Sony Xperia 5 III review

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Sony Xperia 5 III review
Sony Xperia 5 III review


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The Sony Xperia 5 III review

Sony’s Xperia 5 III smartphone was already launched in April, but will not hit stores worldwide until September. So any fans eagerly awaiting his arrival will probably have exploded in anticipation by now.

This tall and skinny Android isn’t quite as pricey as the mega-dollar Xperia 1 III, though at £899 it’s still far from cheap. But at least you’ve had enough time to scrape together the necessary money.

You get most of the same specs and killer features from the flagship here, in a more compact 6.1-inch form factor. Sony’s camera hardware remains almost untouched, while the media smarts and gaming tools are a step ahead of many rivals like the OnePlus 9 Pro and even Samsung’s Galaxy S21 family.

So has the Xperia 5 III been worth the wait, and should you throw a huge amount of money at Sony, for example?

In a country where you can’t tell smartphones apart, Sony has created an instantly recognizable design for its Xperia range. The high 21:9 aspect ratio makes the Xperia 5 III stand out from the crowd of smartphones – literally and figuratively. The specific curvature of the frame, the elongated camera bump, the notch-free screen, everything screams Sony. It is different and it is (still) fresh.

The Xperia 5 III follows the design language of its predecessors, it has a painted aluminum frame that holds two pieces of glass together. The right side of the frame is quite busy – it houses the volume rocker, the power/fingerprint button, and there are two additional clickers further down – a special Google Assistant button, and a double action camera Shutter.

The SIM/microSD slot is on the left, under a cover that you can easily pry open with your fingernails. It’s a brilliant solution that eliminates those pesky simtray pins. The 3.5mm audio jack is on the top and the USB-C port on the bottom. No speaker grill on the frame, because the Xperia 5 III features front-facing stereo speakers. Oh, and there’s a multi-colored notification LED in the top right corner!

Build quality is great – everything is tight and there is no creaking or squeaking when you hold the grip phone tight or try twisting it. I have always loved the radius of the frame Sony uses in its Xperia phones. It fits really comfortably in the hand, nothing digs into your palm, holding the Xperia 5 III is a soft experience and the 21:9 aspect ratio helps too. The Xperia 5 III is also very light, clocking in at just 168g!

On the negative side, the glossy paint job of the aluminum frame, combined with the glass on the front and back, makes the phone very, very smooth. And it is also a fingerprint magnet. But you forget all that the moment you light it up the screen…

Smartphone screens are amazingly good in all flagship models these days. People often start whining about how lively, bright and so responsive they are. The 6.1-inch OLED panel in the Xperia 5 III ticks all those boxes – it’s quite bright, the 1080×2520 resolution is more than enough to keep it sharp, and the 120Hz refresh rate makes it slick like a man’s skin in a Gillette commercial.

There are two areas where this display excels against its equally great competitors. Calibration and customization. The Creator mode in the display settings automatically gives you a professional level of color calibration that is compatible with the BT.2020 color space and 10-bit HDR. It’s a ‘set it and forget it’ mode that would please anyone with aspirations for realistic colors.

You can use Standard mode and toggle a switch that automatically activates the Creator preset when a specific app is launched (like Netflix, Photography Pro, Cinema Pro, etc.) There’s also video enhancement courtesy of the X1 for mobile taken directly from Sony’s Bravia TVs.

The color temperature settings are even more detailed. You can choose between Warm, Medium and Cool, but the Custom setting allows you to easily switch between different standardized color temperatures, such as D50, the daylight spectrum at a correlated color temperature of 5000K.

There is also an Always-on mode and you can customize it with different clock designs, stickers and also choose when it will be activated. And that’s about it! Watching a movie in 21:9 on the Xperia 5 III is a real treat. It’s a flat screen, so there’s no image distortion on the sides, and as mentioned before – no notch or a favorable hole for the selfie camera. Just pure enjoyment.

In terms of performance, the Xperia 5 III is no slouch. The Snapdragon 888 SoC, in combination with the FDH+ screen resolution makes this phone exceptionally snappy and responsive. 8 GB of RAM is just enough, and although the Xperia 1 III has 12 GB, you won’t feel the difference.

Looking at the synthetic benchmarks, it’s clear that the Xperia 5 III has overheating/throttling issues. And you can feel it yourself – the phone gets pretty hot every time you do something with it, even remotely demanding. Compared to the Xperia 1 III, which has the same processor but a larger body and a 4K display, the Xperia 5 III underperforms a bit.

Still, in real-life scenarios, you won’t notice any hitches or slowdowns, just the heat. The good thing is that you can multitask with this phone and it’s a breeze, thanks to its high aspect ratio. Opening two apps in split screen mode is easy and you can actually get some work done.

The built-in storage is 128 or 256 GB, but that doesn’t matter much because of the almighty and almost extinct MicroSD card slot. You can expand your storage space with up up to 1TB, and you can also hot-swap SD cards — no tools required, just your fingernails.

I decided to collect all the frustration under one cup and just wrap it up. For starters, I’ve always liked and praised capacitive fingerprint readers on the side. They are more intuitive, faster and generally better than their more modern in-display counterparts. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the Xperia 5 III.

The fingerprint reader, which doubles as a power button, is placed in a very comfortable position. Your thumb is of course over it when you grab up the phone. And that’s the main problem. A blessing and a curse, as they say. You can’t place the phone back in your pocket without activating the fingerprint reader. And it’s not a case of “you’re getting it wrong.”

Wrap up Sony Xperia 5 III review

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