Sony Xperia 5 V Review: Small and Mighty but Too Pricey

The chief problem I had with Sony’s flagship smartphone of 2023, the Xperia 1 V, was that it was just too darn expensive for what it offered. So here we are with the more affordable Xperia 5 V (pronounced five mark five). Except it’s hardly an “affordable” smartphone—it still costs £850 (around $1,000), roughly £450 less than its taller sibling.

The good news is that this new Sony phone is well rounded, with a silly name, a classy design, and a unique feature set. It packs high-end specs and still aims squarely at the content creator niche with photo and video features that will go over most people’s heads. It’s behind the curve on some fronts when compared to similarly priced Android phones, but at least it’s a better value than the Xperia 1 V. It is a shame it’s not coming to the US.

Sony Style

Sony’s signature rectangular profile is a look that dates back over a decade to its earliest Android phones, but the Xperia range has grown taller and slimmer over the years. Some describe it as compact, but the Xperia 5 V is significantly heavier and taller than an iPhone 15 or Samsung Galaxy S23. It’s just narrower than both. That makes it easy to manage one-handed, though the keyboard can feel cramped in portrait orientation.

This glass sandwich comes in black, blue, or platinum (gray), but the back of the Xperia 5 V is smooth and matte, missing out on the grippy texture of its more expensive counterpart. But just like the Xperia 1 V, there is a 3.5-mm headphone jack up top, the right edge hosts a volume rocker, power button with fingerprint sensor, and camera shutter button, plus there’s a microSD card along the bottom. There’s an IP65/IP68 dust- and water-resistance rating to survive submersions in water, and Sony employs Gorilla Glass Victus for the glass, making it durable enough. However, a lot of phones at this price have upgraded to the slightly tougher Victus 2.

One of the main downgrades from the Xperia 1 V is the display, but I don’t think most folks will have any issues with this 6.1-inch OLED. The 2,520 x 1,080-pixel resolution is sharp, and the screen gets bright enough to remain legible outdoors if you avoid direct sunlight. It still has Sony’s preferred 21:9 aspect ratio, with room for bezels and front-facing speakers top and bottom, making it nice for watching movies (though you don’t get Sony’s Creator Mode for faithful color reproduction). The refresh rate is 60 Hz by default, but you can switch it to 120 Hz for a smoother experience at the cost of some battery life (it’s a trade-off worth making).

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor with 8 GB of RAM makes for flagship performance. It feels responsive, jumps in and out of apps with ease, and runs games like Asphalt 9: Legends and Kingdom Rush Origins for hours without complaint. The Xperia 5 V gets warm during long gaming sessions or when you shoot video, but not worryingly so. Just 128 GB of storage is disappointing, but Sony mitigates it by including a microSD card slot, a rarity on top-end phones these days.

Battery life is a strength. The 5,000-mAh cell saw me through the busiest of days, and you could push to two days between charges if you use Sony’s Stamina mode. A half-hour of charging was enough to add 50 percent, but the Xperia 5 V took almost two hours to fully charge, which is quite slow compared to the competition. Charging maxes out at 30 watts and slows down when the phone gets warm. Thankfully, there’s support for wireless charging.

Slick Shooter

Sony’s image sensors account for a hefty slice of the company’s profits. It makes far more money by supplying camera sensors to other manufacturers, including Apple, than from sales of its own Xperia range. The camera system in the Xperia 5 V is strong, with the same 52-MP main camera and 12-MP ultrawide, as the Xperia 1 V. It only misses out on the telephoto lens, but Sony uses that main sensor to crop in and deliver a decent 2X zoom, producing a slightly sharper photo than standard digital zoom.

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