It’s perfectly fine and will be completely overlooked
Sony’s latest Android phone, the Xperia 5, is worthy of more than it’s going to get. It is a very proficient, gorgeous phone that will — and in some ways already did — would go unnoticed in the heap of phones with superior marketing budgets and better US carrier backing.
That’s too regretful because while the Xperia 5 has some problems and perhaps wouldn’t be my first suggestion to most people, there are certainly some who would be into what it has to deliver. Xperia 5 has an almost unique way of resolving a problem we made for ourselves. We want big-screened cellphones, but they’re too big to use with only one hand. Sony’s answer to the question is to make the phone very tall and narrow.
I am using the term “almost unique” because the Xperia 5 is a somewhat smaller continuation to the Xperia 1. The tall Xperia 1 earlier this year proved itself to be a captivating phone that did well than I expected at the things Sony typically does poorly: software and camera.
Regrettably, the Xperia 1 did just what I expected from Sony: too costly. The Xperia 5, fortunately, doesn’t cost too much. It’s priced correctly at $750 unlocked in the US.
- Good battery life
- Better camera
- Big screen yet easy to hold body
- Sony software still needs to improve
- A fingerprint sensor is hit or miss
- No wireless charging
The Xperia 5 sports a 6.1-inch OLED display, but in a 21:9 aspect proportion, thus the screen is somewhat smaller than you might expect from the crosswise measurement. It’s a tall and narrow phone. That means it’s much more comfortable to grasp in one hand. It’s also, at least in some cases, more comfortable to use with one hand — however Sony hasn’t made the effort Samsung has to move essential UI elements down to where your thumb can touch them.
The significant selling point to me is that you get one of the advantages of a big screen — a lot of substance with less scrolling — in something you enjoy holding. Sony’s point is that it’s better for watching videos, but I haven’t found it to be any more captivating.
Although it’s narrow, nobody will misjudge this for a small phone. It will still not adjust in small pockets without poking out. Actually, it’s not that much smaller than the Xperia 1 and it is a legitimate question why Sony bothered making both.
Construct quality is good. It’s not a match to Samsung or iPhone levels of finish and fit, but I think it’s a more attractive object with improved build quality than most OnePlus phones.
Sony positions all its buttons on the right side of the phone, which is strange because there are more of them than you’re accustomed to. Besides volume and power, there is a distinct fingerprint sensor on the side and a devoted camera button to launch it and capture photos.
Most of those buttons do accurately what you’d want — and especially the camera button is great, with a customary two-stage press for autofocusing. Unluckily, the little fingerprint sensor seems less reliable than on the Xperia 1, which is to say it’s less dependable than most other unlock systems. It’s also odd that it’s not incorporated into the power button itself.
Sony has three lenses on the rear of the Xperia 5: a wide, a regular, and a 2X telephoto. Image quality is categorically average, which, in late 2019, is truly higher praise than you might expect. I still choose images out of an iPhone 11, Samsung or Pixel, but the Xperia 5 can hold its own in contrast to what I think is really its key rival, the OnePlus 7T. There is nothing extraordinary about Sony’s camera software, however. It makes it too tough to switch between lenses and usually feels a little pokey.
Sony is taking another crack at making a custom feature where you can pat the border of the screen to make the phone do customisable things. It’s almost impossible actually to start when you want to and it always shows up when you don’t. The best thing about it is that you can switch it off.
On the positive note, Sony has offered Android 10 on this phone in a comparatively timely fashion. It runs Android well and there were no slowdowns to deal with. Battery life has also been sufficient to get through at least a day and has seldom stretched to two when I was careful. I do hope it had wireless charging, though.
I like Xperia 5; I love using it primarily because it just feels much more ergonomic than other gigantic phones. However, it doesn’t have any crashing problems, it also doesn’t really outdo any other phones in any classification except tallness. Is that really a decent enough reason to spend $750 on this rather than one of the many other excellent phones you could buy?
If you want a small Android phone, the Galaxy S10E is right there and usually offered for the same price or even less. The OnePlus 7T begins at $599. The iPhone 11 has a much better battery life and camera for $50 less. There are so many deals on the usual Galaxy S10 that it’s not difficult to find it for less than the Xperia 5.
When all’s said and done, I don’t have any reasons to really dislike the Sony Xperia 5. I don’t have any really crucial reasons to recommend it, either.