The new Sony Xperia 5 IV continues the company’s push to migrate features from its Alpha mirrorless cameras into smartphone cameras. But, the Mark IV rendition of Sony’s mid-tier smartphone is only a minor refresh for photographers. The Xperia 5 IV sees a longer list of updates for video and live-streaming, all influenced by the push for video on platforms like Instagram.
The $1,000 Sony Xperia 5 IV makes many of the features of the pricier Xperia I IV more accessible. But, the Sep. 1st announcement is also a reminder of how content platforms like Instagram influence technology. The reality is that what’s trending on social media is what’s trending in new tech announcements.
Sony Xperia 5 IV Key Features
- The Sony Xperia 5 IV remains a more affordable, portable version of the Sony Xperia I IV. It has similar autofocus capabilities and the same 20 fps burst but lacks the 85mm-125mm optical zoom lens and the larger 4K screen.
- The rear camera array includes a 16mm f2.2 on a 1/2.5-inch sensor, 24mm f1.7 on a 1/1.7-inch sensor, and a 60mm f2.4 on a 1/3.5-inch sensor. All three are 12 megapixels and have the same autofocus performance, with a 120 fps high-speed readout sensor for real-time autofocus, including eye AF and object tracking.
- The burst speed hits 20 fps and is HDR compatible for all the rear-facing lenses.
- The front-facing camera sees an update with a larger 1/2.9-inch sensor that’s also 12 megapixels.
- Many of the new camera features focus on video and live-streaming, including 4K HDR and 120 fps, continuous eye AF and object tracking for video and a simpler live-streaming setup.
- Outside the camera, the Xperia 5 IV also adds wireless charging capability, a 50 percent brighter 120 Hz display, and new speakers. It uses the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and is 5G compatible.
- It retails for $999.99, with shipping expected to start on Oct. 27.
A focus on new video features
During the press event for the Xperia 5 IV, Sony representatives described the new smartphone as a video-first launch. Updates focus on a simpler process for live-streaming and 4K 120 fps slow motion. The video focus is undoubtedly a result of major platforms like Instagram shifting towards video content. Instagram has been criticized for trying to be more like TikTok, with photographers even signing a petition to bring back the photos-first algorithm.
As major content platforms shift to video, technology will inevitably follow suit. The question is, will a video shift leave photo features lagging? Sony didn’t skip out on photo features entirely but rather allowed more of the features from the Xperia 1 series to trickle down into the more affordable smartphone. The Xperia 5 IV has the same autofocus performance as the 1 series now, including eye AF and object tracking. The selfie camera has a larger sensor, and there are fewer differences between the camera modules than with the Mark III.
Few photographers will complain about having more video features — if the photo features develop simultaneously. The push for video certainly isn’t new with the Xperia 5 IV. Camera companies have been pushing out hybrids for years. The Xperia 5 IV isn’t worrying because there is still some growth for still photos. And, let’s face it, smartphones need to innovate to match social media trends more than stand-alone cameras.
What gets worrisome is when cameras drop features as they pad video specs, like the Panasonic GH-6 dropping Live Composite and adding a wealth of video features. I’m all for hybrid cameras when both photo and video features are true priorities. And while Sony may be focusing on video for the Xperia 5 IV, there are marginal updates across the board. Sony was already ahead with their 20 fps and real-time eye AF — the push for video here likely won’t put the Xperia line too far behind for smartphone photographers.