Sony Xperia 5 III Review | Sony’s Smaller Smartphone Shines

The smaller, more affordable cousin of the Xperia 1 III is equally impressive


The Sony Xperia 5 III launched last week, nine months after it was first announced with the Xperia 1 III, Sony’s flagship smartphone. The new phone offers many of the same features as the flagship model, albeit with a smaller build and more affordable price tag. For our Sony Xperia 5 III review, we used the phone for a week to see what else is different about the new release.


The Sony Xperia 5 III has a smaller build than the Xperia 1 III
The Sony Xperia 5 III has a smaller and lighter build than the Xperia 1 III.

The build of the Xperia 5 III is perhaps its defining feature. Smartphones have steadily increased in size over the last few years, with little regard for those of us that have shallow pockets or prefer a phone that can be used with one-hand.

The Xperia 5 III impresses in this regard, housing many of the same features as its more powerful cousins – the Xperia 1 III and PRO-I – in a more compact build. The 5 III weighs just 5.9 oz and measures 6.2 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches, with a 6.1-inch 21:9 OLED HDR display.For comparison, the 1 III has the same-size screen, but weighs 6.6 oz and measures 6.5 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches.

This difference in size and weight is noticeable. For those who prefer a smaller smartphone without compromising on screen-size, the 5 III will suit you well. Of course, it’s also important to note that only the 1 III supports 4K resolution (3840 x 1644).

Another difference between the two models is the 5 III’s mirror-glass finish. The 1 III uses frosted-glass, which is arguably more aesthetically pleasing. 

Smartphone Capabilities

One-Handed Mode on the Sony Xperia 5 III
One-Handed Mode on the Sony Xperia 5 III allows you to minimize the overall screen size by a few inches to make it more accessible by one hand.

Is the Sony Xperia 5 III the smartest phone in the room? If you’re in a room of smartphone aficionados with the latest models from 2021, it’s at least on equal footing. The 5 III uses the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform, the same used by the 1 III and other new smartphones released last year.

Two of the phone’s most intelligent features are One-Handed Mode and Multi-Screen Mode. The former allows you to minimize the overall screen size by a few inches to make it more accessible to a one-handed grip. Meanwhile, Multi-Screen Mode allows you to display and use two apps simultaneously on the 5 III’s impressively wide screen.

While these features are also available on other Xperia models, they combine well with the phone’s smaller build for a small-hand-friendly user experience. Some of our other favorite smart features include Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, and the screen’s 240Hz Motion blur reduction and 240Hz Touch-scanning rate. 


Gaming on the 5 III, as with other Xperia models, is incredible. The phone’s customization capabilities make it a great option for those who want total control of their experience. With Competition mode, users can disable notifications, incoming calls, and any other distractions that can take you out of the zone.

You can also fine tune the performance, touch response, and frame rate to your liking, not to mention the ability to tweak white balance and audio levels. Lastly, the 5 III allows gamers to Rewind Time (R.T.) Record, which pre-records the past 30 seconds of game footage so you never miss a moment of online play. 

Another cool feature is Heat Suppression power control. When charging the phone while gaming, this feature powers the phone instead of the battery, ultimately reducing thermal stress which impacts long-term battery health.

Speaking of battery life, the phone’s 4,500mAh battery provides 6+ hours of battery life with heavy use (gaming, 4K streaming, video recording, etc.). We found on days we didn’t demand too much from the phone, the battery lasted for a full day without issue. You can also charge up to 50% in thirty minutes with a 30W charger. 

The Camera

Having tested the camera on both the 1 III and PRO-I in the past, we’re familiar with the photo & video capabilities of Sony’s smartphones. Pleasingly, the performance of the Xperia 5 III was consistent with its more advanced cousins. 

Featuring three cameras with four focal lengths (16mm, 24mm, 70mm, and 105mm), the 5 III is remarkably versatile. All three cameras offer impressive digital zoom capabilities that use artificial intelligence to maintain detail and definition. Dual PDAF sensors in the third camera also allow you to toggle seamlessly between the 70mm and 105mm focal lengths. Overall, the phone’s image quality output is superb.

We’re particularly fond of the realistic look cultivated by Sony’s smartphones, which stands in contrast to the artificial blur offered by competing smartphone models. While you don’t have to be a professional photographer to use the 5 III’s camera, it has all the custom controls and settings of a full-size Sony Alpha mirrorless camera. Additionally, the phone can shoot up to 20fps, and offers incredibly fast Eye AF, a classic Sony feature.

As for video, the Xperia 5 III can capture 4K HDR video at 120fps with its 16mm and 24mm cameras. The Cinema Pro app gives users full manual control, as well as eight different color presets. These include the eponymous color setting inspired by Sony’s VENICE cinema camera.

For smartphone photographers and filmmakers interested in enhancing their technical skills, the 5 III is a great choice.

The Verdict

Currently priced $998, the Xperia 5 III is a more affordable option than its flagship counterpart. Additionally, the phone offers a smaller and lighter build, without sacrificing too many of the features that make the 1 III such a powerful device. It’s a great choice for gamers, photographers, filmmakers, or anyone looking to upgrade to a more advanced smartphone without spending more than $1K. While it’s still early in the year, it seems safe to say the Xperia 5 III will be one of 2022’s best smartphone releases.


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