With LG’s formal exit from the smartphone market, analysts and watchers may have started to wonder if Sony or HTC, or both, will follow suit soon. As if to prove that it isn’t down for the count yet, Sony unveiled the high-end Xperia 1 III two months ago. That’s how long it also took the company to actually start accepting pre-orders for one of this year’s most expensive “normal” smartphones, with no firm date when it would actually ship.
Sony’s phones have always been more expensive than its peers, but those have almost caught up with their prices. There has, of course, been some pushback from consumers switching over to less expensive models, but Sony has so far stayed its course in spite of that. The Xperia 1 III is no different and slightly goes beyond some of the priciest handsets this year but with good reason.
The phone introduces two technologies that aren’t found on any other smartphones, at least not yet. The highlight is, of course, that 12MP telephoto camera with the market’s first variable optical telephoto lens, giving it an effective optical zoom of 2.9x to 4.4x. The other two 12MP cameras also borrow technologies for Sony’s alpha series of mirrorless cameras, like its much-touted Eye AF.
The Xperia 1 III is also the only smartphone with a 4K 120Hz OLED screen, but Sony has always been an outlier when it comes to mobile screen resolutions anyway. With a Snapdragon 888, 12GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, advanced audio hardware, and the ability to connect to Sony’s cameras, it’s really no wonder it’s that expensive.
The Sony Xperia 1 III will start its pre-order period in the US on July 1. It comes at a steep $1,299 price tag, which is slightly higher than an equivalent Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. That said, Sony hasn’t indicated when the phone will actually ship or when its more affordable Xperia 5 III mid-range phone will arrive.