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  • Fitri Aiyub

Sony Xperia 5 IV Review : Why Is It Not Popular?

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

So it’s been a hot second since Sony released an Xperia phone. Quite literally just a few months ago, we got the chance to review the Xperia 1 iv. But now we have with us an Xperia 5 iv? So what's the difference?

Well for starters, it still comes with triple 12MP cameras, along with professional-type Sony apps for both video and photo capture, Snapdragon’s 8 Gen 1, this very familiar tall aspect ratio that most Xperia phones have, but with a slightly smaller 6.1” OLED display. As far as we know, Sony makes really great cameras. But do they make good phones?

Well in this video, instead of understanding more about smartphone cameras as we usually do in past reviews, let's take a look as to why Sony has been dominating in their imaging department, but not so much in these daily drivers. Let's take a different direction this time around so we can understand a little bit more about why Sony Xperia phones may not be a popular choice in today’s world.


For starters, most Androids or iPhones are usually constructed in a wider form factor which generally feels more comfortable with a better grip. But despite the height of some flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, which might interfere in reaching upper parts of the screen when operating one-handed, there’s still much more surface area for your hand to adjust positions as your thumb reaches to the corner of a screen before it slips away from your grasp. Not to be confused with the Xperia 1 IV, to be fair, it does look quite similar but with a smaller 83.2% screen-to-body ratio.

From the back, there isn’t anything different from the Xperia 1, except for the noticeably missing 3.5 - 5.2x continuous optical zoom telephoto lens. The overall matte finish stays true to that Sony look and even comes with a headphone jack which is a treat to have for those still rocking wired headphones.

But while acknowledging other reasons for its thin design when viewing in wider aspect ratio content might make it a little more immersive or a traditional film aesthetic, it does end up leaving a lot of negative space when watching in 16:9 content. But thanks to those dual front facing speakers, at least the sound experience isn't too bad.

Maybe this unique form factor might not be as appealing to most as Sony intended and could be one of the contributing factors as to why the unpopularity among Xperia phones. After all, design is the first thing you'd notice right out of the box and this design doesn’t exactly invite newcomers to feel anything too thrilled about.

Main Display

Either way, the 6.1 inch OLED display is still a joy to use and keeps things snappy with 120Hz refresh rates. Further enhancements can be found within the display settings for Video Image Enhancement options to sharpen things up while also improving some colours in an image, especially when this phone was built surrounding those cameras which we’ll get to in just a bit.

There's also Creator Mode which lets you marvel in all of the photos and videos you’ve taken by providing a faithful reproduction of the creator’s intended vision through high definition display and specially developed image processing compatible with BT.2020 and 10-bit colour gamut of HDR specification.

Its screen-to-body ratio is really thin as we mentioned earlier and the flat edge surely makes it feel easier to navigate when using gesture modes, while gaming situations surely feels up to par with most flagships producing over 1 billion colours and 120Hz refresh rates for first person shooter games will keep you on the competitive side.

Fingerprint Sensor

Security measures though, aren’t as consistent as we’d hope coming with a side-mounted fingerprint sensor that misses most of our attempts. This is probably one of the least improved across all Xperia phones we’ve tried in the past and was hoping they’d fix this issue by now.


Thankfully, performance marks are quite impressive coming with 8GB of RAM, Snapdragon’s 8 Gen 1 and Adreno 730. While it may not be equipped with the latest 8+ Gen 1, it still manages to score 1173 for single-core and 3342 for multi-core.

Graphics department still gets an overall score of 2303 on 3D WildLife Extreme tests, yet only manages up to 13.8fps. Temperatures too got a little toasty after just a few minutes of a few rounds of Call Of Duty and CarX Drift Racing 2, while battery life showed higher consumptions than expected when performance settings were maxed out.

Cameras But if all of that doesn’t impress you, perhaps buying this phone for what it’s intended might justify a few things. After all, Sony does produce most of the image sensors out in the market, for example, the more favourable triple 12MP array of cameras — the iPhone 13 Pro… or most android image sensors too. Although Samsung has been a recent competition for image sensor development such as the one seen in Xiaomi’s latest 12T Pro, coming with Samsung’s HP1 200MP sensor, and even rumours for next year’s release of their Galaxy S23 Ultra which might be coming with their own 1-inch sensor, Sony should have figured things out by now for dominating most of their mirrorless camera achievements in their Alpha series in the last few years no?

Well for instance, Xperia phones such as Sony’s flagship Pro-i did end up grabbing some headlines last year for releasing the world’s first 1-inch image sensor, it was still utilising only the middle portion of the sensor which was only effective up to 12MP — which is pretty much the same specs in this phone. But needless to say, Sony apps such as Photo Pro and Cinema Pro are geared for creators as Sony claims, providing users a more manual approach in capturing footage or photos as you would with their mirrorless cameras. Even most of the user interface resembles their familiar menu systems and something that existing Sony camera owners would appreciate. So up to this point, you’d probably be wondering “If all of this hardware makes an ingenious idea for creators to take full effect of their smartphones”, why hasn’t it worked?

Well simply put, while other phone manufacturers have been focusing on hardware, software computations are the biggest factor in how the final result shows up on a phone. While brands like Xiaomi have invested more in their Image Engine development or in some cases, collaborations between brands such as Leica with Huawei, Hassleblad with OnePlus and Oppo, it doesn’t seem Sony and their Xperia phones have been taking this approach, considering they are a camera manufacturer themselves. Although this is not a unique issue, as past camera brand iterations such as Red Digital Cameras came up with their own Red Hydrogen phone, it was a complete flop in the end for lacking all the essentials that make up an overall image quality.

Results shown in the Xperia 1 IV suggest those same faults for making it really inconsistent when snapping a photo. Looking through the viewfinder everything still seems normal, but as soon as an image is captured, colours and sharpness just tend to fall off. Unless, you really would know how to dial in the numbers which more generic users aren’t exactly looking for.

But a commendable achievement they’ve managed to do is definitely in their low-light performance. Shadows are much darker with barely any noise or grain, and colours seem to be retained better when mixed with different hues. Some phones may struggle with that, but not here. Standalone colours like reds might be undersaturated at times but maybe we’re just nitpicking.

Results in video are also a similar case which performed better in low-light and OIS should be sufficient to stabilise all of those walking shots. Other features in Cinema Pro such as being able to add LUTs, digital zoom sliders, and further manual controls, but again, you have to really know what you're doing. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with overexposed footage as shown in these examples.

Battery Life

Spending most of your time getting to know the cameras alone might drain the 5000mAh battery faster than you think, and we did experience the phone getting warmer than usual. Add along a few more rounds playing Call Of Duty, then you’re most likely getting only about a day’s worth of use. Standby time could get stretched close to 2 days, but do keep in mind they won't include a charger in the box.


The Sony Xperia 5 IV comes with Android 12, 8GB of RAM, storage options of 256GB or 512GB which retails at RM4,899 or S$1,599. When considering such a hefty price tag, it’s a no-brainer why Xperia phones in general just don’t get enough traction amongst other android rivals that are far ahead in their image computations, applying customer feedbacks from one iteration to the next, all while making an affordable option as your daily driver.Yeah we might sound a little too harsh on the macro side of things.

Final Thoughts

But a good phone is more than just good cameras and that’s not enough for some people. Because while professional features are amazing, it’s not for everyone. This isn’t a unique situation. Other brands such as Xiaomi who recently fitted a 200MP camera in their 12T Pro, is also another case of “The Pro’s will understand” while not really adding up for everyone else.

Cameras are without a doubt something that almost all manufacturers are highly investing in and looking at where Sony is sitting, they are in a comfortable spot being the main manufacturer for the majority of camera sensors in both smartphones and professional mirrorless cameras.But mainly serving to a very niche group of enthusiasts who would even consider spending this amount of money for a phone that does great for some areas at a very hefty price may not be a thing to brag about. It’s hard to tell if this conundrum might greatly impact Sony’s future. As a reminder, Blackberry used to have an upper hand in the market not too long ago, and is now stands as a cautionary tale in today’s world. Maybe Sony should ask themselves this, “what’s going to happen if cameras are just not as important as they are now?”


Hosted by Melissa Tan

Written by Fitri Aiyub

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