Sony’s Xperia 5 has some favourable features but also a few flaws, writes Noel Campion
At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin last month Sony launched the Xperia 5, a more compact version of the Xperia 1, which shares most of the hardware goodies of it’s bigger brother. The Xperia 5 is a premium flagship device and not a cut-down version of the Xperia 1, in the same way the Samsung Note 10 is a smaller version of the Note 10 +.
It features the same glass front and back design with some differences in the locations of things like the buttons, and triple camera module on the rear. On the left edge is the port for the SIM and microSD tray. Unlike most phones, you don’t need a special pin tool to remove this tray. Instead, you can use your nails to pull it out. Although the Xperia 5 is rated IP65/IP68 for dust and waterproofing, this type of tray system doesn’t inspire me with confidence. On the right edge is the volume up/down, power and dedicated camera buttons. Between the volume and power is the fingerprint sensor.
The Xperia 5 features a 6.1-inch, 21:9 OLED display with a 1080 resolution. This is a step down from the Xperia 1’s 6.5-inch 4K stunner. Although that sounds great, 4K is overkill and the human eye isn’t capable of resolving 4K resolution on a screen that small.
As displays go, the Xperia 5’s screen is impressive with deep black levels and it can get bright enough to be able to see it on sunny days. Colours appear accurate in Creator mode. However, in Standard display mode, colours are more vibrant and you can change the white balance from warm to cooler tones. The display, together with originally developed image processing, supports wide colour space ITU-R BT.2020 as well as DCI-P3 with Illuminant D65.
The Xperia 5’s 21:9 aspect ratio means that it’s great for watching movies, because most will fill the entire screen. However, if you watch a lot of videos on YouTube, the opposite is true where you’ll see large black bars on either side of the content. Of course, you can pinch to zoom in and fill the screen, but this means you’re cropping the top and bottom of the video.
The tall aspect does mean you’ll see more content on social media feeds at a single glance. This is a nice bonus and the smaller width makes holding the phone more comfortable. On the downside, reaching the top of the phone with one hand is more difficult, something I don’t generally have a problem with on a phone with a 6-inch display.
As you’d expect from a Sony device, audio is excellent with support for Hi-Res audio, DSEE HX and stereo speakers. Of course, there’s no headphone jack, but that’s par for the course in 2019 flagships.
I don’t usually have an issue with a fingerprint sensor located on the edge of a phone, but on the Xperia 5, it doesn’t stand out. My review model was the black colour and it’s difficult to distinguish buttons and you have to feel for where the sensor is. However, there’s face unlock too and although it’s less secure, I found it far more convenient and reliable than relying solely on the fingerprint sensor.
The Xperia 5 does have lots of grunt under the hood. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage with the option to upgrade this via the microSD card slot.
The triple camera setup on the rear is a 12MP setup with wide (26mm), ultra-wide (16mm) and standard (52mm) lenses. On the front is an 8MP camera that offers a wide angle lens that’s great for group selfies or shots where you want to get lots of the background into the frame.
Just like Sony’s high-end mirrorless cameras, the Xperia 5 features Eye AF. On a full frame camera with a really shallow depth of field, Eye AF is fantastic, but on a smartphone with a tiny sensor that has a massive depth of field, I wasn’t convinced there was much of a difference between using face AF and Eye AF. Nonetheless, it does work well and you’ll see a green box on the eye to indicate the focus has locked onto the eye to ensure that it stays in focus. One really neat feature is that the software is clever enough to know if your finger is in the way of the lens and warn you.
The Xperia 5 is a really nice phone but there are lots of nice phones out there with similar features and specifications for less. There’s no wireless charging, 3.5mm headphone jack or any night mode in the camera software. Also, the 3,140mAh battery does mean you’ll be reaching for the charger before the end of a heavy days use. However, a normal days use is plenty good enough to see you through a full day.
Available now from estore.sonymobile.com/ie at €799.