In true Sony fashion, the company announced its second flagship smartphone of the year during the consumer electronics show IFA at the beginning of September.

The Xperia 5 - which sits between the Xperia 10 and Xperia 1 models launched earlier in 2019 - is the successor to the Xperia XZ3, continuing to simplify the naming structure down to just numbers. Here are our first impressions.

Design

  • 158 x 68 x 8.2mm, 164g
  • IP65/68 water and dust resistant
  • Four colours

The Sony Xperia 5 very similar to the larger and more premium Sony Xperia 1 in terms of design, though some changes have been made, specifically in terms of the size and the camera setup on the rear.

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The latest device is smaller than the Xperia 1 and much more manageable in terms of one-handed use, but it still sticks with the same design ethos. It's tall, like the Xperia 1, but the reduction in screen size has made the height of the Xperia 5 more normal - even if we'd loved to have seen more bezel reduction at the top.

Just like the larger device, there is a slim metal frame with curved edges and corners, along with a glass reflective rear that looks great but loves a fingerprint. The Xperia 5 moves the triple rear camera lenses back to the top left corner - like previous Sony devices - while the Xperia 1 has them centralised, though it's clear these two devices are part of the same family.

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On the bottom the Xperia 5, there is USB Type-C with quite a prominent speaker to the right, while the top has nothing to interrupt the glossy edge.

The right edge of the Xperia 5 has the built-in fingerprint sensor, power button, volume rocker and the dedicated camera launching button, while the left has the covered slot for microSD and the SIM. The Xperia 5 is IP65/68 water and dust resistant like the Xperia 1 - taking a step up from the Xperia 10 mid-range devices.

Display

  • 6.1-inch, OLED, HDR
  • 21:9 aspect radio
  • Full HD+ resolution

The Sony Xperia 5 features a 6.1-inch display with a Full HD+ resolution, dropping the pixels down a little from both the Xperia 1 and its 4K display, but also from the Xperia XZ3 - that this device essentially replaces - which opted for a Quad HD+ resolution.

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The 21:9 aspect ratio is retained though - following on from the Xperia 10 devices and flagship Xperia 1 - and the Xperia 5 has an OLED display too, offering punchy colours and deep blacks. We'll need to test the display properly in the real world before we pass judgement on whether it's as glorious as the Xperia XZ3s though.

Like the Xperia 1, the Xperia 5 has mobile HDR support - something the Xperia 10 devices missed off their spec sheets. Sony is also still offering 21:9 Multi-Window and the Side Sense software on the Xperia 5 to help make it easy to use the one-handed, though it is more than manageable without any help from software. 

Hardware and specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • 6GB RAM
  • 64GB/128GB storage, microSD
  • 3140mAh battery

Under the hood of the Sony Xperia 5, the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is running the show, coupled with 6GB of RAM and a choice of 64GB of internal storage, or 128GB. There is microSD support for up to 512GB.

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The battery capacity sits at 3140mAh and as Sony fans will expect, Sony's battery management software including Stamina Mode is on board in a bid to ensure this device lasts through the day.

Charging takes place via USB Type-C, as we briefly mentioned previously, but we will need to get the Xperia 5 in for full review before we can test the battery and performance properly.

Camera

  • Triple camera (12MP+12MP+12MP)
  • 8MP front camera
  • Photography Advice, Eye Tracking AF

Camera is another area that we will need to test properly in the real world to see how the Xperia 5 performs - especially with the competition being so strong out there currently - but the new Sony smartphone has the same triple rear camera as the Xperia 1.

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There are three 12-megapixel sensors on the back, made up of a main sensor, telephoto sensor and a super wide angle sensor. Like the Xperia 1, the Xperia 5 has the company's Eye AF tracking technology, enabling the camera to track a moving object similar to how the human eye would and the technology has been enhanced for the new model with calculations 30 times per second. The Xperia 1 will get the updates too though.

There is also another new feature on the Xperia 5, which again will come to the flagship model, called Photography Advice. Users can select whether to get advice before and after taking a photo, after taking a photo only or not at all.

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The idea of the new feature is to stop common issues like user's placing their finger over the lens or taking an out of focus shot, as well as letting you know when you've taken a blurry shot or a shot of someone when their eyes are closed, for example.

Software

  • Android Pie
  • Games Enhancer mode additions

The Sony Xperia 5 runs on Android Pie with Sony's software over the top, meaning Sony fans will get a very familiar experience. The Android fans among you might notice that the device doesn't launch on Android 10, though we expect it to be updated to the new build at some point.

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Sony has reduced its bloatware over the last few years, offering a good experience and there are a couple of extra software features that can come in handy, such as Side Sense - which allows you to double tap the side of the device to bring up recent apps and settings.

In the Xperia 1, Sony announced a Games Enhancer mode, which offered features like RAM release and hiding notifications when playing games and it has expanded on the list of features available in the mode for the Xperia 5. Users will now be able to do a screenshot burst for example whilst playing, as well as select whether they want their voice to be prominent during screen recording, or the game, with slider controls to mix the two.

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The Xperia 5 also offers support for Sony's PlayStation DualShock 4 controller, allowing gamers to play Fortnite on their Xperia 5 in 21:9 using a DualShock 4 controller and the Xperia 5 positioned as the screen.

First Impressions

The Sony Xperia 5 is a smaller, more compact model of the Xperia 1 and it's lovely. The reduction in size makes for a more comfortable one-handed device, while many of the super flagship's features are retained.

A couple of compromises are made - like the drop from the 4K resolution in the Xperia 1 to Full HD+ in the Xperia 5 - but that makes sense for where this device is portioned (even if Quad HD would have been better). Sony also avoided making compromises to power, which we're pleased to see. 

How the Xperia 5 will perform compared to the flagship Xperia 1 and its competitors remains to be seen for now, but we really like the Xperia 5. Sometimes good things come in smaller packages.