Samsung Galaxy S21 releases today, but Sony Xperia 1 III could beat its cameras

Sony Xperia 1 II
The Sony Xperia 1 II (Image credit: TechRadar)

A new Sony Xperia 1 III leak shows off more of the phone in alleged renders, and while it doesn’t look too different from its predecessor, they reveal a new feature inherited from the just-announced Sony Xperia Pro and 5G capability.

The Xperia Pro is essentially a version of the Sony Xperia 1 II augmented for mobile videographers, adding a mini HDMI port to act as an external display for a proper camera – and also, a shortcut button to quickly activate favorite apps. That shortcut button seemingly made it to the Xperia 1 III, if the new renders tweeted by known leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer (known as OnLeaks) are to be believed.

The renders and specs info Hemmerstoffer shared in a Voice post revealed at least one potentially juicy tidbit: the Xperia 1 III could get a periscope zoom lens, which could outdo its predecessor’s 3x optical zoom telephoto camera. Periscope tech, which extends the magnification lengthwise through the phone and uses mirrors to angle capture out the rear of the phone, can extend optical zoom capability to 5x or even 10x in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s telephoto lens.

Judging by the full set of renders in the Voice post, aside from the new shortcut button, the Xperia 1 III looks much like the Xperia 1 II. Its shape has allegedly changed slightly, with the Xperia 1 III’s dimensions (161.6 x 67.3 x 8.4mm) coming in shorter in length and width but, in exchange, a bit thicker than its predecessor (165.1 x 71.1 x 7.6mm).

Thinner bezels mean the 6.5-inch 21:9 OLED display stays the same size, and it will still be 4K HDR resolution, meaning it’s likely unchanged from the Xperia 1 II. And yet, it’s still the only mainstream phone with a 4K screen, though an earlier rumor alleged it could be improved to be 15% brighter.

Other features that make a welcome return from the Xperia 1 II are the 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD slot, and dual forward speakers. Also ‘returning’ is 5G connectivity, but only for Xperia 1 II owners in certain regions – the version in the US wasn’t 5G-capable, for instance, so this could be the first top-tier Sony phone that connects to the next-gen networks across all editions. 

Less welcome may be the fingerprint sensor in the power button for folks who prefer an in-screen fingerprint scanner, but that’s subject to taste. 

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Sony’s plans for 2021: the Xperia 1 III standard, Compact, and Premium models?

These renders are the first we’ve seen of the Xperia 1 III, though we’ve heard a bit about the rest of Sony’s lineup for 2021.

First up is rumor of a new entry in Sony’s small-form-factor line, which has been dormant for years. This could be the Xperia 1 III Compact, though given the ambiguity of the rumor – a Disqus comment noting a Sony Xperia Compact would be coming in 2021 – it could be a different model entirely. The comment also noted that a larger flagship would be coming this year, too – again, this could be the Sony Xperia 1 III Premium or it could be a Premium version of another model.

A different leak suggests that the small-format phone will be lower-powered, so we could get a Sony Xperia 10 III Compact instead. This info was released by Hemmerstoffer, too, and also included renders showing a less premium device than the Xperia 1 III renders above.

Finally, the Xperia 1 III might not be the only 5G phone the brand is releasing in 2021. Another rumor suggests the (non-Compact) Xperia 10 III will be 5G-capable, too. That’s all for our early news, but even this info gives us a lot to ponder while we wait for Sony to release official information on any of the above phones.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.