The Xperia 1 III is a phone with a unique camera system, it has the world’s first zoom lens with variable zoom levels. It’s really a bit of tech magic: tiny elements inside the lens move so you can switch between two zoom levels: 2.9X and 4.4X zoom. The Xperia also has the most advanced manual controls but is that enough to actually beat one of the best camera phones around, the Galaxy S21 Ultra?
In terms of specs, the main camera is a 108 megapixel one on the Galaxy versus a 12MP snapper on the Sony, so you still have that resolution advantage on the Galaxy, and both have optical image stabilization, then you have 12MP ultra-wide cameras on both, but the one on the Galaxy is much wider at 13mm, and finally you have the 12MP variable zoom camera on the Sony against two separate zoom cameras on the Galaxy, one at 3X zoom, and another one at 10X zoom.
Specs don’t tell the whole story of course, so we take a deep dive with the cameras of these two phones in the video above, comparing all and everything from the photo quality during the day, the night shots, the portrait mode as well as video recording, video stabilization and much more.
At the end of the day, we arrive at the conclusion that the Xperia 1 III offers a lot in terms of manual controls and toggles to play around with, but if you just want a simple camera to just snap and go, it is not really on par with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The hyped variable zoom camera is nice to have, but photos look softer than from the Galaxy, and during the day, the Galaxy has a better dynamic range, and then when it comes to low light photos the Xperia falls flat on its face.
Some people will argue that this phone is not about that, it’s about RAW photos and editing in post, and that is also true. But if Sony makes this phone for just that niche of enthusiasts, it is leaving the regular user behind, and we really hope the company changes its priorities in the future.