The Sony Xperia 5 IV is a great, compact phone – one of the better options for anyone who wants an easy-to-handle, classically styled, premium device. Its design benefits from a frosted glass back which is rich to the touch and does a great job of repelling fingerprints, and the phone’s flat sides are comfortable to hold too.
Sony’s a traditionalist, and that ethos applies to its phone design. There’s a headphone jack and a camera button, and the overall style and design language haven’t changed much over the years. It’s pretty obvious why Sony fans are so loyal. Sony is very consistent compared to many other brands whose year-on-year launches barely resemble one another.
Sony’s also consistently punchy with its prices, and the Xperia 5 IV costs $999 / £949 / AU$1,399. That’s less than an iPhone 14 Pro, but more than a Pixel 7 Pro. Thankfully, the Xperia’s design quality doesn’t undermine its price tag.
The Sony Xperia 5 IV’s screen is something of a standout for its size. Normally, smaller screens don’t pack the quality larger ones do, but the compact Xperia’s is a bright, bold, deep, vibrant canvas that makes the content displayed on it look great.
The 21:9 aspect ratio won’t be for everyone, and the fact Sony misses a trick with no dynamic refresh rates also holds it back on paper, but in the flesh, the 120Hz panel is smooth, brighter than its predecessor, and supremely customizable.
The cameras on the Sony Xperia 5 IV are, in a break from tradition, dialed back when compared to those of the 1 IV. You still get the same 12MP main and ultra-wide cameras, but the telephoto which featured a continuous zoom is now a fixed 60mm, 12MP camera. That means roughly 2.5x zoom, vs up to 5.2x on the Sony Xperia 1 IV.
Scaled-back specs don’t mean you can’t grab excellent photos from the Xperia 5 IV, but it misses the mark when the lights drop. Sony does add a bunch of photo and video modes geared towards experts and enthusiasts, but for most point-and-shoot mobile owners, you might be better off with a cheaper alternative like the Pixel 7.
It’s also worth noting, the camera on the Sony Xperia 5 IV gets hotter than we’d like it to, and shuts down after around nine minutes of 4K 120fps recording on a cool day, and five minutes on a warm day.
Strangely, performance wasn’t an issue when it came to heat management. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 kept its cool when gaming, even at high graphics settings. The phone didn’t drop too many frames and in turn, makes for a nifty gaming device.
Running Android 12, Sony hasn’t quite got the latest version of Google’s mobile OS onboard, but this is promised soon, app support is excellent, and Sony loads up some customizations like Side Sense to make everything feel more… Sony. Stock Android fans will be a little underwhelmed with the lack of Material You and other stock highlights, but Sony fans should know exactly what to expect.
There’s 128GB of storage, and given the Sony Xperia 5 IV’s price, we would have loved to see it ship with 256GB as standard, but the inclusion of a microSD card slot is some compensation.
As for the battery life of the Xperia 5 IV, it’s excellent. By ditching the periscope camera, Sony frees up space to include a large 5,000mAh capacity cell, helping the phone last a full day and then some when the screen is set to 60Hz, or a comfortable full day when set to 120Hz.
Add 30W wired charging to the mix, as well as wireless charging, not to mention Sony’s smart battery care tech, and the Xperia 5 IV is feature-packed, even if it isn’t the camera zoomer its larger sibling is.
Sony Xperia 5 IV price and release date
- Available in the UK, US, and Australia
- One capacity widely available – 128GB
- Priced at $999 / £949 / AU$1,399
The Sony Xperia 5 IV is available globally, with specific UK, US, and Australian availability confirmed. You can order it in most regions now, and it’s widely available in one capacity – 128GB.
Priced at $999 / £949 / AU$1399, the Xperia 5 IV is an expensive phone given the fact it misses out on a periscope telephoto camera, which the Xperia 5 III had. That said, with its huge 5,000mAh battery and wireless charging support, it’s also got some highlights that were missing on its predecessor.
Other phones in the Xperia 5 IV’s price range include the new Google Pixel 7 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, and the Galaxy Z Flip 4. With the Google Pixel 7 Pro costing less and offering more in virtually every respect, the Xperia 5 IV’s value isn’t best-in-class.
- Value score: 3/5
Sony Xperia 5 IV design
- Available in Black, Ecru White, and Green
- Compact design is very pocket-friendly
- Features headphone jack and camera button
Small phones that have loads of power – there aren’t that many out there. If you’re an Apple user, then the iPhone 14 Pro is your best bet. Android users have a few more options: the Asus Zenfone 9, the Galaxy S22, and the Xiaomi 12 are three 2022 choices. The thing with all these Android phones, however, is that they cost less than the Sony Xperia 5 IV, and are at least as powerful.
So with this premium price, you’d expect a rich finish from the pocketable Xperia, and that’s exactly what you get. The frame is matte aluminum, which has a satiny feel that matches the frosted back nicely. The front and back of the phone are hardy Gorilla Glass Victus, and the flat sides and compact form make it easy to hold.
Ports are also a highlight. In addition to a USB-C port at the base, there’s a headphone jack at the top. Sony includes front-firing speakers, which sound great – less tinny than those of the Pixel 7, for example, and there’s even a physical camera button on the right side. That’s also where you’ll find the power button, which doubles up as a fingerprint scanner, and a volume rocker, while the SIM card tray is at the base.
Sony’s SIM card trays are our favorite kind, after all, you don’t need a pin to eject them – just a modest fingernail, and they also pack microSD card slots – double win.
Available in three colors, Black, Ecru White, and Green, we tested the black one, and thanks to its frosted back, it does a fine job of fending off fingerprints – seldom the case for dark-colored phones.
The Xperia 5 IV doesn’t ship with very much in the box. There’s no power brick or USB-C cable, and no case. Neither does the phone get a pre-fitted screen protector, which so many alternatives include. That said, Sony does rate the 5 IV IP68 dust and water-resistant, so it is relatively durable.
Its packaging is also very slimline – like that of Apple and Google. Smaller packaging means reduced shipping and storage requirements, and that’s better for the planet – so while it’s easy to be cynical and assume dialing back box contents is a cost-saving exercise, there’s a clear e-waste benefit too.
Weighing 172g and measuring 8.2mm thick, the 5 IV is lightweight and relatively slim. With its compact 6.1-inch screen and narrow design, it’s also a great option for anyone sick of oversized Androids.
So while Sony gives us big déjà vu energy year-on-year, with styling that’s refined more than revised, the Xperia 5 IV is still a premium-looking and feeling phone that should check a lot of boxes.
- Design score: 4.5/5
Sony Xperia 5 IV display
- 6.1-inch Full HD OLED display
- 1080 x 2520 resolution, 449ppi
- 120Hz refresh rate
The Xperia 5 IV is a Sony phone, so it has a tall, 21:9 aspect ratio screen. At 6.1 inches, it’s also relatively small, and being so narrow, is very comfortable to work across.
Sony’s display quality has struggled in the past with its Xperia 1 line. After all, squeezing a 4K resolution into a tiny smartphone screen is bound to pull up some challenges. While less headline-grabbing, therefore, the Full HD resolution of the Xperia 5 series has been more consistently good.
With the Xperia 5 IV’s modest screen size, it’s also got a high number of pixels per inch (PPI). At 449, it’s not far off the iPhone 14 Pro (460ppi), so is plenty sharp.
If there’s one issue with last year’s Xperia 5 III screen, it’s outdoor viewability. With the third generation of Xperia 1 and 5 missing out on brilliant brightness, they weren’t ideal for sunny climes. Fortunately, the Xperia 5 IV rectifies this, beaming as brightly as 1000 nits. Despite not being best-in-class, this should still do a fine job in most environments of making everything on-screen easy to see.
What’s great about the Sony Xperia 5 IV’s display is how customizable it is. Dive into the screen settings, and you can activate a range of viewing modes, including Creator Mode (which showcases content in a BT.2020 color range), customize white balance, and more.
The Xperia 5 IV shows off content brilliantly, too, with zingy, vibrant colors, impressive viewing angles, deep, inky blacks, and that 120Hz refresh rate, which makes content glide.
Sony is yet to employ an adaptive refresh rate, which would help with power-saving, especially on the larger Xperia 1 IV. That said, with the Xperia 5 IV’s battery being so capable, the feature is less missed here.
- Display score: 4.5/5
Sony Xperia 5 IV cameras
- 12MP main, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras
- All cameras can shoot 120fps 4K video
- Misses out on a periscope zoom
While historically, the Xperia 5 series has been blessed with the same camera system as its larger sibling, the Xperia 1, in a break from tradition, the 5 IV dials the zoom right back.
The Xperia 1 IV, launched earlier in 2022, introduced a continuous periscope zoom that’s still groundbreaking tech. Meanwhile, last year’s Xperia 1 III and 5 III featured a two-stage periscope zoom system which was pretty cool too.
This time around, though, we don’t get any periscope zoom. In fact, Sony loads up the 5 IV with the weakest zoom range of any flagship Xperia phone since the original Xperia 1 and 5.
A smartphone isn’t made or broken by its zoom camera, though, so you shouldn’t write the Sony Xperia 5 IV off just yet. With its three 12MP cameras, it can capture HDR videos at a high 120fps frame rate in 4K resolution. That’s both impressive and niche – a theme for Sony phones.
Before we talk about software and performance, let’s recap the Xperia 5 IV’s camera specs. Its main camera combines a 12MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, 24mm lens with OIS (optical image stabilization). At 1/1.7-inch, its camera sensor isn’t particularly big. The new iPhone 14 Pro upped the size to 1/1.28, for context.
Smaller sensors are inherently worse in poorly-lit environments, so if you’re expecting best-in-class performance, it’s already looking shaky.
We mentioned the telephoto camera misses out on maximum zoom, but going into specifics, it’s a 12MP, 1/3.5-inch sensor, matched with an f/2.4, 60mm lens with OIS. Finally, the 12MP ultra-wide camera features a 1/2.5-inch sensor, an f/2.2 aperture lens with a 16mm focal length, and it also packs autofocus.
Onto software, and Sony includes three camera apps on the Xperia 5 IV. The main one is Photo Pro, which fires up in Basic mode for a traditional smartphone camera interface. This is where most point-and-shoot users will live when taking pictures, though the app also features a plethora of manual modes too.
Video enthusiasts can choose between Video Pro and Cinema Pro, and both these open with overheating warnings upon first use. Video Pro is for casual content creators who want to shoot 16:9 content, while Cinema Pro is for folks who want to dive into a filmmaking camera UI, and shoot in 21:9. For enthusiasts, three camera apps is Christmas morning. For most, though, it’s overkill.
Overkill or not, if the automatic mode was great, then we wouldn’t have any issues with Sony loading up the phone with such a rich range of tools. Unfortunately, though, while it’s good in well-lit environments, the Xperia 5 IV drops the ball as soon as the lights drop.
Now, if it’s felt like a negative camera review so far, it’s time to strike a balance – there’s a lot to love about the Xperia 5 IV’s photos. Sony’s photo processing is very natural, the camera button will please traditionalists, and the focus and clarity are on point too. Sony grabs photos with atmospheric shadows, well-balanced highlights, and old-school dynamic-range – so photos don’t look as flat as those captured by Pixels, for example.
That’s also the case across all three cameras – and there is consistency to the color science and detail you can expect from them. The main camera is the best performer, followed by the ultra-wide, then the telephoto. However, in bright environments, you can play them all off against each other and still get consistently good results.
Dark scenes take the Xperia 5 IV down, though. Compared to the Pixel 7, a much cheaper phone, the Xperia’s auto-mode photos look like they’re captured on a webcam. Yes, you can go into Pro mode and capture a striking photo with a long shutter speed and a steadied camera – and that option is great to have. The majority of smartphone users, however, won’t want to do that.
If the Xperia 5 IV was more affordable, we’d be happier with its camera performance, but at its price, you can get some superb alternatives that wipe the floor with it in automatic mode.
That’s also true of video. The phone’s specs may read well – up to 4K resolution with HDR active at 120fps, but you need ideal lighting to capture usable footage. Otherwise, you’ll be shooting oversized, mediocre-looking footage. The Xperia is slower to adjust focus than other lower-cost camera phones, and it also doesn’t give you access to high frame rate capture from the default camera app.
Then there’s the issue of heat. On a hot day, our camera app shut down after five minutes recording 120fps 4K video. On a cool day, this extended to nine minutes. Once hot, we couldn’t even take photos, so had to hang out for a few minutes until things cooled down.
It’s always the way – by adding and adding and adding, there’s a serious risk of overcomplicating things, and Sony has, indeed, overcomplicated its camera while failing to make its automatic mode competitive. Sony phones have also had heat issues for a while, now.
In turn, we wish it would focus less on high frame rates and advanced capabilities and address the thermal issue with its cameras, and amp up its computational photography in auto mode.
On the plus, the 12MP selfie camera does capture flattering, balanced photos, and is a huge improvement over the Sony Xperia 5 III.
- Camera score: 3/5
Sony Xperia 5 IV performance and specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
- 128GB of storage + microSD card slot
- 8GB of RAM
Despite launching after a number of Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 phones, the Sony Xperia 5 IV launches with a slightly older 8 Gen 1. That isn’t a big deal when it comes to power – both chips are mighty, and able to handle the latest games and apps with ease.
Given both the Xperia 5 IV’s camera overheating, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 overheating in phones like the Xiaomi 12 Pro, we thought the 5 IV’s gaming performance would be scorching. Surprisingly, though, it kept its cool.
Half an hour of Genshin Impact at maximum graphics settings got the phone warm, but never uncomfortable, and other, less demanding titles didn’t give us any issues either. The phone benchmarks just like other 8 Gen 1 devices, so is still competitive for 2022, and performance was, generally, smooth.
With 128GB of storage, the Sony Xperia 5 IV should have enough space for most, though, at its price, we wish it had 256GB like the cheaper Oppo Reno 8 Pro. The fact it packs microSD card expansion is handy though.
The fingerprint scanner on the side is responsive, unlocking the phone quickly, and the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack is also very helpful for audiophiles. On the subject of sound, the phone’s speakers are also rich and loud, offering more depth than we would expect from a compact smartphone.
- Performance score: 4/5
Sony Xperia 5 IV software
- Launched with Android 12
- Will be updated to Android 13
- Brings back Sony’s Android UI
The Xperia 5 IV runs with Android 12, and games and apps are widely available for it through the Google Play Store. While Android 13 is available on some phones, most are still launching with Android 12, so Sony isn’t trailing behind other brands per se. It isn’t leading the charge either though, with the new Google Pixels having launched with a newer version of the mobile OS.
Sony’s interface ditches some stock highlights like Material You, so the UI looks less playful than many other takes on Android. That said, it’s very Sony. Side Sense is back, so users can access a one-handed sidebar and get quick access to split-screen multi-tasking, and Sony’s also loaded up a host of customizations to display settings.
There are also plenty of Sony apps on board, from the three camera apps through to Bravia Core, which gives Xperia owners free access to Sony movies – a very cool value add.
For the most part, when we used the Xperia 5 IV, the software was slick and smooth. However, occasionally, the UI would ghost, showing elements on top of one another. This happened when we tested the Xperia 1 IV too, so is clearly an issue Sony needs to address, even if it only happens a few times a week in our experience.
- Software score: 4/5
Sony Xperia 5 IV battery life
- Large 5,000mAh battery
- Fast 30W charging
- Wireless charging
The high points of the Xperia 5 IV are its design, screen, and battery performance. With a large 5,000mAh battery, the phone easily makes it through a full day with relatively heavy use, and if you’re careful, that will stretch through to two days.
An hour of video streaming over Wi-Fi in a well-lit room drained the battery by six percent, so if you load up the phone with offline content you shouldn’t have any issues getting through a long-haul flight with non-stop entertainment.
We were able to charge the phone fully in around 110 minutes using a 30W PD charger from Anker, though the first 50 percent only took half an hour. The phone also charges wirelessly, and Sony’s Battery Care feature is back too, dialing back charging speeds when you don’t need a quick top-up, and saving your phone’s long-term battery health.
- Battery score: 5/5
Sony Xperia 5 IV score card
|Design||Sony squeezes a huge amount into a compact design while keeping things looking and feeling premium||4.5/5|
|Display||The 6.1-inch screen on the Xperia 5 IV looks a treat, with its deep and inky blacks, punchy colors and a smooth 120Hz refresh rate||4.5/5|
|Camera||The cameras on the Xperia 5 IV are a let down given the phones price unless you plan on taking full advantage of all the Pro apps it comes loaded with||3/5|
|Performance||While the camera overheated, the phone in general didn’t struggle too much staying cool even when gaming||4/5|
|Software||Value adds in the form of Bravia Core help compensate for a couple of UI gremlins in our week with the phone||4/5|
|Battery||The Xperia 5 IV is near best-in-class when it comes to battery capacity, and the fact the phone packs wireless charging is handy too||5/5|
|Value||The Xperia 5 IV is pricey on launch, though when the price drops a little, it could become a much more attractive option||3/5|
Should I buy the Sony Xperia 5 IV?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
- First reviewed September 2022