Sony Xperia 5 V Review: Baby steps

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Sony Xperia 5 V Review: Baby steps

Xperia 5 V Intro


The Sony Xperia 5 Mark V is the latest compact flagship offering from Sony. It's the "tock" part of the cycle, launching in the second half of the year, complementing the bigger Xperia 1 V flagship and the budget Xperia 10 V phone, which both launched this spring.

In terms of heritage, the Xperia 5 V is a direct successor to the Xperia 5 Mark IV, and sadly, in typical smartphone evolution fashion, it's not radically different than its predecessor. Actually, if it weren't for the design change in the camera isle, we'd be hard pressed to tell both phones apart, but that's how it is nowadays.

Pros

  • Premium design with great build quality
  • Compact size
  • Fast and snappy
  • 48MP Exmor T main camera sensor
  • Bright 6.1-inch OLED display with great color accuracy
  • MicroSD card (up to 1TB)
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Solid battery life
  • Sony’s creative suite (Photo Pro, Cinema Pro, Video Pro, Music Pro, Video Creator)

Cons

  • Gets hot under load
  • No variable refresh rate
  • Slow fingerprint scanner
  • Expensive
  • Barebone retail box
  • Heavier and thicker than its predecessor
  • Notification LED is gone


The state of smartphone evolution is the subject of a different article; some people are okay with incremental upgrades, while others lament the lack of will to shake things up a bit. Back to the Sony Xperia 5 V: we'll try to objectively dissect this device and show you everything you need to know about it, as always. Let's start with what's new (and what's carried over) in comparison to the previous model.

What’s new about the Xperia 5 V


  • 52MP (48MP effective) main camera with Exmor T sensor, 1/1.35", 120 fps, OIS/AF, f/1.9
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • New camera aisle design (now housing only two cameras)
  • New Video Creator app
  • New amplifier for the front-facing stereo speakers
  • Notification LED is gone

What stayed the same


  • 6.1" OLED FHD+ display with 120 Hz refresh rate (not variable)
  • 12MP ultrawide camera, 1/2.5", 120 fps, AF
  • 12MP front camera
  • 8GB/128GB base storage
  • 5,000 mAh battery
  • 30W wired, 10W wireless charging
  • Side-mounted capacitive fingerprint reader
  • 3.5 mm audio jack, microSD card slot
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and back
  • Sony's pro-grade creator app suite
  • Dual-action camera shutter button

Now, to be fair to Sony, the Xperia lineup already comes equipped with lots of bells and whistles, arguably more than any other phone on the market (3.5mm audio jack, microSD card, some pro-level software, dual-action shutter button, and more).

What's a bit annoying, though, is that Sony's been removing features from the Xperia 5 lineup ever since the Mark III. The latter had the variable zoom lens system from its big brother (70mm–105mm), and it disappeared on the Xperia 5 Mark IV. And now, the dedicated portrait lens from the Mark IV (60mm) is gone, replaced by 2x crop shots from the main sensor (48mm). To make matters even worse, the notification LED has also been removed (a favorite feature for many Xperia users).

Additionally, the new Xperia 5 Mark V is 11 grams heavier and 0.4mm thicker than its predecessor. What gives? Let's dive in and find out!

Table of Contents:


Xperia 5 V Unboxing




Nothing to see here (flies away). Last year, Sony removed the USB-C cable from the retail box of all Xperia phones, and now there's nothing more to be removed. Surprisingly, the retail box itself is now made of 100% recyclable paper, with a cardboard feel to it. There's a little sleeve with the name of the phone on it, and that's pretty much it.

I'm not going to argue whether or not this cardboard box will save any dolphins, as I'm not versed enough in the matter to know how this stuff works, but the fact of the matter is that you'll need a cable and a charger of your own to use the Xperia 5 V. Asus, for example, ships its Zenfone models with a charger, a cable, and a case, but then again, it probably kills XX dolphins in the process, so you can't have it all.

Xperia 5 V Specs

A more powerful heart and a bigger eye



Not much has changed in the past year. Looking at the specs table, the main upgrades come in the form of the new Qualcomm chipset, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and the transition to a dual-camera system on the back, sporting the Exmor T, a dual-layer transistor-pixel sensor we're familiar with from the Xperia 1 V.

You can check out Xperia 5 V's full specs here.

Xperia 5 V Design & Colors

3 minus 1 equals two



Sony has been relying on a very specific and original design for its smartphones even prior to rebooting the Xperia lineup with the Xperia 1. The company has been reluctant to bend under pressure from modern industry trends, bringing a smile to the face of every Xperia fan out there.

The Xperia 5 V follows the same design philosophy with a few tweaks here and there. The most interesting one is the new camera aisle. It now houses two lenses, so it's shorter but also sticks out a bit more. The pill-shaped isle is made of metal with individual glass covers for each lens. It's a different look, for sure, and I find it more modern in comparison to the old elongated triple camera bump. It's a welcome change.

There's also a slight change to the frame of the phone; now it features a slightly protruding central section. I'm not sure whether this is a clever move to hide the increased thickness of the phone (0.4mm thicker than the Xperia 5 IV), but it does give the impression of a thinner frame and also helps with grip.

You'll find the usual button arrangement, with the side-mounted power button/fingerprint scanner, the volume rocker, and the double-action shutter key. There's a 3.5mm audio jack on the top and a SIM tray that you can remove with your fingernail on the bottom, next to the USB-C port. A typical Xperia affair.

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Sony Xperia 5 V colors:
  • Black
  • Platinum Silver
  • Blue

Xperia 5 V Display

Great, but one thing is still missing



The Xperia 5 V comes with a 6.1-inch OLED display with FHD+ resolution (1080 x 2520 pixels) and a 120Hz refresh rate. It's the same panel carried over from the previous model, and that would've been fine if not for one glaring omission. There's no variable refresh rate as this is not a LTPO panel, and there's no adaptive mode either. You can only select "High", and that's it. Which is a bit disappointing.

Other than that, it's the same color-accurate (average deltaE under 2) and bright (around 1,000 nits) panel we know and love from the Xperia 5 IV. The usual deep corrections and various modes are present as well. You can use lift-to-show, smart backlight control, night light, tap-to-show, wake up on key press, and a customizable Always-on mode as well.

Display Measurements:


⁠The biometrics section goes here, normally because there's an under-display fingerprint sensor, but in the case of the Xperia 5 Mark V, we've got a capacitive side-mounted one.
I'm pretty sure it's the exact same unit used on the Xperia 5 Mark IV. I had both phones during the review, and they both unlocked at the same speed. Which is on the slow side. Occasionally you also get "too many attempts," and the scanner locks up for a couple of seconds.

Xperia 5 V Camera

Xperia 1 V minus one telephoto



Sony has decided to segregate the Xperia 1 and 5 lineups by offering the same camera system on both phones, barring the variable zoom lens system, which stays exclusive to the bigger flagship. The Xperia 5 V borrows the Exmor T sensor introduced earlier this year with the Xperia 1. It's a 52MP 1/1.35" sensor with an effective size of 48MP and pixel binning tech that outputs 12MP images.

The ultrawide camera is a 12MP shooter with an aperture of F/2.2, a focal length equivalent of 16 mm, and a sensor size of 1/2.5". The main 48MP sensor handles the telephoto duties; by cropping the full-resolution image to 12MP, you get the equivalent of a 2x zoom (48mm). Let's see the pictures!

Main camera - Day


Daylight photos turned out quite well, with a good level of detail and dynamic range. The phone handled tricky shots that involved greenery and vegetation with lots of tiny leaves and other grainy details pretty well. Sometimes exposure does tend to jump up and down, but overall, the Xperia 5 V produces very pleasant images with its main 24mm camera.

I used the basic mode to shoot all samples, but if you're into photography, you can do much more with the Xperia 5 V and its manual modes, plus the ability to take RAW images and apply some magic post-production.

Main Camera - Low-light


Low-light shots are generally quite good. There's some post-processing going on (you can toggle Night Mode off, but you can't choose to force it on; the phone chooses when to activate it), and the results are brighter than what we normally see from Xperia phones. If you quickly jump to the night samples taken with the Xperia 1 V, you'll see very similar results, which is not a surprise given both phones use the same sensor and optics.

Zoom Quality


The zoom images are just crops from the main sensor. Many smartphone manufacturers have adopted this approach, and it works rather well, saving the space of an additional telephoto camera in the case of the Xperia 5 V. The phone takes a full-res 48 MP photo, then crops a 12MP portion and saves it, resulting in a 2x image (48mm from the main 24mm). Is it better than the variable zoom system in the Xperia 1 V? Well, I'll leave it to you to answer that question.

Ultra-wide Camera


The ultrawide camera produces some pleasant images, and they blend nicely with the shots from the main sensor, both in color tone and detail. Which shouldn't come as a surprise as both cameras use Sony sensors and both output 12MP images as a result. The 16mm equivalent (0.7x) isn't that ultrawide, but you can expand your shot without loss of detail or artifacts, at least in good lighting conditions.

Selfies


The Xperia 5 V uses the same selfie camera as its predecessor, and the results are quite pleasing. The colors are accurate, and you get a lot of detail in the pictures. You can apply software bokeh via a slider, and it's actually pretty convincing, but if you go overboard with it, you risk giving yourself a haircut.

Video Quality

Video Thumbnail


The Xperia 5 V can shoot 4K videos at up to 120 fps, but for all practical purposes, 4K at 60 fps will suffice. The frames retain a lot of details, and the dynamic range is also quite good. The phone tackles autofocus with no problems. If we have to nitpick, we can say that the image stabilization is not the best in the business. No gimbal-like magic here, but all in all, very pleasant results, even in 1080p resolution.

Of course, there's Cinema Pro and a whole world of possibilities if you're into Hollywood-like-looking clips, and you can also use the Video Pro app to spice up your vlogs. These apps deserve a separate article (we're working on it), but even when shooting in basic mode on the main Photo Pro app, you'll be pleased with the end result.

Xperia 5 V Performance & Benchmarks

Fast and hot!



The Xperia 5 Mark V is a compact powerhouse; there's no doubt about it. The phone comes equipped with the latest silicon from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and unsurprisingly, the synthetic benchmarks put the phone up there with the best in the business.

One thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is that Sony hasn't been able to completely tackle the overheating issues from the previous generations of the compact Xperia 5. Even though Sony cites a 40% increase in cooling capacity, the phone still runs quite hot and throttles performance in repeated heavyweight benchmarks.
The situation has improved, though, as in real-life scenarios, the Xperia 5 V rarely gets unpleasantly hot, and you won't notice any stutter or lag resulting from the excess heat.
Performance Benchmarks:

Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Sony Xperia 5 V2012
Sony Xperia 1 V1994
Samsung Galaxy S232023
Apple iPhone 142122
Asus Zenfone 101684
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Sony Xperia 5 V5132
Sony Xperia 1 V5167
Samsung Galaxy S235180
Apple iPhone 144876
Asus Zenfone 105221
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Sony Xperia 5 V3686
Sony Xperia 1 V3613
Samsung Galaxy S233807
Apple iPhone 143018
Asus Zenfone 103753
Sony Xperia 5 IV2509
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Sony Xperia 5 V1564
Sony Xperia 1 V1999
Samsung Galaxy S232079
Apple iPhone 142115
Asus Zenfone 102610
Sony Xperia 5 IV1300


The base storage configuration you're getting is 8/128GB, and we would've argued that 128GB is a bit on the low side for a flagship if it weren't for the microSD card slot. You can easily expand the storage to 1TB and forget about running out of space. Kudos to Sony for keeping the microSD card slot alive!

Xperia 5 V OS / Android version




The Xperia 5 Mark V runs Android 13 out of the box with very little to no bloatware onboard. You get the usual creator-oriented pro-grade software suite (Videography Pro, Photography Pro, Cinema Pro, Music Pro), Window Manager (to help you split the 21:9 screen in half and try to multitask), but other than that, it's a clean affair.

Sony has added another cool app to its creator portfolio, called Video Creator. It's a quick way to stitch together short clips and make a fun video right on the phone. You can add music and text, apply filters, adjust various parameters, or leave everything on Auto and enjoy the end result. It's the first app that aims to make things simpler and easier rather than offer a ton of settings to tweak, which is a nice change and probably a great move. Time will tell.


On the software update front, things are not looking great. Sony sticks to only two years of major OS updates, which is not sufficient on a flagship phone (and also a pricey one). This means that the Xperia 5 Mark V will get:

Android 14 in 2024
Android 15 in 2025, last update
Security patches up to mid-2026

Xperia 5 V Battery

Solid

The battery and charging tech are another thing that has been carried over from the previous model, which is not a bad thing per se. The Xperia 5 V comes with the same 5,000mAh cell as its predecessor and supports 30W wired fast charging as well as wireless charging.

The battery tests yielded similar results to what we got last year. The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is quite powerful, and in a gaming scenario at 120 Hz, it draws the battery rather quickly. Still, almost 8 hours of gaming at 120Hz is a solid result.

We also got almost 14 hours of non-stop browsing at 120Hz, and a tad above 8 hours of YouTube streaming. Even though those results won't set any battery records, they're all pretty solid (yep, that word again).

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

Browsing test 120Hz(hours)Higher is better
Sony Xperia 5 V13h 38 min
Sony Xperia 5 IV14h 30 min
Sony Xperia 1 V8h 15 min
Samsung Galaxy S2315h 21 min
Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Sony Xperia 5 V23h 28 min
Sony Xperia 5 IV14h 30 min
Sony Xperia 1 V8h 15 min
Samsung Galaxy S2315h 21 min
Apple iPhone 1415h 23 min
Asus Zenfone 1027h 28 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Sony Xperia 5 V8h 5 min
Sony Xperia 5 IV8h 22 min
Sony Xperia 1 V5h 46 min
Samsung Galaxy S236h 7 min
Apple iPhone 146h 44 min
Asus Zenfone 1010h 33 min


Xperia 5 V Audio Quality and Haptics

Front-facing is the right way to do it

The Xperia 5 V comes with two front-facing speakers, and as you've probably seen the subheading, we're pleased with this arrangement. Sony boasts a new amplifier for these two, with a higher driving voltage and a lower noise floor. In reality, the Xperia 5 V sounds loud, clear, and beautiful. Quite a feat, given the compact size of the phone.

The headphone jack is also a great option to have; plugging in my trusty Audio-Technica ATH50 reminded me why I love this connectivity and why I'm not overly fond of Bluetooth speakers in general.

Haptics are nice and snappy too, and there's a Dynamic Vibration feature that Sony insists on keeping on all its flagships. The phone vibrates in sync with music, and in theory, it should enhance the experience. It's a personal preference thing; I keep it off as the constant vibration distracts me.

Xperia 5 V Competitors


At 999 euros (possibly $999), the Xperia 5 V has a wide variety of natural enemies in the smartphone jungle. The previous model, the Xperia 5 Mark IV, is also a contender if you can find it on a deal, as the differences between the two phones aren't that big, but the main competition will be from the big A and big S, as always.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 is a lot cheaper, has three cameras, and its screen can do variable refresh rate magic. The vanilla iPhone 14 is also cheaper, even though its screen is locked in the past with its 60Hz refresh rate.

Add to this bunch a couple of underdogs such as the Asus Zenfone 9 and Zenfone 10, both again much cheaper than the Xperia 5 V, and you'll get the picture. The Xperia 5 V will be another tough sell for Sony.

Xperia 5 V Summary and Final Verdict




The Xperia 5 V is a great little phone. That being said, smartphone evolution seems to be slowing down at alarming rates. A new camera sensor and a better chipset now justify launching a new model, while a couple of years ago it would've meant PR harakiri for the poor company brave enough to try this.

Back to the Xperia 5 Mark V. There are a lot of pros to this phone, some of them on paper, others transcending pure specs and entering real life. The screen is great, the chipset is fast, and there are a whole bunch of now-oldschool options such as a 3.5mm audio jack, a microSD card, etc.
 
The double-action shutter button is a thing every phone with a decent camera should have, and the new main camera sensor is great, no doubt about it. There's very capable pro-grade software on top of all this, and if you're patient and passionate enough, you can do wonders with the Xperia 5 V.

It's not all roses and unicorns, though. There are issues that Sony has been ignoring for generations now. The screen lacks a variable refresh rate, the side-mounted fingerprint sensor is slow and often buggy, and despite the improved cooling, the phone still gets quite hot and throttles the performance.
 
And then there's the price. At $1000, this phone is just too expensive to challenge more popular (and cheaper) options such as the aforementioned Galaxy S23 and iPhone 14. At the end of the day, the Xperia 5 V will probably be adopted by hardcore Sony fans, niche content creators, and people aiming for Xperia-specific features, such as an audio jack or a microSD card slot. And that's just how things are.

Unfortunately, the Xperia 5 V will not be available to buy in US, the models to be released in each region are strategically determined in consideration of the market.


Pros

  • Premium design with great build quality
  • Compact size
  • Fast and snappy
  • 48MP Exmor T main camera sensor
  • Bright 6.1-inch OLED display with great color accuracy
  • MicroSD card (up to 1TB)
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Solid battery life
  • Sony’s creative suite (Photo Pro, Cinema Pro, Video Pro, Music Pro, Video Creator)

Cons

  • Gets hot under load
  • No variable refresh rate
  • Slow fingerprint scanner
  • Expensive
  • Barebone retail box
  • Heavier and thicker than its predecessor
  • Notification LED is gone

PhoneArena Rating:

8.0

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