Sony Xperia M5 review

More storage, more power, more megapixels – for a lot more money

Sony Xperia M5 review

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

With more storage space, more power, an upgraded camera, a sharper screen and a bigger battery, the Sony Xperia M5 seems like an upgrade over the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua in almost every way.

That's exactly what you'd hope for, especially given the higher price tag. Improvements aren't evident across the board, however – battery life is similar to the M4's, and the camera is still sluggish.

But there's a lot to like here, especially the sharp screen and the stylish, waterproof build. The question is, is that enough?

We liked

The screen on the Xperia M5 is not only a big upgrade from its predecessor's, but one of the better screens you'll find in the mid-range. It's sharp, vibrant and a good size.

The design is also a strong point. Its glass back and metal corners give the Sony Xperia M5 a premium edge, and it retains the dust-proofing and water-resistance of the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua.

The camera puts in a strong showing too, and with solid battery life and performance the Xperia M5 is a good all-rounder.

We disliked

The camera can take good snaps, but it sure takes its time about it. The Sony Xperia M5 also can't match rivals when it comes to performance benchmarks, and overall it's just not enough of an improvement on the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua.

That phone had three main problems: a slow camera, which is still an issue here; a lack of features, such as a fingerprint scanner and PS4 Remote Play, both of which are still missing here; and a lack of storage – this has been improved in the M5 from the 8GB in the M4 Aqua, but with just 16GB built in, and a bunch of pre-installed apps gobbling much of that up, it's still not a great state of affairs.

Final verdict

If the Sony Xperia M5 existed in a vacuum it would be hard to be too critical of it, as it does at least a reasonable job of just about everything. From the screen to the camera to the performance and battery there's nothing here that's a real red flag.

But it's also not much of an upgrade in real terms on the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, and consequently it's hard to get excited about. It looks like any other Sony phone, but lacks high-end features like a fingerprint scanner and fails to fully address some of the M4 Aqua's faults.

Add to that a price tag that puts it in competition with some of 2015's flagships and it becomes a tricky sell. The Sony Xperia M5 isn't a bad phone – in fact in many ways it's a good one – but gorgeous screen aside it's an uninspiring one, with eye-catching specs that don't quite live up to their billing.

First reviewed: March 2015

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.