Leaked images suggest Sony’s camera-focused Xperia 1 III might have a much better zoom lens

An early look at Sony’s next flagship phone shows it might be getting a more powerful zoom lens, thanks to some leaked renders posted by OnLeaks. The Xperia 1 III’s rear camera bump appears similar to its predecessor’s at first glance. But if you look closely at the bottom camera, it features a squared-off housing consistent with periscope designs. Previous Xperia phones have offered standard telephoto lenses with 2x or 3x optical zoom; a periscope design would allow for 5x or more of optical reach without sacrificing image quality.

OnLeaks also reports that the Xperia 1 III will include 5G, practically a requirement for any flagship phone in 2021. Unlike the Xperia 1 II, it seems likely that Sony will offer 5G support for 1 III devices sold in the US, given that the creator-focused Xperia Pro will offer it.

On the whole, it looks like the Xperia 1 III will stick with Sony’s minimalist approach. The 6.5-inch display’s bezels are very thin, and Sony is sticking with the tall 21:9 aspect ratio. The 1 III should also retain the 3.5mm headphone jack — a rarity among flagships — as well as a microSDXC card slot.

Despite being a major manufacturer of imaging hardware, Sony’s phones have lagged behind other flagships in the camera department with better software. When we reviewed the Xperia 1 II, we saw an opportunity for Sony to lean into the dedicated camera-like experience that the phone can offer, rather than trying to play catch-up on computational photography. Strengthening its hardware offerings with a good-quality zoom is a solid step in that direction.