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Sony announces new Xperia phones with unique camera capability

Sony has announced the latest generation of its Xperia flagship smartphones, featuring enhanced camera capabilities.

While Sony is the largest manufacturer of smartphone camera sensors - even known for producing those included in Apple's iPhones - their recent flagship handsets have not been well received for their camera performance.

The Japanese tech giant intends to rectify this with the latest generation of its Xperia phones by including a variable telephoto lens - a first for a smartphone - in the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III, paired with a Dual PDAF sensor that reaches up to a 105mm focal length. Photographers will be able to choose from 16mm, 24mm, 70mm and 105mm focal lengths, with each lens featuring Zeiss optics calibrated specifically for the Xperia smartphone. 

The new Xperia phones will also be able to shoot in a 20fps burst mode, in order to get the best shot during high movement capture, and new “AI super resolution” zoom technology. The camera setup will also have real-time autofocus and eye tracking for both humans and animals.

The more modest Xperia 10 III rounds out the new range. The three cameras all use 12-megapixel sensors and both the main and telephoto lenses support OIS. The Xperia 1 III has a slightly more advanced setup as it also includes a time-of-flight sensor.

The Xperia 5 III is the smaller of the two models

The larger Xperia 1 III also comes with a 6.5 inch 4K HDR 120Hz display topped with Gorilla Glass Victus, the latest generation of Gorilla Glass that claims to offer better drop resistance, thinner designs and even germ resistance, a potential boon during the Covid-19 era.

The smaller Xperia 5 III has a 6.1-inch display with a resolution of 1080p.

As they are Sony’s flagship smartphones, the devices are powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 chips – the first to come with an integrated 5G modem, which helps to save space and power inside the phone.

This year’s larger Xperia boasts an improved 4500mAh battery which can charge up to 50 per cent of its capacity in 30 minutes with the bundled 30W charger.

The Xperia 5 III comes with 8GB RAM compared to 12GB on the Xperia 1 III, which should be easily enough to ensure snappy operation on Android 11 which will be loaded out of the box.

With an “early summer” release expected, the devices could be made available around the same time that Android 12 comes out. Sony’s record on software updates is relatively mediocre, although it was reported last year that it may soon offer three years of update support for flagship devices.

Industry analyst Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight said Sony’s new line-up was impressive, but was still likely to struggle to lure people away from the brand’s main rivals.

“Sony’s commitment to smartphones is honourable as underlined by its impressive line-up of new devices,” he said. “While the attention to detail is astonishing, the eye-boggling features still might not be enough to sway users.

“Sony has fallen away in the smartphone sales race compared to its Asian counterparts. Sony continues to face monumental challenges in competing with rivals who are rolling out new devices, rich with new features at punchy prices.

“While the company has all the pieces it is losing ground in all areas in the consumer electronics landscape.”

Despite this, the market has cleared somewhat for Sony in recent months after LG announced that it had dropped its smartphone business altogether.

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