Xperia 5 iii – Hands on

This is Sony’s 3rd iteration of the Xperia 5, bringing with it some minor but subtle changes from the previous incarnation.

Just for clarity, I have been using the previous Sony Xperia 5 ii as my personal phone since it was released back in November 2020, so I’m in a really good position to see what has been changed and improved over the last 12 months.

Starting with the Specifications:


  • Snapdragon 888 5G mobile Platform. (new from last years 865)
  • Dual Sim Hybrid (Single SIM + optional 1TB Micro SD)
  • 4500 mAh battery + PD fast charging
  • 8GB Ram + 128GB Storage
  • 1” 21:9 CinemaWide display
    • 120Hz Refresh Rate / 240Hz motion blur reduction
    • FHD + HDR OLED 2520 x 1080
  • 5 mm Audio Jack for Hi-Resolution Audio
  • 3 x 12MP Rear Camera Assembly
    • Camera 1
      • Focal Length: 24 mm
      • Size: 1 / 1.7″ Exmor RS™ for mobile sensor
      • FOV: 82°
      • Aperture: F1.7
    • Camera 2
      • Focal Length: 70 mm / 105 mm
      • Size: 1 / 2.9″ Exmor RS™ for mobile sensor
      • FOV: 34° (70mm) / 23° (105mm)
      • Aperture: F2.3 (70mm) / F2.8 (105mm)
    • Camera 3
      • Focal Length: 16 mm
      • Size: 1 / 2.5 ” Exmor RS™ for mobile sensor
      • FOV: 124°
      • Aperture: F2.2
    • Features: Photography Pro, ZEISS® quality lenses calibrated specifically for Xperia 5 III, ZEISS® T* Coating, Up to 20fps AF/AE, Up to 60 times per second continuous AF/AE calculation8, Real-time Eye AF (Human, Animal), Object tracking, Dual photo diode, RGB-IR, OIS photo, Photo flash, Photo light, Hybrid zoom 12.5x (based on Wide camera 24 mm), AI Super Resolution Zoom, HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo
  • 8MP Front Camera
    • Size: 1/4″
    • FOV: 78°
    • Aperture: F2.0
      • Features: HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo, SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization), Portrait selfie, Display flash, Hand gesture

Just from the specifications alone, you can see the camera setup is key focal point for this handset.

Sony is a well respected industry leader in camera technology.  The software and image processing technology has pretty much been ripped straight from the alpha series camera line and presented neatly inside a phone – well when I say neatly, it’s not exactly intuitive like your normal android camera application, explaining why it gets the name Photo Pro.  You can go deep, very deep in fact, into modifying all the elements you would normally find in a full fat DSLR camera enabling you to tune and get the most out of your shot.


Going deep is great if you have the time to arrange and focus a shot, however as I have found on the 5 ii, I will tend to use the inbuilt android camera app, for just grabbing a quick shot to send on via Signal or WhatsApp.



Sony must have been listening, as a nice addition to this year’s model, now features a BASIC mode within Photo Pro, which takes over from having to use the stock android camera app, enabling you to go in and grab that no frills shot and let the software work out what needs to be done.



On the subject of quick snaps and a big bonus on the Xperia line, is the dedicated hardware camera button, it not only enables you to quick launch the camera but offers full traditional camera button functionality.  Half press to auto focus and full press to take the shot, honestly this simple implementation of a hardware button to take a photo, enables you to hold the phone steady, and just take a better shot.

The main camera module is one of the elements that has seen a slight upgrade over the previous model, although the main camera sensor and pixel count is the same as last year the lense setup gets a change in the form of a new telephoto setup, featuring a periscope lens.

Here are a few example shots taken by me, and some pro example shots from Sony to show just what the camera is capable of, in the right hands.  it’s easy to guess which is which, not only by the lack of glorious sunshine and exotic locations.



Another key difference in the Xperia 5 series is the form factor, if we were still in the “feature phone era” with physical keypads and phones being for phone calls, you could probably class this as what we used to call a ‘Candy Bar’ style phone, in the fact that it’s taller than it is wide.



This is what gives you the 21:9 cinema display on a 6.1” display, it might look a little strange and elongated, but do not let this put you off in any way.  This was one of the features that attracted me to purchasing my version II last year.  It’s still plenty big enough to display all your content and watch a film in super wide screen, but operate comfortably with one hand, even more so with the optional one handed mode, that reduces the screen contents down to an area reachable by just your thumb alone.  Then the whole device will slip easily into your jacket or trouser pocket, without feeling like you just crammed a mini tablet down your trousers.

I have to say the phone is as slippery to hold as a wet eel covered in baby oil, it will try its hardest to leap from the sofa at any given opportunity thanks to its super glossy, gorilla glass 6 front and back, however it does look super sleek and sexy and not overstated.  But seriously a case is a must just to keep it in your hands!  Hey Sony if you are listening, for next years 5 iv – can you include the lanyard holder hole, you have just put on the Xperia Pro I – you know the one you used to have on the original Xperia Z 😉


Multi-Window apps are also able to take full advantage of the extra tall screen real-estate, enabling you to have 2 fully working apps on the screen, at the same time in either portrait or landscape mode and resize as needed.


Another upgrade for this year, sees the addition of 360 Reality Audio, to the already amazing sound quality you obtain from a wired pair of headphones using the now ‘additional premium feature’ that was once a standard 3.5mm jack.


Couple this with a pair of Hi-Res Sony headphones such as my trusty MDR-1A’s and your ears are in for a treat without the need for a USB-C external DACs or dongles.  Yes, Yes I know it’s all about the bluetooth these days, but even with the best codecs available you just cannot get the same level of quality, and lag free audio you get with a physical cable between you and the phone.

Sony take all the knowledge and tech they excel in, within other areas too and somehow manage to cram it all into a phone.

It’s always puzzled me why when they deliver such amazing feature packed products like this, they always appear to be overshadowed by the competition, who are usually just playing catch up, or borrowing the same hardware that Sony makes and sells to them.

It’s always been the case I feel with Sony, don’t get me started on smartwatches and fitness trackers,  Sony have already been there done that, peaked to early and then left the market, before it became ever popular and mainstream.

I’m digressing…..

So who is this phone for, well if you like an almost stock android OS with very little bloat and some nice practical software features (sorry, negative points here for pre-installing, a not easily removed Facebook app) and a some quirky physical design aesthetics, that differ from the competition, a camera that if you have the time to play with and know how to handle a proper DLSR, you will see why megapixels don’t always count.   A physical fully functional camera button, I really can’t praise this simple but highly appreciated feature enough, sorry.  Throw in the latest Snapdragon 888 and some swanky gaming specific features, you have a device that others will be replicating in a few years time.


If you want to know anymore or have anything to say, please reach out in the comments below.

Otherwise, the Xperia 5 iii is available now for pre order from Amazon for £899,

Also worth also noting that if you pre order now, you will get a pair of WH-H910N Noise Cancelling headphones thrown in, worth an additional £157.


If you came here looking for a full camera comparison between this year’s Xperia 5 and last year’s model, sorry to have disappointed as we never officially reviewed the 5 ii last year.  However, feel free to check out our friend Steve Litchfield on allaboutmobile who goes into super-duper detail and an in-depth comparison of both devices.