- Still the compact smartphone we have seen from Sony
- The Camera does wonders with new Sensors and Performance
- Battery Life on this is Fantastic and lasts for a good while
- Nice Display for content consumption
- Still one to tout a Physical Fingerprint Sensor, Camera Button, Headphone Jac
- IP68 with Gorilla Glass Victus 2
- Best tool-less SIM Slot which also comes with a MicroSD card slot
- The price tag may scare consumers from getting one
- Malaysia doesn't get the Silver and Blue Xperia 5 V :(
- Front Facing camera still needs some improvements
- Charging speeds might frustrate you
With the rumour floating around about how the Sony Xperia line might come to an end and about the Xperia Pro-II, personally, all I can hope for these phones to be around for a long while because in this Sony Xperia 5 V Review – I got to use this phone for good 3+ weeks and honestly, it’s the second Android phone this year I’ve had a great time with.
Sony Xperia 5 V Review
The Compact Flagship You Can Find
With the Taiwanese brand (ASUS) which made the most compact phone, has closed its Smartphone division, the torch falls onto Sony’s lap to make the best one possible. And while the Sony Xperia 5 V, isn’t the most compact phone, the ratio it comes in and the 6.1” display, make it the most compact phone for today’s standard.
Weighing at 182 grams, this phone is light but not light as a feather, in a good way (like certain smartphones, which I am not a fan of). Sony does incorporate some harmonious design in their product – and while it has not changed much dimensionally for a few generations, the feel of it sure has improved.
Unfortunately, the Sony Xperia 5 V doesn’t get that grippier micro-textured glass back from the Xperia 1 V which was just too good in my opinion – but it still uses a matte texture, which can be a touch slippery for some. But hey, it’s not a fingerprint magnet.
But the sides of the phones are so flat that holding and gripping this phone feels almost natural. Today, Sony is the only smartphone brand that makes smartphones suitable for one-hand use. It’s that convenient. Although we do understand that the dimensions could be an acquired taste.
Other than that, the phone is IP68 rated, uses Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and remains the only phone to use a toolless SIM slot. What’s sad about the Xperia 1 V is that we don’t get the other colours – like the Blue and Silver in Malaysia. This sucks. ☹
Sure, we don’t get the prowess of the 4K Display we saw with the Sony Xperia 1 V, however, the 21:9 aspect ratio FHD+ HDR OLED Display sure does knock the socks off with its pleasurable viewing experience for both gaming and content consumption.
Sony excels in offering the best content consumption experience with its CineAlta mode or Creator Mode, which allows users to watch shows exactly the way the creators intended them to be viewed. The true black and beautiful colours it produces and the experience from a small display, sure do hit the spot.
Since it is a 21:9 aspect ratio, movies that use the Panavision ratio fit like a glove, leaving no room for black bars and a screen full of content. Not to forget, Gaming on this display is pretty decent too and with the Game Modes in come with where you can customize the experience, colours and so on – it sure is desirable. The brightness gets pretty bright under harsh sunlight conditions and so far, I’ve had no issues with it.
Specification and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Performance
Just like the Sony Xperia 1 V, the 5 V shares a lot of the specifications and performance with its bigger brethren. Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 with 8GB RAM and 256GB Storage with an expandable MicroSD card slot – this phone hits all the right marks. Granted it’s close to the end of 2023 and by now we all know how well the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 performs.
But in Sony’s case, the UI is more vanilla than you think, and has no extra apps installed or ads in it – so, it has no extra weight to carry, therefore the performance is a lot snappier. There were no complaints on our end while using the phone. When we were on Android 13, we did run into some odd bugs here and there, like the Split Screen feature wouldn’t work well or the multi-tasking swipes as well.
But during the three weeks we were reviewing, the phone got the Android 14 update, and it was all fixed.
Major Camera Change
Sony still offers the full suite of pro apps for its camera, like Photo Pro, Video Pro, Cinema Pro, Music Pro and Video Creator which is a newly added app to edit short-form content easily. These apps may overwhelm many first-time users who are looking for a simple “point-and-shoot” type of experience. But our advice is, to take it easy and a step at a time.
Unlike the Xperia 5 IV, which essentially had the same camera setup as its flagship (dedicated sensors for different modes: ultra-wide, normal, and telephoto) – the Xperia 5 V reinvents the camera experience by just equipping 2 cameras instead of the usual 3. You still get the Zeiss T* coating for that anti-reflection while shooting images – however, just on one lens.
- Main Camera: 48MP (52MP full aspect) Exmor T Sensor at f/1.9 (24mm and 48mm focal length)
- Ultra-Wide: 12MP Exmor RS Sensor at f/2.2 (16mm focal length)
- Front Camera: 12MP Sensor at f/2.0 (20mm focal length)
Looking at the above, you’ll immediately notice that the main camera has both normal and telephoto attributes. The Telephoto mode goes to 2x which is x.5 less than the dedicated Xperia 1 IV’s Telephoto sensor. But that said, here’s the experience we have had with this phone.
Starting with Sony’s Colour Science – it’s still the best, neutral colour you can get out of a smartphone today and the only one to do it well even. Combining that with the new Exmor T sensor which uses a 2-layer transistor instead of the traditional one layer where the diodes and the transistor share the space. Therefore, giving more room to capture light and better low-light performance.
I have to say, the performance of the Sony Xperia 5 V’s camera shows how capable it is and in fact, it does better than the Xperia 5 IV. Well-balanced colours, neutral tones, none of those stark HDR issues like other cameras – basically, you get exactly what you see. And then we tried the x2 Zoom and we noticed how consistent the performance is – and it feels just as much as shooting on a dedicated zoom sensor.
We were surprised with the shots as it was just as sharp and right as you’d expect from a dedicated telephoto sensor. In many conditions, the camera excelled in capturing such amazing photos one would enjoy in phones and I truly was happy to capture some great moments with this camera – like this one at the café.
The 12MP ultra-wide camera puts every other ultra-wide to shame because this practically takes the best images with little to no distortion, and perfectly balanced colours and in fact, the lowlight shots were equally great. The thing about this camera is that, Sony did tweak the experience in more ways than one for the better and as a content creator myself, and from time to time doing projects for clients – this phone offered exactly the experience I wanted..
Sure, again, if you are expecting some vibrant, punchy photos that make things too bright and vivid – this is not it. But if you want that original, au-natural experience, this Xperia 5 V does not disappoint. Take it up a notch by starting to tweak with its pro applications, boy, you get the best manual experience on a smartphone, ever. We have some great pictures we have taken with this phone – which you can check out below.
Under bright light conditions, the front-facing camera does well and manages my skin complexion well enough to pass the test. However, sometimes it does leave a lot to be desired under low light conditions – only for the front-facing camera of course.
What else there is to talk about?
Still, one to tout a Headphone Jack and a MicroSD Card
In the sea of smartphones, we see at the moment, it’s nice to see Sony sticking to the heritage of keeping the balance of having all the features in their phone. The Xperias in general are the only phones to have Headphone Jacks and a physical MicroSD Card slot, making life a whole lot easier for users who carry a lot of media on their phone.
I say this because, since music files can be extremely huge – it sure is nice to have a dedicated storage for me to put my music. Therefore, keeping my internal memory perfectly segregated for the operations.
It doesn’t end there…
Good Stereo Speaker, Physical Fingerprint Sensor and Camera Shutter
Just like the 1 V, the 5 V too has a nice balanced Stereo speaker that gets the audio right in any orientation. The physical fingerprint sensor is tack sharp in unlocking, although sometimes you’d be in the same position as I was – where I’d accidentally unlock as my right thumb or my left middle finger falls perfectly right at the sensor. Finally, a dedicated 2-step camera shutter which I appreciate as a photographer.
One of the few to support LE Audio
Low-latency Bluetooth audio is still in its infancy – however, if there’s one brand you’d expect to adopt it fast enough, it’s Sony. Among all the phones out there, the Sony Xperia 1 V and 5 V properly adopts the LE Audio support. We tried with our WF-1000XM5 and I have to say the experience is one worth talking about in a different content which we will do soon.
Battery Life is pretty decent
One thing we have seen other brands do is how they make the battery smaller relative to the phone’s dimension. But the Xperia 5 V has a 5000mAh battery that lasts longer than, say, the Samsung Galaxy S23 to begin with. The phone lasted us an entire day and even into the next day. On average, we had a total of 7 hours and 25 minutes of screen time and the battery lasted from 8:24 am till midnight. This usage counts as heavy use if you ask us and if you happen to be a light user, then this phone will last a day and a half without breaking a sweat.
The charging though, is one we couldn’t wrap our heads around – now sure it does support Fast Charging, but isn’t as fast as you think it is. Think of it as the same level as Apple and Samsung. But this is also because Sony emphasizes their Battery Care protocol, so, it takes precedence over any fast charging, as it aims to protect the battery in the long run. But hey, it supports Qi Wireless Charging and reverse Charging too – which is great.
Running on the latest Android 14 and…
2 and half weeks in we saw this phone receive the update for Android 14 and even before that, we had a security update fix – which is truly a sight to behold. However, this magic fades away when you find out the support for the phone: 2 years of Major Android updates and 3 years of Security Update – which puts them on par with ASUS.
This genuinely needs to change for the better because Sony isn’t using inferior hardware here and if there’s one thing we know is that they are equipped with some impressive tech here that could age like a fine wine with updates. Sony, if you are reading this, please get this right and it’s the only obstacle that’s stopping us from calling the Xperia 5 V the perfect phone.
The thing that usually stops a person from purchasing a Sony Xperia is the price and boy this sure does have one that can make your jaw drop. The Sony Xperia 5 V is priced at RM 4,999. But if you happen to purchase right now, especially with the Early Bird deal, which comes with a Sony WF-1000XM5 worth RM1,399, the Xperia 5 V is RM 3,600. Girl math, done right.
But jokes aside, the Sony Xperia 5 V is much more consumer friendly and the phone is designed for most users. After a good three weeks, I came to this realization that the 1 V is a “want” but the 5 V is the “need” kind of phone. It has great performance, a really good camera, and all the features a purist would want, and it remains a niche smartphone in the market with a good proposition.
However, there is one major thing Sony needs to fix with their phones in general: and that’s giving longer major software updates over its current saddening 2-year major updates and 3-year security updates. If this is sorted, this might have been an epic smartphone to go for – and honestly, still is.
So. we give the Sony Xperia 5 V the Vesper Choice Award for 2023.