When Sony officially unveiled its upcoming Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III back in April, price was one of the few things the company didn’t reveal. Now, thanks to a listing spotted by an eagle-eyed Redditor, we have our first indication of Sony’s pricing plans.
The listing in the US shop Focus has prices for both handsets, though no ability to actually add them to your cart as of yet. The flagship Xperia 1 III is priced at $1298, while the mid-range Xperia 5 III is up for $998.
If this proves to be correct, it represents a small but significant price increase to both. The Sony Xperia 1 II launched at $1199, while the Xperia 5 II went for $949 – although the dollar-to-pound conversion wasn’t the most generous with prices of £1099 and £799 respectively on this side of the Atlantic.
It’s important to remember that nothing has been officially announced and that some online shops’ backends simply won’t allow them to include a listing without a price. For that reason, you often find placeholder figures included until an official confirmation comes through, although these certainly sound like plausible figures.
We’ve reached out to Sony to ask for comment on the price, and will update this piece with its response.
Can Sony justify the price?
There’s no sugar coating it: that’s a high price for the Sony Xperia 1 III, if accurate. For comparison, that’s $100 more than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra started at, or $200 more than the 128GB iPhone 12 Pro Max. And crucially, Samsung and Apple have the kind of market shares and brand appeal that can justify charging four-figure sums for their flagship phones.
Sony’s phone division, by contrast, is struggling to make an impact. The company is routinely bundled in with the ~30% of phone sales made up by “others” in analysts’ estimate of market share – a section it shares with the likes of Google, OnePlus, Motorola, HTC and, until recently, LG. And while Statista estimates that Sony still sold 2.9 million smartphones in 2020, it’s a huge 80% drop from the 14.6 million it shifted in 2016.
Building a flagship that costs more than those made by better selling rivals feels like a move that’s unlikely to buck that trend. Until Sony makes its phones more competitively priced, it’s hard to see it breaking out of that crowded ‘Others’ section on the market share charts.