Sony Xperia 5 – Great High-end spec phone

The name, time and specifications of the Sony Xperia 5 make it a rather difficult device to pin down. Despite its rather useless nomenclature, the phone drags the Sony Xperia 1 onto the market for just a few months, and both phones are possibly from the same generation.

However, the Xperia 5 is a slightly more discreet alternative, with one or two components significantly reduced. At just € 699, it’s around € 150 cheaper than the Xperia 1, making it a tempting value proposition.

We wouldn’t necessarily call the Sony Xperia 5 Sony Xperia 1 Compact but… yes, it is basically the Sony Xperia 1 Compact. And while we’re not entirely sure of its position in the overall market, that makes it a very stylish and affordable flagship option.

You might also be interested in reading our review of the ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G

Sony Xperia 5 Design: tall, slippery and a bit off-balance

Sony Xperia 5The most striking design of the Sony Xperia 5 is its height. Thanks to a 21: 9 screen, one of the many traits it shares with its older brother, and the slightly thicker top and bottom bezels, it is much thinner than the OnePlus 7 Pro, the IPhone 11 or the Samsung Galaxy S10e.

On the plus side, a width of just 68mm means it’s easy to get around. In contrast, much of the top of the phone cannot be reached with the thumb of the hand.

Clearly aware of this, Sony has included a number of one-handed software solutions, but they are just that: workarounds.

Nonetheless, I am glad that it is so easy to run my fingers over the phone, because otherwise I am sure I gave it up. This is a very slippery suction cup, with a shiny glass back and a shiny, slightly rounded aluminum frame.

This vague feeling of discomfort persists when you examine the right edge of the phone. Like the Xperia 1, Sony has crammed all the key buttons of the Xperia 5 on this side. Between the volume and power keys, there’s a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, which, in terms of reliability, I found a bit hit and miss.

Lower down on the right side of the phone is the dedicated Sony-branded camera shutter. Personally, I still find this latest inclusion to be welcome. It’s a useful shortcut to the camera app, making occasional snapshots much more tactile and useful than usual.

However, in general, the right side of the Xperia 1 feels too busy, while the left side and the back of the phone are relatively underutilized.

It’s a fairly light 164g phone, but considering its compact size, it still packs a good density. This is not the case with the iPhone 11 or the Samsung Galaxy S10 in terms of high-end looks. That doesn’t help with cheap keys like the bottom-mounted speaker grill and the lack of texture or visual differentiation in those side buttons.

But the only thing we can say in favor of the Sony Xperia 5’s design, which was also the case with the previous Xperia 1, is that it is different from its rivals. Of great importance.

With an IP65 / IP68 dust / water resistance rating, the Xperia 5 can withstand a fair amount of water and dust. The presence of Gorilla Glass 6 should also ensure that it resists minor scratches and scratches.

Sony Xperia 5 display: super wide OLED that doesn’t always stretch

Sony Xperia 5If I were to reduce the difference between the Sony Xperia 5 and the Sony Xperia 1 to just one key feature, that would be the display.

Instead of the Xperia 1’s huge 6.5-inch pixel-filled 4K display, here we have a 6.1-inch Full HD + display. So it is the smallest panel in a number of ways, but it would be difficult to call it significantly worse in everyday use.

Importantly, this is still an OLED panel, and is therefore still capable of producing pleasant contrast levels with HDR BT.2020 support. While it may not be the best OLED display you’ll find on a smartphone, the Xperia 5 supports Sony’s extended standards and processing prowess. image.

By default, the display is set to Standard mode, which features vivid colors and a cooler tint. Creator Mode will take effect when the appropriate application is used, providing a more natural and warm look, using the aforementioned BT.2020 color gamut for the film content.

You can still play ultra-wide video content natively, thanks to this extended 21: 9 aspect ratio. Of course, the fact that there really isn’t that much 21: 9 video is still a major drawback. As it is, most of the video content you’ll find will be in 16: 9, creating some large bezels on the Xperia 5’s screen.

However, getting the right Netflix movie may partly justify the Xperia 5’s annoying display. Blade Runner 2049 looks absolutely stunning here.

Another negative side effect of this elongated screen is that it can sometimes make a 6.1-inch screen feel surprisingly small. The image may be wider at times, but it will always be a little shorter than what you are used to.

We noted in our Xperia 1 review that no phone really needs 4K resolution, and the Xperia 5 is going to prove it. 1080 x 2520 is more than enough at this size, whatever the task. This is because it is significantly sharper than the LCD on the similarly priced iPhone 11.

Sony Xperia 5 Performance: fast and predictable performance across the board

Sony Xperia 5 ´Internally, you get the exact same configuration as the Xperia 1, not to mention most of the other Android 2019 flagship phones. The combination of a Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of RAM has been a hit for several of the best phones this year.

Sure enough, the Sony Xperia 5 flies. As you might expect, the general navigation is smooth; but the advanced tasks don’t seem to affect the phone either.

Split-screen multitasking is one of the main features Sony offers with the Xperia 5, as we’ll see in a moment. But running two apps simultaneously this way doesn’t seem to stretch the phone in the least.

The games also work perfectly. Call of Duty Mobile works well with the graphics quality setting maximized to Very High and the frame rate set to Max. This is a similar case with PUBG Mobile, with the graphics in HDR and the frame rate set to Extreme.

Geekbench 4’s results are predictable, with a single median score of 3472 and a multi-core median score of 10,907. It’s roughly on par with the Xperia 1 and OnePlus 7 Pro, and slightly ahead of the Huawei P30 Pro.

You also get generous 128GB internal storage for gaming as standard, along with a microSD slot for up to 1TB of expansion.

Sony Xperia 5 software: a fairly faithful version of Android, with a number of important adjustments

Sony’s custom skin isn’t as clunky as it used to be. In its current version of Android 9.0 Pie, this custom user interface is actually quite elegant, much closer to the design philosophy of the original operating system than most of its original operating system. rivals.

Switching from a device to Android One, a completely new version of Android, revealed an experience very similar, in the form of the app icons, to the basic app design. Home screen and application bar drag and drop operation.

The differences largely stem from a number of minor cosmetic changes, but Sony has added some useful stuff under the hood. For one thing, the company has gone to great lengths to tweak Android 9.0 Pie for the Xperia 5’s 21: 9 elongated screen.

The most notable of them is the multi-window mode, which allows you to run two applications simultaneously side by side, or rather one on top of the other. Due to the unusually high screen ratio, none of the apps in this scenario seem particularly compressed, and the Xperia 5’s shocking internals ensure there’s no penalty in terms of that either. performance.

Sony has ensured that this multi-window feature is also easily accessible, even beyond a dedicated multi-window app. From the app switcher screen, you can tap the app icon to split the screen (as long as supported). Notifications often include a multi-window shortcut as well.Sony Xperia 5

You can also access Multi Window via the Xperia 5’s Side Sense feature, which is essentially an additional context menu overlay that can be displayed by double tapping on the very edge of the screen.

The menu itself helps mitigate the effect of the big screen in one-handed use. You can access commonly used applications, key notification menu shortcuts like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the aforementioned multi-window feature with your thumb.

You can also access a full one-handed mode that minimizes the screen. Another related inclusion is the ability to pull up the notification menu from anywhere on the home screen, which helps mitigate the effects of that big screen.

Side Sense is great when you can access it. The only problem is that the Side Sense double push control does not work reliably enough. There’s a narrow sweet spot on the edge of the screen that’s really hard to consistently hit. I needed the tutorial to show me which area was sensitive to this command, and even then I couldn’t start the function most of the time.

Another interesting case of questionable performance is Sony’s dynamic shake feature. It provides exaggerated haptic feedback to accompany the sound, which theoretically provides a more visceral and tactile response.

It’s actually just distracting you, both for you and those around you, as your phone rings in the background. I quickly turned the function off to avoid trouble and embarrassment.

Elsewhere, Game Enhancer offers you a drop-down overlay that allows you to apply a series of custom edits as you play. These include notification settings and the ability to increase performance or battery life in individual games.

Sony Xperia 5 camera: one of the best Sony smartphone cameras to date

Despite its nominal junior status, we are pleased to see that the Xperia 5 comes with exactly the same triple camera setup that impressed us on the Xperia 1.

As before, this is arguably the best Sony smartphone camera to date, delivering just below the next level in functionality and performance.

It follows the iPhone 11 Pro by offering three 12-megapixel sensors. In addition to the standard wide lens (with a bright f / 1.6 aperture), there are f / 2.4 telephoto lenses and ultra-wide lenses. Both Wide Angle and Telephoto offer 5-axis Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

It is worth noting the telephoto lens, which manages to take very wide shots from “far away” that are really usable. There’s a lot less weird distortion effect often found on these triple-camera systems, and those shots aren’t noticeably different in tone from others either.

Of this trio, the Sony Xperia 5 can twist solid results and in a combination of conditions. Unfortunately, there is no night mode, but the camera can still take usable and reasonably natural photos in limited lighting.

In fact, natural is the Xperia 5 camera’s motto. Its shots aren’t particularly vivid or punchy, but they do capture decent levels of detail and realistic tone.

I did see a tendency for overexposure in Xperia 5 shots, especially in very bright weather. This was especially the case when I took the photo relatively quickly, indicating that the automatic scene selector was not keeping up. I had best results by holding the phone for a second or two before pressing the shutter button.

Again, a physical shutter is nice to have for taking pictures. I found that the Xperia 5 would reliably lock onto the desired subject, using such a workable physical button in most situations.

Sony also offers the ability to adjust white balance and exposure on the fly, giving you quick and easy control over the brightness of your photos. Eye AF, on the other hand, is an advanced camera feature that effectively locks onto the subject’s eyes.

I wasn’t particularly in love with Sony’s Portrait mode. The results failed to highlight the subject, showing a slightly cloudy and blotchy appearance.

The Xperia 5, however, could be a major competitor if you are looking for a powerful video recorder. Sony offers a separate Cinema Pro application that offers precise control over your footage. Think of it as a professional mode for the video function, with cinematic look and full manual control.

Up front, an 8-megapixel wide camera handles selfies very well, although it’s a shame there isn’t Eye AF there as well.

Sony Xperia 5 camera: one of the best Sony smartphone cameras to date

Despite its nominal junior status, we are pleased to see that the Xperia 5 comes with exactly the same triple camera setup that impressed us on the Xperia 1.

As before, this is arguably the best Sony smartphone camera to date, delivering just below the next level in functionality and performance.

It follows the iPhone 11 Pro by offering three 12-megapixel sensors. In addition to the standard wide lens (with a bright f / 1.6 aperture), there are f / 2.4 telephoto lenses and ultra-wide lenses. Both Wide Angle and Telephoto offer 5-axis Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).

It is worth noting the telephoto lens, which manages to take very wide shots from “far away” that are really usable. There’s a lot less weird distortion effect often found on these triple-camera systems, and those shots aren’t noticeably different in tone from others either.

Of this trio, the Sony Xperia 5 can twist solid results and in a combination of conditions. Unfortunately, there is no night mode, but the camera can still take usable and reasonably natural photos in limited lighting.

In fact, natural is the Xperia 5 camera’s motto. Its shots aren’t particularly vivid or punchy, but they do capture decent levels of detail and realistic tone.

I did see a tendency for overexposure in Xperia 5 shots, especially in very bright weather. This was especially the case when I took the photo relatively quickly, indicating that the automatic scene selector was not keeping up. I had best results by holding the phone for a second or two before pressing the shutter button.

Again, a physical shutter is nice to have for taking pictures. I found that the Xperia 5 would reliably lock onto the desired subject, using such a workable physical button in most situations.

Sony also offers the ability to adjust white balance and exposure on the fly, giving you quick and easy control over the brightness of your photos. Eye AF, on the other hand, is an advanced camera feature that effectively locks onto the subject’s eyes.

I wasn’t particularly in love with Sony’s Portrait mode. The results failed to highlight the subject, showing a slightly cloudy and blotchy appearance.

The Xperia 5, however, could be a major competitor if you are looking for a powerful video recorder. Sony offers a separate Cinema Pro application that offers precise control over your footage. Think of it as a professional mode for the video function, with cinematic look and full manual control.

Up front, an 8-megapixel wide camera handles selfies very well, although it’s a shame there isn’t Eye AF there as well.

Sony Xperia 5 battery life: quite normal, but better than Xperia 1

Sony Xperia 5With the Xperia 1, Sony decided not to keep up with its rivals and install a bigger battery, a surprising decision given this phone’s 4K display. The result was quite mundane resistance.

Of course, the Xperia 5 has a less intensive Full HD + screen. Its 3,140 mAh battery is only slightly smaller than the 3300 mAh unit in the Xperia 1.

So it’s a huge improvement, although I still wouldn’t say it’s really impressive. A full day of moderate to heavy use would leave approximately 30% in the tank. It’s okay, even if it’s not spectacular.

On the media playback front, an hour of HDR streaming from Netflix drained 9% of the Xperia 5’s battery. That’s a significant improvement over the Xperia 1’s 12% at the same voltage.

You don’t get wireless charging with the Xperia 5, which is a shame. Still, the presence of an 18W charger in the box is a welcome inclusion.

Should you buy the Sony Xperia 5?

Sony followed the Xperia 1 with the more compact, but apparently similar Xperia 5. It sacrifices the big 4K screen of the old phone for a more manageable and affordable flagship phone.

It retains its elite performance and original 21: 9 OLED screen, albeit a little smaller and less sharp, as well as the same impressive three-camera system.

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However, the Sony Xperia 5 is not an outright winner. For the same price, you can get a OnePlus 7 Pro or an iPhone 11, both of which have more attractive hardware and cleaner software.

But it’s still one of the most comprehensive smartphone bundles Sony has produced in years.

Verdict

Following in the footsteps of the Xperia 1, the Xperia 5 is another Sony flagship phone, this time offering a slightly better balance between high-end specs and everyday functionality. The Xperia 5 sacrifices the wow factor a bit for a bit more usability, but we’re quite happy with the trade-off.