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Are Sony phones better than Samsung?

Sony retains its familiar design aesthetic with the Xperia 1 III. The sides are squared-off in Sony’s signature style with rounded edges for easy handling. Sony hasn’t embraced the notch or punch-hole camera look of its rivals, instead opting for a thin chin and forehead bezel that’s slender enough to go unnoticed. The result is a bold monolith that continues to stand out next to its rivals.

It’s still one of the few phones offering a dedicated two-step camera shutter button, a right-side-mounted fingerprint reader, and an IP65/IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. The SIM/microSD tray can also be removed without the use of a tool, which is handy if you swap memory cards around often. The audio package continues to stand out all these years later, boasting a 3.5mm headphone jack, an assortment of high-end Bluetooth codecs, and dual front-facing speakers that sound solid although a little light on the bass.


But the customary design doesn’t mean there isn’t anything new about the phone’s build. The handset sports Gorilla Glass Victus protection on the front and Gorilla Glass 6 on the back for scratch protection. I also found fingerprint unlocking a fraction snappier than the previous, even though it’s still not an instant unlock. The new matte finish also helps the handset avoid the grubby fingerprint that plagued previous models.

Another new feature is the addition of a dedicated Google Assistant button located below the fingerprint scanner. This idea has never been hugely popular in the past (cough Bixby) so it’s interesting to see Sony bring back an idea trialed by the likes of the Nokia 4.2, Xiaomi Mi 9, and LG G8. Then again, Sony plays it very close to Google’s ecosystem. As someone who doesn’t use Google Assistant, it’s a shame that this button can’t be remapped to a more useful feature, such as launching an app or turning on do not disturb mode.

The Xperia 1 III looks and feels very familiar to anyone who’s taken a look at Sony’s smartphones in the past five years. We’re definitely talking iteration rather than renovation here.

Display: Best in the business?

The Sony Xperia 1 III front showing the screen in hand.
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • 6.5-inch 4K OLED display
  • 3,840 x 1,644 resolution
  • 643 pixels per pinch
  • 21:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz refresh rate

Sony’s 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED display looks fantastic to the eye, with accurate colors and an overkill pixel density. 4K HDR is certainly a premium feature but it is a little unnecessary on such a small display, especially as you’re unlikely to store or stream such large files on a mobile device. When you can find it, cutting-edge content playback certainly looks great here, although most content, YouTube videos, and the like look equally good on other handsets. The display is also nice and bright, although you might struggle to see in very bright direct sunlight.


If Sony’s factory settings don’t quite suit your tastes, the Xperia 1 III packs in a powerful array of display customization features. This ranges from forcing on the 10-bit, BT.2020 color gamut “Creator Mode” to adjusting the panel’s white balance, along with motion blur reduction and video image enhancement toggles.

The 4K HDR OLED display is a wonder for multitasking, video, and gaming.

I’m increasingly a fan of the longer/wider 21:9 aspect ratio too. The Xperia 1 III is a large phone but remains very usable in one hand, unlike some of its rivals, and the tall display is great for stacking apps atop one another. The only drawback is that the phone feels a little weird to hold in landscape, and you’ll be left with black bars when watching back common 16:9 video content. But that’s a very minor complaint.

Speaking of drawbacks, Sony’s display doesn’t offer increasingly popular adaptive refresh rate technology. While it’s great to finally see a Sony phone with a higher refresh rate screen — combined with a 240Hz touchscreen sampling rate — Sony has also opted to disable the panel’s 120Hz mode by default, leaving you in a 60Hz mode out-of-the-box that feels a little dated. This decision is obviously to help save on battery life, and although regular buyers might overlook this option, it’s there for enthusiasts to flick on at will.

Performance: Snappy but missing mmWave 5G

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor
  • Adreno 660 GPU
  • 12GB RAM
  • 256GB storage with microSD card slot

With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and 12GB of RAM onboard, there are no quibbles or qualms about the performance on offer from the Sony Xperia 1 III. Apps are as zippy as you’d expect from a high-end phone, and this comes in handy when using the phone’s multi-window mode to run multiple apps side-by-side. Benchmark results were some of the best around during its launch window, and yet this doesn’t come at the expense of multi-day battery life (more on that later). Put simply, it’s still plenty powerful in 2022, even with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phones hitting the scene.

We tested the Sony Xperia 1 III using our in-house Speed Test G benchmark and it performed admirably with a time of one minute 16 seconds. That’s right up there with the Xiaomi Mi 11’s 1:12, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s 1:15, and faster than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, which took 1:21. Gamers are well catered for here, although the Xperia 1 III does become warm, meaning that sustained performance might be an issue.


256GB of fast UFS onboard storage combined with a microSDXC card for up to 1TB more adds up to a monstrous amount of space, should you need it. It’s overkill for everything but the largest lossless music and HD movie collections.


There are a couple of things to note for gamers looking to squeeze maximum performance from the phone. As mentioned previously, the display is set at 60Hz to help extend battery life, but you may want to run at 120Hz for an even smoother experience. Then there’s Sony Game Enhancer software, which allows you to change preferences from all-out performance to battery longevity on a per-game basis. This app also includes Sony’s Heat Suppression Power Control feature, which passes power straight through without charging the battery while plugged in, to avoid overheating and maintain optimal battery health. There’s an almost bewildering range of goodies to optimize your gaming experience, whether at home or on the go.


While we’re on the topic of blazing-fast performance, the Xperia 1 III is a 5G-equipped handset. This includes the US market this time around, unlike the Xperia 1 II which was 4G-only in the US. However, the phone only supports sub-6GHz bands and not ultra-fast mmWave spectrum. This isn’t an issue for most 5G consumers at the moment but means that customers on the fastest networks in Japan, Korea, and the US won’t be able to leverage their 5G network’s mmWave capabilities. This is unlike rival smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. This setup may be better for battery life and avoids a bulkier handset, but it’s a notable omission for a premium-tier product.

Battery: More than a day

  • 4,500mAh battery
  • 30W wired charging
  • Qi wireless and reverse wireless charging

With a larger 4,500mAh battery onboard than the last generation, the Sony Xperia 1 III will last a full day of use. In fact, you can probably expect two full days with a lighter routine. My typical day saw the phone offer about seven to nine hours of 60Hz screen-on time. That’s above average but I didn’t venture far from home, so mileage may vary on mobile data. Enabling the 120Hz display and long photography and gaming sessions will obviously knock down battery life faster. But you can prioritize battery life at the expense of gaming frame rate to avoid running out of battery while on the go.


30W fast charging via USB Power Delivery is a nice upgrade from the Xperia 1 II’s 21W charger, although I clocked closer to 22W actually reaching the phone’s USB-C port. Fully charging the phone took one hour and 47 minutes, which is still rather slow by modern standards — although the handset reaches 50% charge in a more reasonable 26 minutes, enough to get you through a day. While we’re on the topic, Sony enables its Battery Care software by default, which optimizes charging around your typical charging times to prolong battery health.

On top of that, the Sony Xperia 1 III supports Qi wireless charging, which is better for short regular top-ups rather than a full charge. Sony hasn’t disclosed how fast the wireless charging is, which suggests it sits at the typical ~18W power we usually see for Qi support.

The Xperia 1 III can also charge other gadgets both wirelessly, thanks to reverse wireless charging, as well as via the USB-C port. This is a pretty handy feature to charge up your Qi-enabled wireless earbuds while out and about.


Camera: Brilliant yet flawed

The Sony Xperia 1 III camera app taking a photo of some blue flowers.
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • 12MP OIS, dual-pixel PDAF ( f/1.7, 1/1.7-inch sensor)
  • 12MP ultra-wide, dual-pixel PDAF ( f/2.2, 1/2.6-inch)
  • 12MP periscope zoom, OIS, dual-pixel PDAF (f/2.3 70mm focal length, f/2.8 105mm, 1/2.9-inch)
  • 3D time-of-flight sensor
  • 8MP front camera
  • Cinema Pro 4K video at up to 120fps

Before diving into the photos, I want to give kudos to Sony for addressing a major gripe of mine from the Xperia 1 II. The Xperia 1 III ships with a single camera app, combining basic functionality with its Alpha-inspired Camera Pro capabilities. The result is a more refined experience that avoids the headache of juggling apps to find the settings you want. The setup will also help less experienced photographers dabble with some of the camera’s powerful settings more easily, such as the incredible 20fps burst mode.


When it comes to image quality, the Sony Xperia 1 III takes some of the best-looking pictures out of all the phones we’ve tested. Even without resorting to Pro settings, the camera’s colors and white balance are easily among the best in the business. The main camera’s 12MP sensor still provides enough detail that is more subtly processed and softer than other flagship cameras. This smartphone can take some seriously amazing pictures.

Sony seems to have addressed some underlying exposure and HDR detection capabilities this time around. Consistency is improved, with fewer dark or overblown images. That said, the phone’s HDR implementation isn’t as powerful as that found in rival handsets, so you’ll occasionally see some clipping, particularly on overcast days.


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