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Sony Xperia M5 review: A mid-range handset for UK selfie fans

Curtis Moldrich
25 Jan 2017
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
300
inc VAT (SIM-free)

A sluggish chipset and mediocre battery life fail to make the Xperia M5 stand out

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Specifications

Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz Mediatek MT6795, Screen Size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 21.5 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (10.8GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 145x72x7.6mm, Weight: 143g, Operating system: Android 5.1.1

Camera

Before you turn on the phone, however, the first thing you notice is the massive 13-megapixel front-facing camera. It produces surprisingly decent shots, too, as it's not only quick to latch on to your face, but you can also set it to capture photos automatically simply by smiling. The results are a tad over-processed when viewed at full-res, as there's a fair amount of visible grain and rough artefacts, but detail levels are good and they're more than acceptable for uploading to social media.

It also has a plethora of special selfie filters in the camera's Style Portrait mode, but not all of them are wholly successful. The Film and Red Lips filter, for instance, were very hit and miss, as they often failed to correctly apply a rather blaring shade of red lipstick to my mouth, and the phone's chipset was also clearly struggling with all the extra processing, as there was at least a couple of seconds delay on the screen. It's a fun diversion, though, and certainly a lot more selfie-orientated than the Nexus 5X and S5 Neo. 

Sadly, the rear 21.2 megapixel camera was altogether more disappointing. While colours and contrast were reasonably accurate on its Superior Auto mode, the aggressive noise reduction completely robs each shot of any kind of fine detail, leaving all but the objects closest to the centre of frame rather soft and blurry. Landscape shots without anything in the foreground were particularly poor, as even the centre of the frame was lacking in focus.

Switching to Sony's HDR backlight mode did improve outdoor shots somewhat, but cars in the road, for example, were still very soft and smoothed over, even if nearby buildings and road signs were visibly sharper than their Superior Auto mode counterparts.

Indoor shots suffered the same problem, too, even in bright lighting conditions. Here the fur of our teddy bear was almost painterly, and the text on our medical poster was full of grain and illegible words. Bizarrely, sharpness actually improved when I switched off our external lamp, as the words on the poster became legible and our train set and post card had more defined edges. Switching on the flash didn't make it much better either, although colours were noticeably brighter and richer as a result.

Verdict

Ultimately, though, the Xperia M5 struggles to distinguish itself from the similarly-priced Nexus 5X and Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo. Its large front-facing camera and copious selfie modes will no doubt be enough to sway some, but those after a more general mid-range handset are better off looking elsewhere. Personally, I'd pick the Nexus 5X thanks to its plain version of Android, faster internals and its great camera, but the S5 Neo also makes a compelling case with its incredible battery life, expandable storage and equally brilliant camera. Either way, the Xperia M5 is left feeling distinctly average by comparison, as well as a disappointing follow-up to last year's M4 Aqua. 

Hardware
ProcessorOcta-core 2.0GHz Mediatek MT6795
RAM3GB
Screen size5in
Screen resolution1,920x1,080
Screen typeIPS
Front camera13 megapixels
Rear camera21.5 megapixels
FlashLED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)16GB (10.8GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
NFCYes
Wireless data3G, 4G
Size145x72x7.6mm
Weight143g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 5.1.1
Battery size2,600mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£300
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £22-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierwww.carphonewarehouse.com
Contract/prepay supplierwww.carphonewarehouse.com
Detailswww.sony.co.uk
Part codeE5603

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