Sony Xperia 5 review

GSMArena team, 18 Sept 2019.

Software

The Xperia 5 boots Android Pie, in the same very Pixel-like variation as the one we observed on the Xperia 1. Characteristic of that is the pill navigation (Sony calls it 'Swipe up on Home button') which is the default way of going back and home, though there is also the option for a classic three-button nav bar.

Fingerprint unlock, as well as Google's Smart Lock options, including Trusted Face (Face Unlock), are available. The most secure one is the fingerprint, of course, but in case you want it easier, you can use some of the Smart Lock suggestions.

Swipe up setting - Sony Xperia 5 review Homescreen - Sony Xperia 5 review App drawer - Sony Xperia 5 review Folder view - Sony Xperia 5 review Notification shade - Sony Xperia 5 review Quick toggles - Sony Xperia 5 review
Swipe up setting • Homescreen • App drawer • Folder view • Notification shade • Quick toggles

There are unique Xperia bits on top, however. Even though the 5 is noticeably smaller than the 1, One-handed mode is still available. A quick double tap on the Home button shrinks the UI to one corner bringing everything within reach. The 5's extreme height, even though it's a reasonably compact device overall, still means you can't reach the notification shade all too easily, but this way you can.

One-handed mode - Sony Xperia 5 review One-handed mode - Sony Xperia 5 review One-handed mode - Sony Xperia 5 review
One-handed mode

We've had mixed experience with Side sense, but here's what it is. A pair of touch-sensitive areas on either side of the phone enable various actions most of which user-configurable. The base menu is sort of a take on the Android Pie recent apps interface, which is notably missing from its intended location as a row in the app drawer.

Sony Xperia 5 review

One particularly powerful and customizable option is the 21:9 pair shortcut feature. Through it, you simply select two apps and the relative location you want to launch them in and then you can trigger a split-screen with the pair instantly.

Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • 21: 9 multi-window - Sony Xperia 5 review Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • 21: Task switcher - Sony Xperia 5 review Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • 21: Task switcher - Sony Xperia 5 review Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • 21: Task switcher - Sony Xperia 5 review Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • 21: Task switcher - Sony Xperia 5 review Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • 21: Task switcher - Sony Xperia 5 review
Side sense • Side sense options • Side sense menu • 21:9 multi-window • Task switcher

Unfortunately, in our experience engaging the trigger areas is a bit unreliable and we generally had a hard time triggering the Side Sense menu time after time.

An inherent benefit of an extra-long display is the ability to show more items in long lists - that includes boring stuff like the settings menu, and marginally more fun stuff like, say, posts in Instagram.

Sony Xperia 5 review

Another good use for a 21:9 screen is showing two apps in two larger-than-average halves of the said screen. Google did completely ruin the mechanics of going into multi-window with Pie, so it's a good thing Sony's worked around that with the 21:9 multi-window option in Side Sense, as well as a dedicated homescreen shortcut to it.

There's a downside to the unusual aspect too, in that some apps may not be able to display properly in it. We ran into this with one of the benchmarks we do, but not the more common apps you're likely to use. Even so, the possibility for incompatibility is still there, even after several years of odd screen ratios.

Settings (quite a few of them) - Sony Xperia 5 review Chrome - Sony Xperia 5 review Instagram - Sony Xperia 5 review
Settings (quite a few of them) • Chrome • Instagram

Sony still handles its own multimedia display and playback with its proprietary Album and Music apps. Album features both photo and video support, can connect to the cloud and local network services and is pretty good at organizing galleries and doing the occasional light edit on a shot.

The Music app is simple and well organized, without lacking any important features. All the while, it looks very appealing with large format album art (and automatic art download) and a flat design. It also features Google cloud integration. There are also various options to tweak the sound, including the DSEE HX up-scaler and Dolby Atmos. Others, like aptX HD, benefit listening to music wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Album app - Sony Xperia 5 review Photo Editor - Sony Xperia 5 review Music app - Sony Xperia 5 review Audio settings - Sony Xperia 5 review Audio settings - Sony Xperia 5 review Audio settings - Sony Xperia 5 review
Album app • Photo Editor • Music app • Audio settings

Game Enhancer is pretty self-explanatory but still contains a few interesting little features. It has two main interfaces - one acting as a game launcher, while the other being an overlay that can be pulled out while in game.

It gives two performance profiles to choose from, which you select on a per-game basis. One is "Performance preferred", while the other is a more battery-minded mode that caps fps to 40 and adjusts some other settings. Then there are the Focus settings, which let you disable pesky notifications and other distractions.

Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 5 review Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 5 review Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 5 review Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 5 review Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 5 review Game Enhancer - Sony Xperia 5 review
Game Enhancer

There are also screenshot and video capture features, the latter of which can also capture footage from your selfie camera along with the game. There is no direct streaming to any video platforms, though. Last, but not least, a quick search function can bring up YouTube videos in a floating video for you, related to the game you are currently playing.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Xperia 5 packs a Snapdragon 855, Qualcomm's current finest - that is, if you don't count its Plus version that's only got minor clock speed tweaks. There's only one RAM and storage version for the Xperia 5 and that's 6GB/128GB. The storage is of the UFS 2.1 variety as opposed to the faster UFS 3.0 that you'd find on a Galaxy Note10 or a OnePlus 7 Pro.

Sony Xperia 5 review

We ran the usual benchmarks and got the usual results. The Xperia 5 matches its big bro in CPU performance and the two are towards the top of the pack in multi-core GeekBench. The Xperia 5 edges ahead of the compact Galaxies under such loads, but does trail them significantly in terms of single-core potency - that is, if you compare against Exynos Galaxies.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    11472
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    11181
  • OnePlus 7
    11075
  • Sony Xperia 1
    10985
  • Sony Xperia 5
    10941
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    10735
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    10721
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    10353
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
    10174
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    10081
  • Huawei P30
    9789
  • Google Pixel 3
    8146

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    4823
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    4544
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
    4543
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    4518
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    3505
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    3503
  • Sony Xperia 5
    3493
  • OnePlus 7
    3461
  • Sony Xperia 1
    3447
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    3419
  • Huawei P30
    3295
  • Google Pixel 3
    2377

In Antutu, the Xperia 5 didn't quite put out the same numbers as the 1, and also placed behind our Exynos Note10. The Galaxy S10 and S10 are still those all-important few-thousand points behind, for what it's worth.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    372006
  • OnePlus 7
    367812
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    361679
  • Sony Xperia 1
    356734
  • Apple iPhone XS
    346379
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    344442
  • Sony Xperia 5
    334809
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    331537
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
    328366
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    325192
  • Huawei P30
    287960
  • Google Pixel 3
    233699
In the graphics department, the Xperia 5 is generally slightly behind the 1, posting the occasional frame per second lower result. It could be a matter of thermals or who knows what.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    98
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    71
  • Sony Xperia 1
    71
  • OnePlus 7
    71
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    70
  • Sony Xperia 5
    69
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
    68
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    67
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    65
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    59
  • Google Pixel 3
    57
  • Huawei P30
    54

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    60
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    57
  • OnePlus 7
    57
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    57
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    56
  • Sony Xperia 1
    55
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    55
  • Google Pixel 3
    55
  • Sony Xperia 5
    52
  • Huawei P30
    48
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
    37
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    33

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    60
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
    43
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    42
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    42
  • Sony Xperia 1
    42
  • OnePlus 7
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    42
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    40
  • Sony Xperia 5
    40
  • Google Pixel 3
    35
  • Huawei P30
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    28

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    47
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    40
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    36
  • OnePlus 7
    36
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    35
  • Sony Xperia 1
    33
  • Sony Xperia 5
    33
  • Google Pixel 3
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10
    28
  • Huawei P30
    26
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
    23
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    20

Speaking of thermals, the Xperia 5 does heat up noticeably and its performance under sustained load suffers. During benchmarking it was common for the results to drop after repeated runs, though it was by up to 7-8%, so it's not an issue in real life. In any case, the Xperia 5 is certainly one powerful pocketable flagship.

Reader comments

Good phone got a bargain used but brand new wires charger head phones etc great phone and camera good on battery 👍

Be on the lookout, for the 2020 Apple SE.

  • BanB

Totally agree! I need a phone that's less than 150mm or even 145, S10e was perfect last year, but Samsung didn't release S20e unfortunately