Sadly, the newer features here are pretty minuscule.
The question of when to upgrade is something that is always on the mind of tech lovers. With more attractive and feature-rich models coming to market every year, the temptation is always there to gravitate towards the latest tech, but these upgrades can often be costly. Why mention this to start a review you might wonder? Well, the Sony Xperia 5 III is an example of a device that, whilst solid as a whole, offers little more than what its predecessor brought us a year ago.
At first glance, the Sony Xperia 5 III and 5 II look pretty much identical, and if it wasn't for the unremoved sticker on the back of the newer model then I'm sure I would have got them confused. It's fair to say that if you weren't in love with the older design or if you craved a refreshed appearance, then you might feel disappointed here. I personally didn't think it was to the device's detriment though, as it still has a really clean look with corners being smoothed off, and its buttons and cameras being discreetly tucked away.
The handset's slender build and 21:9 display beautifully lends itself to one-handed use and it's a breeze to quickly type out messages just using your thumb. When placed horizontally, the OLED display is also great for watching movies and playing games, as its colours are warm and vibrant and the screen takes up 81.4% of the overall body (up from 80.9% on the Xperia 5 II). You've also got the option to cycle to a 120hz refresh rate to enable an even smoother experience when using the device, but this, of course, comes at the expense of more battery life. The resolution of the screen is 1080 x 2520 though, so you won't be able to view content in native 4K like you can on the recent Xperia 1 III, for example.
Located on the front is a 8MP camera with a F2.0 lens and on the rear there is a trio of 12MP cameras (16mm, 24mm, and 70mm-105mm) that can be toggled between by a simple push of a button. The front-facing camera I found to be serviceable, but images did look a little washed of colour and blurred. The rear cameras left much more of a bolder impression on me, however, as these produced shots exhibiting a broad spectrum of warm colours and it was easy to frame the perfect shot due to the selection of different lenses.
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Perhaps the most notable change here is the battery life, as the Xperia 5 III now rocks a 4500mAh battery instead of a 4000mAh battery. With standard use I found the phone to easily last me an entire day, and I could even go to sleep without a place to charge and didn't have the fear of it dying within the night. Just like the Xperia 1 III, the device can also reach 50% battery with just 30 minutes of charging, which is perfect if you're out of the house and are in a hurry. Whilst the battery life as a whole is an improvement, some might be disappointed to hear that wireless charging isn't present. This is something that we are seeing much more commonly on other competing devices and it means you'll be forever tethered to a plug socket when you're in need of some juice.
The phone's processor has also seen an improvement, as it's now powered by a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip. How does this translate into performance, however? Well, admittedly, the difference isn't massively noticeable. Booting up apps and web pages on the Xperia 5 III is slightly more rapid, but it was only apparent when comparing both models side-by-side. What I will say though is that both the Xperia 5 II and III are competent devices, and I never experienced any performance-related issues when playing the latest smartphone games and having multiple applications open simultaneously.
In terms of pricing, the base 128GB model retails for £899, which is exactly £100 more than the Xperia 5 II. There is also a more expensive 256GB model too (pricing not confirmed) and you're able to upgrade the internal storage to 1TB by purchasing a microSD card. The pricing increase does feel a little steep considering the lack of changes, but internal storage isn't a point of complaint. 128GB is pretty average for modern smartphones and it can even be expanded to a capacity similar to most desktop PCs.
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Another minor observation is that the Xperia 5 has gained a little bit of weight over the past year. The handset now weighs 168g (up from 163g) and its body is 0.2mm thicker overall. This might sound minuscule, but the difference is pretty noticeable when holding both in the palm of your hand. I also would like to spotlight before I conclude that the 3.5mm jack lives on here and it hasn't be axed as it has been on other competing devices.
So, is the Sony Xperia 5 III really worthy of your hard-earned cash? Well, that depends. If your current handset is the 5 II I'd urge you to hold off this one or possibly consider the Xperia 1 III instead if you're just itching to upgrade. If this doesn't apply to you though, then there is a great smartphone to be found here that delivers admirable performance across the board for a reasonable price. Its OLED display is vibrant and colourful, its 21:9 screen makes for easy one-handed use, and its trio of rear cameras deliver impressive results.
8 / 10
It has a gorgeous OLED display. Its great for one-handed use. The extra battery life is appreciated.
It offers little improvements over the previous model. No wireless charging.