In this article, we’ll compare the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Sony Xperia 1 III. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has been available for quite some time now, while the Xperia 1 III still is not (at the time of writing this article), despite the fact it launched back in April. The device will become available for purchase soon, though, and reviews did start appearing across the web. That finally gave us some idea what to expect when it comes to the device.
The Sony Xperia 1 III does resemble its predecessor in terms of the device, but Sony did improve the device in a number of ways. These are two heavyweight-category smartphones from Samsung and Sony, and it will be interesting to see how they compare, that’s for sure. We’ll kick things off by listing their specs, and will then move to the design, display, performance, battery, camera, and audio categories. That being said, let’s compare the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Sony Xperia 1 III, shall we.
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra||Sony Xperia 1 III|
|Screen size||6.8-inch WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display (120Hz adaptive refresh rate)||6.5-inch 4K OLED flat display (120Hz refresh rate)|
|Screen resolution||3200 x 1440||3840 x 1644|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 / Samsung Exynos 2100||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|RAM||12GB/16GB (LPDDR5)||12GB (LPDDR5)|
|Storage||128GB/256GB, non-expandable (expandable in some countries)||256GB/512GB (UFS 3.1); expandable|
|Rear cameras||108MP (f/1.8 aperture, OIS, 0.8um pixel size. Produces 12MP images with 2.4um pixel size)|
12MP (ultrawide, Dual Pixel AF, 120-degree FoV, f/2.2 aperture, 1.4um pixel size)
10MP (telephoto, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/2.4 aperture, 1.22um pixel size, optical zoom 3x)
10MP (telephoto, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/4.9 aperture, 1.22um pixel size, 10x optical zoom, 100x Space Zoom)
|12MP (f/1.7 aperture, wide, 1.8um pixel size, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS)|
12MP (f/2.3 aperture, 70mm telephoto, f/2.8 aperture, 105mm telephoto, Dual Pixel PDAF, 3x/4.4x optical zoom, OIS)
12MP (f/2.2 aperture, 16mm ultrawide, Dual Pixel PDAF)
0.3MP (TOF 3D, depth)
|Front cameras||40MP (f/2.2 aperture, 80-degree FoV, 0.7um pixel size, PDAF)||8MP (f/2.0 aperture, 1.12um pixel size, 24mm wide)|
|Battery||5,000mAh, non-removable, fast battery charging (USB PD 3.0), Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare||4,500mAh, non-removable, 30W wired charging, wireless charging, reverse wireless charging|
|Dimensions||165 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm||165 x 71 x 8.2mm|
|Weight||229 grams||186 grams|
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C|
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner (ultrasonic)||Side-facing fingerprint scanner|
One UI 3.0
|Buy||Samsung||Sony (not yet available)|
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Sony Xperia 1 III: Design
These two phones do use similar build materials, but they look considerably different in comparison. Both phones are made out of metal and glass. They are almost the same height, but the Xperia 1 III is considerably narrower than the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It is also a bit thinner than Samsung’s flagship. On top of all that, it is a lot lighter. It weighs 186 grams, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra weighs 227 grams. That is a difference you will feel in the hand, very much so.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra features a curved display, and a centered display camera hole at the top. Its bezels are really thin, and there is a huge camera setup on the back. The Xperia 1 III, on the flip side, does not have a display camera hole, but its bezels are a bit thicker because of that. They’re not thick though, not at all. Its rear camera setup is considerably smaller than the one on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The Xperia 1 III also has a physical camera shutter on the right, which is not something you’ll find on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Both of these smartphones are quite slippery, do note that. Chances are you’ll want to use a case with both of them. Neither of them is actually a one-handed device, but the Xperia 1 III is much easier to use with one hand, as it’s a lot narrower.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Sony Xperia 1 III: Display
In regards to their displays, both of these smartphones have a lot to offer. The Galaxy S21 Ultra features a 6.8-inch QHD+ (3200 x 1440) Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. This is a 120Hz display that does offer a variable refresh rate. It does support HDR10+ content, and it does get quite bright at 1,500 nits peak brightness. This display is also well protected thanks to Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus.
The Sony Xperia 1 III, on the other hand, includes a 6.5-inch 4K (3680 x 1644) display. This is an OLED panel that does support a 120Hz refresh rate, and it also supports HDR content. This panel also gets quite bright, but not as bright as the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s display. The Gorilla Glass Victus is included on this handset as well, to protect its display. The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s display is brighter, while the Xperia 1 III’s is sharper.
Do note that both displays are more than bright enough, while you won’t really notice the extra sharpness on the Xperia 1 III. Both of these panels are more than sharp enough, as even QHD+ is overkill for smartphones, let alone 4K. The thing is, you won’t even be using 4K resolution all the time, as that would kill the battery really fast. You will be thrown to fullHD+ resolution, unless you’re watching some 4K content.
Both of these displays are excellent. It’s not exactly a secret that the Galaxy S21 Ultra has one of the best displays around, but the Xperia 1 III doesn’t really lag behind. The colors on both panels are excellent, and so are the viewing angles. Both offer those deep OLED blacks we know and love, and both support HDR content. You can’t go wrong with either one of these panels.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Sony Xperia 1 III: Performance
Both of these smartphones come with high-end specs, needless to say. Both devices are fueled by the Snapdragon 888 SoC, though there’s also the Galaxy S21 Ultra Exynos variant in some markets. We had experience with the Snapdragon model, so that’s the variant we’ll talk about. Both phones also include plenty of RAM. The Galaxy S21 Ultra comes in 8GB, 12GB, and 16GB RAM options, while the Xperia 1 III offers 12GB of RAM. No matter what variant you choose, you’ll get really good performance.
Now, both of these smartphones do offer excellent performance. There are some things you should note, though. The Galaxy S21 Ultra tended to skip a beat a bit more often than the Xperia 1 III. We’re not talking about lag or anything, but just that micro stutter that you see sometimes. The Xperia 1 III does get considerably warmer, though. The phone does tend to get hot during any type of heavy tasks you run on it, and it gets warm even on simpler ones. This is something Sony can and must fix via an update.
In general, both devices perform great. They can do your regular, daily tasks without issue, the Xperia 1 III’s heating up aside, as it doesn’t really affect its performance. Both devices can also run pretty much any game you’ll find in the Google Play Store, if that’s your thing. It is worth saying that the Xperia 1 III’s side-facing fingerprint scanner performs better than the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner. The difference is noticeable.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Sony Xperia 1 III: Battery
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with a 5,000mAh battery, while the Sony Xperia 1 III offers a 4,500mAh battery pack. Now, the Xperia 1 III does have a smaller display, but at the same time, it has a higher-res display than the Galaxy S21 Ultra. When you fire up a 4K video or push it to any other scenario that requires 4K resolution, the battery can deplete rather quickly. It’s not great to begin with.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra was basically a benchmark for battery life when it comes to flagships, ever since it came out. The phone can go up to (and sometimes over) 7 hours of screen-on-time with regular usage, If you do throw gaming into the mix things change of course. The Xperia 1 III is not exactly close to that. The phone is barely average when it comes to battery life, which is kind of disappointing. Do note that Sony may change all this via updates, and we do expect that to happen. The battery life here needs to improve.
When it comes to charging, they both offer both wired and wireless charging. The Galaxy S21 Ultra sports 25W wired and 15W wireless charging, along with reverse wireless charging. The Xperia 1 III comes with 30W fast wired charging, fast wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging. Both phones are well-equipped in this regard. Do note that only the Xperia 1 III comes with the included charger, though, the Galaxy S21 Ultra does not ship with one.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Sony Xperia 1 III: Cameras
The cameras here are actually quite interesting. The Xperia 1 III comes with a ‘variable zoom’ camera, and the expectations were quite high. Well, this phone’s camera setup is immensely capable, but only if you use it in manual mode. The phone’s regular mode is called ‘Basic’, and the photos that come out of it are not great. They end up looking soft, and the white balance is also all over the place. The dynamic range also doesn’t turn out great.
In comparison, the Galaxy S21 Ultra does a great job in auto mode. The dynamic range is great, the colors are vibrant, and the white balance is in check as well. There’s plenty of details in these photos. Low light images are not much better. They tend to be a bit too dark, which also affects the level of details that can be pulled out of the shadows. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is better in this regard as well. Let’s hope Sony will fix things with updates, as this phone has so much potential. If you do intend on using the manual mode, this phone can provide some amazing shots.
CAMERA UPDATE: Sony actually fixed the camera for the final build that people will be able to purchase in stores. The dynamic range is now excellent, the images are not soft at all, and the white balance is on point. The only complaint is that the device could pull out more detail from the shadows in low light, but other than that, it’s flagship-grade all the way.
Both of these phones offer a stereo speaker setup, while only the Xperia 1 III comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Xperia 1 III speakers are not as loud as the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s, the difference is actually quite noticeable. They’re not quiet by any means, but they should be louder, based on what the competition is offering. Both speaker setups are quite sharp, though, and offer great sound overall.
The sound is really good when you hook up a pair of quality headphones to either of these two phones. That goes regardless of whether you use wired or wireless connection. Both phones can provide good sound. As you can see, each of them has its own advantages and weaknesses, so it’s up to you to decide what matters most.