Sony has been making a comeback in the smartphone market this year. Earlier, we got the Xperia 1, with its flagship specs and 4K display. However, that was considered too big, chunky, expensive, and extra for some people, which resulted in a demand for a smaller, slightly more affordable device. Thankfully, Sony listened and gave us the Xperia 5.
The Sony Xperia 5 is a compact and budget-friendly version of the Xperia 1 with some features turned down a notch. Do note, however, that the phrase “budget-friendly” is only relative here. The Xperia 5 still belongs to the premium smartphone market with its current price tag. How does it compare to other devices in this range? Let’s find out.
Design & Display
The Sony Xperia 5 features the same glass and metal sandwich design that we’re familiar with. Up front, you get a 6.1″ 1080 x 2520 FHD+ HDR OLED display. It has the same 21:9 ratio that we saw in the Xperia 1 and Sony likes to call this CinemaWide™ because most movies, having this aspect ratio, would fit perfectly on the screen. Unlike the Xperia 1, the display isn’t 4K, which I don’t really mind. I do, however, believed the Xperia still deserved a QHD+ resolution instead of the aging FHD+.
Apart from the unusually tall display, you don’t have anything particularly noteworthy in the front. In fact, the design might feel a bit outdated with bezels, chin, and forehead slightly larger than that of the competition. This does, however, have a positive effect as there’s no need for a notch or a popup front camera that adds complexities to the design.
Move to the back and you’ll find it to be one of the most subtle rear ends. There’s a flat piece of glass with a vertically oriented triple camera setup on the top left. A Sony logo in the very center and the Xperia script at the bottom. If you’re into minuscule details, you’ll also find a tiny NFC logo towards the right of the camera module, indicating where the sensor is.
Overall, I like the design of the Xperia smartphones and the Xperia 5 is no exception. It’s tall and narrow, which means you can hold it in one hand without much difficulty. You will, however, find it cumbersome to reach the top parts of the display but thankfully there’s a one-handed mode built in to cater to that.
Just like most phones that came out earlier this year, the Xperia 5 has 3 back cameras. The sensors are as follows:
- A 12MP main camera with 26mm focal length and f/1.6 aperture.
- A 12MP telephoto with 52mm focal length and f/2.4 aperture. It gives optical zoom equivalent to 2x than standard.
- A 12MP ultrawide with 16mm focal length and f/2.4 aperture. It gives a field of view equivalent to 130°.
There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about these sensors. They do their job pretty well but are far from being the best out there. The Xperia 5 also lacks from having a proper dedicated Night Mode, which every phone now has. As far as video recording goes, here’s what’s possible with the Xperia 5’s cameras.
While we do appreciate the inclusion of 4K@60fps video recording, we can’t help but notice the sheer incompetence in the slow motion video department. While the competition, and even the Xperia 1, is at 960fps, the Xperia 5 only gets 120fps. To compensate for that, Sony has given us a neat little professional video recording app that comes with premium cine filters and controls built in.
And just like that, we come to the front camera. The Xperia 5 has a single selfie camera that’s housed in the chin above the display. It is an 8MP shooter with a 24mm focal length and f/2.0 aperture. As far as video recording is concerned, it can record 1080p@30fps. Sadly, there’s no 4K, however, you do get a 5-Axis Digital EIS.
Powering the Xperia 5 is the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855 CPU paired to the Adreno 640 GPU. I would call these latest and greatest but that’s no longer the case, especially after the announcement of the Snapdragon 865. Regardless, this is still one of the best CPU/GPU combinations out there and it will power through all your apps and games without a sweat.
As far as RAM and Storage are concerned, you don’t really get an option. There’s only one version of the Xperia 5 and it comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. Now, these numbers aren’t bad, however, they might start to show their age after a year of use. 6GB RAM is slowly becoming obsolete and 8GB is preferred on high-end smartphones. Thankfully for storage, you do get an option to expand via a MicroSD card up to 512GB.
Lastly, in performance, let’s talk about the Xperia 5’s 3140mAh Li-ion battery. While the capacity might not seem much on paper, let’s not forget that this device has a normal-sized 1080p display with just a 60Hz refresh rate. This results in an impressive endurance rating of 96 hours which overshadows Xperia 1’s (3330mAh) 79 hours by a huge margin. In addition to that, the Xperia 5 comes with an 18W fast charger out of the box for quick top ups.
Software & Security
The Xperia 5 comes, out of the box, with Android 9.0 (Pie). Just like the CPU, this is no longer the latest and greatest software out there. However, an update to Android 10 will be available soon, which will keep things updated. The Xperia 5 seems to run on stock Android, which is always a good thing, however, Sony does have additional features put on top of it.
In the security department, the Xperia 5 has a side-mounted optical fingerprint sensor. It’s not the fastest one out there nor is it placed the most conveniently. However, it is secure so I guess its earlier shortcomings can be forgiven.
Price & Verdict
The Xperia 1, with its specs and features, will set you back $790. Now I know that’s a lot of money for a “budget-friendly” Xperia 1. However, the Xperia 1 costs $950 so I guess you’re saving some money. Regardless, this isn’t enough to justify the unusually high price tag. You can get devices for cheaper with way better specs and features. I’d recommend going for the OnePlus 7T, it offers much better value.