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Sony Xperia 5 III release date, price, news and what you need to know

Sony Xperia 5 III
(Image credit: Sony)

The Sony Xperia 5 III is available to buy right now, so if you're so keen to grab the handset that you don't need to wait for our review (work in progress), then you can from Sony's website or other retailers in your region.

We currently have a Sony Xperia 1 III review, as well as one for the Xperia 10 III, so the 5 III is the only member of its generation we haven't tested. You can get a good idea as to the middling phone's features, though, by checking out its siblings.

Like the iPhone 12 Pro/ Pro Max or Galaxy S21 Plus / S21 Ultra, the Xperia 5 III has similar tech and specs to the more powerful Xperia 1 III, but cuts back in a few key areas like display size and resolution.

Looking back at last year's lineup, our reviewers preferred the more compact Sony Xperia 5 II to the expensive Xperia 1 II, finding it easier to hold and much more affordable but with many of the same perks. We're excited to see if the Xperia 5 III continues this trend of compact excellence.

Sony has released some spec and feature information for the Xperia 5 III, so let's dive into what we know about the 5 III release date, how its specs compare to the other 2021 Xperia phones, and how much you can expect to pay.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Sony's 6.1-inch 2021 phone
  • When is it out? Right now
  • How much will it cost?  $949 / £899

Sony Xperia 5 III release date and price

You can buy the Sony Xperia 5 III right now from Sony's website, as well as region-specific retailers depending on where you live.

The phone costs $949 / £899 (roughly AU$1300), less than the Xperia 1 III's asking price of $1,299.99 / £1,199 (around AU$2,200). We don't imagine the phone will come to Australia, based on Sony's past mobile practices.

The equivalent Xperia 5 II 2020 phone cost $949 / £799 (around AU$1,350), so people in the UK are paying even more than before, which is a shame given the exchange rates already punished them. That puts the phone in the same ballpark as the iPhone 12 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro.

Design and display

The Sony Xperia 5 III design will look and sound pretty dang familiar to owners of the Xperia 5 II. Comparing the specs, and even just looking at the product render Sony provided, we couldn't find many differences between the two.

Like its predecessor, the Xperia 5 III has a 6.1-inch, 21:9 aspect-ratio, HDR OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, Corning Gorilla Glass 6 for protection on both the front and rear, and IP65/68 water & dust resistance.

We don't yet know the exact display resolution of the 5 III, as Sony only mentioned that the Xperia 1 III has a 4K display. If it matches the 2020 phone, the Xperia 5 III will likely stick to FHD (1080 x 2520). 

Sony Xperia 5 III

(Image credit: Sony)

The only new feature highlighted in the press release is an option to change color levels in the display. You can adjust the white balance to reduce eye strain, or use something called the low gamma raiser to make dark areas easier to see while gaming.

The Sony Xperia 5 III will ship in either Black or Green mirrored glass, compared to Black or Blue for its predecessor and Frosted Black / Frosted Purple for the Xperia 1 III.

Cameras and battery life

Sony hasn't officially confirmed its camera specs for the Xperia lineup. The renders show the return of a triple-camera layout with ZEISS T lenses, but we have no way to guess if the main, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras will all be 12MP again or get an upgrade.

We do know, however, that the telephoto lens is getting a substantial upgrade that will make your close-up shots that much better.

Sony's big claim to fame for the Xperia 5 III is that it's the 'first' – along with the Xperia 1 III – to feature a variable telephoto lens paired with a dual pixel diode sensor. It can shoot at 16mm, 24mm, 70mm or 105mm focal lengths (most phone telephoto lenses stop at 70mm), and uses the dual PD sensor to autofocus between lengths 'in an instant.' 

We're excited to put this unique lens to the test and see how it performs against the best camera phones. Another new camera feature is called 'AI super resolution zoom', which uses AI processing to add missing pixels and touch up photos.

The battery is 4,500mAh, a slight upgrade on the 4,000mAh battery found in the 2020 Xperias. This boost will likely get eaten up by the more powerful processor in this year's phones, so we don't expect a significant battery life boost. But the Xperia 5 II battery life lasted all day in our tests, so we're optimistic this model will do just as well.

Performance and software

Sony put the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in the Sony Xperia 5 III, putting its performance (potentially) on par with 2021 flagships like the Galaxy S21. It will also have 5G support.

The base model will likely sport 8GB of RAM, but we don't know if Sony will offer a 12GB or 16GB upgrade. Sony also hasn't revealed storage specs, but a 128GB default and 256GB upgrade seems likely. We just hope that the Xperia 5 III will have expandable storage like last year's model.

Sony confirmed that the Xperia 5 III will run Android 11 out of the box. 

It also will sport some exciting upgrades to its audio software: the built-in speakers can produce 360 Reality Audio for better surround sound without headphones, and it has new audio EQ controls that Sony says can highlight specific sounds like footsteps or gunshots for gaming.

Add in stereo speakers that are allegedly 40% more powerful than last year's Sony phones, and the Xperia 5 III could end up being one of the best phones for music lovers.

Michael Hicks

Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.