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We went into this review wondering if the Sony Xperia 5 could really be any better than the Xperia 1, given that it’s just a downsized version of that handset – and after using the Xperia 5 for a while it’s clear to us that, by virtue of its small size, it is indeed a better phone.
Thanks to its smaller form factor, which makes one-handed use easy, and very respectable battery life, the Xperia 5 addresses some of the weaker points of the Xperia 1 while retaining its better features, like a powerful processor and high-quality screen.
Sure, many of the Xperia 1’s warts are also here – the camera is still decidedly average, the screen is still a little too dim, and the fingerprint sensor is still very unreliable.
However, for the price, the Sony Xperia 5 is an impressively powerful compact phone that’s enjoyable to use.
Who's it for?
The Sony Xperia 5 is designed for people who love watching movies and TV shows, playing games, or recording their own films, and want a portable gadget to do just that on.
That’s the same target audience as the Xperia 1, but the Xperia 5 is for people who don’t want to shell out premium prices for all that handset’s high-end features, as its more mid-range price will make less of a dent in your wallet.
Should I buy it?
If you want to get in on the Sony phone ecosystem, or need a decent compact smartphone, that’s still got a lot of power under the hood, the Sony Xperia 5 is a decent bet for you.
Many people use their phone to watch movies on long journeys or during down time, and if you’re one of those people, you can’t go wrong with the Xperia 5, especially if you want great quality without breaking the bank, as the similar Xperia 1 is more pricey.
If one of the main uses of your phone is to play high-end games, it’s also a device you should seriously consider. The impressive processing power makes games play smoothly with great graphics, the 21:9 display gives you extra viewing space so controls aren’t in the way, and the high-quality audio setup helps recreate the feeling of gaming on a console.
If you're considering the Sony Xperia 5, here are some other similar handsets you should take a look at first.
Sony Xperia 1
As we’ve mentioned throughout this review, the Sony Xperia 5 is a smaller version of the Xperia 1, so if you like the look of the Xperia 5 but want a bigger screen for watching movies or gaming, or you have larger hands or just like big phones, the Xperia 1 could be the phone for your – and if you shop around you can find it for not much more than the launch price of the Xperia 5.
Google Pixel 3
The Pixel 3 is a similarly compact phone to the Xperia 5, at a similar price. Like the Sony handset it’s got a physical fingerprint sensor and similar battery life and processing power, as well as a far more impressive camera. It doesn’t have a 21:9 aspect ratio screen though, so you’ll have to put up with black letterboxing when watching 21: 9 content.
Sony Xperia 10
If you like the idea of the Sony Xperia 5’s compact form but don’t mind a weaker camera setup and processing power, the Xperia 10 is an option. It’s the same size, but is a downgrade in most other respects, including chipset, camera array, screen quality and, most importantly, it costs a lot less.
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.
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