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Home / Reviews / Smartphones / Sony Xperia 5 V review: the Sony sweet spot

Sony Xperia 5 V review: the Sony sweet spot

This feature-filled monolith is the best Xperia for most shoppers

Sony Xperia 5 V review lead

Stuff Verdict

Stuffed full of features and packing photographer-friendly cameras, the Xperia 5 V is everything we’d expect from a mainstream Sony smartphone – only now it’s also a little more newbie-friendly.


  • Brings back all the familiar Sony must-haves
  • Flagship performance and long-lasting battery
  • Very capable main camera with many manual modes


  • Contrast-heavy photos not to all tastes
  • No adaptive refresh rate
  • Skinny aspect screen can be divisive


The playmakers at Sony have run the same strategy for its Xperia 5 line for a few generations now: start with the latest uncompromisingly top-tier Xperia 1 as a base, swap out the 4K display for something a little more mainstream, and dial the cameras down a bit – but otherwise stick to the same formula. If the best smartphone was the one with the most features, it would be a winning approach.

Except last year’s Xperia 5 IV was something of a fumble, with previous-gen power and cameras that made your do most of the heavy lifting, at a time more wallet-friendly rivals were leaning more on algorithms. So this time around, there are bigger changes. The three-lens camera is out, in favour of a simpler two-lens setup – albeit still with plenty of DNA from the flagship model – and there’s not quite as big a focus on manual shooting. The price is far more palatable, too. Is that enough to give a fan-favourite smartphone more universal appeal?

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Design & build: creature of habit

The Xperia 5 V looks the spitting image of the Mk. IV, which itself wasn’t far removed from version III, which… well, you should know the drill by now. Sony’s phones feel comfortingly familiar to long-time fans, with mostly minor tweaks to separate each new generation. Here, those tweaks include more angular edges on the central metal frame, which are more in keeping with the flagship Xperia 1 V – albeit without the grooved lines etched into each one. At 183g it’s fairly light for its size, and reasonably svelte at just 8.6mm thick.

Every Sony smartphone staple is exactly where you’d expect to find it: a physical camera shutter button on the right edge, a 3.5mm headphone port up top, stereo speakers facing forwards, and a tool-free SIM tray at the bottom. It even supports microSD expandable storage. Well, almost every staple, anyway. The notification LED is missing in action, and given it didn’t make the cut for the Xperia 1 V earlier this year, we’re guessing Sony has called time on its inclusion.

The 21:9 aspect ratio screen (another Sony trademark) means this is an especially tall and slender phone, with bezels just big enough to squeeze in a front-facing webcam without relying on a punch-hole or notch. You won’t need giant hands to grip the Xperia 5 V, but they’d certainly help you reach its top and bottom edges. We had no struggles with the power button/fingerprint sensor duo, which is perfectly placed for both lefties and right-handers. It’s speedy enough at detecting digits, if not quite as rapid as some under-display fingerprint tech we’ve tried.

We appreciate the matt finish on the rear, which practically repels fingerprint smudges, and the whole thing is IP68 dust- and water-resistant. Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and rear glass should withstand a few scratches, too. We’re fans of the more eye-catching Blue and Platinum Silver models, but expect the Black version will again prove most popular.

Screen & sound: the really wide show

At 6.1in the Xperia 5 V has as much vertical screen space as an iPhone 14 or Samsung Galaxy S23, but the 21:9 aspect ratio mean its much slimmer; that’s perfect for cinema-scale content, and because it’s not as narrow as a Galaxy Z Fold 5, apps and the Android homescreen don’t feel nearly as cramped.

Sony says it’s packing a slightly different OLED panel than its predecessor, but it keeps the same FHD+ resolution, live HDR compatibility, and peak brightness. We had no trouble using it outdoors in direct sunlight, even if it lacks the outright oomph of some flagship phones. Everywhere else it delivers outstanding contrast, impactful colours and deep shadow details, especially when using the Creator picture mode.

Sony’s Bravia team has again had some input here, with compatible streaming services swapping automatically to BT.2020 colour where possible, to stick closer to the director’s vision. Although we’re still betting they’d rather you watched on a screen larger than a smartphone. The Standard mode remains the top choice for those wanting a more vibrant, vivid picture, while staying largely true-to-life.

It’s a shame Sony still doesn’t offer an adaptive refresh rate, forcing you instead to pick between 60Hz and 120Hz. The latter looks way smoother when scrolling through apps and websites, but must have a bigger impact on battery life than the stock 60Hz. Rivals (especially ones with LTPO tech) do a better job here.

Music snobs are fully catered for with LDAC Bluetooth support and a 3.5mm headphone port, but it’s the forward-facing stereo speakers where Sony has paid most attention this year. It reckons some 70% of under-30s use their phone’s built-in speakers for watching Netflix and the like, instead of reaching for their earphones, so has added a more powerful amplifier.

Audio is that little bit clearer and punchier as a result, with a lower noise floor and impressively balanced frequency range. There isn’t quite as much volume on tap as a Google Pixel 7 Pro, but on the other hand high-end notes aren’t nearly as harsh-sounding. We were much happier listening to tunes with the volume fully cranked here than we’ve been on recent rival handsets.

Cameras: Zeiss, Zeiss baby

It only has two rear cameras, rather than the three seen on the outgoing model, but the Xperia 5 V is no step backwards. The lead lens has the same 52MP Exmor T for Mobile sensor as the flagship Xperia 1 V, which promises superior low-light snaps as well as rapid HDR burst shooting and 4K/120fps video recording. The sensor’s effective output tops out at 48MP, with the remaining pixels given over to image stabilisation – and even then your pics are pixel-binned to 12MP, to match the ultrawide secondary snapper.

The main sensor can also crop in on itself for ‘lossless’ 2x zoom shots, meaning the phone can cover 16mm, 24mm and 48mm focal lengths without needing any digital trickery. That said, you still need digital zoom to match the Xperia 5 IV’s 60mm coverage. It maxes out at 144mm, which is 6x zoom for those who don’t speak photographer.

The upgrades go behind hardware, too. There’s a bigger emphasis on spur-of-the-moment snapping this time around, while still providing enough manual controls for those who want them. Computational processing steps in more often in the Basic camera mode, combining multiple frames for more effective HDR, and an automatic night mode takes the faff out of low light shots. These are things rivals have been going big on for years, and Sony hopes adding them will level the playing field for people who prefer to point-and-shoot.

During the day, the main sensor takes in a superb amount of surface detail, with clean definition even on finely textured materials like foliage or hair. The image processing doesn’t go overboard on sharpening, and the incredibly quick autofocus helps keep track of moving subjects. A half-squeeze of the physical shutter button almost always saw the phone lock onto faces correctly, for both people and pets.

Colours remain more natural-looking than Samsung’s often garish, vivid snaps, and HDR will only do so much to brighten up a dimly-lit subject, but in bright sunshine our test snaps were perfectly impactful. White balance was usually spot on and we liked the more constrast-heavy treatment of areas of shadow.

It may not have the natural bokeh of a 1in sensor, or any kind of macro mode, but it still delivers a decent amount of depth blur when shooting close-up subjects. The digital bokeh mode is more prominent than it was on older Sony phones, and can really make your portraits pop, but edge detection (especially around loose hairs) isn’t any better here than it is on rival handsets.

Sony Xperia 5 V camera samples churchSony Xperia 5 V camera samples church ultrawide
Sony Xperia 5 V main sensor (left) vs ultrawide (right)

Consistency between the two lenses is excellent, with near-identical colour, contrast, white balance and exposure. That’s true when cropping the sensor for 2x zoom shots, too. Detail does fall off when you stray into digital zoom, more quickly in lower light, but for the most part results are still usable for social sharing. The ultrawide stays fairly sharp at the extreme edges of the lens, and details on far-off subjects aren’t quite up to the same standard as the main lens, but it’s still a very capable snapper.

At night, the Xperia 5 V’s main lens doesn’t disappoint. Image noise is kept in check without stripping away surface detail, and exposure remains realistic. Colours stay natural too. 2x zoom shots hold up well, as you’d expect given the large pixel count, but the ultrawide lens can’t keep up in the darkest conditions, struggling to lock focus and losing finer details unless you’re prepared to play with the manual settings.

The Auto Night mode really helps the main lens out, stacking multiple frames instead of of one long exposure to cut down on camera shake (though not eliminating it completely), and it won’t go overboard artificially illuminating a scene that was in reality very dark. Samsung, Google and Apple’s night modes often go a lot further; whether that’s a good thing is largely personal preference.

Either way, none of them give as much manual control as the Xperia. The interface remains ripped straight from Sony’s Alpha cameras, with the more advanced video modes siloed off in the dedicated Video Pro and Cinema Pro apps. Video Creator is a new addition, on hand to automatically turn your clip collection into a single, cleanly cut video.

Software experience: the light touch

We’re very familiar with Sony’s Xperia UI by now. It’s Android 13 underneath, and visually isn’t all that different to Google’s stock OS, but packs in a bunch of bespoke toolbars that make it easier to use the tall screen if you don’t have the thumbs of a yoga master.

Side Sense lets you launch pairs of apps in split-screen, or overlay one on top of the other in a floating window, while Game Enhancer puts performance controls, screenshot and video recording buttons, and a do not disturb mode within easy reach.

Sony hasn’t overloaded the phone with its own apps, preferring to stick with Google’s defaults for the most part. Anyone with a pair of wired headphones and a collection of hi-res music files will appreciate the Music app, and the now-customary camera trio of Photography Pro, Video Pro and Cinema Pro are on board for serious stills shooters and filmmakers.

Performance & battery life: doesn’t feel the heat

By using Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 silicon, the Xperia 5 V comfortably keeps pace with most recent flagship phones, with top-tier performance in almost every situation. The CPU might run a little slower than the bespoke versions found Samsung’s latest Galaxy handsets, but it still powered through two apps in split screen without so much as a hiccup.

Even particularly demanding apps ran perfectly well, and the Android homescreen never felt less than buttery smooth. 8GB of RAM is about what we’d expect for the class, and enough for most multitasking, even if certain rivals now include 12GB or more. We might’ve called the 128GB of on-board storage a little miserly, but the microSD card support more than makes up for it.

Happily Sony seems to have solved the heat management issues we saw on its previous-gen phones, in part thanks to the newer, cooler-running CPU, so we could record 15 minutes of 4K footage without seeing any kind of performance dip or thermal throttling. Games play very well at their highest settings, with those that support it able to make the most of the 120Hz refresh rate.

Few phone makers outside of China major on charging speeds, and Sony isn’t one of them. The Xperia 5 V sticks with 30W wired top-ups, which is identical to last year and enough for a 50% refuel in 30 minutes – but only if you supply a beefy enough power brick, as there’s not one in the box, and there’s no bundled USB-C cable either. This is about on par with Apple and Google, but behind the slightly speedier Samsung Galaxy S23+.

On the plus side, the 5000mAh cell is sizeable and the CPU is very power efficient, meaning getting through an entire day on a single charge was never an issue. Even after taking plenty of photos, catching up on our YouTube subscriptions and playing a handful of games, stamina didn’t take an especially heavy hit. We didn’t quite manage Sony’s claim of more than 24 hours of video playback, but it’s up there with the best mainstream-to-high-end phones for longevity, and a healthy improvement over the outgoing Xperia 5 IV. Wireless and reverse wireless charging are also welcome inclusions.

Sony Xperia 5 V verdict

Sony Xperia 5 V review verdict

By adding a bit more mainstream appeal, but not sacrificing the features long-time fans have come to expect, the Xperia 5 V is a wonderfully well-rounded smartphone. It’ll please photographers who insist on manual controls, but computational cleverness and an auto-night mode mean novices can get in on the action too.

Performance is comfortably on par with rivals, battery life is fantastic, and the software is streamlined. The display is a knockout too, even if the aspect ratio is still a bit “love it or hate it”. Not everyone will appreciate the camera’s more nuanced colour treatment either – but those wanting a break from the overly vivid snaps seen on other phones will be more than happy here.

Price-wise it’s also very competitive, landing in the UK on par with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Google Pixel 7 Pro at £849 (although both can be had for less, having done the rounds for the best part of a year). There’s no US price yet, and Europeans will need to shell out €999. It’s still not the obvious choice, then – but is far easier to recommend to the masses than any of its predecessors.

Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5

Stuffed full of features and packing photographer-friendly cameras, the Xperia 5 V is everything we’d expect from a mainstream Sony smartphone – only now it’s also a little more newbie-friendly.


Brings back all the familiar Sony must-haves

Flagship performance and long-lasting battery

Very capable main camera with many manual modes


Contrast-heavy photos not to all tastes

No adaptive refresh rate

Skinny aspect screen can be divisive

Sony Xperia 5 V technical specifications

Screen6.1in, 2560×1080 OLED w/ 120Hz
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Memory8GB RAM
Cameras48MP main + 12MP ultrawide rear
12MP front
Storage128GB on-board, microSD expansion
Operating systemAndroid 13
Battery5000mAh w/ 30W wired, wireless charging
Dimensions154x68x8.6mm, 183g
Profile image of Tom Morgan-Freelander Tom Morgan-Freelander Deputy Editor


A tech addict from about the age of three (seriously, he's got the VHS tapes to prove it), Tom's been writing about gadgets, games and everything in between for the past decade, with a slight diversion into the world of automotive in between. As Deputy Editor, Tom keeps the website ticking along, jam-packed with the hottest gadget news and reviews.  When he's not on the road attending launch events, you can usually find him scouring the web for the latest news, to feed Stuff readers' insatiable appetite for tech.

Areas of expertise

Smartphones/tablets/computing, cameras, home cinema, automotive, virtual reality, gaming