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Sony Xperia 5 III packs impressive photography capabilities and audiophile sound

Sony unveiled a trio of new smartphones today, and one of the offerings is the Xperia 5 III. It’s almost identical in features to the Sony Xperia 1 III that we mentioned earlier this morning. One of the smartphone’s big highlight features is the variable telephoto lens paired with a dual PD sensor. The smartphone offers object tracking in photography mode.

The smartphone has multiple camera modes, including an easy-to-use Basic Mode. It has a 6.1-inch CinemaWide HDR OLED with a 120 Hz refresh rate display. Sony fits the smartphone with 360 Spatial Sound that converts stereo tracks in real-time. The Xperia 5 III also features Game Enhancer features with a new audio equalizer and an optimized PC microphone, and a high frame rate recording feature.

The smartphone uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G platform and a 4500 mAh internal battery that can charge to 50 percent capacity in 30 minutes with the included 30W charger. Photography is the main focus, with Alpha camera technology promising a level of performance comparable to professional sports cameras like the Alpha 9 series. The variable telephoto lens with a Dual PD sensor reaches up to a 105 mm focal length. Sony’s Xperia 5 III will be available in black, pink, green with Android 11 out-of-the-box early this summer at undisclosed pricing.

Another Sony smartphone unveiled today is the Xperia 10 III offering 5G connectivity. It focuses on entertainment features and an extended battery life in a stylish, water-resistant body. The Xperia 10 III is a mid-range smartphone using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 5G mobile platform. It has a 4500 mAh internal battery and is IP65/IP68 water and dust resistant. Its 21:9 wide six-inch notch-less FHD+ OLED display supports HDR and is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 6.

Xperia 10 III also has high-resolution audio quality with DSEE Ultimate technology inside but functions via an integrated 3.5 mm headphone jack or wireless audio. It has a triple-lens camera featuring an improved F1.8 lens with the enhanced image processing algorithm for improved photos in low light with less noise using both Night mode and Auto mode. The camera array can shoot bursts at 10fps and can record 4K video. Integrated SteadyShot keeps shake out of the video. The Xperia 10 III will be available in black, blue, and white with Android 11 starting early this summer at an undisclosed price.

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Sony Xperia event promises a new phone on April 14th

Sony plans to reveal its latest Xperia phone on April 14, the company has confirmed, though as for what the big launch may be there are a few different rumors circulating. The company most recently debuted a fairly niche smartphone even by its own standards, with the Xperia Pro aiming to give a twist on 5G use-cases for those who focus on upload speeds more than downloads.

The Android phone not only could act as a mobile hotspot for uploading raw photos and video – including live-streaming – from a compatible camera, but it had an HDMI input for using it as a 4K OLED monitor. Clever stuff, but at $2,500 unlocked the Xperia Pro was definitely not targeted at the mainstream.

That’s something we’re expecting the company to address on April 14. There’ve been two big rumors around Sony’s roadmap of late, one fingering a flagship in the near pipeline, and the other a more affordable, and markedly smaller device. Either of those – or indeed both – could be the focus for mid-April.

On the flagship side, the chatter has fixed on the Sony Xperia 1 III. As the name suggests, it’ll be the third generation of the Xperia 1 series, throwing in familiar hardware like a Snapdragon 888 chipset, 5G, and a 6.5-inch 4K 120Hz display much like the Xperia Pro. However while that phone targeted people using external cameras, the Xperia 1 III will push self-contained content creation, including a more capable version of the Xperia 1 II’s periscope zoom lens.

In parallel, though, we’ve also been hearing about a rebooted version of the Sony Xperia Compact. That would aim at the opposite end of the scale, at least in terms of size, with a smaller display but less of a compromise on specifications.

While it would be easy to say that was prompted by the iPhone 12 mini, it’s in fact a strategy that Sony has explored before. The original Xperia Compact launched in the US back in 2018, though was discontinued a year later. Since then we’ve seen interest in smaller form-factor devices resurface, as a reaction to the increasingly large handsets manufacturers are pushing.

Saying that, this new Xperia Compact could still be noticeably larger than its predecessor. That had a 5-inch display, but rumors peg this updated version as measuring in at 5.5-inches. What remains to be seen is how much of its other high-end tech Sony can squeeze into a smaller design: one of the lingering criticisms of “compact” or “mini” smartphones has been that, while delivering a device that’s easier to hold, use, and put in a pocket or bag, they also sacrifice too much in the way of power and capabilities.

We’ll find out for sure if either of these are on the agenda for Sony – or if it’s something else entirely – come April 14. The event kicks off at 3:30am ET / 12:30am PT.

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Xperia 1 II on DxOMark shows Sony’s best is still not be good enough

Sony is perhaps best known for its gorgeous TVs and its powerful cameras, among other things. One would expect that its smartphones would carry those traits as well and while Xperia phones do have impressive screens, the same couldn’t be said of their cameras. Sony has promised to step up their game and the Xperia 1 II may be proof of that. Unfortunately, it might also be too little, too late for the company to cover lost ground.

It might be too easy to dismiss the Xperia 1 II’s three cameras simply because of their 12 megapixel sensors but, as always, pixel count is only one part of the story. From sensor size to lens aperture to focal length to even software processing, other factors are also in play in the phone’s overall performance. Given Sony’s expertise in that field and its embarrassing past, you’d think it finally got a good grip on the matter.

To be fair, DxOMark did find a significant improvement between the Xperia 1 II and last year’s Sony flagship, the Xperia 1. Exposure was noted to be generally good and both ultra-wide and telephoto cameras delivered solid performance even if they weren’t that exceptional. The site also praised the phone’s ability to separate foreground from background in bokeh simulation and have a convincing blur around the former.

Unfortunately, the Xperia 1 II easily fell victim to one of the most common foes of photography, dim lighting. Exposure stability and dynamic range drop indoors, even with some lighting. Even video, which also showed a marked improvement, tripped over poorly-lit environments.

All in all, the Xperia 1 II does deliver Sony’s promise of improved camera performance on its flagships. Under favorable lighting conditions, it performed satisfactorily. Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t exist in isolation and there are dozens more phones that do better and also ask for less than four figures.

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