The Sony Xperia M5 is available in black, white or gold and is selling for around US$350 unlocked on Amazon. You can pick up a 2015 flagship for around this price. The M5 even faces competition from within its own ranks in the form of the Xperia Z3+.
design and build quality
All that glitters is not gold. Sony has given the Xperia M5 the appearance of a Z series device, but the frame is made of plastic, leaving the M5 feeling noticeably cheaper than the Z3+, which bears a full metal frame. The housing is completely waterproof and dustproof to IP65 / 68 certification.
Measuring in at 145 x 72 x 7.6 mm, and weighing 143 grams, the Xperia M5 is almost as compact and light as a Galaxy S6.
The design falls in line with Sony’s OmniBalance principles, which have seen little in the way of change since 2013. The innovation is in the details: there are metal corners, designed to protect the Xperia M5 when it’s dropped.
The glass panels on the front and back are made of hardened mineral glass. The edges of the frame extend marginally, so the glass panes feel slightly sunken. The advantage of this construction, according to Sony, is that the glass is less likely to break.
Sony has certified the Xperia M5 to IP65 / 68, meaning it is water and dust resistant and will survive up to 30 minutes in water and withstand depths of up to 1.5 m without damage to the electronics. While the slots for the SIM card and microSD card are protected by rubber covers, the Micro-USB port has a water-repellent coating and thus comes without a cover.
The Sony Xperia M5’s display is excellent, with brilliant color reproduction. The contrast and color range are extensive and rich. The image quality of the Xperia M5 comes close to that of the OLED screens of, for example, Samsung.
The display is a 5-inch IPS panel with a full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. It achieves 441 ppi and exceeds the resolving power of the average eye; at least from a normal viewing distance of 50 centimeters.
Sony offer improved image quality through X-Reality software optimization. This is designed to reduce noise. Together with the Triluminous engine, the color palette is artificially increased, and it can achieve more realistic shades and tones than most other smartphones.
Sony's Xperia UI software interface has been simplified over the years. Our Xperia M5 model was running Android 5.1 with the January 2016 security patch. Sony provides regular software updates with bug fixes and security updates.
Recently, Sony has been experimenting with even more simplified software that is nearly as minimalist as stock Android. The number of pre-installed apps has decreased, but it is not yet at the level of Motorola devices like the Moto X Style, which only comes with four pre-installed Motorola apps.
Here is a list of pre-installed Sony apps that you can not uninstall:
Backup & Restore
If you do not use these apps, they are unnecessary ballast. Of the 16 GBs of internal memory, only about seven are actually left free from the off.
The benchmark performance of the Xperia M5 is very poor. This translates into games resorting to lower graphics settings. The scarce internal memory can be expanded from the outset with a microSD card, which you would be wise to use.
Sony has built the fastest available MediaTek processor into the Xperia M5 . The Helio X10 is an octa-core processor with eight Cortex-A53 CPUs running at 2.0 GHz. These also come in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, which we know from smartphones like the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 and the Moto X Play. The much cheaper Honor 5X uses an almost identical Snapdragon 616.
The benchmark results of the Xperia M5 are, predictably, very similar to those of the Snapdragon devices. In Geekbench 3.3.2 single-core test, the M5 scored 828 points, compared to the Moto X Play, which got 717. In the multi-core test, the Xperia M5 scored 2,801 against the Moto X Play's 2,558.
In terms of gaming performance, Basemark X 1.1 Medium gave the Xperia M5 12,558, while the Moto X Play scored 10,637 in the same test. The OnePlus X, a significantly cheaper device, is faster than the M5, scoring 910 in the Geekbench single-core benchmark and 20,207 in Basemark X 1.1 Medium.
While, in everyday operation, the Sony Xperia M5 initially seems to have few weaknesses, it could be a frustrating device in the long run. With 16 GB of internal storage, Sony has left a lot to be desired. Once you've turned the device on for the first time and set up your Google account, you're left with a measly 7 GB of free space. This equates to a few dozen apps with app data, a few hundred photos or just a few hours of Full HD video. So you should, as soon as possible, add a MicroSD card to store your images, videos and apps on. Just so you gain enough free space for app updates.
Unlike the Sony's Z series, the Xperia M5 does not come with headphones. The integrated speakers are more basic than in the Z range, meaning no stereo sound. The maximum volume is also quite low. The microphones, on the other hand, can record sound in stereo.
The Sony Xperia M5's cameras are clearly its strong point. The main camera delivers high-contrast, sharp images in 21.5 MP and the selfie camera produces pleasing wide-angle shots in 13 MP. The Quick Start function wakes the phone from standby directly into the camera app.
The cameras are the selling point for the otherwise unremarkable Xperia M5. Sony has, therefore, provided the phone with one the best sensors on the market. The Exmor RS is distinguished by its fast autofocus, which takes only 30 milliseconds. Thanks to face- and smile-detection technology, you can shoot your selfies without even having to press the shutter button.
As with most Xperia smartphones, Sony has also built in a physical camera button on the Xperia M5. If pressed while the smartphone is in standby mode, it instantly wakes the device up and opens the camera app.
The Sony Xperia M5, although gifted with excellent camera sensors, has not, unfortunately, been equipped with a great flash. Dual LED flash is now a common feature on smartphone cameras, with a second, more reddish flash ensuring skin tones don't appear faded and people's faces in flash shots look more natural. Meanwhile, there are also numerous smartphones with flashes on the front for low-light selfies. The Xperia M5 does not have either of these features - only a simple white flash on the back.
Sony's default camera app is quite complicated to use. In low-light conditions, you are forced to adjust the settings, and this sometimes takes a long time; the autofocus is also much slower in darker environments.
However, when we tried some alternative camera apps, we were able to take better shots in the dark. Overall, the M5 camera is a reliable and powerful tool, but, as it's the phone's biggest selling point, it could still be better.
Contrary to Sony's two-day promise, I found myself having to charge the Xperia M5 every day. The power-saving mode, Stamina, helps to increase standby time, but in active use, I only managed to squeeze out about three-and-a-half hours of display-on time.
The Sony Xperia M5 houses a 2,600-mAh battery, which is about average for a five-inch smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S6, or the HTC One M9, devices with the same or similar-sized batteries, achieve similar results, but they also possess much more powerful hardware. Both of these devices, come March or April, will be much more favorable purchases.
With luck, Sony can make the M5 more efficient and longer-lasting, particularly once Android 6.0 Marshmallow arrives on the device. The new version of Android includes Doze mode, which saves on power and has increased the standby time on some devices. How Sony might improve the display-on time of the Xperia M5 remains unknown.
It's complicated to classify the Xperia M5 and review it accordingly. Sony appears to want the M5 to occupy the same market space as the Xperia Z3+. The older device looks almost identical to the M5, but it has weaker cameras and has received criticism for its overheating problems.
The Xperia M5's performance is well below that of similarly expensive smartphones, and its cameras, despite being a highlight, do not provide exceptional results. 2015 flagships, such as the LG G4 are now available for similar prices, and in key places (battery life, speed, photo quality) provide more bang for your buck. However, if the Xperia M5's price comes down towards the US$300 mark, it could become a purchase worth considering.