Sony’s enthusiast điện thoại thông minh line tones things down a little

ByJon Mundylast updated 12 January 22


The Sony Xperia 5 III successfully scales things back from the lavish Xperia 1 III, with comparable performance và almost equal photographic potential wrapped up in a more compact body. Battery life is even better, too. It’s still lacking in a few fundamental areas, however, & those omissions sting all the more in light of flagship pricing.

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ForPotent performance in a compact size factorBalanced, nuanced triple-camera systemExcellent battery life

The Sony Xperia 5 III successfully scales things back from the lavish Xperia 1 III, with comparable performance and almost equal photographic potential wrapped up in a more compact body. Battery life is even better, too. It’s still lacking in a few fundamental areas, however, và those omissions sting all the more in light of flagship pricing.


Potent performance in a compact form factor


Balanced, nuanced triple-camera system


Excellent battery life

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Very similar to the Xperia 5 IIXperia 1 III’s matte finish doesn’t make it acrossDisappointingly low-grade haptics

If the Sony Xperia 1 III felt familiar, then the Sony Xperia 5 III is liable to instigate a major bout of déjà vu.

Sony’s current full-sized flagship phone took the Xperia 1 II’s boxy design và added a smart matte finish that subtly distinguished it. It’s a shame the Xperia 5 III, as a compact alternative, doesn’t repeat the trick. Instead, Sony has stuck with the same slightly rounded edges and shiny finish as the Xperia 5 II before it.

This is still a distinctively handsome, unusually tall and thin phone though, distinguished by an extra-skinny 21:9 display và a non-regulation forehead and chin. As before, there’s a very good reason for those extended top và bottom bezels.

The vị trí cao nhất one contains the Sony Xperia 5 III’s selfie camera, meaning there’s no need for a display notch. They also enable the rare provision of front-facing stereo speakers, which sound decent - if not quite as full and spacious as the Xperia 1 III’s.

Despite the presence of a flat display & the accompanying side-bezels, the Xperia 5 III is extremely narrow, và thus easy lớn wield in one hand. We were comfortably able lớn reach a good two thirds of the display with our holding thumb, and even those with smaller hands will find it quite manageable.

Relative height aside, the Sony Xperia 5 III is that rare game android phone that belongs in the compact flagship phone category. It’s no iPhone 12 Mini, but it does pack its powerful innards into a 157 x 68 x 8.2mm body toàn thân that weighs a mere 168g.

Despite its understated poise, we vì chưng get the sneaking sensation that Sony has cheaped out just a smidgen with some of the Xperia 5 III’s design. Aside from that barely-altered construction, its haptics don’t feel as tight & nuanced as you might expect from a phone of this price. They’re certainly not in the same league as the Xperia 1 III’s, and they don’t match the similarly priced OnePlus 9 Pro’s either.

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Both of Sony’s latest flagship phones have aluminum frames, but as stated, the Xperia 1 III’s is flatter và more angled at the corners, with an alluring matte finish. Here those edges are rounded & shiny, which doesn’t look or feel as good.

There’s a dedicated two-stage shutter button on the right hand edge, but it lacks the clearly defined texture of the Xperia 1 III’s. You still get a fingerprint sensor stashed within an elongated power nguồn button, however, as well as a dedicated Google Assistant button.

That fingerprint sensor is speedy và reliable, though still a little too sensitive to lớn accidental presses. We would quite often fish the phone out of our pocket lớn find that we’d have lớn tap our passcode in following too many authentication attempts. It’s an issue with the Xperia 1 III too.

We’re glad to see that Sony hasn’t ditched the 3.5mm tai nghe jack from the đứng đầu of the phone. There aren’t many phones at this end of the market that have stuck with this audiophile-friendly feature.

The flat front of the phone also gets covered in Gorilla Glass 6 rather than the Xperia 1 III’s Gorilla Glass Victus, which means it’s slightly less resistant khổng lồ scratches & cracks.

It’s good khổng lồ see a comprehensive IP65/IP68 dust/water resistant rating make a return, though. This means that the phone has been put through more stringent tests than most, including water jets alongside the usual full immersion.


6.1-inch FHD+ OLED120Hz refresh rateUnbroken 21:9 aspect ratio makes for great movie playback

The Sony Xperia 5 III’s display is as familiar as its design. It’s another 6.1-inch OLED, together with a 1080 x 2520 (FHD+) resolution for a total 449 pixels per inch.

No, that doesn’t match the 4K majesty of the Sony Xperia 1 III, nor even the intermediate QHD standard of virtually every other android phone of this price. But it’s questionable how much value there would be in packing so many pixels into a 6.1-inch space.

When stacked side by side with the Xperia 1 III in Sony’s Standard mode, it’s an altogether warmer display, though it gets equally bright. Like its big brother, you also get an optional Creator mode, which provides more faithful màu sắc reproduction for movie content.

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And that movie nội dung looks great on this flat, unbroken, ultra-wide 21:9 canvas. This is where Sony’s unorthodox approach to điện thoại cảm ứng screens really pays off, especially with the company’s cinematic màu sắc science on board.

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In general use we preferred lớn stick with the crisper tones of Standard mode, with Creator mode set khổng lồ engage automatically when appropriate content appears. While it suits truyền thông content, it felt a little too warm and flat when zipping through menus và apps, so it’s good khổng lồ have the option of the best of both worlds.

As with the Xperia 5 II, you also get a rapid 120Hz refresh rate. You’ll need khổng lồ activate this in the settings menu, as is often the case. But once you do, scrolling through web and app content proves delightfully fluid.

Of course, in last year’s model, this 120Hz refresh rate was an important distinguishing factor from the Xperia 1 II. With the Xperia 1 III gaining this feature, the smaller device no longer has any bragging rights in the display department.


Same triple–12MP camera system as Xperia 1 IIIInnovative dual-lens telephoto systemPro-focused UI

The Sony Xperia 5 III inherits its triple–12MP camera system from the Sony Xperia 1 III. All that’s missing is the more expensive phone’s time-of-flight (ToF) sensor for judging depth.

As a result, much of what we said about the Sony Xperia 1 III’s camera holds true here. This isn’t đứng đầu of the range when it comes lớn the point-and-shoot experience, but those who like to take their time composing shots with considered manual tweaks will find a powerful tool here.

At the heart of the Xperia 5 III’s camera setup is a 12MP f/1.7 aperture 24mm wide-angle shooter. That low megapixel count, coupled with a fairly large 1/1.7" image sensor, produces chunky 1.8µm pixels that don’t need to rely on image processing tricks like pixel binning khổng lồ secure fine detail.

The pay off for this is a very speedy, unencumbered shooting experience. It also enables the Xperia 5 III lớn switch into a rapid-fire 20fps burst mode.

Speed và precision really is the name of the trò chơi here. Sony’s Dual PDAF công nghệ enables quick, reliable lock on lớn a subject’s eyes. That even includes animals, as we confirmed when snapping a curious squirrel in a local park using the zoom lens.

The lack of the Xperia 1 III’s 3 chiều ToF sensor is relatively inconsequential, though we did observe that the Xperia 5 III wouldn’t lock onto a subject’s eyes in low light conditions where the Xperia 1 III would. It clearly can’t see in the dark quite as well.

Accompanying that main sensor is a 12MP f/2.2 16mm ultra-wide and a 12MP telephoto. It’s good to see three such balanced sensors here, all of which capture a similar cool tone. But it’s the latter sensor that’s been commanding the headlines.

Like the Xperia 1 III, the Xperia 5 III’s telephoto sensor comes with a pair of zoom lenses that rapidly switch according to lớn your requirements. You can flip between an f/2.3 70mm lens và a f/.2.8 105mm lens at the press of a virtual button. Or, khổng lồ put that in simple point-and-shoot terms, between a 2.9x zoom & a 4.4x zoom.

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This is purported lớn be faster than the approach of Sony’s rivals, which have to switch between two entirely separate telephoto cameras for such a variable optical zoom effect. But in practical terms, there’s nothing particularly special about it, và indeed the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Xiaomi mi 11 Ultra take superior zoomed shots. 4.4x shots, in particular, lack the detail of the other lenses.

In general, though, image chất lượng is very good indeed. As with the Xperia 1 III, you might find Sony’s more naturalistic màu sắc science lớn feel a little drab or flat next lớn Samsung’s & Apple’s. But we appreciate the the attempt khổng lồ show what’s there and little else.

Sony continues to lớn have a slight issue with night shots - or at least the messaging around night shots. There’s no dedicated Night mode here, as such, but the phone will pick out more suitable settings in the default Basic shooting mode.

Muddying the waters is a separate tự động hóa mode that tends to lớn more aggressively adjust for such challenging conditions. Perhaps Sony should have just included a dedicated Night mode, like everyone else, và been done with it.

Especially given that the Xperia 5 III doesn’t take night shots as clearly as some of its more image-processing-heavy rivals. Again, the shots taken here often look more natural và ‘as seen’, but they can also be quite drab and noisy. A similar thing is true of the significantly more expensive Xperia 1 III, of course.

For those willing to lớn dive into the camera app’s pro settings, you’ll find that you can take full control over everything but the aperture. There isn’t another stock camera ứng dụng that places more high-grade photographic variables at your fingertips.

The 8MP front camera isn’t the best we’ve seen, tending to lớn smooth out skin and overexpose highlights. But it’s adequate for taking reasonable selfies and shooting those increasingly vital đoạn clip calls.

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