Sony Xperia 1 III is the world's first phone with a 120Hz 4K OLED screen

Sony announces 2021 Xperia phone range, including flagship Xperia 1 III
(Image credit: Sony Mobile)

Sony has launched a full refresh of its Xperia phone range, headed up by the Xperia 1 III (the successor to our favourite phone of 2020) and the Xperia 5 III (the follow-up to the five-star Xperia 5 II).

The new third-generation Xperia handsets are virtually identical with almost matching features and specs, but the main difference lies in their screens. The Xperia 1 III sports a 6.5in 4K OLED display – designed for those who like a big screen device – while the 6.1in Full HD+ Xperia 5 III is a little more hand and pocket friendly.

The big draw for both gamers and film fans on-the-go will doubtless be the flagship Xperia 1 III, which according to Sony has the world's first 120Hz 4K OLED screen. It has a 21:9 aspect ratio for full width cinema and gameplay, and that refresh rate can be set to 60Hz if you want to save on battery life. Plus, there's even space to throw in extra frames for Sony's 240Hz motion processing tech which should smooth out any blur.

The OLED on each of these phones is individually factory calibrated with what Sony says is a highly accurate white point to mirror the colour reproduction of the company's film industry monitors. They also benefit from a mobile version of Sony's X1 Bravia TV engine for HDR processing.

Sony has continued its commitment to quality sound not only with its support of a 3.5mm headphones socket but also its offering of hi-res audio over wired or wireless headphones. They feature newly optimised audio circuitry aimed at improving loudness by 40 per cent while reducing distortion. Most interesting of all, though, is that it can up-mix your local and streamed two-channel music tracks into 360 Spatial Sound in real-time. That should offer some very interesting insight into Sony's emerging immerse format.

Sony Xperia 5 III

(Image credit: Sony)

Both handsets are Dolby Atmos-enabled and have front-facing stereo speakers that Sony promises will have enriched bass and a build to reduce vibration. You'll also be able to appreciate your tracks in 360 Spatial Sound through the speaker as well as headphones.

They are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 chip and boast a 4500mAh battery that Sony says will remain in top health for a minimum of three years. They come with 12GB RAM and the option of either 128GB or 256GB of storage space.

Naturally, the Xperia III family is replete with the kind of Zeiss photography smarts to make most compact cameras blush. Both the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III come with a 12MP triple lens camera that can handle four focal lengths (16, 24, 70 and 105mm) thanks to what Sony says is the world's first dual-position telephoto sensor. The company has made advances with its AF tracking, its AI detailing for digital zoom and has added burst shooting of 20fps with autofocus and auto exposure.

Once again there is no support for 8K video shooting, but the phones can capture 4K video at up to 60fps as well as at 120fps for slow motion. There's also the option of plugging your Xperia into a Sony Alpha camera to use the mobile as a large viewfinder monitor for stills and video.

The Sony Xperia 1 III will come in a choice of Frosted Grey, Frosted Black or Frosted Purple. Included in the box is a new 30W charger which offers a 50 per cent charge for 30 minutes of wall time. The colours for the Xperia 5 III are black, green and pink. 

While pricing isn't currently available, we do know that both phones will launch at the same time in early summer this year along with Sony's mid-price phone, the Xperia 10 III. It's a 5G handset, like the others, and it still gets the 4500mAh battery – a considerable improvement on the 3600mAh unit from the previous model.

Sony Xperia 10 III

(Image credit: Sony)

It has a 6in, 21:9, HDR OLED display, coated in Gorilla Glass, and at 154 x 68 x 8.3mm is marginally smaller than the Xperia 10 II. There's no 360 Spatial Sound but there's plenty of decent audio specs with support for hi-res audio (wired and wireless), LDAC and a 3.5mm socket.

Under the hood is a slightly lowered powered set-up of the Snapdragon 690 processor, 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage space. It has an 8MP front-facing camera, an 8MP 16mm ultra-wide lens, a 12MP 27mm wide and an 8MP 54mm lens for portraits. 

All of the Xperia phones will ship with Android 11.


Take a look at our choice of the best Android phones 2021

And how about a pair of the very best headphones to go with them?

Dan Sung

Dan is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and his job is with product reviews as well as news, feature and advice articles too. He works across both the hi-fi and AV parts of the site and magazine and has a particular interest in home cinema. Dan joined What Hi-Fi? in 2019 and has worked in tech journalism for over a decade, writing for Tech Digest, Pocket-lint, MSN Tech and Wareable as well as freelancing for T3, Metro and the Independent. Dan has a keen interest in playing and watching football. He has also written about it for the Observer and FourFourTwo and ghost authored John Toshack's autobiography, Toshack's Way.