With smartphones have been getting bigger for years and not everyone is happy with that. For a while, Sony offered an alternative with the Xperia Compact series, devices with a smaller screen and smooth specifications.
|Sony Xperia 5|
|Dimensions and weight||158 x 68 x 8.2 mm, 164 grams|
|screen||FullHD + HDR OLED 6.1 ″, 21: 9|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (Octa-core, 7 nm)|
|Storage||128 GB + microSDXC (up to 512 GB)|
|Operating system||Android 9 Pie|
|Rear cameras||Main 12 MP (f / 1.6, Angular 26 mm, Dual Pixel, OIS), 12 MP (f / 2.4, Tele 52 mm, OIS), 12 MP (f / 2.4, Wide-angle 16 mm)|
|Frontal camera||8 MP f / 2|
|Drums||3,140 mAh, with fast charging with USB Type C|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, proximity, compass|
|Security||Fingerprint reader, facial recognition|
|Connectivity||NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, 5CA LTE, CAT 19, 4X4 MIMO, WiFi 11a / ac / b / g / n|
|Others||USB Type C / USB 3.1, Dual SIM, Hi-Res Audio, Dolby Atmos, Gorilla Glass 6, Sony Dynamic Vibration System|
|Price||£699 and available on contract|
What’s in the Box
Sony Xperia 5 – Smartphone 6.1 ″ (21: 9 CinemaWide, Full HD OLED screen, the camera with a triple object and Eye AF, Android Pie, 6GB RAM and 128 GB of storage) black, wall power adaptor, USB type C cable and 3.5mm headphones and headphone USB type C adaptor
The panoramic format in a more compact size
Talk about a smartphone with a 6.1-inch screen and a height of more than 15 cm we consider it as a compact device can give us a good idea of what state of the market we are currently immersed.
But that’s how it is. The Sony Xperia 5 is the compact version of the Xperia 1, the high-end reference of Sony the Japanese brand for this 2019. What happens is that this 21: 9 panoramic format makes it seem much larger than other rivals in that same diagonal.
Sony remains true to the frames to accommodate the camera selfie, so the smartphone is somewhat more penalized in height than its rivals with the same screen diagonal
Nor does it help that the frames, although quite small, Sony did not want (or could) reduce them to the limits of the smartphone. There is no notch or hole in the screen, much less periscopic camera. For good and bad, this Sony Xperia 5 is unique in the market and different in format to all the smartphone with which it competes.
That large height and the frames are compensated for comfort in the hand and use for the reduced width due to the panoramic format of your screen. The Sony Xperia 5 is manageable, not with just one hand, and has a secure grip for that small width but also for the slippery glass that is the rear glass, which has Gorilla Glass 6 protection, like the front.
That rear part, which has a good anti-fingerprint, has no curvature and connects directly with the aluminium frame in the same tone as the glass.
Despite its screen of more than six inches, the Sony Xperia 5 is a very light smartphone. The 164 grams are appreciated as soon as you take the smartphone, which also has that weight very well distributed. And being a Sony, there we have IP65 / IP68 protection against dust and water as standard.
Fingerprint reader on the side and vertical camera module
Another detail that makes the Sony Xperia 5 unique in its range in the market is the fingerprint reader. Sony keeps it on the right side and at a good height so that, when taking the smartphone, our finger touches the sensor and we are identified in the system.
The operation of this reader is fast and reliable, but at this stage of evolution of the fingerprint readers, this system requires an effort, at least if you come from another smartphone with a reader on the screen or even in the back.
The ideal is to combine it with the identification of faces (Smart Lock functionality, which includes other unlocks for example by voice), which with light works quite well and saves us in situations where we do not take the smartphone in a classical way.
Another question about the distribution of important elements in the design of the Sony Xperia 5 is that of the camera module. The arrival of a triple camera seems undesirable if the vertical design of that module is maintained.
In this Xperia 5, when taking the smartphone with the left hand, the index finger is supported very close to the lower lens of that module, with a high index of unintentional touches to that lens. To avoid this, you have to be thinking about changing the natural position of our finger all the time, something that again is tired of the user.
Finally, we must talk about the connections and physical elements of the phone. We have a stereo speaker and USB-C charging port in the lower frame while the tray for the nanoSIM card and the microSD has been placed on the right side. That tray does not require any tool to remove it and supports two SIM cards or one SIM and one microSD.
The triple module of the camera is within reach of the index finger that supports us when we grab the smartphone with one hand, the left
The physical controls for volume, power, camera and fingerprint reader are located on the left side, all well placed and accessible. Special mention to the physical button of the camera, which resists generation to generation for the satisfaction of those who use it often.
This complete provision of physical controls and elements on the right side makes the functionality of pressing on the sides to launch applications has been almost anecdotal. It requires a lot of trial error to work correctly and you should always look for just the edge of the frames, both right and left.
The 21: 9 screen is a total protagonist
The new Sony Xperia 5 arrives on the market with a diagonal screen according to the times. To be theoretically a compact model of the brand, its 6.1-inch diagonal aligns perfectly with that of the best high-end smartphones.
The screen size is not the only concession that Sony makes in this smartphone regarding its reference model, which we remember offers a 6.5-inch screen and 4k resolution.
The Sony Xperia 5 offers a high-quality screen but more “earthly” in terms of diagonal and resolution
The Sony Xperia 5 panel lowers its resolution to remain in FullHD + (1080 x 2520 pixels), so the density is almost 450 dpi, more than enough to have a fully satisfactory experience in all aspects of smartphone use.
Moreover, the panel technology is the best Sony has right now in its hands: OLED panel with HDR and BT.2020 (and DCI-P3) colour space, in addition to other technologies that arrive directly from its Bravia TVs, such as X1 technology, completely focused on the reproduction of video content.
Just when all those Sony technologies come into action with native content at 21: 9, the panel does its best. The brightness is sufficient for that push of the HDR as well as for the display of the Sony Xperia 5 screen outdoors.
From the factory, the Sony Xperia 5 panel is well-calibrated although we do not find an especially striking OLED panel or with amazing brightness.
You can customize the experience with white balance control, and separately from these, varying image quality settings. There we only have available the standard mode activated by default (and something cold) and the creative mode, which is compatible with the BT.2020 colour range and 10-bit colour.
This mode can be activated automatically when we open an application in which we will notice improvement, such as Netflix.
Dolby Atmos sound without headphone port
Sony has always been one of the brands that best cared for the sound in its headphones. In this Sony Xperia 5, there has been no mercy with the headphone port, so you have to trust either the adapter or switch to the sound without wires.
Precisely for that scenario the Sony Xperia 5 is very well prepared, which has LDAC and aptX HD, in addition to improving SDEE HX sound. Listening better will depend on the quality of the headphones we choose.
Also, Dolby Atmos is responsible for managing sound stereo speakers if we choose the options (we can customize profiles and equalization), which offer us a very powerful sound and well defined even at high volume.
The vibration is kept in sync with the sound although both in hand and on the table, it is something that can end up annoying rather than improving listening. Good to try as a curiosity but little else.
A Few Camera Samples
The fluidity that one expects in a high range
There are no concessions by Sony at the level of gross power for its Xperia 5. The interior is the one we have seen most this year in the high range: Snapdragon 855 processor (not the 855+) and 6 GB of memory RAM.
That combination is a guarantee of performance and fluidity today, especially if we have a well-optimized and tested software by Sony.
The storage is unique, 128 GB, a figure that leaves it among the best of the year in this section. But we can also expand it at any time using microSDXC memory cards.
In the absence of having arrived with Android 10, you have to settle for how well optimized Sony’s layer is on Android 9, although we have encountered a high load of bloatware
Although the Sony Xperia 5 is a newcomer to the market, the version of Android with which it has been released is 9, with Sony’s own layer above. Although for now, we are without the news of Android 10, the stability and optimization of the previous version of Android are appreciated.
Sony maintains some of its own applications, luckily less and less, and includes the usual ones in updated layers such as memory and internal storage managers, Stamina energy-saving mode or smartphone use control (Digital Wellbeing). It does bring a lot of bloatware in the form of applications from Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Booking or a couple of games. In all cases, we can uninstall them without problems to make room for the applications we decide.
Nor is the game mode missing, an optimizer that lets us decide if we prefer performance or battery life (limited to 40 fps the screen refresh and power of the equipment), eliminate distractions and notifications, cancels automatic brightness, keys … all configurable individually by the user. It also allows us to easily make screenshots or record videos of our game.
The widescreen format of the Sony Xperia 5 screen has already advanced that is greatly enjoyed when we have a lot of content on the screen that we can navigate vertically. Social networks, mail or web browsing in optimized applications take advantage of that extra-long panel.
Sony also offers the multi-window mode 21: 9, in which we have available a panel with applications that we can freely place on the split-screen. Success is that we can perform application pairings (for example Twitter and a web or video player, mail …) so that when you activate that option, the two applications automatically open at 50% (by default) in an always identical way.
Autonomy for the whole day
Sony has been the only reference brand that has boldly dared to offer a smartphone with a 4K screen in its high-end family. That resolution gives you an impressive presence in the specification tables when we compare screens but it has a direct consequence in a delicate field: autonomy.
It is therefore appreciated that the high-end “compact” of this year of the Japanese company is satisfied with a resolution more content than combined with the battery of 3,140 mAh, allow us to finish a workday with full guarantees.
In my test of autonomy, with intensive use with enough use of connectivity, communication, video and multimedia section, the Sony Xperia 5 has offered an average of between 6 and 7 hours of screen, figures according to the minimum that we can demand to a smartphone of just under £700 today.
For charging, the Sony Xperia 5 has a USB-C port and fast charging with the help of an 18 W adapter. With this configuration (and keeping the smartphone on), in half an hour we managed to reach almost 55% of the total load.
For the complete, I waited for more than 100 minutes, the wireless charging is still missing despite the fact that the back is made of glass.
Versatility and creativity for the camera
The king of photographic sensors for smartphones continues to search for their own identity within photographed phones. As we saw with the Sony Xperia 1, with which it shares the same triple camera, the improvement is considerable and in line with the potential market, it has.
The Sony Xperia 5 uses the winning combination this year: main sensor, a wide-angle and a two magnification zoom. There is no one more prominent sensor this time than the other for resolution but it has been decided that they are all 12 MP but with differences in the level of brightness and size of the photoreceptors (1 / 2.6 ″ for the main and 1 / 3.4 ″ for the other two).
Precisely the brightness of the main sensor, of f1.6, plays something against it in scenes with good light and clear skies, at which time if we are not careful with the exposure measurement point, we can obtain images with clearly burned areas. It should play a lot with it because we can not count on the HDR mode, again hidden in manual shooting and nothing accessible.
The Sony Xperia 5 camera adds to its great video mode the versatility of the triple camera and good performance in low light
Just the interface has room for improvement. It seems too basic for a terminal where photographic capacity has grown a lot. An example: the different sensors have no presence as options in the interface. It changes between them by touching on the zoom value, which goes from 1X to 2X (also dragging to adjust the zoom value up to 10x) and also to the wide-angle (W).
Of the technologies that repeat in this Xperia 5 we have Eye AF , which allows us to refine the focus on people’s faces, mainly when we are using the burst, which can be up to 10 fps with continuous and activatable focus if we want with the physical camera button, something that brings us virtually to sensations with a “real” camera.
By day, the main camera of the Sony Xperia 5 offers us results with a good level of detail, colour reproduction and contrast. In general, Sony’s processing is no longer as aggressive as it used to be, although even in scenes with good light we can see some noise in complex areas.
We have been happier with the night scenes, where the main camera takes advantage of the stabilization and the opening to obtain images without noise or excessive processing. We have obtained the worst results with a wide-angle, which has a lot of room for improvement at night.
In Sony video, it is again very well positioned both for the quality of its images, with recording up to 4K, as in slow motion or the creative possibilities of the Cinema Pro application, which gives us full control over the camera while recording video.
If you are looking for a different smartphone in the high range, surely the Sony Xperia 5 is a powerful candidate. It is because of its unique design based on maintaining the frames (with the consequent overreach in its dimensions) and a panoramic format for its screen, which is excellent for reproducing multimedia content and using the terminal with one hand in a comfortable way.
The camera, triple and with good results especially at night, continues in the Sony line, with good results in general but still room for improvement both in the interface and in reliability for aiming and shooting. And again it is still a desired terminal for those looking for good sound and be creative with the video. And all in a “compact” format and at a price far from £699.
Light and very comfortable in hand due to its low width
Screen designed for content consumption
Multi-purpose camera with many creative possibilities
It’s hard not to end up touching the camera module
We would have preferred more weight and thickness in exchange for more battery
It does not come with Android 10 yet and is loaded with bloatware
Many Thanks for Vodafone UK for the supply of the Sony Xperia 5