Sony Xperia 5 III, analysis and opinion

We analyze the Sony Xperia 5 III, the new iteration of the more compact high-end Xperia that bets on a design with very few aesthetic changes, but with a complete renovation inside.

At the beginning of the year, Sony presented its new generation of Xperia mobiles, but until now the first units have not begun to arrive in our country. We analyze the Sony Xperia 5 III and give you our opinion.

The Xperia 5 III remains a compact version of the Sony Xperia 1 III – which we analyze here – retaining practically the same equipment as the reference model, which makes it a very interesting option for lovers of more compact mobiles.

Its format makes this model a rare bird that differs from its rivals by betting everything on ultra-wide formats.

Sony Xperia 5 III analysis by sections:

  • Design and connectivity: Few changes in a very solid design with all the connectors you need
  • Screen and sound: Cinema screen that saves on features, but not on quality
  • Performance and software: The size penalizes a Snapdragon 888 that does not breathe properly
  • Camera: Advancing the versatility of cameras that keep Sony’s signature stamp
  • Autonomy: Xperia 5 III joins the club of 4,500 mAh with battery for a day of use
  • Conclusion: Sony improves the key aspects in a mobile that is still very oriented to a specific audience
  • Few changes in a very solid design with all the connectors you need

We begin our analysis of the Sony Xperia 5 III by its design, which we could dispatch saying that it is exactly the same as last year’s model, but it would not be true at all … although it would be 99%.

Sony is a brand that is very reluctant to adopt sudden changes. We saw it with the Omnibalance design that their Xperia Z wore for almost five years, so no one will be surprised that the Sony Xperia 5 III looks practically identical to the Sony Xperia 5 II –which we analyze here-.

The result is a smartphone with a slimmer and longer-than-normal appearance that leaves dimensions of 157 x 68 x 8.2 mm and only 168 grams. Of course, the feeling in hand is of absolute robustness thanks to its aluminum chassis, which is complemented by IP68 protection.

The smooth and rounded edges continue to be Sony’s hallmark in terms of design, showing a completely flat Corning Gorilla Glass 6 glass back from which the camera module emerges, formed by the three vertical lenses that make the smartphone dance when placed on it. A flat surface.

Sony has sent us a unit that sports an elegant glossy black color that, however, we found a quite slippery mobile even when we were not holding it in our hand.

Highlights a busy right side in which we find the volume controls, the power button with the integrated fingerprint sensor, the button to invoke the Google Assistant, and the camera shutter button.

I suppose this is a bit to the user’s liking, but I must admit that I have not used the Google Assistant button once in the entire Sony Xperia 5 III test (except for some accidental pressing). Why stop whatever I’m doing when I can say “Ok Google” getting the same result?

I have used the edge shutter button much more to activate the camera and take photos than the screen icon and button itself. This button has become essential in this mobile and true success of Sony in such photography-oriented devices.

On the left side, we find the hybrid tray for two nanoSIM cards with support for 5G networks and the option to mount a NanoSIM and expand the internal storage with a microSD card . As a curious note, mention that you will not need a “skewer” to remove this tray.

Sony has taken great pains to offer maximum reliability in the multimedia section, so it has not hesitated to keep the headphone jack at the top, and a pair of stereo speakers facing the front, so that at the bottom we find the USB-C 3.1 connector accompanied by the microphone for calls.

Wireless connectivity is covered with support for WiFi 6 (802.11 axes), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC for mobile payments, and a wide positioning coverage with A-GPS, A-GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, and QZSS compatibility.

On the other hand, it feels like a compact smartphone because being narrower it gains a lot in grip. However, its height makes it not particularly friendly to reach the top of the screen, although Sony has pulled a few tricks up its sleeve by integrating solutions into the software.

Cinema screen that saves on features, but not on quality

One of the main differences between the Sony Xperia 1 III and the Sony Xperia 5 III is found on the screen. Not so much in relation to its more compact size, as in the choice of a lower resolution.

We are talking about an OLED screen traced to that of the previous generation with a 6.1-inch diagonal, ultra-wide CinemaWide format and Full HD + resolution (2,520 x 1,080 px).

Being a longer format, sidebars are generated when watching some series and videos. If you are trying to zoom so that the content fills the entire screen, a considerable crop is applied to the top and bottom, so the best option is to keep the sidebars.

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The Sony Xperia 5 III maintains the variable refresh rate of 120 Hz (only between 60 Hz and 120 Hz) and the HDR functions with DCI-P3 color space and a Creator mode that further expands the color space to BT. 2020 with 10-bit depth.

The Xperia 5 III’s screen brightness in everyday use is somewhat more contained than the previous generation, offering an average brightness of 589.06 lux and a deviation of just 4.88 lux. For some strange reason, the screen does not deliver its full brightness in bright sunlight. Although we had no display visibility issues outdoors, we were expecting a somewhat brighter panel.

However, where the control of the brightness of the screen is best reflected is when watching HDR content, where the X1 processor for mobile phones takes the reins, offering a color calibration that replicates those obtained in the OLED televisions of the It marks and releases that shine a little more, reaching peaks above 900 lux.

The truth is that this panel proves that it is not necessary to have a 4K resolution to obtain spectacular image quality. The Sony Xperia 5 III has enough Full HD + panels to achieve this while saving a lot of battery.

This good picture experience is complemented by a Dolby Atmos sound that is considerably improved when using headphones from the brand, although the front speakers also offer a very immersive sound experience by projecting the sound directly towards the viewer.

Without leaving aside the audio section, the symmetrical speakers of the Xperia 5 III offer a balanced sound on both sides and a considerable volume, although due to its size it loses some quality when exceeding 80% of the route.

The fact of incorporating the headphone jack and having a wide range of compatible codecs make this smartphone a fantastic choice for music lovers fueled by 360 ° Reality audio technology.

The size penalizes a Snapdragon 888 that does not breathe properly

Just look at the specification sheet of this Xperia 5 III to realize that we are facing a premium mobile from 2021 with all the letters.

As a standard, we find a Snapdragon 888 5G processor that provides plenty of power to face any task, or rather tasks, in the plural, because the most powerful Qualcomm processor in 2021 can do it all. Obviously, having 8GB of RAM also helps to get smooth operation.

The Adreno 660 GPU pulls a muscle in the gaming arena by offering the best graphics quality in the most demanding games or photo editing tasks.

The synthetic tests testify to that good performance, placing the Sony Xperia 5 III among the most powerful mobile phones of 2021.

However, what is not always reflected in synthetic tests is the temperature generated by the processor, limiting the performance of the processor to prevent damage. Known as Thermal Throttling.

The compact size and materials of the Xperia 5 III do not help in heat dissipation, which makes the mobile start to heat up quickly and noticeably in brute force tasks when playing games, using the camera, navigating with GPS, etc.

 

The hardware is completed with 128 GB of storage with UFS 3.1 technology and adds the possibility of using a microSD card of up to 1 TB.

The phones from Sony are characterized by mounting an operating system almost stock, but simply dig a little on the menus to discover some features that enhance the user experience.

Its behavior is really fluid and all the functions of Android 11 remain stock. No add-ons to adulterate the pure Android experience provided by Google’s operating system.

We find some of Sony’s own elements, such as the Side Sensor bar, which brings the most common apps closer to a drop-down dock from the edge of the screen or the 21: 9 Multi-window function, a similar bar that facilitates the use of two apps on the screen.

In the gaming section, the Game Optimizer adapts the experience of each game to the user’s needs and preferences.

Some Sony apps are also included, such as Music, the now legendary Sony audio player, or the renewed Photo Pro and Cinema Pro camera apps that bring the photographic experience of the Alpha and cinema cameras of the Japanese firm closer together.

For everything else, we are facing a very light interface that does not dispense with functions such as Always-on Display and that, curiously, does not integrate facial recognition as a system to unlock the terminal, betting everything on the fingerprint detection integrated into the power button.

This sensor offers good precision, unlocking the smartphone almost immediately just by touching the sensor. However, on many occasions, we have found that, by carrying it in your pocket, it has interpreted false attempts to unlock it, so when trying to unlock it to use it, it has asked us to use the PIN.

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Advancing the versatility of cameras that maintain Sony’s personal stamp

With the previous generation, Sony brought the photographic experience of its Alpha cameras closer to the Xperia by integrating the aspect of its interface in the Photo Pro app and adding the Cinema Pro app that brought the range of film cameras closer to mobile phones.

One of the novelties with respect to the previous generation is the incorporation of a periscope telephoto camera, which allows the zoom focal point to be varied between the equivalent of 70 mm and 105 mm. The only thing that Sony has left in the pipeline regarding the Xperia 1 III has been the ToF sensor, important for focus.

The experience is repeated merging the native Android camera app as a Basic option , whereas what was previously Photo Pro, now appears in the same app when you want to take control of the camera’s parameters.

We’ve missed a dedicated HDR setting, a night photography mode, and a Portrait mode. This does not mean that they are not present, but they are options that automatically activate the integrated artificial intelligence, leaving the user out of that decision.

The “basic” part of the app is the usual one on Android, but instead of the carousel with the shooting modes, we find the adjustment options, while the shooting modes are grouped in the More option in the upper left corner. Four icons give direct access to the four available focal lengths: 0.7x, 1x, 2.9x, and 4.4x.

If we go to the more “pro” part, its operation requires a certain learning curve, but the functions are the same as those found in an Alpha camera, with the options grid on the right side, the mode wheel in the upper left corner. and the focus selector in the lower-left corner.

As usual, you can download the original samples of the photos that we have taken with this Sony Xperia 5 III from this link to assess them for yourself.

Now yes, we get into flour analyzing the photographic performance of the Sony Xperia 5 III. The results we have obtained are quite in line with what the Xperia 5 II offered us, with the exception of the periscope telephoto lens, which is the great novelty of this model.

The behavior of the main camera is simply spectacular and earns its deserved starring role with a pleasant color setting and white balance and very much in line with the neutrality in the color treatment offered by Sony’s Alpha cameras.

The dynamic range is well resolved and the colors are true to life, without falling into excessive saturation. We have lacked an HDR with more presence in the balance of the lights and shadows at the ends.

The focus system is a worthy heir to that of the Alpha cameras, allowing it to be fixed at a point and, even if the subject moves, the focus will still keep it sharp when taking the photo.

Going from such an exquisite main camera to a wide-angle makes its shortcomings more evident, which are manifested in a lower luminosity and a slight loss of sharpness at the ends.

We liked the correction of distortions in the lines, very common in ultra-angular lenses, of which you will only be aware if you shoot in RAW, since after passing through the ISP filter, they disappear completely, delivering a photo with perfectly straight lines.

And we arrived at one of the lenses that I was most eager to try due to its novel arrangement in the form of a periscope with which, with a single sensor, you obtain a focal length equivalent to 70 mm and 105 mm, or what has been a zoom of 2, 9 and 4.4x compared to the main camera.

The 70 mm focal length has surprised us by its precision in focusing thanks to the optical stabilizer and the object tracking system that allows you to forget about the focus, providing a very pleasant and progressive optical blurring of the background.

Although it is the longest focal length, the 4.4x zoom is not far behind and delivers photos with very good color treatment and with a more than outstanding focus, although there is a certain loss of brightness due to a smaller aperture.

The Sony Xperia 5 III does not have a specific mode dedicated to portrait, but it does allow you to adjust the intensity of the bokeh from the app, which results in a kind of “manual Portrait mode”.

The results are good and artificial intelligence correctly detects the silhouette of the face, achieving a very natural background blur. You can also take some distance and take the portrait photo with the 70mm obtaining a background out of focus due to the optical physics of the lens.

Something similar happens with the Night mode, where the artificial intelligence of the Basic mode will detect a night scene and apply the parameters automatically. The results significantly lower the quality and affect the sharpness above all.

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Inexplicably, in this mode, we have not been able to make the stabilizer act during the exposure of the photo to prevent the photo from being blurred.

The light balance is not the best in its category either, so we decided to test our expertise as photographers by betting on the manual settings of the Pro model of the app, and the truth is that the results improved considerably with levels of lower noise and a better balance of lights.

The results with the front camera, although correct for a high-end mobile, do not shine as brightly as those of the rear cameras.

One of the keys is found in the barrel effect that appears as soon as you get closer than due to the camera, which forces you to stretch your arm to the maximum so as not to come out with your face deformed by the angle.

The behavior of the selfie at night traces that of the rear cameras with a notable drop in quality and the appearance of noise, although it maintains a certain detail in the skins and adjusts the white balance in the lights well.

The video section, as in the photo section, suffers a split between those users who do not want to complicate their lives much to record videos and the more expert users who want to emulate the aesthetics of the popular Sony Venice film cameras.

The Xperia 5 III can record 4K videos at 120 fps with the Cinema Pro mode, but at the cost of learning to use all the advanced Cinema Pro parameters. From the Basic mode, the app is limited to 4K and 30 fps with stabilization more than decent. The maximum stabilization is applied to the crop at 1080p and 60 fps.

Xperia 5 III joins the club of 4,500 mAh with a battery for a day of use

The low capacity of the battery has been one of the stones in the shoe in the latest Sony phones that, although it managed to squeeze every milliamp of its batteries to the maximum, it always lagged behind its rivals in terms of autonomy.

With the arrival of the Xperia 5 III, Sony has updated the capacity of its batteries, joining the 4,500 mAh club in which many of its rivals are, but also with Stamina technology as an ace up its sleeve, stretching a bit. plus that autonomy.

Without being the best on the market, the battery of the Xperia 5 III has given us more than 7 hours of the screen making a mixed-use with mail, messaging, social networks, videos, and WiFi browsing apps. Games and photography have also had a presence in our daily lives, although not intensively.

The Japanese brand has also put the batteries (pun intended) with fast charging, taking a leap from the 18 W load of the previous generation to the 30 W offered by the charger that the Xperia 5 III includes in the box.

This improvement in charging power translates into a charging time similar to that of the previous generation, compensating for the increase in capacity so as not to penalize the charging time. In 30 minutes it can recover 50% of its charge and it will take 1 hour and 51 minutes to complete 100% of the charge.

Sony has not included wireless charging in the Xperia 5 III, marking distances with the Xperia 1 III. What it does include are all the battery care options that we found in its older brother.

Sony improves the key aspects in a mobile that is still very oriented to a specific audience

Sony has its loyal audience and the brand knows it. It is a public with very specific needs and preferences that leaves the brand free to position itself in a field that very few can afford.

This strength allows the Sony Xperia to differentiate itself from the rest of the mobile phones on the market with a 21: 9 format in which the main technologies of Sony televisions, cameras, and audio, come together in a single device to offer what best of each of them in a pocket format.

In fact, we could consider the Xperia 5 III as an update of the Xperia 5 II hardware, with the exception of the incorporation of the new periscope lens and the correction of historical weaknesses as insufficient autonomy.

For Sony the ballot has been complicated again with inefficient temperature management for a processor as demanding as the Snapdragon 888, putting the user experience and, above all, the durability of the smartphone in trouble in the medium and long term.

Sony has once again done an excellent job with the Xperia 5 III, designing a compact high-end mobile with which to obtain one of the best multimedia experiences on the market and very focused on the creation of professional quality content. In this mobile, fans of the brand will find everything they expect from a Sony in 2021.

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