While we’re not expecting the company to give the likes of Apple or Samsung cause for concern any time soon, we’re still extremely curious to see what Sony’s next flagship phone – assumed to be the Sony Xperia 1 III – will bring to the table this year.
How much is the Sony Xperia 1 III?
2019’s Xperia 1 was designed to represent something of a reset for Sony’s smartphone line and despite offering some unique qualities in a crowded flagship space, it didn’t present the same mass appeal as devices like its then-competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S10.
Perhaps its most problematic trait was that it came in at a notably higher price than like-minded rivals, clocking in at £849 when devices like the Galaxy S10 cost between £150 and £200 less, without really losing any real competitive edge.
The addition of 5G, more advanced display technology and even tighter integration with Sony’s Alpha camera tech pushed that pricing disparity even further, with the Xperia 1 II coming in at a sizeable £1,099.
While 5G is assumed to feature as-standard on this year’s Xperia 1 III, we’re hoping that the other innovations that Sony places into its next flagship don’t push the price up further still – making this more of a Galaxy Note/foldable competitor, from a price standpoint.
Early indication, courtesy of Sony tipster Zackbuks via Weibo, suggests a starting price point of CNY¥8,999, which directly converts to £990/€1,165/US$1,370. Going on the assumption that international pricing will be higher, this implies similar pricing to last year’s Xperia 1 II, meaning it’s unlikely to be markedly more expensive than its predecessor come release.
When does the Sony Xperia 1 III launch?
The last two generations of Xperia 1 were announced on 24 February 2019 and 2020, respectively.
With February having come and gone without so much as a peep from Sony on the matter, there’s been little to indicate when we can expect the next Xperia flagship, however, Sony UK’s Twitter account recently updated its header image and in doing so announced a new Xperia-related product showcase, set to take place on 14 April at 08:30 BST.
While this by no means guarantees the Xperia 1 III’s arrival, it’s the most concrete date Sony’s made on any Xperia-related activities of late.
Jumping back to the subsequent Zachbuks leak, the tipster casually dropped a release date of June too, which aligns with the approximate two to three-month window previous Xperia 1 entries have experienced between announcement and actual release.
What features does the Sony Xperia 1 III have?
The Xperia 1 II is a flagship to be sure, placing focus on a superb 4K HDR 21:9 OLED display, top-tier internals and a capable (albeit finicky) trio of cameras, backed up by some impressively robust photography and videography smartphone software.
Such traits will reportedly carry across to its successor – the Xperia 1 III – with enhancements to the speed of the camera system’s already-impressive autofocus, even better low light shooting and an improved Auto shooting experience.
The option of a higher 120Hz refresh rate display – without the loss of the current model’s signature benefits i.e. its resolution (the Xperia 1 II sports a 60Hz panel) – are also said to feature, as per the Zackbuks leak, which also makes mention of support for 10-bit colour depth and a peak brightness of 1300nits.
The 1 III is said to be powered by Qualcomm’s best and brightest mobile chip of the moment, the Snapdragon 888, as reported by multiple sources.
Sony’s new flagship smartphone with Snap875 🙂 pic.twitter.com/1NfDhnUS0Q
— Nodar Sikharulidze (@NodSikharulidze) October 20, 2020
Tweets posted by user Nodar Sikharulidze show what appears to be code pulled from various .JAR files taken from Sony Mobile’s firmware distribution server; all making mention of the ‘SM8350’ – the model number tied to the Snapdragon 888.
Established tipster OnLeaks has also stepped into the ring with some of the most robust leaks yet, including supposed renders of the device that highlight one element of the phone in particular: its telephoto camera.
While the zoom lens on the Xperia 1 II moved from 2x to 3x magnification, the rectangular cut-out shown in these renders suggest that Sony may have finally moved to a periscopic telephoto setup. If true, this would grant the Xperia 1 III’s telephoto camera magnification of at least 5x, if not more.
Zackbuks’ reveal, meanwhile suggests the periscopic telephoto camera will feature Sony Cyber-shot branding, paired to a 12Mp sensor. And while the phone’s ultrawide will also sport a 12Mp resolution, the primary camera sensor might make the jump to 64Mp.
Beyond this, OnLeaks’ posts suggest that the design and feature set of the Mark III will remain relatively unchanged compared to Sony’s 2020 flagship phone, albeit with a smaller, thicker profile, measuring 161.6mm x 67.3mm x 8.4mm (moving to 9.6mm thick if including the rear camera bump).
Other internal specs (again, courtesy of Zackbuks) include 12GB of RAM (up from 8GB on the standard Xperia 1 II) and 256GB of storage, as well as a larger 5000mAh battery with 65W fast charging, which would be a sizeable leap up over last year’s model.
A higher capacity 16GB RAM/512GB special edition is also reportedly on the cards, although this is likely to be a Japanese exclusive, as with the 12GB RAM-toting Frosted Black Xperia 1 II from last year.
In addition to the above still imagery, OnLeaks later shared a video spinning around the supposed Xperia 1 III, granting a closer look at how the existing leaks actually piece together.
Along with the headphone jack, the phone line’s dedicated camera shutter key appears to still be present, as do visible speaker grilles set into the bezel, above and below the display.
We discussed the Xperia 1 III in an episode of our regular podcast Fast Charge, so check that out too: