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Sony Xperia 5 vs Sony Xperia 1: Which should you buy?

Sony has just launched the Xperia 5 – a new premium handset that’s smaller than it’s predecessor. So this question is, should you go little or go large?

We compare the Sony Xperia 1 to the newly-announced Sony Xperia 5. Can Sony’s flagship be bested by the newcomer?

Xperia 1 vs Xperia 5 – Screen

The screen is the biggest selling point for both of these phones. Both have OLED displays, but the Xperia 1 is of course significantly larger – with a 6.5-inch screen rather than a 6.1-inch screen of the Xperia 5. The new boy also has a lower resolution: 1080 x 2520 pixels (for a ~449ppi density), compared to the 1644 x 3840 resolution of the Xperia 1.

In our review of the Xperia 1, we praised the 4K resolution which offers support for HDR content – although the colours aren’t quite as accurate as they are on the OnePlus 7 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S10. We also wish it had a higher refresh rate than 60Hz.

An interesting feature of both screen is the unusual 21:9 aspect ratio, which matches most Hollywood movies and most original shows created by Netflix. Content in this aspect ratio is great to watch, but it’s irritating that standard videos on YouTube have larger black bars either side.

Xperia 1 vs Xperia 5 – Camera

Both of these Sony handsets have identical camera hardware, both boasting a triple camera. The three sensors each have a 12-megapixel resolution, and the array includes a main camera, an ultra wide lens, and a telephoto sensor.

In our opinion, the Xperia 1 is a good all-round camera in daylight conditions both for still photography and for videos, delivering reliable exposure and natural colours along with lots of manual shooting options. The HDR option makes a big difference, rescuing highlights and lifting detail in darker areas.

We still rank the Huawei P30 Pro and the Google Pixel 3 as the very best camera phones, but the Xperia 1 still has a good snapper, and seeing as the Xperia 5 has an identical set-up we’re expecting very similar performance once again. There’s one neat innovation for the new device: a software feature called “photography advice” which alerts if, say, you have your finger is in front of the lens.

Xperia 1 vs Xperia 5 – Performance

Both the Sony Xperia 1 and the Xperia 5 run on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, and both have 6GB of RAM. This is the flagship chip for an Android phone, and the Xperia 1 posted excellent scores in our detailed performance assessment. It just falls down in comparison to the speediest Android phone that we’ve tested – the OnePlus 7 Pro. We expect to see similar performance results from the Sony Xperia 5.

Xperia 1 vs Xperia 5 – Early Verdict

From what we’ve seen so far, the biggest difference between the two devices is the screen. The Xperia 1 has a much larger, higher resolution screen than the Xperia 5. If you’re not too fussed about screen quality, and if the Xperia 5 is a bit cheaper than the Xperia 1, then it might the the right choice for you. Otherwise, the Sony Xperia 1 looks like it wins out. But for the definitive verdict, you’ll have to check back to our website in a couple of weeks once we’ve reviewed the new handset.

The Sony Xperia 5 will be available to pre-order from September 18; the Sony Xperia 1 is currently available for £850.

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