mm, 186g
  • Xperia 1 II: 166 × 72 × 7.9mm, 181g
  • Xperia 1: 167 x 72 x 8.2mm, 178g

The Xperia 1 III and Xperia 1 II have squarer edges than the Xperia 1, though the overall tall and slender look is shared between the handsets. The Xperia 1 III is slightly shorter than the Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1 at 71mm compared to 72mm.

The Xperia 1 III is also ever so slightly narrower than the Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1, and heavier. It's also a little thicker than the Xperia 1 II at 8.2mm like the Xperia 1, compared to the Xperia 1 II's 7.9mm slim frame.

The Xperia 1 III and Xperia 1 II see the reintroduction of the 3.5mm headphone jack and reposition their rear camera housing from the centre to the top left of the handset, as it was on previous Xperia handsets before the Xperia 1.

Display

  • Xperia 1 III: 6.5-inch, 4K, HDR, 21:9, CineAlta, 120Hz
  • Xperia 1 II: 6.5-inch, 4K, HDR, 21:9, CineAlta, Motion Blur Reduction
  • Xperia 1: 6.5-inch, 4K, HDR, 21:9, CineAlta

Although the Xperia 1 III, Xperia 1 II and the Xperia 1 have the same size and resolution display, the Xperia 1 II adds a couple of extras and the Xperia 1 III expands further on this. All three devices have the Creator mode "powered by CineAlta", which is designed to deliver a true representation of colours like a Master Monitor, and they are all HDR compatible.

They are also all OLED panels, delivering rich and vibrant colours. The Xperia 1 II also has a feature called Motion Blur Reduction though, which aims to deliver visuals like a 90Hz display, while the Xperia 1 III has a 120Hz refresh rate display with 240Hz touch sampling.

Camera

  • Xperia 1 III: Triple rear (including periscope lens) + ToF sensor, single front
  • Xperia 1 II: Triple rear + ToF sensor, single front 
  • Xperia 1: Triple rear, single front

The Xperia 1 III, Xperia 1 II and the Xperia 1 feature a triple rear camera made up of three 12-megapixel sensors, though the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 1 II have a Time of Flight sensor too and the Xperia 1 III offers a periscope lens.

The Xperia 1 III's periscope lens - which sits in front of a 12-megapixel sensor - offers two different telephoto lengths thanks to its ability to move the position of the lens elements within the periscope module. It means it can switch between 70mm (f/2.3) and 105mm (f/2.8) for two different telephoto options of around 3x and 4.4x, both optical and both offering optical image stabilisation (OIS).

There's also a 12-megapixel main sensor with an aperture of f/1.7, Dual PDAF and OIS, and a 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle sensor with an aperture of f/2.2, also with Dual PDAF. As mentioned, there is also a ToF sensor.

The Xperia 1 II meanwhile, has a 12-megapixel main sensor with f/1.7 aperture, a 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with 70mm focal length and f/2.4 aperture. It too has a ToF sensor.

The Xperia 1 has a 12-megapixel main sensor with f/1.6 aperture, a 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle sensor with f/2.4 aperture and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with 52mm focal length and f/2.4 aperture. There is no ToF sensor and it offers a couple less features.

The Xperia 1 III, 1 II and the Xperia 1 all have an 8-megapixel front camera. 

Hardware

  • Xperia 1 III: Qualcomm SD888, 12GB RAM, 256/512GB storage
  • Xperia 1 II: Qualcomm SD865, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage
  • Xperia 1: Qualcomm SD855, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage

The Xperia 1 III features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 under its hood, while the Xperia 1 II runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 with the X55 modem. Both have 5G connectivity. The Xperia 1 meanwhile, runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and offers 4G LTE connectivity.

In terms of RAM and storage, the Xperia 1 III has 12GB of RAM and a choice of 256GB or 512GB of storage. The Xperia 1 II has 8GB compared to 6GB in the Xperia 1 and the Xperia 1 II offers 256GB storage over the Xperia 1's 128GB.

The Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1 handsets both have microSD support for storage expansion, but the Xperia 1 II supports up to 1TB cards, while the Xperia 1 supports up to 512GB cards. We're still waiting on confirmation as to whether the Xperia 1 III offers microSD support.

Battery

  • Xperia 1 III: 4500mAh battery, 30W fast charging, wireless charging
  • Xperia 1 II: 4000mAh battery, wireless charging
  • Xperia 1: 3330mAh battery, no wireless charging

The Xperia 1 III comes with a larger battery capacity than the Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1, offering a 4500mAh cell over the 4000mAh in the 2020 model and 3330mAh battery in the 2019 model. That's not the only differences in the battery department though.

The Xperia 1 III and Xperia 1 II see Sony offer wireless charging - a feature the Xperia 1 notably leaves off its spec sheet, despite many competitors offering the technology. USB Type-C charging is on board all devices and all have technology like Sony's Stamina Mode as we mentioned previously.

The Xperia 1 III also offers support for 30W fast charging though and reverse wireless charging is also on board.

Price

Sony has yet to announce the price for the Xperia 1 III, though we don't expect it to fall under the £1000 mark in the UK.

The Xperia 1 II costs £1099 in the UK, which is pricier than what the Xperia 1 first retailed at.

The Xperia 1 cost £849 when it first arrived. You'll likely find it available cheaper now though.

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Conclusion

The Sony Xperia 1 III builds upon the Xperia 1 II, offering a more advanced processor, more RAM, more storage, a larger battery and camera improvements - all of which you would expect from a succeeding flagship. The Xperia 1 II did the same compared to the Xperia 1, so the jump between the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 1 is quite substantial now in terms of specs.

The display is similar across the three handsets - except the third-gen model has a faster refresh rate - and the software experience will be pretty much identical too, aside from a few extra features on the Xperia 1 III.

On paper, the Xperia 1 III is the device to go for - whether buying into the Xperia 1 range or upgrading - but consider the Xperia 1 II if you can get it for a good price when the Xperia 1 III hits shelves later this summer.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 24 February 2020.