Sony Xperia 1 III in the test: Elegant multimedia professional

As in previous years, Sony shows the edge in design with the Xperia 1 III. The first contact with the new top device from the Japanese is surprisingly smooth: The matt, black glass on the back feels velvety soft and merges seamlessly into the likewise matt metal frame in the same color as the case. While other manufacturers vie for attention with changing color gradients, the appearance of the Xperia 1 III is like that of a well-dressed gentleman at a dinner party: serious and puristic. Due to its slim design and the comparatively light 186 grams, the phone is also excellent in the hand.

Xperia 1 III with one of the best displays on the market

In terms of quality, Sony does everything right again and gives the 1 III, as it should be for a high-end device, IP68 protection against dust and water. On top of that, the front and back are protected with particularly scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 7 and 6 – so you get full points when it comes to workmanship.

On the front you can see the finest smartphone displays currently on sale: an OLED with 6.5 inches and a resolution of 1644 x 3840 pixels. For comparison: top phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra come with a resolution of 1440 x 3200 pixels. Do you see a difference? No, even in a direct comparison, our eyes cannot make out any more details. However: Sony’s color management is very natural and comes much closer to reality than displays from the competition. Especially if you activate the Creator mode with its special color scale and 10-bit color depth in the display settings.

As always, Sony relies on the 21: 9 cinema format. When surfing, this means that there is simply more text on the screen and less scrolling is required. If so, then very smoothly thanks to the fast 120 Hz. Anyone who streams films with the 1 III sees a full-surface, bar-free image – provided the film was produced accordingly. On YouTube, however, you often find 16: 9, which then results in thick black bars on the sides. Either way: As far as the measured values ​​such as contrast and viewing angle stability are concerned, we have one of the best OLED displays on the market in front of us.

Lots of power, 5G and a recommendation for music lovers

The Sony is also not lacking in power: The Japanese build Qualcomm’s strongest chipset, the Snapdragon 888 and a whopping 12 GB of RAM. A combination that brings the user smoothly and smoothly through all situations of his everyday life. Gaming in the highest settings is no problem either. A nice feature is the dynamic vibration, which underpins the tones with haptic feedback. If the available 228 GB of storage is not enough, you can add more via microSD – or use the 1 III in dual SIM mode, which we had missed with the predecessor. 5G and WiFi 6 are of course on board.

The phone can also score points with audio enthusiasts, because the 1 III is probably the only upper-class phone with a jack connection. Sony has also fine-tuned the output voltage, which at 431 mV is now better than the Xperia 1 II. There are also two full stereo speakers on the front, which could, however, play a little clearer. Thanks to the LDAC codec, you can hear your favorite tunes wirelessly in top quality – provided you have Sony headphones. On the software side, the 1 III also has many setting options for the sound. If you activate Dolby Atmos, you can choose a few sound profiles or you can use the equalizer to do your own thing.

Triple camera Camera with depth of setting

Sony has teamed up again with their colleagues from the Alpha Series system camera division for the camera and its software. They are said to have supported the development especially with the fast autofocus with face and eye tracking, which also works very well. Moving motifs are captured with a very high series image speed of 20 frames per second – that is impressive. Most of the time, however, you will probably be shooting in single-image mode.

A great feature is the dedicated release button in the housing frame. Like a real camera, this can be pressed halfway down to focus and also functions as a quick start button for the camera app when the phone is in sleep mode. A novelty is the teleoptics, which combines two focal lengths of 70 and 105 millimeters up to an optical magnification of 4.4. Sony shows engineering skills.

Reading tip: The smartphones with the best cameras

The photo app also offers a wealth of settings that no other manufacturer has. In addition to a basic mode, there are other camera modes that control shutter speed, autofocus and white balance. If you want to edit your photos, you can snap in RAW. A macro mode is now also on board, but with it you don’t get as close to objects as with the competition. We still miss a time-lapse function – actually standard.

In terms of photo quality, the Xperia 1 III does very well in qb with an overall score of 70, but cannot keep up with other top devices in some areas (more on photo quality on the next page).

In addition to phones, Sony also has professional video cameras in its portfolio. So it’s not entirely surprising that we find our own app for video recordings on the 1 III with “Cinema Pro” – also unique. Similar to the photo app, like a professional film camera, you have a high setting depth including shutter speed and white balance. Videos are then shot with a maximum of 4K to 120 fps, but you can also switch to the cinematic 24 fps.

Let’s stay with the software and look at the Xperias system, which runs with the latest Android 11 and a simple, native user interface. The bar called “Side Sense”, which holds frequently used apps for quick selection, is practical here. There is also an extra hub for gamers, which can be used to influence the system performance or to start a screen recording of a session using a shortcut. Sony offers all music fans a small gift: With the pre-installed Tidal app, you can stream your songs for 90 days free of charge and without loss. Otherwise, the Xperia interface offers few features: no app lock, no secure second area for private data and no face recognition. All things that other top phones come with as standard. Sony is welcome to make improvements here.

Sony Xperia 1 III: very good battery life and good measurements

The measured values ​​from the laboratory are predominantly positive. In the mix of uses, the 1 III has a very good battery life of 9:37 hours. Most buyers will, however, want to use the high frame rate, which in conjunction with the 4K display drains the battery quickly and results in two hours less runtime. Charging is fixed with 30 watts, but according to Sony, in order to save the battery, it is not quite as fast as the competition. Qi and reverse charging are also available, but the former only charges with a leisurely 11 watts. The telephony acoustics are on a good level and only reveal slight weaknesses in terms of noise suppression. The GSM reception also needs to be optimized.

Test conclusion

The Xperia 1 III is pleasantly different, of high quality and a very good phone with some interesting additional functions. It is also nice to see that the Japanese improve from year to year and work on all areas. The price of 1299 euros is quite proud, especially since the competition like the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra or Oppo Find X3 Pro offers better overall equipment for less money. Sony could add one or the other feature for the price.

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