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Sony announces 2021 lineup with third generation Xperia 1, Xperia 5 and Xperia 10 models

Xperia 10 III Teaser
© Sony

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Sony, earlier today, announced the launch of three new smartphones as part of a global launch. The new handsets in the form of the Xperia 1 III, Xperia 5 III, and the Xperia 10. Let's check out what's new with these phones.

Sony claims a major breakthrough in smartphone camera technology with the new models' thanks to the implementation of a "world-first" technology that essentially transforms the triple camera setup into a quad-camera unit.

Innovation on the camera front seems to be the buzzword these days. It was just a few days ago that Xiaomi made headlines by announcing its first phone with a liquid lens. Oppo also showcased its microscope camera, and now its Sony's turn to flex its muscles.

This is the first time Sony has used variable focal length telephoto lenses in a commercially available smartphone. By altering the position of the periscope lens, Sony managed to transform a triple camera setup into a quad-cam monster. Let us take a look at all three devices respectively:

  1. Sony Xperia 1
  2. Sony Xperia 5
  3. Sony Xperia 10

If groundbreaking events and news isn't your cup of tea, feel free to skip right to the paragraph about the Sony Xperia 10! Otherwise, let us begin with the most exciting device.

Sony Xperia 1

Sony introduced its first Xperia 1 back in 2019 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Since then, the basic concept hasn't veered away too much: The manufacturer still relies on a 6.5-inch display in a 21:9 ratio, while sporting an OLED panel with a 120 Hz refresh rate. In addition, the 4K resolution panel is also HDR-certified, which is a somewhat typical Sony signature. The high 240 Hz sampling rate is also exciting news for gamers.

Sony Xperia 1 Mark III Hero Pic
Beneath the third camera lens lies the variable focal length! Huzzah! / © Sony

In order to fulfill its dual role as a gaming smartphone, Sony, just like all of the other manufacturers in 2021, will rely on the powerful Snapdragon 888 SoC. This means it comes with 5G on board and the Adreno 660 GPU to handle all of your graphical processing needs. Before we get to the camera segment, here is one more interesting detail: Sony has retained the 3.5mm jack despite sporting IP68 certification, which will be pleasing news to many.

Right, now to the "triple" camera at the back which was created in collaboration with Zeiss. Not only does Sony port the real-time tracking of its Alpha cameras and a dual-PD sensor to its smartphone, but the telephoto camera can also switch between a zoom of 70 and 105 millimeters. In order to achieve this, Sony moved one of the elements in the periscope camera. However, it is still not possible to achieve similar performance to that of a dedicated digital camera - for now.

Sony Xperia 1 sample Pic
This sample picture, which was supposed to demonstrate eye focus on animals, was taken with the 105-millimeter focal length! / © Sony

The smartphone thus covers the focal lengths of 16mm (ultra-wide angle), 24mm (main camera), and just 70mm and 105mm with the telephoto lens. Despite the novel technology, the telephoto lens remains sufficiently fast with f/2.4 and f/2.8 apertures. Yet another lens at the back of the smartphone would be a ToF sensor that helps with autofocus, among other things.

Last but not least: The Sony Xperia 1 features a 4,500 mAh battery that can charge from 0 to 50% in just 30 minutes. Sony has not yet revealed an official price tag - but its predecessor went on sale for a hefty €1,199.

Sony Xperia 5

While other manufacturers like Nokia have moved into releasing completely new product lines, Sony remains true to its original product lines with the Xperia 5. This smartphone is basically a lite version of the Xperia 1, and fortunately for us, also offers the new camera lens with variable focal lengths setup. However, the phone is a little bit more affordable.

Sony Xperia 5 Mark III Hero Pic
Untypical for a smartphone in 2021: Instead of a notch, the front camera on Sony handsets are still located in the top bezel / © Sony

Because the display also comes in a 21:9 ratio, it measures "only" 6.1-inches while offering a 120 Hz refresh rate. However, the FHD+ resolution is far lower than on the Xperia 1, but you do get an OLED panel and HDR certification .

Apart from that, the biggest differences lie in the camera, where Sony drops the ToF sensor and thus, real-time focus tracking. However, the Snapdragon 888 SoC and the 4,500 mAh battery are retained. Sony has also remained mum on the price and exact release date for the Xperia 5 III.

Sony Xperia 10

A few years ago, when I was still a budding tech journalist and attended MWC, I got to spend a little time with the first iteration of the Xperia 10! It was a bit of an ugly duckling and was targeting the mid-range smartphone market. Looking forward into the future, Sony looks like they are ready to pass the 5G baton to the Xperia 10 while and relying on the Snapdragon 690 to get the job done.

Sony Xperia 10 Mark III Hero Pic
The Sony Xperia 10 III will be the cheapest among the new models / © Sony

The battery capacity has also grown by 25% and thus, you will also end up with a 4,500 mAh battery in the Xperia 10 III, similar to its more expensive siblings! The 6-inch OLED panel also boasts a 21:9 aspect ratio, but we do not have any information about the refresh rate. The worst-case scenario would be a 60 Hz panel, although I am keeping my fingers crossed that we would see a 90 Hz refresh rate at the very least.

You'll also have to do without the variable telephoto lens. But the phone does get a triple camera setup consisting of a 12MP wide-angle lens, an 8 MP ultra-wide cameras (16mm) and a telephoto (54mm) camera. Depending on how the smartphone is priced, this could end up as a positive for the mid-range market. Most of the time, mid-range smartphones tend to offer a rather pointless macro or depth camera to bump up their specifications sheet.

Before I hear your opinions about the new Sony smartphones, here are two more things to know: Yes, the Xperia 10 also has a 3.5mm jack, and yes, this model is also IP68 certified for water and dust protection. Isn't this another unique selling point in the mid-range smartphone market? The exact pricing strategy remains unknown at press time, but Sony is targeting an "early summer 2021" release date. Give us something more definite, Sony!

Over to you now: What do you think of Sony's new lineup? Are you excited, or do you think that this unconventional configuration completely misses the mark seeing how the current trends are moving? Let's discuss this in the comments!

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Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks
Head of Editorial DE

Ben has been working in tech journalism since 2018, was a freelancer in the middle of the CoVid-crisis and has been full-time at NextPit since November '20. Since then he has tries to find the right mix between professional competence, humor and fresh perspectives in reviews and texts.

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  • 8
    Adrian Palmer Edwards Apr 14, 2021 Link to comment

    Straight away you can tell by the tone of the Article that you are not Sony lover, you're just like all the other tech websites drooling over Samsung's, even iphone's. Then for some reason you're beginning slowly to drool over Chinese smartphones, & yet Huawei has been banned from the US & Google. What makes other Chinese smartphones different, or are they far more advanced at spying!!!