Sony Xperia 5 II Review

October 29, 2020 | Amy Davies | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


Announced in September 2020, the Sony Xperia 5 II takes a lot of the features from the more expensive Xperia 1 II and shrinks into a smaller (and more affordable) smartphone.

The camera unit consists of three different cameras. There's a 12 megapixel, 24mm f/1.7 camera with a 1/1.7” sensor, plus a 12 megapixel 70mm f/2.4 camera with a 1/3.4” sensor and a 12 megapixel ultra wide 16mm f/2.2 camera with a 1/2.55” sensor. Only the wide and ultra wide sensor are “Exmor RS” type sensors.

There's a number of other specifications which are specifically designed to appeal to photographers, including real-time Eye AF for both humans and animals, optical image stabilisation, HDR , 4K video recording and the ability to shoot in raw format via the “Photo Pro” mode in the native camera app.

A front-facing camera gives you 8 megapixels resolution, an f/2.0 aperture and an 84-degree field of view.

The 6.1-inch screen is an FHD+ HDR OLED device, while other interesting specifications include water resistance, a 4000 mAh battery rating, compatibility with microSD cards and 5G functionality.

At around £799 (at the time of writing), the Xperia 5 II is a cheaper option than some of the premium models on the market, but it's still not exactly cheap. It's fair to call it a “mid-range” model.

Ease of Use

Sony Xperia 5 II
Front of the Sony Xperia 5 II

Although there is something to be said for large screens in terms of showing off your pictures (and video), the small(er) size of the Xperia 5 II makes for a much more pleasant overall experience in terms of using it as a phone and fitting it into your pocket.

Your feelings on that will be down to your individual preferences, so if you prefer very large phones this won't be the one for you.

The design of the Xperia 5 II is also nicely sleek and stylish, with rounded edges and a pleasingly shiny back. As with most modern smartphones, there's very few physical buttons, aside from a few found on the right edges of the phone.

There's a button which you can use to power on the phone, which also features the fingerprint scanner which you can use to unlock the phone.

Sony Xperia 5 II
Rear of the Sony Xperia 5 II

There's also a volume up and down switch, plus two additional keys, one of which can be used as a physical shutter release if you don't want to use the on-screen virtual one.

In order to open the native camera app, you can swipe up from the bottom right hand corner of the lock screen and the camera app will open in its default option - “Photo”. It's this mode that most people will probably use for the bulk of their picture taking.

Here you have a good range of options to choose between, including moving between the three different lenses - indicated by either three, two or one trees to represent ultra wide, wide and telephoto lenses.

Running along the top of the screen in this mode, some further options include the ability to switch flash on or off, the ability to create a shallow depth of field effect, the option to choose a different aspect ratio (the default is 4:3, but you can also select 16:9 and 1:1), the option to adjust brightness and hue, and switch to the front-facing camera.

Sony Xperia 5 II
Image Playback

A cog icon represents the main menu, and it's here that you can make some additional Changs such as switching on soft-skin effect, the ability to take a burst with the camera key and so on.

In the bottom left hand corner of the camera app, you'll see the word “mode”. If you tap on this, you can choose a different shooting mode, including Slow motion, Creative effect, Panorama, and perhaps most interestingly for any photography enthusiasts, “Photo Pro.”

Entering Photo Pro mode opens up a very well-featured mode which gives you a large amount of control over the image parameters you want to take. Indeed, it takes the same form as a “real” Sony camera, so perhaps if you already own a mirrorless or RX model from the brand you will be very familiar / at home with the set up here.

You'll also notice that almost half of the screen is now taken up with camera settings, so the area you have to compose your shot is much more restricted. It's also primed for shooting in horizontal format, with the buttons and text all aligned to the right - if you shoot in portrait format, the symbols and icons won't switch around.

Sony Xperia 5 II
Camera Mode

In Pro mode, you can adjust exposure compensation, AF-On, AEL, Drive mode, ISO, metering, focus area, white balance, flash, Face/Eye AF and ratio. You can also switch on raw format shooting, with the raw files being the universal DNG format (meaning that they should be readable by any computer), for those that want to adjust their shots in post-production.

To make changes to any of these settings, you need to tap on the icon, and select the setting you require. Once you've selected the setting, press an X to go back to the normal shooting screen.

On the left of the screen, there's some extra settings to take note of. In the top left, you can choose a shooting mode - which again, if you've used a “real” camera before, this will be familiar to you.

There's Automatic, but also P (Program), S (Shutter Priority) and M (Manual) modes - there's no A (aperture priority), since you can't adjust aperture with the phone's fixed aperture lenses.

Sony Xperia 5 II
Sim Card Slot

There's also a “M-R” setting, which is memory recall, allowing you save a group of settings that perhaps you use frequently and want to come back to often.

There's also a menu button, where you an access some further settings, split into Shooting, Exposure/Colour, Focus and Setup. It's basically a more extensive version of the on-screen quick menu, with some extra functions such as Dynamic Range Optimiser and so on.

A display icon allows you to switch on a digital spirit level and a histogram, which is very useful for composing your shots, but can be switched off if you think it's taking up too much space on the screen.

Finally, you can choose which lens you want to shoot with, from the 16mm, 24mm and 70mm options by tapping on the word Lens to the side too. You can also choose focal lengths in between the lenses too, which presumably use some digital zoom to create the difference.

Image Quality

Sony has been impressing us with the image quality inside its cameras for years, and it seems it has taken some of that learning and applied it to its latest batch of smartphones. The Xperia 5 II produces some excellent imagery, with little input required from the user to achieve high-quality results.

Colours are vibrant and punchy and well-saturated without being overly vivid. It will probably suit most people to use the generic “Photo” mode for the vast majority of their shots, but it's good to be able to take further control in the Pro mode should you need it.

You can also create some pleasing creative effects, such as shallow depth of field with a nicely blurred background. The three different lenses all perform well too, with the ultra-wide-angle lens being useful for landscapes and so forth. The telephoto lens is probably the least good performer of the three lenses, but that only becomes particularly apparent when examining at very close detail.

On the whole, exposures are well-balanced in the majority of situations. That said, in some very high contrast situations, some areas can be blown out - so it's worth keeping an eye on exposure compensation when working in such conditions.


The Sony Xperia 5 II's native sensitivity range covers ISO 64 to ISO 3200, with the option to record in RAW and JPEG separately and simultaneously. Here are some 100% crops which show the levels of noise for each ISO setting.


ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg

Focal Range



Flash On
Flash Red-eye Reduction
Flash Off - Wide-angle
Flash On - Wide-angle
Flash Off - Telephoto
Flash On - Telephoto

Portrait Mode


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Xperia 5 II camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Sony Xperia 5 II enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Sony RAW (DNG) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movies & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 3840x2160 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this movie is 124Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 63.7Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 36.9Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 16 second movie is 24.9Mb in size.

This is a sample slow-motion movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 23 second movie is 36.1Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1080x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 16 second movie is 20.7Mb in size.

Product Images

Sony Xperia 5 II
Sony Xperia 5 II
Sony Xperia 5 II
Sony Xperia 5 II
Sony Xperia 5 II
Sony Xperia 5 II
Sony Xperia 5 II
Sony Xperia 5 II


There's a huge amount of competition in the smartphone market, with many of the brands vying for your attention by highlighting just how good the onboard camera is.

It's safe to say that in recent years, Sony has not been a big player in this market, with domination from Samsung, Apple and Huawei.

However with the recent problems Huawei has been having with the US administration not allowing it to use Android, the market has arguably opened up a little.

If you're looking for a smartphone which is reasonably priced, isn't enormous, produces good images and gives you the kind of flexibility to change settings that you'd normally associate with a “normal” camera, then the Sony Xperia 5 II is certainly worth looking at. It's good value for money and does the job well.

There's not much to dislike about the Xperia 5 II, however it doesn't offer the very long zoom capabilities of models such as those in the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, so if that's important for you then that's something to think about.

Although the smaller size of the Xperia 5 II makes it a little more comfortable to use than some larger phones on the market, it's arguably not as ideal for viewing your images or watching movies in playback.

Being able to add additional storage via a MicroSD card is a bonus which you won't find with most other premium smartphones, while battery life is excellent, with fast-charging capabilities for quick power bursts should you need it.

Overall the Sony Xperia 5 II is a great option for those looking for an ideal all-rounder, but who aren't tied to the idea of a camera from one of the bigger-hitters in the mobile arena, such as Apple and Samsung.

If you don't have the desire for an enormous phone, or indeed the budget to go with it, the smaller size and lower price of the Xperia 5 II makes it an excellent choice and it comes highly recommended.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Sony Xperia 5 II.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Another year, another new flagship phone from Apple, this time introducing a new triple camera system, night mode and improved battery life. Is the iPhone 11 Pro the best smartphone that Apple have ever released, and can it beat the Android competition? Read our iPhone 11 Pro review to find out, complete with full-size sample images and videos.

Apple iPhone 11

The Apple iPhone 11 is the more affordable, more sensible little brother of the flagship Pro model, sharing most of the same camera features with the exception of the Pro's telephoto lens. Read our in-depth iPhone 11 review now, complete with full-size sample images and videos...

Google Pixel 4

The Pixel 4 is Google's new flagship smartphone, available in standard and XL sizes. New for this generation is a second 16-megapixel 2x telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture, along with improved portrait and night modes. Is this the best Pixel phone for keen photographers, and can it compete with its main rivals? Find out now by reading our Pixel 4 review, with full-size sample images and videos...

Google Pixel 4a

The Pixel 4a is a new entry-level smartphone from Google which offers the company's single-camera point-and-shoot photography in an affordable, reasonably sized handset. Read our Google Pixel 4a review, complete with full-size sample photos and videos, to find out if this is all the smartphone that you actually need...

Honor 20 Pro

The Honor 20 Pro is a mid-range smartphone with flagship pretensions, aiming to take on £$1000 devices at a much lower-price point whilst delivering similar levels of performance, specification and quality. Does it succeed? Find out now by reading our in-depth Honor 20 Pro review, complete with full-size sample images and videos.

Honor 20

Want a great smartphone with a triple-camera setup that doesn't cost the earth? Then you may be interested in the Honor 20, a new mid-range 48 megapixel device with a 6.26” full HD screen, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of inbuilt storage. Read our Honor 20 review to find out what this new smartphone has to offer keen photographers...

OnePlus 8 Pro

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the latest flagship smartphone for 2020 from OnePlus. It features a 48-megapixel quad-camera setup with an upgraded ultra-wide camera, 4K/60p video recording, Pro shooting mode and the ability to shoot in Raw. Find out if this is the best smartphone for photographers by reading our in-depth OnePlus 8 Pro review with full-size sample photos and videos.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom

Do you want a smartphone with a big zoom lens? Then look no further than the Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, which offers a 6x optical zoom and a 10x hybrid zoom lens to provide an effective focal range of 16-160mm - not too shabby for a smartphone! It also has a unique selfie pop-up camera, 48 megapixel 1/2-inch sensor, 4065mAh battery, 128GB or 256GB memory, 4K video recording and USB-C charging, all at a mid-range price. Read our Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review to find out just what the biggest smartphone manufacturer in China is capable of...

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, boasting a 6.9-inch screen, 108 megapixel standard camera, 5x optical zoom, 8K video, super slow motion video, Pro shooting mode and Raw capture. Take a look at our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review to find out if this is the best smartphone camera for keen photographers...

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is Samsung's new flagship smartphone for 2020. Featuring a 6.9-inch screen, 108 megapixel sensor and 100x zoom lens, it's certainly big in size, megapixel count and zoom range, but is it also big in performance? Find out now by reading our expert Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review, complete with full-size sample images and videos...

Sony Xperia 1 II

The Sony Xperia 1 II is a new flagship smartphone offering a range of pro image and video features aimed at keen camera enthusiasts. These include 20fps with continuous autofocus focus and autoexposure and real time eye AF for humans and animals, utilising technologies borrowed from the Alpha A9 full-frame mirrorless camera. Read our in-depth Sony Xperia 1 II review, complete with full-size sample images and videos, to find out if this new smartphone hits the mark for serious photography...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Sony Xperia 5 II from around the web. »

The Sony Xperia 5 II takes a lot of what makes its larger sibling great and distills it into a package that’s much smaller and easier to hold. If you’re looking for near top-end tech in an easier-to-hold phone, you’ll struggle to go wrong with the Xperia 5 II, as it features a great camera, beautiful screen and long-lasting battery.
Read the full review » »

Sony's latest offering is the Sony Xperia 5 II, an easy-to-hold body packed with plenty of great high end tech. Featuring ZEISS optical technology, a long-lasting battery and a gorgeous top-quality screen, the Sony Xperia 5 II is a strong contender in the increasingly competitive smartphone market.
Read the full review » »

The Sony Xperia 5 II is a smaller, less-expensive version of the Xperia 1 II. It offers most of the powerful features in a more comfortable and pocketable size. It's an ideal choice for media lovers, gamers, and budding photographers and cinematographers, even at its $949 price point.
Read the full review »



158 x 68 x 8 mm


163 g


6.1" 21:9 CinemaWide™ display
FHD+ HDR OLED (2520x1080)
120Hz Refresh rate , 240Hz Motion blur reduction , 240Hz Touch scanning rate , Creator mode "powered by CineAlta" - Inspired by Master Monitor colour reproduction, DCI-P3 100%, ITU-R BT.2020 (REC.2020) , Illuminant D65 White point, 10 bit tonal gradation , X1™ for mobile
H.263, H.264, H.265, MPEG-4 Video, AV1, VP8, VP9


Water resistant (IP65/68)
Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6


Triple lens camera

Rear Camera (1)

1/1.7" Exmor RS™ for mobile sensor
24 mm

Rear Camera (2)

70 mm

Rear Camera (3)

1/2.55" Exmor RS™ for mobile sensor
16 mm

Camera Features

ZEISS® quality lenses calibrated specifically for Xperia 5 II, ZEISS® T* Coating, Up to 20fps AF/AE , Up to 60 times per second continuous AF/AE calculation , Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals , Dual photo diode , RGB-IR, OIS photo , Photo flash, Photo light, Optical zoom 3x (70 mm lens equivalent), 3x Digital zoom (16, 24 and 70 mm lens), HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo
JPEG, RAW (.dng)

Video Recording

Cinematography Pro "powered by CineAlta", 4K HDR Movie recording 24, 25, 30, 60 and 120fps slow-motion , OIS and EIS Video , Optical SteadyShot™ (hybrid OIS/EIS video stabilization) and SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization) , Intelligent wind filter
MP4 (H.264, H.265)

Front Camera (1)

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo, SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization), Portrait selfie, Display flash, Hand and Smile Shutter


High-Resolution Audio, High-Resolution Audio Wireless , LDAC
3.5 mm audio jack, 360 Reality Audio , 360 Reality Audio hardware decoding , True front stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos® , DSEE Ultimate, Stereo Recording, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio
AAC-LC, AAC+, eAAC+, AAC-ELD, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, FLAC, MP3, MIDI, Vorbis, PCM, Opus, ALAC, DSD, 360 Reality Audio Music Format

Memory & Storage

microSDXC support (up to 1TB)

SIM Capability

Dual SIM hybrid
Nano SIM

Operating System

Android™ 10


Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 865 5G Mobile Platform


USB Power Delivery (USB PD) fast charging
Xperia Adaptive Charging, Battery Care, STAMINA Mode


GSM GPRS/EDGE (Bands 850, 900, 1800, 1900)
UMTS HSPA+ (Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19)
LTE Cat18/Cat13 (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 32, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 46, 48, 66)
Bands n1, n3, n8, n28, n78


A-GPS, A-GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS
Bluetooth® 5.1 wireless technology
Ver. 3.1
Smart connectivity, Google Cast, NFC, Output video/image via Display Port support Type-C Cable or USB-C to HDMI Adapter Cable (Display Port 4K 60fps)


Fingerprint sensor


PS4 Remote Play , DUALSHOCK®4 Control compatibility , Game Enhancer, Dynamic Vibration System


Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) , Teletypewriter (TTY) , Volume key shortcut/Screen readers: Select-to-Speak, TalkBack, Text-to-speech output/Display: Font size, Display size, Dark theme, Magnification, Colour correction, Colour inversion, Large mouse cursor, Remove animations/Interaction controls: Accessibility Menu, Switch Access, Click after mouse pointer stops moving, Power button ends call, Auto-rotate screen, Touch & hold delay, Time to take action (Accessibility timeout), Vibration and haptic strength/Audio & on-screen text: Mono audio, Audio balance, Caption preferences/Experimental: High-contrast text

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