Sony Xperia 5 III : a smartphone different from the others

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The Xperia 5 III is an expensive smartphone. Sony has tried to  offer a high-end experience to people looking for a compact terminal (6.1 inches). Sony also relies on the photo with a variable zoom and on the audio thanks to a jack.

Sony no longer represents much in the smartphone market. The Japanese brand, still essential in many sectors (televisions, PlayStation, etc.), does not seem to maintain its smartphone division a little out of pride, without really believing in it anymore.

However, the Xperias are good smartphones. If they suffer from certain fairly restrictive defects (such as their prices being totally out of step with the rest of the market), Sony mobiles generally manage to stand out thanks to some of their characteristics. 


To justify its low market share, Sony says it assumes the fact of marketing “specialty products”. According to him, the Xperia are not intended for Mr. and Mrs. everyone but for informed consumers, in search of a specific characteristic. This is what allows Sony to explain its pricing policy. The company does not think like its competitors and can therefore increase the prices of smartphones, even if the previous models have not met with the expected success, at least according to him.  

Aesthetically alone, the Xperia do not look like other smartphones. At the time of the punch and the invisible camera, Sony still does not eliminate screen borders. The Xperia 5 III is a phone that stretches in length, which can be confusing on first try. Fortunately, it is quite narrow and therefore very easy to hold. The design of the mobile is very pleasant, especially since its 163 grams give it an advantage over the competition (too bad its back slips a lot, it sometimes fell off a table all by itself).

Another particularity, the Xperia 5 III has several physical buttons. In addition to the essential volume keys and the unlock button, the Sony smartphone has a key reserved for Google Assistant and another dedicated to the camera. An amazing choice in 2021.

We also note that the slot for changing the SIM card is removed with a fingernail rather than a paper clip, that it can accommodate a Micro SD and that, in the upper border, there is a vestige of another time: a LED that flashes when you receive a message. Another resurrection: the jack. The Xperia 5 III might appeal to a few subscribers to a lossless music streaming service . None of these features are truly groundbreaking, but if you’re looking for a device that flashes when you’ve missed a notification, Sony has very few competitors.

There are other elements on which Sony does not like everyone else. In photography, for example, a “Pro” mode allows you to take photos with manual settings. Sony also had the idea of ​​making the phone vibrate according to the sound emitted by the speakers which, in our opinion, is not at all convincing. We recommend disabling this feature. 

A small cinema-sized screen

Despite its price, the Xperia 5 III is Sony’s small smartphone. With its 6.1-inch screen in 21:9 format, the terminal is incredibly easy to handle. It holds well in hand since its display surface extends only in height. Sony uses an LTPS OLED panel with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz (with a starting point of 60Hz). The manufacturer’s idea is to allow you to watch films in their original format, even if more and more productions are shot in 16:9 or 18:9. The cinema format of the Xperia 5 III also has the advantage of allowing it to display two applications simultaneously without rendering them unusable. We get used to it really quickly.

Strangely disappointing battery life

On this point, we are quite divided. With a 4500 mAh battery, the Xperia 5 III achieved good scores in our battery life tests. 15:59 hours of versatile autonomy, 12:18 hours of video streaming, 23:59 hours in communication… It’s frankly satisfactory, especially since the other Xperias were really less good.

However, our actual use of the product leaves us puzzled. Even in standby, the Xperia 5 III seems to lose autonomy stupidly. In ten days, we found it three times at 0% when we had left it at 30% a few hours earlier. It is necessary to recharge the smartphone every evening at the risk of not having a battery the next day. The activation of 120 Hz certainly plays a role, the Xperia 5 III consumes too much.

Level recharge, we are also disappointed. It takes 1h51 for the smartphone to go from 0 to 100%, which seems like a lot to us in the era of ultra-fast charging. At 999 euros, Sony also thought it smart to deprive the Xperia 5 III of wireless charging to reserve this feature for its most high-end devices such as the Xperia 1 III. It’s not fair to consumers.

A pro camera… but slow

To stand out in the market, Sony plays the photography card a lot. The Japanese manufacturer is trying to reduce the boundary between phones and its cameras using software… which obviously will not make everyone agree. The interface of the Camera application of the Xperia 5 III, which allows you to choose between “Basic” mode and “Pro” mode, is an illustration of this.

On the back of the Xperia 5 III, there are three 12 Mpix sensors. One is used for ultra wide-angle (16 mm equivalent), the second for everyday photos (24 mm) and, finally, the third offers two zoom levels. It can switch between 70 and 105 mm, which therefore makes it possible to obtain x3 zoom or x4.3 zoom. It is not possible to choose an alternative position, you can only switch from one to the other.

The big problem with the Xperia 5 III is its slowness. Often, especially at night, the Camera app is very unresponsive and takes too long to take a photo. It’s not at all worthy of a high-end experience. By wanting to replicate the feeling of its cameras, Sony is wasting our time. This messes up the photo partition of the Xperia 5 III which, as you may have noticed, takes good quality photos most of the time. When it is too dark, however, it fails completely. The color management is convincing, but the result is blurry. 

High-end features… but 999 euros?

Finally, let’s finish with the characteristics. Beneath the bowels of the Xperia 5 III is the Snapdragon 888 processor paired with 8GB RAM. The smartphone is obviously 5G compatible and, fortunately, runs all applications without problems. The opposite would be surprising.

Only question: is it worth 999 euros? The Xperia 5 III arrived on the market late and now there are devices equipped with this chip at much lower prices. Given the shortcomings of the smartphone on certain points (such as the slowness of its cameras), the price of 999 euros seems to us once again unjustified.