Sony Xperia 5 IV Review: Niche Photography-Focused RM4,899 Smartphone
November 22, 2022 Andrew Cheng

Sony’s range of smartphones are not quite as popular as they used to be. In a bid to differentiate itself in the highly competitive market, the Japanese company implemented a number of photography-focused features in the Sony Xperia 5 IV, and for the most part, it succeeded.

But for the everyday user who just wants a smartphone that works well out of the box, the Xperia 5 IV falls short in this regard. Yes, it is a reasonably capable flagship phone with a camera that offers a multitude of manual options, but it’s not the best camera system in the default shooting mode.

Beyond that, the Xperia 5 IV doesn’t offer a very polished software experience either, not to mention the fact that it is also a costly smartphone with a RM4,899 price tag. Unless you want the phone for its elaborate camera controls and dedicated shutter button, other devices may prove to be better.

What It Is

Display6.1-inch FHD+ OLED (2520 x 1080), 120Hz
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 3.0GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 730
Storage256GB, expandable
Camera (rear)12MP f/1.7, OIS
12MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
12MP f/2.4, OIS (telephoto)
Camera (front)12MP f/2.0
5,000mAh with PD fast charging
Dimensions156 x 67 x 8.2 mm
OSAndroid 12
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5GHz)
USB Type-C
3.5mm headphone jack

Hardware wise, the Sony Xperia 5 IV is well-equipped, even it if doesn’t come with the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset. Despite its rather compact dimensions, this phone still features a sizeable 5,000mAh battery; that’s quite impressive.

Of course, the Xperia 5 IV also has IP65/IP68 dust and water resistance, a rating that all flagship smartphones should have. It also has a…unconventionally tall and narrow Full HD+ OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. This 21:9 aspect ratio does make for an interesting user experience, to say the least.

The Good Stuff

I love compact phones, and while the Sony Xperia 5 IV doesn’t quite fit into the category – it’s slightly taller than the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, for example – it is much narrower than a typical phone, thanks to the 21:9 display. This makes one-handed use with the device a breeze, which is a win in my book.

Build quality of the Xperia 5 IV is also very good. Not only is it well-built, the glass back with a matte finish looks and feels great too. In short, there’s no denying that the Xperia 5 IV has the build quality of a proper flagship smartphone.

In the display department, the Xperia 5 IV features a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. Not only does this panel offer punchy, vibrant colours with true, deep blacks – typical traits of an OLED display – the high refresh rate lend to a fluid user experience as well with smooth animations.

As for performance, the Xperia 5 IV is fast and zippy. Even though it’s powered by the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset instead of the newer Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, it can still offer a respectable level of performance. That being said, it can’t quite run Genshin Impact at 60fps consistently – not many Android flagships can – but it’s still very much playable.

Moving on, the battery life of the Xperia 5 IV is great, thanks to its generous 5,000mAh battery. On average, I can easily get over five hours of screen on time with the phone. Not a fantastic figure by any means, but certainly above average, especially for a phone this compact.

Last but not least is the Xperia 5 IV’s camera system. It offers a ton of manual controls – and a dedicated shutter button – that experienced photographers will certainly appreciate. This opens up the possibilities for creative shots, which is something that many other flagship phones cannot replicate.

Beyond that, the Xperia 5 IV’s triple camera system made up of a 12MP primary sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide angle shooter, and a 12MP telephoto lens can take some good-looking shots. Judge for yourself with these sample shots – all of them were taken in the default “Basic” camera mode.

While these images look good, the Xperia 5 IV’s camera performance still can’t quite compare to its competition – that is a good segue to the next section.

The Bad Stuff

While it’s great that the Sony Xperia 5 IV’s camera system offers a slew of manual controls, its performance isn’t great in the default Basic mode. Yes, the pictures look good, but they’re not fantastic. Other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or iPhone 14 Pro can easily take more impressive shots without fiddling around with the camera controls.

Besides that, the software of the Xperia 5 IV isn’t as polished as it should be either. To disable WiFi from the notification shade, for example, it requires a click on the internet button and then the WiFi option; other versions of Android can just do this with a single click. There’s also the fact that apps in the background are closed quite aggressively by the software.

And then there’s the asking price of the Xperia 5 IV. Retailing at RM4,899, the phone is priced very closely to other flagships, including the aforementioned Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro. Yes, the Xperia 5 IV has its own winning qualities, but it’s tough to contend with these popular options.

Is It Worth It?

It depends on what you look for in a flagship smartphone. If you want a reasonably compact device with a camera system that offers various manual controls, the Sony Xperia 5 IV is a great option. But if you want a phone that can take great-looking shots out of the box without any fuss, then you may want to look elsewhere, especially at this price point.

For what it’s worth, I do appreciate the compact, narrow design of the Xperia 5 IV. It’s a design language that Sony has been pushing for quite some time now, and while it’s not a groundbreaking feature by any means, I do see its appeal.

If you find the unique design of the Xperia 5 IV appealing, and you want the dedicated shutter button and robust manual controls of the camera system, then give this flagship phone a consideration – it may be right up your alley.