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Sony Xperia 10 III review: good battery life - otherwise far too little

Sony Xperia 10 III review header
Picture: TechnikNews
(Post picture: © 2021 TechnikNews)

With the new Sony Xperia 10 III, the Japanese manufacturer wants to deliver an all-round successful mid-range smartphone with 5G, which is even equipped with some premium features compared to the competition.

For a recommended retail price of 429 euros, customers get a 2x optical zoom, a glass back, USB-C 3.1 and even an official IP68 certification against the ingress of water and dust. All of that sounds pretty good, but why the Xperia 10 III was less able to convince me for the price offered, you will find out in the following lines.

Haptics, design and processing

One of the highlights is without question the compact form factor. With dimensions of 154 mm in height and 68 mm in width, the Xperia 10 III is actually one of the more compact smartphones on the market by today's standards. Although it is quite long due to the long aspect ratio of 21:9, it is relatively narrow, which is why one-handed operation is not an option for most people Proshould be a problem. The thickness of 8,3 mm and the light weight of only 169 grams suit the compact form factor very well.

The frame is made of matt plastic, so fingerprints are not annoying. In addition, it feels quite handy and gives a higher quality feeling in the hand than the plastic frames in high-gloss optics from the competition from Samsung, Realme and Xiaomi. You shouldn't expect miracles here either. You can still feel the difference to metal frames clearly.

The manufacturer installs a glass back on the back, which feels extremely high-quality. Unfortunately, Sony wasn't quite as good at letting the back flow smoothly into the frame, which leads to a slightly sharp-edged feel in the hand. When it comes to colors, customers can choose between black, blue, pink and white. I tested the latter and, despite the glossy surface, is not susceptible to fingerprints. In addition to the colors, the triple camera in the left corner should also immediately catch the eye. There is space here for three sensors that barely protrude from the housing, which is why the smartphone hardly wobbles when it is operated on the table.

If we turn the Xperia 10 III over, we see a typical design from Sony. You still do without a recess in the display in which the front camera can be accommodated. Instead, it sits in a rather thick border above the display. The bottom of the screen is just as thick. Personally, I don't really know what to think of the front design. On the one hand, the manufacturer is once again providing variety on the smartphone market, but on the other hand, Sony could have installed an even larger display instead of the display bezels. The design is an absolute matter of taste and in the end everyone has to decide for themselves whether they like the front or not.

There is no reason to criticize the workmanship. The device leaves a high-quality impression and, unlike many other mid-range smartphones, the back cannot be dented at any time. On a positive note, I would also like to mention the positioning of the buttons, all of which are located on the right-hand side. Only at the pressure point of the power button is there still a little room for improvement.

Display - not the best OLED panel

Sony has installed a 6-inch OLED display with an elongated 21: 9 aspect ratio, which has a pleasantly sharp resolution of 2.520 x 1.080 pixels. Individual pixels cannot be recognized in everyday life. Unfortunately, the display only supports a refresh rate of 60 Hertz, which is rather marginal for a recommended retail price of 429 euros. Here the competition from Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus and Co. is one step further.

Unfortunately, the other aspects aren't really convincing either. Colors discolour strongly when viewed from the side, and oddly enough, the black level is rather disappointing for an OLED panel. Furthermore, my test device has enormous "Green-Tint-Probleme", which means that gray areas (e.g. the background in Telegram when dark mode is activated) appear greenish at low brightness. This Problem even appeared on some flagships last year, like the OnePlus 8 Pro on, but on my 10 III review unit this is it Proproblem much worse:

Sony Xperia 10 III display

An actually gray background in Telegram appears extremely greenish at low brightness. (Image: TechnikNews)

I find the maximum brightness to be completely sufficient for the price. It could well get a little brighter, but the panel is still easy to read even on sunny days. The color rendering is also quite convincing. Colors are reproduced intensely, as is typical for OLEDs, but still sufficiently realistic.

Software - almost pure stock Android

The software used is the in-house XperiaUI, based on Android 11, which has many similarities to stock Android on pixel smartphones. In addition, it is equipped with some useful additional functions, such as a concentration mode, with which apps can be paused and their notifications can be hidden. Furthermore, a night mode, an ingenious gesture control and a night light mode are on board. With the latter, the screen takes on a yellowish tint that is easier on the eyes. Unfortunately, some bloatware is preinstalled ex works with Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and LinkedIn. Netflix can only be deactivated and not uninstalled.

Performance - that can be done better

Under the hood is the Snapdragon 690 5G from Qualcomm, which is supported by 6 GB of RAM. With this there is 128 GB of internal memory, which problemos can be expanded with a microSD card.

In my opinion this one has Processor has no place in a smartphone for 429 euros, because even with everyday things there are always stutters and delays, especially in the camera app. The overall operating speed seems very sluggish and of course you also notice the missing 90 or even 120 Hertz. A Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G, Poco F3 and OnePlus North 2 not only offer a higher refresh rate, but also a significantly stronger and future-proof one Proprocessor. I doubt that the Sony Xperia 10 III will perform well in 2 years.

Battery - very long running and charging times

Sony has equipped the Xperia 10 III with a 4.500 mAh battery, which is extremely impressive for the size of the smartphone. This can be charged quickly with up to 30 watts, but only a 7,5 watt power supply is included, with which the battery is fully charged in 3 hours. Both the long charging times and the included power supply have no place in 2021, especially for a smartphone that costs 429 euros. Here even devices for 200 euros deliver significantly more. Wireless charging isn't possible, but you can't really expect it for the price either.

Fortunately, there are also positive things to report about the battery, because the runtimes are convincing across the board and are the absolute highlight of the Sony Xperia 10 III. At the end of the day, with a screen-on-time of 4,5 to 7 hours, I usually had 30 to 50 left Procent battery left, which are outstanding values. This means that even up to two days without a charge are not at all Problem and even heavy users should not get it empty in one day. Such a great battery life in such a compact smartphone is very rare to find these days. Kudos to Sony.

Camera - a shame

On the back, the manufacturer installs a 12 megapixel main camera and an ultra wide-angle camera with 8 megapixels as well as a zoom camera with which objects can be optically enlarged twice. Something like this has become increasingly rare in this price range in recent years. The front camera has a resolution of 2 megapixels.

Sony Xperia 10 III camera

The triple camera of the Sony Xperia 10 III. (Image: TechnikNews)

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with the main camera. The mainproproblem is the expandable dynamic range. Skies are almost always overexposed and slightly darker areas are rendered too dark. The general sharpness is okay, but blurry spots are noticeable again and again at the edges. On the other hand, I really liked the color reproduction, because Sony tries to display recordings as realistically as possible, which works great. In poor light conditions, however, Sony cannot keep up with the competition. The night mode brightens the photos a bit, but the Sony Xperia 10 III performs very disappointingly in terms of sharpness and white balance. In addition, the noise level is extremely high and recordings often appear far too cold.

The ultra-wide-angle camera can convince a little more. Colors are also reproduced very naturally here and I'm also quite satisfied with the sharpness. In these points, for example OnePlus North and Realme gt not quite keep up, whereas they are clearly ahead in terms of dynamic range. As expected, this camera is less of a use in lowlight, but this is where almost all mid-range smartphones fail.

Zoom shots are good for around 400 euros, but you shouldn't expect too much here either. A Galaxy A72 with a 3x optical zoom and even the Realme GT without any telecamera are better here, especially since they don't need to be sharpened unnecessarily. Nevertheless, many mid-range smartphones cannot quite keep up with the 10 III.

The front camera convinces with a very natural color reproduction and decent sharpness. While many smartphones ProIf you have trouble rendering faces with accurate colors, faces on Sony appear beautifully natural and never soft. However, the dynamic range is also large for the front camera Prostated problems.

Test photos

Let's take a look at a few test photos. The following images are absolutely unprocessed, but compressed without loss in order to keep loading times and memory consumption of the website low.

Comparison with the OnePlus Nord and Realme GT

Finally, we want to compare the cameras with the competition in different situations. For this I chose the Realme GT and OnePlus Nord, as they cost about as much as the Sony Xperia 10 III.

In good lighting conditions, all smartphones take useful pictures, which mainly differ in terms of color rendering. While Realme delivers an image that is as saturated as possible, Sony tries to reproduce the images relatively naturally. I like that very much, but there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of edge sharpness and dynamic range. If you switch to the ultra-wide-angle camera, Sony again delivers the most natural colors and, surprisingly, the highest sharpness. Zoom shots are okay, but despite a 2x optical zoom camera, the Realme GT has to admit defeat. The artificial sharpening is quite noticeable, which makes recordings look very unrealistic.

As soon as it gets darker, the Xperia 10 III can no longer keep up. Especially the sharpness is a big one here Proproblem, but there is also a lot of room for improvement in terms of brightness and white balance. In addition, the images quickly begin to rustle and are often reproduced too cold.

Others - speakers, fingerprint sensor, and more

Last but not least, let's take a look at the vibration motor, loudspeaker and fingerprint sensor. The latter is located on the side of the smartphone and unlocks the device quickly and reliably enough. A Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G is a bit better, but you can also get along well with the fingerprint sensor of the Xperia 10 III.

I find the mono speaker below the screen to be below average. It doesn't get particularly loud and it also sounds very thin. Sony should have built in stereo speakers for the price offered.

The built-in vibration motor is only partially convincing. Although it gives a higher quality feel in the hand than the current A series from Samsung or the I live V21 5G, but Xiaomi and Realme are still one step ahead here. In addition, the vibration motor also sounds rather annoying.

Finally, I would like to praise Sony for the fact that USB-C 3.1 is already installed and a notification LED is on board. Nowadays you hardly see either of these things for this price.

Conclusion

The Sony Xperia 10 III was unfortunately not really convincing in my entire test period. The display has a few weaknesses, the performance is quite sluggish, the main camera takes rather disappointing recordings, stereo speakers are missing and the 7,5 watt power supply and the resulting charging times have no place in 2021. The manufacturer is currently charging an impressive 409 euros for this overall package, which is unfortunately far too much. With the competition you get noticeably more offers for significantly less money. For example, the Poco F3 currently offers a very good 300 Hertz OLED display and the Snapdragon 120 for 870 euros. The actual unique selling point of the Sony Xperia 10 III, the Zoom, is available in this price range with the Galaxy A72 (currently 400 euros) or the Realme GT (currently 450 euros) better alternatives. Those who value a waterproof case should also take a closer look at the A72 or the even cheaper A52.

For currently 409 euros, I can only recommend the smartphone to those who are looking for a compact mid-range smartphone with excellent battery life. Those who are (only) looking for it have found the almost perfect device in the Xperia 10 III and will be very happy with it.

If the price drops to around 270 euros in the near future, I can recommend the smartphone apart from the battery life, because the Xperia 10 III is by no means a bad smartphone, it is just far too expensive.

Thank you to Sony Germany for providing the Sony Xperia 10 III!

Buy Sony Xperia 10 III

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Fabian Menzel

Fabian has been part of since mid-September 2020 TechnikNews and regularly supplies the site with various news, but also with some test reports on smartphones. He's having so much fun and is extremely grateful to have such a great team by his side. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music and occasionally taking photos with his Huawei Mate 50 Pro.

Fabian has already written 302 articles and left 24 comments.

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