Skip to main content

Hands on: Sony Xperia 5 review

Sony returns to a smaller Android.. but is it small enough?

What is a hands on review?
(Image: © TechRadar)

Early Verdict

The Sony Xperia 5 features a variety of high-end features that you wouldn't normally see on a smaller phone, but its 21:9 aspect ratio may make it difficult to hold for those with smaller hands.

For

  • Strong specs
  • Premium design

Against

  • Not as small as previous handsets
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack

Sony has taken to IFA 2019 to reveal its next compact flagship phone, and there's a new name involved as it's called the Xperia 5.

This isn't a follow-up to the Xperia 1, instead it sits almost alongside in a similar way to the 'Xperia Compact' variants Sony used to produce alongside its flagship devices.

The Xperia 5 isn't as compact as some may have been expecting, but we've tried out the phone at IFA 2019 to share our first impressions of the latest Sony Android device.

Sony Xperia 5 release date and price

Those in the UK will be able to pre-order the Xperia 5 at some stage in the week commencing September 9. It'll then be available to buy from October 4 in the UK. 

We've yet to learn whether the phone will be available in the US or Australia. Sony has yet to reveal the Xperia 5 price for the UK, but we do know it'll cost €799 in Europe, so we're looking at around  $880, £715, AU$1,300.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design and display

The design language used for the Xperia 1 is redeployed here for the Sony Xperia 5, with a tall, rectangular device that sports a 21:9 aspect ratio display.

Sony has adopted the 21:9 aspect ratio because it believes that's an improved experience to offer further screen for watching videos or playing games. It first introduced the idea on the Xperia 1, and since a variety of competitors have copied the idea.

The screen on this device is a 6.1-inch Full HD+ (1080 x 2520) OLED in that aspect ratio, making it smaller than the Xperia 1. Despite how big that screen sounds on paper, the 21:9 aspect ratio does make it easier to hold in the hand.

This isn't as small as previous Sony Xperia Compact devices though, so if you were expecting a tight device that's suitable for smaller hands you'll likely want to try this out for yourself before you buy it.

Image 1 of 3

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 2 of 3

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 3 of 3

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The back of the phone is glass, and the device comes in either blue, back, grey or red. It's currently unclear what territories will get which colors, but it's the red particularly struck our eye as a unique shade.

It's also a notably light device in the hand at 164g, which you can't say the existing Xperia 1, while the Xperia 5's dimensions are 158 x 68 x 8.2mm making it shorter and narrower than its superior sibling.

There's a power button on the right hand side of the device, which includes the fingerprint scanner - making it easy to reach when it comes to unlocking.

The phone is also water resistant with a rating of IP68, so it should be able to survive the odd splash of water. 

Overall, the Xperia 5 feels like a premium device that can match the Xperia 1 in its looks but it's unclear if this device will actually be easier for those who prefer smaller devices.

Image 1 of 7

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 2 of 7

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 3 of 7

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 4 of 7

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 5 of 7

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 6 of 7

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 7 of 7

(Image credit: TechRadar)

OS and specs

Sony has confirmed Android 9 Pie is the main software for the Xperia 5, but we can safely assume the company is pushing to get the newly released Android 10 software onto the device.

Under the hood is the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset - the same chip that's in the Xperia 1. It's paired with 6GB of RAM, and in our short amount of testing time it seemed to load up apps quickly without any wait.

There's 128GB of storage on the phone as standard, which you can extend by up to 512GB more with a microSD card.

A nice feature Sony has included on the Xperia 5 is support for its PlayStation DualShock 4 controller. It means you're able to wirelessly connect the controller to the handset, giving you much better control over the action on screen versus the touch buttons.

Camera and battery

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Sony's triple 12MP camera is on the rear of this device, a similar affair to what we saw on the Xperia 1. 

It means you get the main wide-angle (f/1.6, 26mm) camera along with a super-wide snapper (f/2.4, 16mm) with a 130 degree field of view and a telephoto lens (f/2.4, 52mm) offering a 2x optical zoom and data for portrait mode.

We've yet to be able to test this extensively, but this setup performed well on the Xperia 1 and we'd expect it to be a similar case on the Sony Xperia 5.

Sony has yet to offer any estimates on how long the battery will last on the Xperia 5, but we know it's a 3140mAh cell inside the phone. We'll be sure to push that to its limits at the time of our full review.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Early verdict

It'll all come down to the price on whether the Sony Xperia 5 is a great smartphone. 

Those looking for smaller Android alternatives may be happy to see Sony offer another compact phone, but we're not sure it's small enough to impress those who want to see a return of the firm's popular one-handed form factor.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.