Sony Xperia 5 V review: Small, strange and surprising

Sony’s smartphone is definitely not like other Android flagships

The Sony Xperia 5 V, from the front
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Xperia 5 V keeps its predecessors' shape, long-lasting battery and focus on photo and video capture and editing. However, Sony has dropped the telephoto camera, while sticking the display with a static refresh rate and heavy bezels.


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    New cheaper price

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    Smart and super-practical design

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    Lots of built-in photo and video creativity features

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    Excellent battery life


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    Not available in the U.S.

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    No telephoto camera

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    120Hz Refresh rate is static

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The Sony Xperia 5 V is the most regular, user-friendly Xperia I've tried to date, and that's a genuine compliment. Sony phones can't seem to help testing users with a boatload of idiosyncrasies compared to other phones. And while those are still definitely present in the Xperia 5 V, Sony seems to have made an appreciable effort to make this phone a bit more conventional by dropping the price in exchange for losing a camera.

This skinny figure of a phone still comes loaded with powerful image capturing and editing apps, and a design that highlights a lot of features that other devices have abandoned — things that perhaps only proper photo/video enthusiasts will be able to make the most of. But the Xperia 5 V’s surprisingly small design, big battery and more attractive default image quality are things that the average smartphone user can appreciate too. On the downside, the Xperia's hardware is sparsely furnished in several areas, making this flagship phone look like questionable value next to contenders like the Samsung Galaxy S24, Google Pixel 8 or iPhone 15 Pro

Putting the question of local availability aside, only a small set of people are likely to find what they're looking for in this Sony Xperia 5 V review. But that group will be very glad of the Xperia's existence, since Sony continues to buck trends that the rest of the smartphone market's long settled into.

Sony Xperia 5 V review: Specfications

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Sony Xperia 5 V
Display 6.1-inch FHD OLED (2520 x 1080)
Refresh rate 120Hz, 60Hz
Rear cameras 52MP main (f/1.9), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
Front camera 12MP (f/2.0)
Chipset Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Storage 128GB
Battery 5,000 mAh
Charging USB Power Deliver 3.0-compatible wired, 10W wireless
Software Android 13, upgradeable to Android 14
Dust/water resistance IP68 and IP65
Size 154 x 68 x 8.6mm
Weight 182 grams
Colors Blue, Platinum Silver, Black

Sony Xperia 5 V review: Price and availability

Sony launched the Xperia 5 V last fall with a list price of £849, but with no easy availability in either the U.S. or Australia.

In the U.K., the Xperia 5 V costs a little more than a Galaxy S24, Google Pixel 8 or basic iPhone 15, three phones that are the same size and similarly spec'd to the Xperia. Luckily for you, there are discounts to be found now the Xperia's been on sale for a little while, so be on the lookout for potential Xperia 5 V deals when shortlisting your options.

Sony Xperia 5 V review: Design and display

The Sony Xperia 5 V, from the back

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Bezels — that's all I could see when I first looked at the Xperia 5 V. It's seriously chunky for a phone that’s on sale in 2024, although the bezel up top at least gives Sony a place to keep the front camera without taking up any of the active screen space.

Chunk-tacular display borders aside, the phone looks handsome in a utilitarian sort of way, featuring a matte metal frame and three color options for the frosted back glass — Platinum Silver (pictured), Blue and Black.

The side rail drops away when meeting the front and back glass, which makes for a sharp-feeling phone in your hand, but not uncomfortably so. That's just as well since the Xperia 5 V’s power button-mounted fingerprint reader and photo shutter key means you're going to spend more time pressing your thumb against the rail than on other phones.

Sony stuck with its usual narrow and tall body design for the Xperia 5 V that means it's slimmer than the Galaxy S24, while offering a technically identical 6.1-inch FHD OLED display. The aspect ratio on the Xperia can cause some apps — particularly videos — to, look a little off, but there are some advantages. You can enjoy better widescreen video support and surprisingly easy one-handed operation for such a lanky phone.

The Sony Xperia 5 V, from the front

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One notable difference is that the Xperia's refresh rate can only be set to a static 60Hz or static 120Hz. That's not as efficient as the adaptive LTPO system on the Galaxy S24, which can scale down to 1Hz for greater power efficiency when needed.

Screen brightness on the Xperia 5 V is fairly strong, though to my eyes the Galaxy S24 was a little brighter still. The Xperia's color temperature is by default quite a bit cooler than the S24 screen, which makes familiar photos and videos look quite different.

Durability isn't a worry for the Xperia. It uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and back, and is rated both IP65 and IP68, Sony’s way of showing off that its phones are water and dust resistant whether you submerge or spray the device.

The Sony Xperia 5 V, from the top edge

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That durability doesn't come at the cost of features, though. Sony still added a headphone jack to the top edge of the phone, as well as a camera shutter button/shortcut key on the right. There's also a toolless SIM/microSD card tray to let you quickly switch when you need a different number or more storage.

The Sony Xperia 5 V's bottom edge

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony Xperia 5 V review: Cameras

Looking at the Xperia 5 V's basic camera specs — 52MP main and 12MP ultrawide camera on the back, a 12MP sensor up front — gives the misleading impression this phone has similar capabilities to other cheaper flagship phones. In some ways that's a definite negative, such as the fact that the Xperia 5 V is missing the usual telephoto camera you find on most Android phones of this price. 

The Sony Xperia 5 V's front camera

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But on the plus side, you get Zeiss glass to avoid unwanted artifacts in your images, and a surprisingly wide selection of ways to take photos and videos (but I'll get to those later). For my testing though, I kept my settings to their default, using the Basic mode of the Photography Pro app.

We're kicking things off with a main camera image of the junction at Tufnell Park tube station. This comparison was taken against the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which uses the same main camera as the iPhone 15 Pro that the Xperia directly competes against.

The Xperia’s image is much flatter than the iPhone's, which dims the sky's brightness severely, making for a far dimmer photo. However, the result of this is better contrast that helps make details like the bar's neon sign on the center-left more visible.

At night, the Xperia captures a much richer black than the Galaxy S24 does. But it does so at the expense of the highlights of the image, which are severely blown out compared to how the S24 keeps the light sources in the image in check.

At 2x, the Sony again lacks some of the color seen in the S24 photo. But detail-wise, the Xperia is a little crisper, albeit noisier when you start staring at the darker parts of the image like the hands or numerals.

This ultrawide shot of a tree against the Pixel 8 Pro is the first time the Xperia’s provided a brighter image than the competition. But it's a fuzzy image if you zoom in, which spoils the detail of the leaves.

We finish off the photo comparisons with a selfie portrait, the only camera mode Sony touts its use of AI for directly. The Xperia 5 V offers a similar-looking portrait of me, except it's a paler version of me versus the more saturated offering from Samsung. The Xperia’s cut-out effect is well done, except for the glasses; unfortunately for Sony, that’s something the Galaxy S24 series can consistently get right.

Before we close out this section, we have a video sample, using Sony's video with Optical SteadyShot stabilization mode. I still think the Galaxy S24’s video is a bit smoother, but there's not much of a difference between that footage and what the Xperia 5 V captured..

We all have different tastes in photos, so perhaps you like the more neutral look of the Xperia's images, especially if you like editing. But it's the consistent, ready-to-view nature of the Galaxy S24's shots that earns a place on our best camera phones guide, and why the Xperia, though good enough, won't be getting a spot of its own.

Sony Xperia 5 V review: Performance

Sony fitted a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 into the Xperia 5 V, the best Android silicon available at the time of the phone’s release. This is a chip that's been since replaced with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but the Gen 2 still offers respectable power. Thanks to the Snapdragon, the Xperia beats the Tensor G3 chip inside the Pixel 8, even if the divide between it and the Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15 is quite stark — especially on the Geekbench CPU test.

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Sony Xperia 5 VGalaxy S24Google Pixel 8iPhone 15
Geekbench 6 score (single-core / multicore)1,952 / 4,968 2,235 / 6,922 1,616 / 4,145 2,518 / 6,179
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited3,371 / 20.19 5,009 / 30.0 2,327 / 13.9 2,625 / 15.7
Adobe Premiere Rush time to transcode (mins:secs)0:40 0:41 0:45 0.24

A single 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant of the Xperia 5 V is available, matching the base storage of all its main rivals, but lacking the option to pay up for extra storage. The Samsung, Pixel and iPhone all offer 256GB options, with the iPhone 15 includes a 512GB option on top of that.

The Sony Xperia 5 V, playing Asphalt 9

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Fortunately for the Xperia, you can expand its storage via microSD by another 1TB, which is accessed through the other side of the SIM slot. For anyone that That's just as ideal for users who can't help but download tons of apps or snap endless photos, with the added benefit of it being easier to move files between devices.

Sony Xperia 5 V review: Battery and charging

Providing the all-important juice for the Xperia 5 V is a 5,000 mAh cell, which is a lot of battery for a phone of this size. As you'd expect, battery life is very good, as illustrated by my 3-hour YouTube test, which plays video non-stop at 1080p, 120Hz and medium brightness and sound volume. After 3 hours, I managed to only drain 17% of the Xperia's battery. On the same test, the Galaxy S24 lost 22% of its battery, which works out as the same number of milliamp-hours used as the Sony, but nonetheless means that the Xperia's the more efficient of the two.

This phone's charging chops are difficult to assess. The Xperia doesn't support a specific charging wattage, but rather the USB Power Delivery 3.0 standard. This means any PD 3.0-compatible charger you already own will give you the best possible charging speed. Sony will sell you a separate 30W charging brick if you prefer to have a sure thing. And if you don't want cables, you can take advantage of the Xperia 5 V's wireless 10W Qi wireless charging and reverse wireless charging.

Using a PD 3.0-ready charger, and hitting a peak of 25W, the Xperia charged up to 25% in 15 minutes, to 51% in half an hour and to 100% in an hour and 34 minutes. That's a little bit slower than the Galaxy S24, which you can fill to 54% in half an hour with a 25W charger. Both of those are behind the Pixel 8, which uses a 30W charger to fill to 60% within 30 minutes.

Sony Xperia 5 V review: Software and special features

Most of the time, the Xperia 5 V's user interface is an unaltered Android 14 experience, though to get it you'll have to update the phone, as it ships with Android 13 pre-installed. Sony has made a few interesting additions to Google’s operating system.

Some of these additions are there to make the most of the tall and skinny display. That includes a picture-in-picture app mode, letting you run any app in miniature while using another at full size, and split-screen mode for using two apps at once — rare to see outside of a foldable device.

The Sony Xperia 5 V running two apps in split screen

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Sony pushes the boat out with its creativity apps, though. Its Photography Pro camera app is more detailed than most phones with "pro" modes even in its basic mode. The phone offers not one, but two different dedicated video recording apps, depending on if you prefer a Sony XDCAM or Cinema Line-style interface and settings selection.

The Sony Xperia 5 V's Video Creator app

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

These videos can then be quickly edited in the Video Creator app, using its automatic mode to quickly apply music and effects to the clip. Naturally, you can make manual edits too, with an impressive array of controls and options for a bundled-in app. 

Sony doesn't make any update schedule pledges for its phones, which makes it hard to compare to the competition in terms of potential longevity. You can expect to get two or three years of updates at minimum, but we doubt the Xperia 5 V will get close to the seven years offered by Samsung and Google for their most recent flagship phones.

Sony Xperia 5 V review: Verdict

Every Xperia phone is a bit weird, but Sony's kept that mostly in check with the Xperia 5 V. At its best, it's these odd features like the small and slim chassis, Sony's library of creativity apps and its brilliant battery longevity that'll sell you on the phone, since they're things rivals can't directly match.

But there are still some reasons why I'd point you toward a Galaxy S24 or Pixel 8 instead. Those phones have more impressive, higher-spec'd displays, more consistent cameras, and are most importantly easier to purchase in several countries. 

I picture the typical Xperia user to be someone who finds most phones' designs to be too large and lacking in practical features, and their photos to be over-processed. If that sounds like you, and your budget allows for it, then I'm happy on your behalf that the Xperia 5 V exists.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.