Xperia 5 III brings incremental improvements over its predecessor

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Sony changed the cadence of the launch for its Xperia 5 series. Normally the ‘compact’ flagship phone was announced in H2 with a late September/early October launch. However, Sony has today announced the Xperia 5 III (Mark 3) bringing its launch in line with its larger flagship sibling – the Xperia 1 III – as well as the mid-range Xperia 10 III.

Given the shorter-time frame between models it is perhaps unsurprising to see that there aren’t huge differences between the Xperia 5 II (Mark 2) and Xperia 5 III (Mark 3). The design is very similar with marginal differences to dimensions (157 x 68 x 8.2 mm vs. 158 x 68 x 8.0 mm for the Xperia 5 II) and weight (169 grams vs. 163 grams for the Xperia 5 II) – this change has allowed for a bigger battery versus the older model.

If you were a 5 II owner hoping for wireless charging or camera support for the 3D iToF (time-of-flight) sensor than you will be disappointed – neither features make it to the 5 III. The improvements have been made to the camera, bringing support for a variable telephoto lens, as seen in the Xperia 1 III, as well as a larger battery (4500mAh versus 4000mAh on the older model).

Optics are slightly different to the older model – the Xperia 5 III has the same 12MP triple rear camera as the Xperia 1 III. Sony uses ZEISS lenses and the ZEISS T* coating to reduce reflections on the following rear cameras: 1) 24mm 1/1.7-inch Exmor RS sensor with F1.7 lens, 2) 16mm 1/2.5-inch Exmor RS sensor with F2.2 lens, and 3) a telephoto module with 70mm/105mm 1/2.9-inch Exmor RS sensor with F2.3 (70mm) and F2.8 (105mm) apertures. The front camera is the same 8MP 1/4-inch F2.0 lens from last year’s model.

If you compare camera specs to last year’s model, you will see that the main change comes from the variable telephoto module with Dual PDAF sensors that Sony is using this time round. This module allows switching between 70mm and 105mm focal lengths to capture better detail at further distances. This gives a range of 2.9x to 4.3x zoom.

A new version of the Photography Pro app adds a ‘Basic Mode’ to cater to a broader range of customers who want a more point and shoot experience for portraits, bokeh and panorama.

The Xperia 5 III uses the same 6.1-inch 21:9 (1080 x 2520) OLED FHD+ HDR resolution CinemaWide display as the older model. As with the Mark 2, the Mark 3 includes a 120Hz refresh rate display with a 240Hz Touch scanning rate and 240Hz Motion blur reduction. While Sony is using Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on the front of the Xperia 1 III, the Xperia 5 III uses Gorilla Glass 6 on the back on front like the older model.

The Xperia 5 III runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chipset with 8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB UFS internal storage. Sony retains support for the microSD memory card slot, as well as the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is great to see in 2021. Most other manufacturers have dropped these for flagship devices, with Samsung recently omitting SD card support in its Galaxy S21 series of smartphones.

Other features include IP68/68 dust and water resistance, Wi-Fi 6 (ax), Bluetooth 5.2, side-mounted fingerprint sensor and stereo speakers. Stereo speakers are louder and now include support for the 360 Reality Audio format.

Sony will also include a 30W charger in the box (XZQ-UC1) – again something that other manufacturers have begun to drop. The charger will be able to boost the phone by 50% in 30 minutes. Sony’s adaptive charging also now means the phone’s battery life should last three years (two years previously).

Sony has fallen into its old trap though of announcing phones months before they hit shelves. It expects the Xperia 5 III and 1 III/10 III to release in early Summer 2021. While no definitive date has been given, the phone will launch in Japan in the middle of June, so we would expect a global launch at around the same time. Pricing is still to be revealed, although pre-orders are expected to open soon. The Xperia 5 III will launch with Android 11 in three colours (Green, Black and Pink).

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