Sony debuts the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III - first phones with variable telephoto lenses

Sony debuts the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III - first phones with variable telephoto lenses
Sony Mobile keeps stubbornly dishing out new Xperia models adding a pinch of spice to the bland smartphone market stew. Today the Japanese company officially announced the successors to its two main flagship models — the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III — and along with all the refinements, there’s a bold and innovative move in the camera department.

But we’ll zoom in on this in more detail in a minute.

Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III - design


Sony has its own thing going on with the design of Xperia phones of late and it’s a fresh change compared to the majority of other devices on the market. The new Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III follow the same design philosophy — tall 21:9 screens, uniform bezels, chamfered metal frames, and glass backs.

The camera bump retains its elongated shape in the upper left corner on the back, and so does the capacitive fingerprint reader/power button on the right side of the frame. The two-step physical shutter button is also present this time with a nice tactile pattern that will please photography enthusiasts out there. The 3.5mm headphones jack is still present, too.

Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III - display


We were generally impressed with the Xperia 5 II display and also pleasantly surprised by the color accuracy of the Xperia 1 II. This time Sony has brought the 120Hz display refresh rate to both devices and the Xperia 1 III features the world’s first 6.5” 21:9 CinemaWide 4K HDR OLED display with the aforementioned fast refresh rate.

The Xperia 5 III comes equipped with a 6.1" 21:9 CinemaWide 120Hz HDR OLED display with FHD+ resolution.

The CineAlta treatment promises pitch-perfect color accuracy, as both displays are factory calibrated to match Sony’s professional color monitors used in a place called Hollywood. The one with the movies, you know.

The X1 remastering technology borrowed from Sony’s Bravia line of TVs is also present along with Bravia HDR, and you get DolbyAtmos support on the big front-facing stereo speakers for a complete cinematic experience.

Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III - camera


Time for the big news. Sony has decided to be brave and incorporated a periscope zoom system in the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III. Unlike other similar camera systems with fixed focus, this one features a variable telephoto lens. This means there’s an optical element that physically moves inside the camera system, switching between two focal lengths — 70mm and 105mm.

Sony claims that opting for such a setup results in images with better quality, and the custom-made dual PD sensor underneath the innovative camera system also helps with the task. The Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III offer a total of four focal lengths in photo and video recording - 16mm, 24mm, 70mm and 105mm, respectively - covering most photo and video scenarios. There are a total of three cameras on the back of both phones, and the systems are identical, with the exception of the ToF sensor missing on the Xperia 5 III.

The autofocus magic taken straight from Sony Alpha professional cameras is present and there’s now a Basic mode in the Photography Pro app to allow people take advantage of all the pro algorithms without having to fiddle with settings manually. Both models offer continuous autofocus that allows for up to 20 shots per second burst mode without loss of focus or detail. Sony's BIONZ X processor takes care of low-light scenarios and you can use the same 20fps burst mode during night shots as well.

Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III - hardware


Unsurprisingly, both phones feature top-of-the-line silicon, the Snapdragon 888 5G chipset to be specific. The Xperia 1 III comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, while the Xperia 5 III features an 8/128GB memory configuration (with a 256GB variant also available).

Both phones are perfect for gaming thanks to the 240Hz touch scanning rate and motion blur reduction. The Heat Suppression technology also allows for cooler and thermal throttling-free gaming sessions as games can plug the phone and get power directly from the cord, bypassing the battery and all the heating up associated with charging it.

The audio experience has also been tweaked. Sony has introduced support for its proprietary 360 Reality Audio tech on the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III stereo speakers, as well as 
through the 3.5mm headphones jack. The Xperia 1 III stereo speakers are also 40 percent more powerful compared to Xperia 1 II.

Both phones come with IP65/68 ingress protection rating, wich in this case means immersion in fresh water for up to 30 minutes at 1.5 meters depth, according to Sony's internal testing procedures. The Xperia 1 III features Gorilla Victus on the front and Gorilla Glass 6 on the back, while the Xperia 5 III is sandwiched between Gorilla Glass 6 on both sides.

Another feature that's now in the technology book of endangered species can be found present on both models - microSD card support. The Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III both can stomach microSD cards with capacity up to 1TB.

Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III - battery and charging


Sony has managed to find room for a 4,500mAh battery in both models, which is a feat in itself, given that the Xperia 5 III is considerably more compact than the its bigger brother. We wouldn't call this capacity huge, but it should be sufficient to give you at least a full day on a single charge comfortably.

There's no conspiracies and drama around the included charger - the word speaks for itself "included". Sony has bundled a 30W fast charger with both phones, claiming that it can charge 50% of the battery in just 30 minutes. While such claim means that these phones can't compete with Chinese fast charging champions, it will be a step up compared to the last generation.

Sony Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III - price and availability


Xperia 1 III will be available in Frosted Black and Frosted Purple and shipped with Android 11. Xperia 5 III will be available in Black and Green and shipped with Android 11 as well. Pricing for both models will be announced at a later date. The products will ship to U.S. customers this summer.

Related phones

Xperia 1 III
  • Display 6.5 inches 3840 x 1644 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Quad camera) 8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 12GB RAM
  • Storage 256GB, microSDXC
  • OS Android 11

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