The Xperia 5 V is a pocket-friendly and powerful phone with unusual features like a headphone jack and expandable memory. It’s not perfect, but it is very easy to live with.
- Pocketable size
- Long battery life
- Bucks trends with headphone jack and microSD
- No zoom camera
- Beaten on value by big names
- Low light photos a grade below the best
- Gorilla Glass Victus 2This phone has glass front and back panels, and the front one is high-end Gorilla Glass Victus 2.
- Headphone jackUnlike most higher-end phones you can use wired headphones with this Android.
- IP 65/68 resistanceSony was one of the original pioneers of mainstream water resistant phones. This one can handle full submersion.
The Sony Xperia 5 V sits one step down from Sony’s mainstream top-tier phone, the Xperia 1 V.
This one is cheaper, smaller, that bit more approachable. And I’d find it easier to recommend it to more people as a result.
As with most Sony phones these days, it’s not that competitive for value, though. Here’s the crux: the Sony Xperia 5 V doesn’t have a zoom camera. The Samsung Galaxy S23, Google Pixel 8 Pro and OnePlus 11 have one of these zooms for similar money, or significantly less.
However, I can’t deny I’ve enjoyed using the Sony Xperia 5 V, particularly for its strong battery life, petite size and physical headphone jack.
- IP65/68 water and dust resistance
- Tough Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front glass
- Classic Sony design
Sony’s phone design is the cockroach of the phone world. Dynasties rise and fall, but the Sony monolith design remains.
I’m not generally a huge fan of this style in Sony’s biggest phones. The boxy shape makes the bodies feel larger than they are. But the Sony Xperia 5 V is petite, letting this design shine.
It’s a minimal-compromise style too. The Sony Xperia 5 V sides are aluminium, the front glass is Corning’s superb Gorilla Glass Victus 2. Its back is a frosted glass, but doesn’t use Victus 2.
I’ve found it quite easy to scratch, having put a scrape in the rear despite keeping it away from sand or grit. It shows up like a silvery line when it catches the light. A case might be an idea here (one is not included).
The embossed rear of the Sony Xperia 1 V seems a lot more forgiving. That phone’s design has a bit more going on too, with a sort-of corrugated effect to the metal sides as well as the funky rear.
Is that worth paying an extra £450 for? Obviously not, and plenty of the other Sony design quirks are here too.
The Sony 5 Xperia V has the rarest of rare things in a high-end phone: a headphone jack. I’ve used it to mostly ditch wireless earphones during testing. It also has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. As in the Sony Xperia 1 V, it’s not the quickest around and takes a beat to get you to the home screen from standby.
- Quality OLED display
- Good tuning with one of the standard modes
- Fairly bright
The Sony Xperia 5 V’s display size is the most interesting thing about this screen. It’s 6.1 inches across, making it fairly small for its class.
Like other Xperia phones, the shape is unusually tall too, with a 21:9 aspect ratio. It doesn’t have a notch or punch hole either, instead cramming the front camera into a little black bar above the screen.
Much like including a headphone jack, Sony likes to prove it doesn’t just follow trends. You may notice the bezels look a bit larger than some here, though.
Fresh out of the box, I found the colour temperature a bit too blue and cool, and the tones too saturated. As when you buy a TV, the default mode is designed to make it appear brighter, poppier.
However, Sony does include a great preset that warms up the tone, while toning down the colour saturation a bit. Switch to this Creator mode and you’re golden.
This is an OLED panel, netting you excellent viewing angles and ultra-deep blacks. Peak brightness is solid too, if nothing all that notable when mid-range phones can often get close to 1000 nits, just like the Sony Xperia 5 V. A 120Hz refresh is too common to be interesting these days, but may well make scrolling appear super-smooth if you’re upgrading from a phone a few years old (one more likely to use a 60Hz screen).
I think the Xperia’s display is perhaps a little too small to be ideal for watching movies. But I have watched a tonne of YouTube videos on this little thing, no problem. Speaker quality is fair, with a stereo driver array, but it doesn’t have the lower-frequency beefiness of the best.
- Lacks the zoom of its predecessor
- Quality primary camera
- Night photo image quality can’t match the best
There’s good and bad news in the Sony Xperia 5 V camera. It has the same 48MP Sony IMX 888 sensor as the more expensive Sony Xperia 1 V, which is great.
We don’t get any form of hardware zoom, though. While there is a 2x zoom button in the camera app, it uses a digital crop of the standard view.
The second camera is a 12MP ultra-wide, which again appears to use the same hardware as the Xperia 1 V.
Sony’s primary camera performs well in just about all scenarios. Day time, night time, backlit? No problem. The combo of big sensor, optical stabilisation and solid enough computational photography for decent night-time images is a winner.
Looking back over the pictures I took with the Sony 5 V, its hit rate of technically solid shots is high.
There are just a few areas in which the experience doesn’t match the best-in-class performers.
First, at times I find the Sony’s HDR optimisation does not go quite as far as it could, or at least fails to fully kick in. This results in the occasional too-bright sky or blown highlight.
The Sony Xperia 5 V is also only B-grade in more taxing low-light conditions. I compared it to the Honor Magic 5 Pro, one of this year’s somewhat under-appreciated camera monsters, and the Honor was far better at picking out clean, clear detail from the extreme shadows.
Those areas are a bit muddier and murkier through the Xperia 5 V’s eyes, basically matching what I saw in the Sony Xperia 1 V. Here’s a scene comparison:
In a few shots I’ve noticed some purple colour noise and, as in other Sony phones, I don’t always love the way the Xperia 5 V handles its greens. Plenty of images have, to my eyes, benefited from warming up the mid-tones in Photoshop afterwards. This may just be my preference butting heads with Sony’s house style on colour.
Mostly, though, I was just left wishing the phone had a zoom camera a few times. 2X digital crops look perfectly good, but when you head towards the maximum 6x, everything takes a turn for the questionable.
Small text becomes garbled like that of a dodgy AI-generated image. You know what phone had a telephoto camera? The Sony Xperia 5 IV from a year earlier.
Still, I have to admit I’m quite impressed by the sense of detail the Sony Xperia 5 V fosters at 6x zoom given it’s a digital confection.
I’m quite happy with the detail handling throughout. Zoom into standard 1x shots and there’s none of that “digitally painted” character seen when noise reduction algorithms go haywire and start turning glass into painterly patterns.
Even the 12MP ultrawide produces respectable detail, although in some shots, I see quite a noticeable fall in sharpness and clarity at the very corners of the frame — with both standard and ultra-wide lenses.
You also get Sony’s singular array of photo/video apps in the Xperia 5 V. The Photo Pro stills apps have advanced manual and semi-manual modes that emulate what you get in Sony’s mirrorless cameras.
It’s great for creative shots where you want clear control over the shutter speed, but for general shooting? Stick to the default mode, which is mostly point-and-shoot. You can still use the phone’s physical shutter button if you like.
The custom apps are perhaps more useful for video. These are Cinema Pro and Video Pro. They sound like they should be the same, but have different goals.
Video Pro is not miles off the standard video shooting experience, but with unusually good focusing and zoom control. Cinema Pro expects you to set your shooting parameters before you tap the shutter button, because it doesn’t let settings change as you shoot, to fit with changes in lighting.
This could make your videos look professional, or make them totally unusable. These apps aren’t meant for absolutely everyone.
The Sony Xperia 5 V can shoot video at up to 4K resolution, at up to 120 frames per second. At that maximum setting you lose electronic image stabilisation, but you do get it at 4K60, which is what I want.
Video quality and versatility are good. The front 12MP camera produces quality selfies too, although in a darker room you will have to let the screen act as a makeshift flash, or images predictably become more stodgy-looking.
- High-performance processor
- Suffers from significant thermal throttling
- Entirely solid general performance
The Sony Xperia 5 V has a very high-performance processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
This same SoC is used by the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (albeit a custom version) and the step-up Sony Xperia 1 V. There are no spec cuts here, and while its 8GB RAM isn’t quite as high as some, it’s enough.
You can basically do anything here that you’d do with any other performance-driven Android, and tough games are going to run beautifully.
However, I found its performance over extended periods of strain is not great. In 3D Mark’s extended 20-minute Wild Life Extreme test, the Xperia 5 V lost 55% of its peak performance over time due to heat build-up.
Maximum performance was maintained for four minutes, after which it gradually collapsed to the point where effective graphics performance was, at best, that of a mid-range processor rather than a top-end one.
These severe performance dips are not uncommon in phones with top-end Qualcomm processors. It’s a case of balancing performance against heat generation, but the Sony Xperia 5 V is among the worst cases I’ve seen.
It kinda makes sense — a smaller-screen phone like this is less obviously made for gaming than an Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate. The phone getting too hot is more likely to be noticed here than higher-level thermal throttling designed to avoid exactly that issue. Sony has favoured not making the phone too hot over getting better frame rates in long play sessions. And maybe that’s fine.
That said, I’ve had no problems with the Sony Xperia 5 V’s day-to-day performance.
- Has a few additional “creative” Sony apps
- Inoffensive layout and interface
The Sony Xperia 5 V runs Android 13 and has the usual Sony interface plastered on top. It’s a good-looking software layer given a bit of Sony gloss with a bucketload of attractive colour-gradient-infused wallpapers.
Take them away, though, and it’s not too far off the Android norm. We get a white-backed app menu that scrolls by vertically, and the apps inside it can be arranged either automatically or using your own order.
There’s a series of extra apps preinstalled, but the majority of them are USPs (unique selling points) rather than pure bloat.
For starters, there are the extra camera apps mentioned in the camera section of this review, plus a video editor suite.
There’s also a multi-track music recorder app called Music Pro. This lets you treat the Sony Xperia 5 V like a musical scrapbook.
Much like the other bonus apps, this one is to remind us Sony is also a big name in other areas — Sony Music is a huge music publisher. Is it worth swaying your buying decision over? Absolutely not.
- Relatively slow charging
- Well above average battery life for this class
- Wireless charging is onboard
The Sony Xperia 5 V has a 5000mAh battery, just like the previous model in this series. It’s much higher capacity than the base Samsung Galaxy S23, which has a 3900mAh battery.
It pays off, because battery life is perhaps the one thing I’ve appreciated most about the Xperia 5 V. It’s a phone that doesn’t leave you anxious about whether it will last through the day or not, which can’t be said about all Androids this powerful.
While it doesn’t, in my experience, match the longevity of the cheaper Sony Xperia 10 series, waving goodbye to basic battery anxiety should not be underrated.
The Sony Xperia 5 V needs it, though, because its charging speed is fairly poor. This phone does not come with a charger, but it does support up to 30W charging. Using a high-power compatible charger, it took 34 minutes to reach 50% and 100 minutes to hit 100%.
When you can get 120W phones for the same money or less, 30W isn’t cutting it anymore. It doesn’t feel like fast charging in 2023.
I’d trade the in its more advanced charging features, wireless and reverse wireless charging, for faster cabled charge.
Should you buy it?
You want a classic pocket rocket
This phone is powerful but not too large, and has above-average battery life to boot.
You’re a value fiend
As with a lot of Sony phones, the Xperia 5 V is not a leader on value, and even lacks the zoom camera its predecessor had.
The Sony Xperia 5 V is not the best value phone you can get at this level. It doesn’t have true fast charging, a zoom camera, or the beefiest speaker array around. But it does have other appealing parts.
This is a relatively petite phone with plenty of power. It has a headphone jack, not found anywhere else at this level. And its battery life inspires confidence and helps make up for the fact a 5-minute charge doesn’t go as far here as it would in most rivals.
While there are plenty of little issues to point out, the actual experience of living with the Sony Xperia 5 V is an entirely painless one.
How we test
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as a main phone for over a week
Thorough camera testing in a variety of conditions
Tested and benchmarked using respected industry tests and real-world data
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Is the Sony Xperia 5 V waterproof?
It has excellent IP58 and IP58 water resistance, allowing for submersion at a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes.
A 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top of the phone.
The phone has a microSD slot on the underside of its SIM card holder.