Sony's smartphone business is a shadow of what it once was but the company has seized this opportunity to refocus its efforts on building phones for its fans most importantly.

The 2020s Xperia 1 II was Sony's first 5G-capable smartphone and stands as one of only a handful of devices that the company released that year. Like its predecessor, it incorporates a wealth of technological strengths that the brand is known for, as well as folding in expertise from other Sony departments and businesses - like its Alpha camera team.

As we're not anticipating the company to give the likes of Apple or Samsung cause for concern any time soon, we're still extremely curious to see what Sony's next flagship phone - assumed to be the Sony Xperia 1 III - will bring to the table this year.

What is the price Sony Xperia 1 III?

2019's Xperia 1 was designed to represent something of a reset for Sony's smartphone line and despite offering some unique qualities in a crowded flagship space, it didn't present the same mass appeal as devices like its then-competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S10.

Maybe its most problematic trait was that it came in at a notably higher price than like-minded rivals, clocking in at £849 when devices like the Galaxy S10 cost between £150 and £200 less, without really losing any real competitive edge.

The addition of 5G, more advanced display technology, and even tighter integration with Sony's Alpha camera tech pushed that pricing disparity even further, with the Xperia 1 II coming in at a sizeable £1,099.

While 5G is assumed to feature as-standard on this year's Xperia 1 III, we're hoping that the other innovations that Sony places into its next flagship don't push the price up further still - making this more of a Galaxy Note/foldable competitor, from a price standpoint.

When is Sony Xperia 1 III launching?

The last two generations of Xperia 1 were announced on 24 February of 2019 and 2020, respectively.

While other big launches of late - like that of the Samsung Galaxy S21 line - have a little from their regular release windows, there's little to conflict with the notion that Sony's next flagship will make its first appearance in late February (maybe even the 24th for the third time in a row), with the phone going on sale around five months later, in late July.

What features does the Sony Xperia 1 III have?

The Xperia 1 II is a flagship to be sure, placing focus on a superb 4K HDR 21:9 OLED display, top-tier internals, and a capable (albeit finicky) trio of cameras, backed up by some impressively robust photography and videography smartphone software.

Such traits will presumably carry across to its successor - the Xperia 1 III - with enhancements to the speed of the camera system's already-impressive autofocus, even better low light shooting, an improved Auto shooting experience, and the option of a higher refresh rate display, without the loss of the current model's signature benefits i.e. its resolution (the Xperia 1 II sports a 60Hz panel).

It was assumed that the 1 III would also come powered by Qualcomm's best and brightest mobile chip of the moment and the first signs that the new Snapdragon 888 will feature in the phone look to have now been unearthed.

Tweets posted by user Nodar Sikharulidze show what appears to be code pulled from various. JAR files taken from Sony Mobile's firmware distribution server; all making mention of the 'SM8350' - the model number now tied to the Snapdragon 888.

While we can't vouch for the source's credibility, if it is real, this serves as the first sign of confirmed hardware and the existence of the Xperia 1 III (or at the very least a 2021 flagship phone from Sony).

Established tipster OnLeaks has also stepped into the ring with some of the most robust leaks yet, including supposed renders of the device that highlight one element of the phone in particular: it's a telephoto camera.

While the zoom lens on the Xperia 1 II moved from 2x to 3x magnification, the rectangular cut-out shown in these renders suggest that Sony may have finally moved to a periscopic telephoto setup. If true, this would grant the Xperia 1 III's telephoto camera magnification of at least 5x.