Sony Xperia 5 IV is finally here, but this camera phone is missing a big feature

Sony Xperia 5 IV
(Image credit: Sony)

When the Sony Xperia 1 IV launched, we were impressed by its continuous optical zoom camera that let you zoom anywhere between 3.5x and 5.2x, making it great for long-range photography. The Xperia 5 IV has now launched, but the 1's pint-size sibling is missing that top feature.

Unveiled as part of IFA 2022, an annual tech show that takes place in Germany, the Sony Xperia 5 IV comes just a few months after its sibling. As is Sony's way, this is a similar phone to the 1, but in a smaller package.

That means it has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, a trio of 12MP cameras on the back and another 12MP one up front, 30W charging, and all the useful Sony apps that the Xperia 1 IV enjoyed a few months ago.

Like previous Xperia 5 mobiles, the Mark 4 is smaller with a display clocking in at 6.1 inches, and it's not a 4K display, while the battery's also smaller to fit with the shrunken frame.

If you follow Sony phones, you'll know that this is par for the course - the Xperia 5 is always a smaller version of its Xperia 1 counterpart, and the upgrades that the Xperia 1 IV received over the Xperia 1 III, like a brighter display, the ability to record 4K 120Hz video on all four cameras, and the new Music Pro app, are all present here...

...except for one. And you already know what it is, because you read the introduction.

The Sony Xperia 5 IV has a 60mm telephoto zoom lens, which will get you just over 2x closer to a subject. That's notably not the 85mm-125mm continuous zoom of the Xperia 1 IV, or even the 70mm-105mm adaptive telephoto of both Mark 3 phones that can jump to either of those two points.

It does make sense that the feature isn't in the phone - it's likely it takes up a lot of space, and that wouldn't have fit with this small-form mobile - but it's still a shame.

So while there are some software improvements that will upgrade the Sony Xperia 5 IV's camera over the Mark 3 in certain ways, it's not as good for zooming as its predecessor or its big sibling.

Analysis: so... what's the point?

Without the continuous optical zoom camera, the Sony Xperia 5 IV brings startlingly few upgrades over its predecessor.

The screen is a touch brighter, the chipset is a touch more powerful, and there are a few new Sony apps. But these are very minor upgrades in the grand scheme of things.

Bear in mind that the Sony Xperia 5 III has seen a year of price cuts and discounts (well, in some regions - it actually only launched at the beginning of 2022 in places like the US). It's now cheaper to buy, and given that the new version doesn't bring many more upgrades, it's arguably a more tempting buy.

That's a jam the Sony Xperia 1 IV would have been in too, if not for the continuous optical zoom, so while it makes sense that the feature is absent, it's also a shame - and it makes it unlikely that the Sony Xperia 5 IV will make its way onto our list of the best camera phones.

IFA 2022 is Europe's biggest tech show, and TechRadar is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and announcements, plus our hands-on first impressions of the new TVs, wearables, audio devices and other gadgets on show.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.