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Sony Xperia 5 V
What we like
What we don't like
Sony Xperia 5 V
Sony Xperia 5 V review: At a glance
- What is it? The Sony Xperia 5 V is the more affordable alternative to the Xperia 1 V flagship.
- What is the price? Sony's Xperia 5 V isn't available in the US (yet), but costs £849 and €999 in the UK and other regions in Europe, respectively.
- Where can you buy it? The Sony Xperia 5 V was available to pre-order on September 1, with units shipping from September 21 (depending on the region).
- How did we test it? I tested the Sony Xperia 5 V for five days. The review unit was supplied by Sony.
- Is it worth it? The Sony Xperia 5 V is still a fair pick for those after expandable storage, a headphone jack, and swathes of multimedia features, but the phone struggles to stand out elsewhere.
Should you buy the Sony Xperia 5 V?
If you’re longing to get your hands on Sony’s best mobile technology but wince at Xperia 1 pricing, you’ll undoubtedly be interested in the new Sony Xperia 5 V. However, has Sony made just the right nips and tucks to keep its more affordable flagship competitive with the best Android phones?
Fans of Sony’s formula will feel right at home with the Xperia 5 V. It still refuses to bow to convention, boasting a headphone jack, expandable microSD storage for up to 1TB more space, and a solid enough side-mounted fingerprint scanner that you’ll seldom find elsewhere. Sony has tweaked the phone’s look with a new dual camera housing, but the metallic and glass cuboid is unmistakably Xperia. As is the lightweight Android 13 interface and the suite of pro-grade Camera, Cinema, and Video Pro apps. But truth be told, you’ve seen this formula before, and after reviewing several generations of Xperia phones, a sense of déjà vu was unavoidable.
So what’s new? Well, Sony is doubling down on the content creator/consumer angle. The new Video Creator app can quickly compile your footage into short highlight videos and offers robust adjustment tools once you dive in further. But the auto-generated music is corny, and this isn’t a replacement for your laptop editing suite. Game Enhancer has a more colorful UI and now boasts direct-to-YouTube streaming. You also receive Bravia Core for Xperia, which is good for five movie titles and one year of unlimited streaming. Nice additions, but, in typical Sony fashion, these will appeal to niches rather than the mainstream.
Sony’s hardware is usually the more impressive aspect of the Xperia line-up, and there are some new tricks here. For starters, the improved amplifier in the front-facing stereo speakers impressed me, just like it did on the Xperia 1 V.
A 5,000mAh battery in a phone this compact is an even more impressive feat and lends itself to all-day battery life and more. Our testing points to over 15 hours of web browsing, 22 hours of video streaming, and over three hours of extreme gaming as a worst-case scenario. The bottom line, the Xperia 5 V will take you through all your needs on a single charge, which is good news because it takes a painful 96 minutes to fill the Xperia 5 V from empty.
The Xperia 5 V will take you through all your needs on a single charge.
Sluggish charging partially results from high temperatures, causing Sony to throttle back on the already low 24W peak charging rate after just 15 minutes. A symptom that also affects the phone’s sustained performance under stress. While more than acceptable for daily tasks and lighter games, the phone hits an uncomfortably warm 44.8°C during longer sessions playing the latest high-end games. Still, the phone performs in the same profile as its larger sibling and better than some other Android flagships, owing to an improved cooling solution, but it’s not an extreme-performance gaming handset.
The Xperia 5 V doesn’t nail everything, and in some regards, this generation feels like a step backward. For starters, you’d associate the chunky bezels with budget Android phones of yore. The look diminishes the otherwise premium feel we’ve come to associate with previous models. Worse, it makes the already slim 21:9 OLED screen (which is still locked to either 120Hz or 60Hz default, with no dynamic adjustments) feel awkwardly cramped, like peering through an airplane window.
Next, the telephoto camera is gone. Sony has gradually gutted the Xperia 5 series’ long-range camera capabilities, from a cutting-edge 2.9x to 4.4x variable focal length camera in the Xperia 5 III to a fixed 2.5x zoom in the 5 IV. But with no zoom lens at all on the 5 V, the phone also lacks a proper portrait focal length, betraying the Xperia’s long-running photography focus and immediately putting it behind the very best camera phones.
Sony understands multimedia better than anyone and distills its expertise down to the Xperia 5 V.
In its place, Sony uses a 2x crop from the primary camera’s 48MP resolution to produce a 12MP snap (just like the latest iPhone and Pixel). However, that picture still has a 24mm focal length (not 48mm), and the images, while vibrant, lack the sharpness of an optical zoom. The camera is also capped at a 6x max zoom, but it looks awful, with 3x being its practical limit.
Thankfully, the new Exmor-T stacked image sensor looks great for standard snaps and holds up reasonably OK in dim light, too. Colors are punchy, eye AF and tracking help keep everything in focus, and the main and ultrawide cameras handle HDR scenarios much better than in previous years, although the ultrawide isn’t quite as consistently good.
The selfie camera is also plenty punchy and offers nice looking bokeh blur with solid edge detection, but the smaller sensor struggles in low light. On the whole, Sony has dialed things up just enough here to make the pictures stand out without going overboard. Ditto for video, which looks excellent in flavors up to 4K 120fps.
If you don’t like the look, you can tweak to your heart’s content with Photo Pro and Video Pro’s extensive manual controls and/or opt for one of Sony’s six color profile presets. In the right hands, the Xperia 5 V is as versatile as the best in the business. However, this isn’t quite a best-in-class camera setup without long-range capabilities.
Likewise, just two years of Android updates is another letdown. Apple, Samsung, and Google offer four or more years of OS upgrades for the same price, with the latter expected to push that to a whopping seven years with the Pixel 8. Despite the Xperia 5 V’s multimedia strengths, there are one too many trade-offs that certainly make checking out the competition worthwhile.
What are the best Sony Xperia 5 V alternatives?
Sony’s Xperia 5 V comes up against stiff competition in the entry-level flagship segment. All the major brands do a great job distilling solid flagship specs into a more affordable form factor, but whether they’re better than the Xperia boils down to exactly what you’re looking for.
- Samsung Galaxy S23 ($799 at Amazon): Arguably the handset to beat in this price bracket, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 is an impressive piece of kit. Its triple camera array, 120Hz LTPO display, and long-term update policy go beyond Sony’s model. Not forgetting that the phone matches the water resistance and wireless charging specs, too. However, Samsung doesn’t offer a headphone jack or expandable storage.
- Google Pixel 7 Pro ($589.98 at Amazon): If you’re looking for a robust camera experience, you can’t go wrong with Google’s Pixel 7 Pro, which boasts 5x optical zoom capabilities, great low-light snaps, and Google Photos editing chops. Plus, the phone will see five years of support, which we can’t say for the Xperia. Although, at this point, it’s probably worth waiting to see what the Pixel 8 Pro has in store.
- Apple iPhone 15 ($829.99 at Amazon): At this price point, it would be rude not to mention Apple’s latest entry-level flagship. The iPhone 15 is compact like Sony’s flagship and delivers comparably on the photography and videography fronts. A robust build, MagSafe wireless charging, and long-term update support make this a good alternative. Providing you’re happy to move to iOS and can live without Sony’s extra ports.
Sony Xperia 5 V specs
|Sony Xperia 5 V|
6.1-inch HDR OLED FHD+
120Hz refresh rate
21:9 aspect ratio
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
microSDXC support (up to 1TB)
30W wired charging
18W wireless charging
- 52MP main (24mm), 48MP effective, 1/1.35-inch, OIS
- 12MP ultrawide (16mm), 1/2.5-inch
- 12MP, 1/2.9-inch
3.5mm headphone jack
Full-stage stereo speakers
360 Reality Audio 360 Reality Audio Upmix
Bluetooth LE Audio
154 x 68 x 8.6mm
Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2
Sony Xperia 5 V review: FAQ
Yes, the Xperia 5 V supports 5G networking but just on sub-6GHz bands, not mmWave.
No, the Xperia 5 V uses GSM network bands for 2G and 3G. However, with 4G and 5G networks now commonplace, this is less of a concern than in previous years.