Getting started with the Sony Xperia 5 III: original and powerful

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This new generation is offered with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage, and the possibility of adding a microSD memory card. Two colors are available, green or black. Its price positioning places it at the top of the range, since it costs around 1,000 euros.

Sony Xperia 5 III © L’Éclaireur Fnac

Design, ergonomics and interface

The Xperia 5 III cannot be confused with another smartphone. Indeed, by opting for a 6.1-inch screen in 21 / 9th format, very elongated, therefore, Sony results in a mobile with a unique format. This first bias immediately positions the device: the Xperia 5 III is above all designed for multimedia. Indeed, the 21: 9 format is also called CinémaScope, because it is the ratio used by most films.

Sony Xperia 5 III © L’Éclaireur Fnac

We are therefore faced with a very narrow smartphone, which offers a particularly secure grip, including for small hands. On the other hand, it is rather long and you will have to extend your fingers to cover the entire screen. Too bad when it comes to unrolling the control panel, for example. Sony nevertheless offers a fairly practical one-hand mode. Once activated, it allows you to reduce the screen size by double-tapping the virtual home button.

Sony Xperia 5 III © L’Éclaireur Fnac

What we have just said is reflected in the dimensions of the machine: 157 × 68 mm against for example 156.8 × 72.1 mm for the Oppo Reno 6. You will understand then that we cannot really qualify this compact model smartphone. The brand has also removed this mention for a few years. For the rest, the Xperia 5 III is more than ever a Sony with design elements that are scarce, such as the front camera which remains in the border while the current trend is clearly towards the punch. As a direct consequence, the occupancy rate is today pale with only 81.4%.

A front camera in a border is rare in 2021. © L’Éclaireur Fnac

The rear is also very close to that of previous generations. It consists of an almost flat Gorilla Glass 6 Glossy glass plate. Despite its glossy finish, the whole thing resists fingerprints quite well. Another very Sony gimmick, the three cameras are aligned vertically. The design and organization of the sides of the mobile follow the same path. All the buttons are gathered on the right. We find the volume control keys, the power button – which also accommodates a very efficient fingerprint reader -, as well as two other buttons. The first allows you to launch Google’s voice assistant and the second is dedicated to photography. It allows you to control the focus and trigger the shot. A manual control that is only found at Sony, but that we still find just as judicious.

The right side of the smartphone is sold out. © L’Éclaireur Fnac

Another peculiarity of the Sony Xperia, the hatch for the nanoSIM and for the possible microSD opens without tools. This does not prevent the smartphone from being IP68. This also retains an analog headphone jack.

Sony traditionally opts for a very light overlay that brings the user experience closer to a pure Android 11. Clearly, it is rather simple and effective. The Japanese brand preinstalls some applications: games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile or the social networks Facebook and LinkedIn. Specific features also appear in the settings, especially around the display.

Screen

You will understand, the screen is at the heart of the Xperia 5 III because of its very particular format. Sony has obviously taken care of the other elements of this display. It is based on an OLED panel with a definition of 1080 × 2520 pixels. The density is 449 dpi, a very high figure ensuring high display fineness. OLED technology brings its very high contrast. The color rendering is correct without more, but it is only a question of adjustment since by changing mode in the parameters of the smartphone, it is possible to achieve almost perfect fidelity. By putting your hands a little in the engine, it will therefore be possible to have a superb screen in front of you. A quick word about its brightness: it is good, but a tone below the market leaders like the recent iPhone 13 or the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

© L’Éclaireur Fnac

The screen supports a refresh rate of 120 Hz which brings an undeniable feeling of fluidity. Sony does not offer a dynamic mode, so it is up to the user to choose between 120 Hz and 60 Hz modes, the latter necessarily showing less energy. Unsurprisingly, the Xperia 5 III panel is HDR10 + and BT.2020 compatible.

A little word in passing about the famous 21 / 9th format. Most applications accept it without difficulty, but 4/3 or 16/9 video content logically results in more or less wide black bands. Depending on the source chosen, the display of subtitles may be a little intrusive.

Performance and speed

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, accompanied for the occasion by 8 GB of RAM, is quite simply what is best done today on Android smartphones. We no longer present this chip that we find on almost all current high-end models. So here we are facing a very responsive mobile. Applications launch very quickly and do not run out of steam. The same goes for games, including the most demanding. We will simply note a relatively marked tendency to heat up, especially if the mobile is connected to the mains. The interface reacts of course to all our requests, then providing an undeniable pleasure of use with the added bonus of the boost given by the 120 Hz screen.

The 128GB of storage might be enough for most consumers, but if not – we’re thinking especially of enthusiasts racking up thousands of photos and 4K videos – it’s still possible to swipe a microSD card. A widely used format which is rather affordable.

© L’Éclaireur Fnac

Photo

The three cameras are organized in a rather classic way with a wide-angle, an ultra-wide-angle and a telephoto lens. The main module is based on an optical equivalent to a 24 mm film for an aperture at f / 1.7. Sony adds a sensor of only 12 megapixels. The Japanese brand claims that with its large 1.8 µm pixels, it performs better in low light than a 48 megapixel or more sensor using Pixels Binning. The second camera also has a 12 megapixel sensor, but it is more classic than the previous one. The f / 2.2 lens is equivalent to a 16mm film camera. Finally, Sony innovates with its telephoto lens which has the particularity of offering two focal lengths x2.9 and x4.4, which gives us a 70 and a 105 mm respectively. Here too, a 12 megapixel sensor is used.

The wide-angle. © L’Éclaireur Fnac

While waiting for the measurements from our laboratory, we could not resist the call for a few photo sessions in the field. They are done through an application which has a particularly impressive Pro mode. Its interface, taken from the brand’s cameras, gives access to a multitude of settings that should delight photo enthusiasts. The others can fall back to automatic operation, but we can say that it would be a shame.

The Pro functions of the camera application are particularly well developed. © L’Éclaireur Fnac

Indeed, with the automatic mode, the pictures do not really impress. They lack sharpness and dynamism, but the rendering remains rather natural. By delving into the settings offered in Pro mode, the expert will certainly manage to further improve things. At night, almost against all expectations, the Xperia 5 III allows you to take rather successful photos with precise colors and a satisfactory level of detail. Digital processing and in particular smoothing remain under control. All this without Night mode! Under the same conditions, the ultra wide-angle is not really at the party with a fairly noisy image and a patent underexposure. Too bad, because during the day this camera seduced us.

Ultra wide-angle. © L’Éclaireur Fnac

The telephoto lens is based on the periscopic architecture to offer its two focal lengths. The result is overall the same on both and that’s quite a good thing, because the job is pretty well done, with contrasting and detailed shots, at least in daylight. At night, unsurprisingly, the picture is much less brilliant.

The telephoto x2.9. © L’Éclaireur Fnac

The front camera, which has an 8 megapixel sensor, seems average to us, but nothing more.

© L’Éclaireur Fnac

The Sony Xperia 5 III is capable of filming in 4K at up to 120 frames per second, including HDR, quite convincingly.

Audio quality

This smartphone has speakers for stereo rendering. Nothing very original in 2021… Well almost, because Sony relies on two identical transducers for increased homogeneity. While waiting for the passage in our Lab, we appreciated a rather powerful and balanced reproduction.

Communication

The Sony Xperia 5 III takes advantage of all the radio capacities of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform. We therefore find the X60 modem, which gives it 5G compatibility with a theoretical maximum speed of 7.5 Gb / s in download and 3 Gb / s upload. The smartphone also has Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.

Autonomy

The battery has a capacity of 4,500 mAh, a nice development compared to the previous generation which was satisfied with 4,000 mAh. In current use, we were able to do without recharging between 1.5 and 2 days, a rather convincing autonomy. For recharging, on the other hand, Sony seems a little behind with its 30 W mains charger only. Too bad also that we have to do without wireless charging, yet present on its big brother.

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