Today’s cameras are so good, and so serious, that it’s proved cathartic to review the Instax Pal, a camera that’s seriously enjoyable and no more.
This fuss-free ball of fun – it's about the size of a golf ball, to give you an idea – is suitable for all ages, and the closest a camera can be to a digital pet; it lights up and emits a happy jingle when powered on, and a sad sound when inactivity sends it to sleep, while the compatible Instax Pal app gifts you digital rewards for your activity. Tamagotchi, eat your heart out.
As a self-respecting adult I didn’t fall for such blatant manipulation to motivate me to use the app (okay, I did). And you only have to make the Pal available to the whole family – which you can, because you don’t need to be precious about this low-cost snapper – to appreciate that it speaks to all ages.
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This is an Instax camera that might actually be used day-to-day, and not stowed away in the cupboard once your film supply has run dry, as is so often my experience with analog Instax cameras.
The Pal might well have the Instax name, but it’s not an instant camera as we know it. It’s a digital-only camera that fits better in the hand, printing via one of Fujifilm’s Instax Link printers, which come in ‘Mini’, ‘Square’ or ‘Wide’ formats; directly via a Bluetooth connection; or through the new Instax Pal app.
So while you don’t get the analog-only experience of traditional Instax cameras, which can be a wonderful remedy in this digital world we live in, you're more likely to take your tiny Pal with you everywhere, and you’ll also print your candid moments with one of Fujifilm’s portable Link printers more often than you would with a desktop printer.
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To me, the Pal feels like the best of both worlds; it’s a camera that’s not weighed down by a built-in a printer, while the shoot-to-print experience – either directly, or through the app – is seamless.
You can print blind the old-school way, directly to a Link when the switch on the underside of the camera is set to ‘L’, or be selective via the convenient app, and not waste your expensive film by using the ‘F’ setting instead. That’s not the analog soul, but these days I’d rather have the control.
I’m a big fan of Fujifilm’s Instax Link portable printers – and it was the Instax Square Link printer that really completed my Pal experience. You can also use this printer to print the higher-quality photos in your phone’s gallery using the relevant Link app.
The Pal doesn’t even have a screen on which to compose and view your ultra-wide angle snaps, like the Instax Mini Evo hybrid Instax does, and nor does it produce technically excellent image quality images – this is essentially a basic 2560 x 1920 pixel stills-only camera, clothed in cuteness.
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As a camera, the Pal isn’t great. But what it does bring to the table is a fine-tuned experience with the app and printer, in colorful packaging for all to enjoy, and it has one or two surprises up its sleeve.
Selfies and group shots are made easy via the self timer on the app, with the camera supported by the included detachable ring (that you’ll need as a kind of wrist strap if you don’t want to keep dropping the ball-like camera). The Pal even has a tripod thread that's compatible with small table-top tripods.
Also, it was a real curveball to discover that the Pal is a discreet snapper; no one batted an eyelid as I took candid street photos around London with the Pal nestled into the palm of my hand (although the automatic fill-in flash caught me out a few times).
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Fujifilm has put a lot of thought into the new app, too. Automatically wiping photos from the 50-shot internal memory once they’ve been uploaded to the app is a smart move, while there’s also a micro SD card slot for those that want to double up on storing their photos.
In-app images filters, basic edits, plus output to the various Instax Link printers cover your bases and ensure that you remain active, provided you don’t run out of paper. And the beauty is that when you do run out you can keep using your digital Pal until you top up your supply again.
The Fujifilm Instax Pal is not one of the best instant cameras – it’s not even an instant camera, technically – and on paper it can’t compete with the Instax Mini Evo. However, sometimes you’ve just got to go with the feeling, and Pal gives all the feels.
Ultimately, Pal isn’t a technically great camera, but it is one that I want to use more than most others, and that says a lot.
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Fujifilm Instax Pal: Price and release date
Available in the US, bundled with the Mini Link printer only, for $199.99
Available in the UK and Australia as the camera only, from £89.99 / AU$149
The Instax Pal is available in five exotically named colorways: Milky White, Powder Pink, Pistachio Green, Lavender Blue, and Gem Black.
In the US the Instax Pal is bundled with the Instax Mini Link printer only, for $199, while in the UK and Australia you buy the camera separately, for £89.99 / AU$149 respectively (while the Gem Black version with a shiny, reflective surface costs £104.99 in the UK).
In the box you get a detachable ring that can act as a support to rest the Pal on, or slide onto the top as a 'viewfinder' (you don't need to do that), or, most helpfully, use as a kind of wrist strap.
As for the cost of paper, that depends on which format printer you're outputting to; Mini, Square, or Wide. Twin packs of 10 sheets of Instax Mini film start from $14.99 / £14.99 / AU$34.95
Fujifilm Instax Pal: Should I buy?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
Fujifilm Instax Pal: also consider
If our Pal review has you interested in instant cameras, here are a couple of other options to consider...
Fujifilm Instax Pal: How I tested
All the family played with our new Pal
Printing directly to portable Link printer, and via the app
I had the Instax Pal in my pocket for over a week, and in my family home with two generations getting to grips with it. Throughout this time, I've became very familiar with the accompanying Instax Pal app, through which you can access most of the Pal’s functions. The camera device itself is super-simple, and I also operated it bypassing the app altogether and making direct-to-Link prints, for a more ‘authentic’ Instax experience.
I’ve used the camera for family snaps, as a discreet street photography snapper, and for all-round every day moments. I played around with the in-app editor, and made lots of prints from the Instax Link Square printer, which is my favorite size of Instax print, collecting plenty of in-app rewards in the process.
Google is announcing the Pixel 8 duo on October 4. We already know what the phone would look like, and reports suggested a price increase in Continental Europe. Today, the alleged cost of the phone in the United Kingdom and the United States also popped up online, and one of the leaks also had key specs of the two phones.
The Pixel 8 will start from £699/$699 and will have 8 GB RAM. The Pixel 8 Pro is said to be £999 in the UK but only $899 in the US with its new LTPO OLED screen. The Pixel Watch 2 would cost £349.
The basic Pixel 8 is clearly a mild improvement over the predecessor...
The Nokia G42 5G sees the nostalgic phone brand continue on its quest to bring sustainable, repairable phones to the masses. This time around (following the previous release of the also-repairable G22) Nokia has further pinned its hopes on consumers’ penchant to stand out by making it oh So Purple. Don’t worry if you prefer to blend in, you can get it in So Grey, too.
Overall, it’s a largely inoffensive device that does everything you’d want a phone to do just fine. But remember this is an entry-level to mid-range device, with a price tag and performance to match. If you’re looking for the bells and whistles exhibited by the best phones, then you’ll be disappointed. Its performance is perfectly acceptable for daily use, but an ageing processor means you’ll want to steer clear of anything too graphically intensive.
On paper, it’s closely matched with the Motorola Moto G53 5G. Motorola is so often the king of budget phones and indeed when comparing its wallet-friendly device with Nokia’s, there really is little to separate them. If anything, the Motorola wins, for its 120Hz display and even more affordable price tag. The Nokia gains a depth sensor camera and repairability, but just how useful these will be to you in reality is subject of debate.
The display is HD only, with a maximum resolution of 720p. The Nokia G42 isn’t alone in offering this amongst a sea of wallet-friendly devices, but the fact is there are devices that exist for similar money that do offer full HD 1080p displays. I feel Nokia has missed the mark in this regard. The display also only offers up to 90Hz refresh rate. Again, this will be fine for most people under regular use, but given competitor devices support up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling and navigation, it’s a mark against the G42. The differences will be negligible, it’s just a little confusing as to why Nokia hasn’t included these features by default.
With the Nokia G42 5G’s selling point being that it’s repairable, it would have been nice to have made the phone really worth holding onto. Nokia expects you to keep the G42 5G for many years to come, but with its specs being outdated at launch, I can only see customers becoming even more envious of those with more up-to-date mid-range devices in the future.
Easy-to-source parts and tools from iFixit mean you can replace the battery, charging port and even the screen at a small cost. And, while I didn’t get to carry out the repair process myself to see if the claims of it being easy were true, I have been able to watch videos online. The process does look simple, which I would expect from the involvement of iFixit, but I do have to question how many people will realistically want to repair a budget phone. Nokia’s claims of people wanting to be more frugal in the current financial climate are certainly valid, but I feel the repairable nature would make more sense combined with a more flagship-like device.
Ultimately, the cost of the Nokia G42 5G in comparison to its specs and with the Motorola Moto G53 5G looming in the background makes it hard to recommend. If you’re looking to spend as little as possible on a phone, then you admittedly need to understand there will be compromises to make. Considering you need to make similar compromises for both the Nokia and the Motorola, then the Moto G53 5G would be the one to get.
Nokia G42 5G review: Price and availability
On sale in the UK and Australia from August 10th, 2023
US availability TBC
6GB RAM / 128GB storage in UK/AU - select EU markets 4GB/128GB
Nokia launched the G42 5G in the UK and Australia on August 10th, 2023. At the time of writing, there is no sign of it being available in the US. In the UK it costs £179 – it’s launch price was £199 but there appears to be a regular £20 discount – and in Australia it retails for AU$449. Both markets get the version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Select European markets also have a 4GB / 128GB version to choose from.
In comparison, the Motorola Moto G53 5G launched in the UK and Australia for £190 / AU$329, undercutting the Nokia's launch price by some margin. On paper, the two are closely matched, with the camera being virtually the only point of difference. While the Nokia's launch price can still be considered affordable, there are even more affordable phones out there that won't require you to scrimp on specs.
Value score: 3 / 5
Nokia G42 5G review: Specs
Nokia G42 5G review: Design
So Purple colour is eye-catching
3.5mm headphone jack will please some users
Finish makes it seem more premium than it is
The Nokia G42 5G follows a familiar design language as other phones that don’t cost the earth. It employs a plastic build and is available in either So Purple or So Grey color options. I had the So Purple on loan and I have to say it’s certainly different to the majority of grey and black (and occasionally white) slabs you see when walking down the street.
The rear panel has a shine effect to it which I like, and in the hand, the phone certainly feels slightly more premium than its price tag would suggest. On the right you’ll find a volume rocker and the power button with a built-in fingerprint scanner. On the left there’s the SIM card and microSD card tray and on the bottom is the USB-C charging input and a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is certainly a rare sight to see in the phone world.
There are noticeable bezels around the display, particularly at the bottom, but the surround around the central front-facing camera is kept to a minimum to avoid taking up as much screen real estate space as possible.
The G42 only gets an IP52 rating, which protects it against dust and "direct sprays of water." You'll want to keep it away from sinks, pools and puddles, but it should be ok if you get caught in the rain.
It’s not exactly a revolutionary design and the familiarity will likely please most customers. While I haven’t seen the So Grey in the flesh, I would say if you are thinking about getting the G42 5G, the purple model would be the one to get.
Design score: 3.5/5
Nokia G42 5G review: Display
6.5-inch display only HD+
Brightness is impressive
Colors not the best when streaming video content
Nokia has gone large for the G42 5G, gracing it with a 6.5-inch display, making it great for viewing plenty of content in one hit, such as this review. But the good news doesn’t really continue much further. This is only an HD+ 720p display with 90Hz refresh rate and 720 x 1612 resolution, which for the price of the phone, is a bit disappointing. The Motorola Moto G53 5G, which retails for around £190 / AU$290, also uses a 720p display but has a 120Hz refresh rate for slightly smoother navigation and motion.
Compromising on display quality is certainly part and parcel of a more budget-orientated phone and had Nokia given the G42 5G 120Hz support, or a full HD 1080p display with 90Hz refresh rate, it would have been slightly more positive. But the omittance of both is certainly surprising in 2023.
That doesn’t mean the display is totally unusable, that would be doing the Nokia G42 5G a disservice. Nokia’s own wallpapers – I left the default purple system wallpaper active for my review duration – have vibrance and clarity to them. But change these for your own images or load up content from third-party apps such as Netflix and flaws start to show. Watching Detective Pikachu, a movie with plenty of dark scenes and bright colors (Pikachu’s yellow fur, for example) proves tricky for the Nokia G42.
It struggles to find the finer details in darker areas such as shadows and images overall lack any real depth. This is despite it serving up acceptable brightness levels. I found whatever I was looking at on screen could hold up well outside in strong sunlight. Nokia claims a typical brightness of 450 nits and a maximum of 560 nits using brightness boost,
The display is also one of the four parts that can be replaced should anything untoward happen to it. You can pick up the complete repair kit including the display and necessary tools directly from iFixit. It would have been great if it was possible to replace the display with a full HD 1080p one, but I assume other internal circuitry prevents this from happening.
Display score: 2.5/5
Nokia G42 5G review: Cameras
50MP main camera functions well in good light
Night mode more impressive than you might think
Macro lens performs better than rivals
Where the Nokia G42 5G trumps some rivals – on paper at least – is in the camera department. Alongside the 50 megapixel main camera you get a 2MP depth sensor. There’s also a 2MP macro camera with a dedicated macro shooting mode to accompany it, enabling you to get up close with your subject.
As we’ve said numerous times here at TechRadar, more megapixels doesn’t always equal better quality images. But in this instance, the Nokia G42 does take nice pictures when compared with its closest competitors. In good lighting, colors are punchy and vibrant, and there's even a decent amount of detail if you choose to zoom in.
There is also a Night Mode you can enable to help improve images taken in low light, and I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The image taken in a bar in the gallery below is a dimly lit space; the kind where virtually all customers need to get their phone light out to see the menu. I expected the shot I took to come out either looking over-exposed or blurry, but the result is quite the opposite. It’s not one you’d want to zoom in on or enlarge, as outright detail does get lost, but when viewed on the phone it’s more than acceptable.
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The macro camera does a better job of close-up shots compared to the Moto G53 5G too, but just how useful this feature will be in practice remains to be seen. I feel an ultra-wide sensor would have been more beneficial.
The front-facing camera does little to instil confidence in your looks. In good lighting, I looked white as a ghost. I almost didn’t want to include an example image here, but for the purposes of the review, I have. Taking a selfie using the rear camera generates more positive results, but the portrait mode – which creates a bokeh effect – nearly nails it. In the gallery image above, you'll notice a smudged line around the top of my hair. The computational software was clearly unable to properly distinguish where the background ended and my hair began.
And since the G42 5G runs on Android 13, it benefits from Google’s photo processing magic, including Blur and Magic Eraser, although they are locked behind a paywall and require a Google One membership.
Camera score: 4/5
Nokia G42 5G review: Performance
General navigation is smooth
Wake-up can be fast
Not the best for graphic intensive games
The Nokia G42 5G is powered by the Snapdragon 480+ chipset. This is a pretty dated processor and one with not a lot of power, but it does, crucially, allow for 5G connectivity. Booting the phone up takes some time, but once it’s on, I found waking it up and unlocking via the fingerprint sensor to be pleasingly quick (so long as the sensor was clean and could recognize my fingerprint).
On Geekbench, the Nokia G42 returned a single-core score of 725 and a multi-core score of 1819. These are both higher than the Moto G53’s Geekbench scores, although not by much. I also ran 3DMark’s Wild Life and returned an overall score of 978. The Moto G53 5G scored 979 in the same test, which isn’t all that surprising considering it uses the same processor. Nokia's score does place it well above the Samsung A23 (which costs similar money to the G42) so it’s not totally bad news.
I did find web pages took a while to load throughout my review period, and on more than one occasion, pages didn’t load at all, despite being connected to a fast Wi-Fi connection. General navigation is perfectly acceptable, but you will want to steer clear of any graphically intensive games.
Audio playback is an area that scores well for the Nokia, however. The G42 employs OZO Playback, which claims to create a wider stereo image from the speaker. While I wouldn't agree with the full claims made – such as creating an "exceptional listening experience" – I can attest to the volume created by the single speaker. Vocals when playing music from Apple Music are crystal clear and there are at least some signs of bass.
If you're after some added bass, you'll want to connect a pair of headphones. And, fortunately, that can include a wired set of headphones here, as the Nokia includes a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Performance score: 3.5/5
Nokia G42 5G review: Battery life
Will easily get more than a day of use
Battery one of the four replaceable parts
Charging time is slow
Battery life is something the Nokia G42 5G can shout about. It has a 5,000mAh unit (which can be replaced) which will comfortably get you more than a day of use. Nokia actually claims you can get up to three days of use from it, based on regular usage for five hours a day, for three days.
To put those claims to the test, I loaded up a 12-hour YouTube video and set screen brightness to 50%, turned adaptive brightness off, and left it playing on my dining room table during the day at home. Once the video had finished playing, there was still 25 percent battery left, which the phone reckoned was good for another 10 hours of use. This was after the battery had been used, both to play the YouTube video and while the phone was idle, for 1 day and six hours.
I can barely make it through a full day using my iPhone 13 Pro these days, and that’s with general web surfing, messaging and checking social media feeds. So in this regard, the Nokia is certainly a winner if longevity is important for you. Recharging the battery from empty to full took one hour and 54 minutes, just shy of the two or so hours needed for the Moto G53 5G to fully recharge. This isn’t the most impressive figure ever, as other competitor devices such as the Motorola Moto G82 and Samsung A54 can recharge to full in around an hour.
The long-awaited iPhone launch was this week and the newest models are already on pre-order – for the first time with USB-C. Other firsts include Apple’s first periscope (on the iPhone 15 Pro Max) and the first vanilla models with a Dynamic Island.
But there are no deals to be had on the new models, Apple isn’t feeling the pressure to offer pre-order goodies. That said, it’s worth having a look at the older models as some got price cuts, others got discontinued entirely (but are still available through third-party sellers).
There are a couple of new Android launches this week too. As...
The Reebok Nano X3 has garnered a reputation for its performance and style in the CrossFit domain. While it marks the latest in a long line of iterations, the Nano X3 is unique in being Reebok’s most versatile Nano shoe to date, and one of the best gym shoes around.
In the design department, it adopts a minimalist and sleek aesthetic, which is bound to appeal to a wider audience of gym enthusiasts. There’s also a variety of color options on offer, from Future White to Core Black, catering to different tastes.
Performance-wise, these shoes shine in many gym scenarios. The 7mm heel-to-toe drop, though higher than previous iterations, provides exceptional stability, especially during weightlifting sessions. The standout feature is the Lift and Run (L.A.R) Chassis System, a game-changer for agility and support. This upgrade sets it apart from earlier Nano models.
The shoe's breathable FlexWeave upper ensures comfort and ventilation, although it may not match the durability of some competitors, such as the Nike Metcon 8. Another minor downside is occasional slippage of the insoles, particularly in the heel. Tightening the laces or swapping out the insoles might help here, though.
While the Nano X3 shines in most gym settings, it's not the best option for running due to limited cushioning. Its rigidity, which makes it ideal for heavy lifting, also means it might take some time to break in. However, this is a top-performing and versatile gym shoe that will suit the needs of most fitness enthusiasts, especially lovers of CrossFit and HIIT.
Reebok Nano X3: Specifications
Reebok Nano X3: Price and availability
Around $140 in the US
Under £110 in the UK
AU$199 in Australia
The Reebok Nano X3 is available to buy now directly from Reebok, as well as most big online fitness retailers. They have an RRP of £110 in the UK, $140 in the US and AU$199 in Australia.
However, these prices are largely dependent on the colorway. For example, some variations in the UK, such as the Cloud White model, are currently on sale and available from as little as £72, offering excellent value for money for a gym shoe of this caliber.
Value score: 4.5/5
Reebok Nano X3: Design
Stylish and minimal
Revamped FlexWeave upper
Available in various colorways
Dubbed "the official shoe of fitness" by its creators, the Nano lineup has seriously shaken things up in the fitness world since its first release way back in 2011.
Multiple iterations later, the 2023 edition of the series comes with a revamped FlexWeave upper that promises to be more breathable, a fresh tread pattern, and a whole new chassis system that helps the shoe perform well across different workout types.
What stands out about the latest Nano, however, is its pared-back design. Reebok has gone for a very minimal aesthetic this time round, which will likely appeal to a wide remit of gym goers. The only thing no longer minimal about it is the lift: the 7mm heel-to-toe drop may be a little high for some. Those who are used to older versions of the Nano, which featured a 4mm drop, might need some time to get used to it. I found that the higher drop still offers great stability - especially for lifting heavy weights.
The Nano X3 shoes are available in a host of colors, including Future White, Core Black, Hunter Green, Cold Grey, and many more.
Design score: 5/5
Reebok Nano X3: Performance
7mm heel works well for heavy lifting
L.A.R Chassis System offers support for high-impact activities
Insoles can feel a little slippy
Breathable FlexWeave upper helps keep you cool
While looks are important, what really matters when it comes to buying a gym shoe is performance. So how do these training shoes fair when push comes to shove?
They actually perform brilliantly in most gym scenarios thanks to their versatile design, breathable upper and solid base. With the higher drop, I could still plant my heels solidly on the ground and power through. It gave me a grounded feeling without squishing me into foam like some other high-drop training shoes might do.
The biggest upgrade in the Nano X3, however, is the all-new Lift and Run (L.A.R) Chassis System. This midsole tech allows the heel to change its rigidity depending on your activity. While it might sound like nothing but marketing guff, you’ll come to realize - after using the shoe a few times - that this component really does help up the ante when it comes to performance. Whether pushing through a heavy lifting session or taking part in an agility-focused workout that requires sprints and jumps, you can really feel the chassis system doing its job and giving you that push you need - especially compared to previous Nano models that lack this feature.
During sweaty, high-intensity workouts, the Nano X3 keeps things cool with its breathable knit upper made from Reebok's trusty FlexWeave material – a familiar sight from the previous Nano versions. This ensures your feet get the air they need and allows for some flexibility. It’s not quite as durable as you might find in some of the Nano’s rival shoes, such as the Nike Metcon 8, for example, however, the toe box has been reinforced to reduce the risk of puncturing the shoe's upper. So, while you might not get tank-like durability, you're definitely getting a more forgiving forefoot and midfoot.
Negatives? Well, I did find the insoles a little slippy here and there, especially in the heel when I needed to push myself off a surface at speed. This required me to tighten the laces a little more than I would usually, which did solve the problem somewhat. But you might need to swap out the insoles altogether if you find the slippiness a persistent problem.
You should also note that the shoes’ rigidity in the heel and midsole means they’re not well suited for long-distance running.
It’s fair to say that color ereaders still have a way to go before they become mainstream, but one company looking to make sure we get there is PocketBook. The European brand’s InkPad Color 2 ereader takes what worked on the original model, improves upon it slightly, encases it in a sleek, new design and throws in waterproofing to make sure you can take it on your next poolside holiday.
If you primarily read comics and graphic novels, then the InkPad Color 2 isn’t a bad option and I enjoyed using it more than its predecessor. Firstly, I found it faster and more responsive than the original – read my PocketBook InkPad Color review to find out more – thanks to a new quad-core processor. I also like the fact that it’s got IPX8 waterproofing (the previous model had none) and adjustable light temperature which strains the eyes less when you’re reading in the evening or at night.
I also found that some colors look marginally better on the screen – that’s thanks to a new filter. But it retains the older-generation E Ink Kaleido Plus display found on the older model when the latest color screen to be had is the Kaleido 3. While the colors are still not as saturated as I would have liked, some hues do look richer and they get better as you increase brightness. Other colors, however, still look quite washed-out (muted) and I’d probably hold out for a color ereader till someone decides to use E Ink’s Gallery 3 screen technology that promises saturation similar to what we’re used to seeing on our phones. Sadly the screen also lacks in contrast when compared to other similar models.
The InkPad Color 2 features a small speaker (you can see the grille on one edge of the device), but I think it’s unnecessary – the sound is decent, but it doesn't get very loud and, with Bluetooth 5.0 support, you’re better off pairing with a set of headphones to enjoy audiobooks.
While the improvements look good on paper, the user interface is still not as streamlined as we’ve seen on other ereaders and you can’t purchase content directly from the device’s book store if you live outside of the European Union.
Still, it’s good to know that you get these improvements – as incremental as they may be – for the same launch price as the older InkPad Color ereader.
PocketBook InkPad Color 2 review: price and availability
Announced April 2023
Available to buy now for $329 in the US
Available in UK and Australia as international imports via Amazon
Two years after PocketBook announced the original InkPad Color ereader, it released the second-generation model… and for the same price too! Which is good news as there’s more bang for your buck here than before.
Available to buy directly from PocketBook or from some third-party retailers, the InkPad Color 2 will set you back $329 in the US. If you happen to be in the UK or Australia, your best source of picking up the InkPad Color 2 would be Amazon UK and Amazon AU respectively, where you can get the German import for about £345 and AU$595 respectively.
That’s not a bad price for a 7.8-inch color ereader, although for a little extra money ($399 in the US), you can get the older Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color that also has writing capabilities.
A more up-to-date color ereader would be the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C, with a 7.8-inch E Ink Kaleido 3 screen, an octa-core processor and running Android 11 for a slightly smoother user interface and full-featured writing capabilities, costing $450 / £450 / AU$765.
While still not cheap, the InkPad Color 2 could well be worth your while if you really want a color-screen ereader and don’t need to take notes on it.
• Value score: 3.5 / 5
PocketBook InkPad Color 2 specs
PocketBook InkPad Color 2 review: Design and display
Refreshed design reminiscent of PocketBook Era
Older-generation display technology with new color filter
All PocketBook ereaders have a signature design – either rounded or cut-off corners. The latter came with the PocketBook Era and the InkPad Color 2 inherits a similar, more modern look compared to the rounded corners of the older model. I’m a real fan of this design aesthetic – it’s refreshing and the InkPad Color 2 looks even better thanks to the metallic silver (what PocketBook calls Moon Silver) trim around the side of the chassis.
That’s not the only design aspect the InkPad Color 2 inherits from its Era cousin – the PocketBook branding is now on the lower left corner of the tablet compared to being in the center (as in the older InkPad Color) and matches the color of the silver trim.
The front bezels and the rear panel is black plastic that is a magnet for oily fingerprints, and given the rear is textured, not that easy to wipe off either.
Barely visible on the edge of the lower bezel are four control buttons. These are marked but, again, quite faintly. I’m not a fan of their placement – they’re so close to the edge that I find it easier to tap on the screen to turn pages. I had the same issue with the PocketBook Era too where the buttons aren’t quite where my thumb sits on the side of the device. While I didn’t quite enjoy the buttons on the older InkPad Color either, at least they were higher up on the bezel so my thumb could rest on the two middle ones.
I still stand by my statement that the buttons on both models of the InkPad Color should be slightly raised or textured differently as they’re hard to find by feel alone and it becomes difficult to put the device to sleep if you’re reading in the dark (which I often do).
Where the older color ereader had a separate power button on the bottom edge, the button on the right corner of the lower bezel doubles up as the sleep and power buttons. You need to go into the device’s settings pane to set that up though. I customized mine to work as a sleep button with a single press and a double to power down. The left corner button gets you to the home screen (and can be customized for another function), while the middle two are the page-turn buttons.
The lower edge now just houses the USB-C port for charging and file transfer, beside which is a tiny indicator light that glows when you press a button, when the screen refreshes or while charging. The right edge has two tiny slits which is the speaker grille.
All in all, it’s a clean, minimalistic look that is now waterproof. An IPX8 rating means the InkPad Color 2 can survive in 2 meters of water for up to 60 minutes.
As before, the main selling point here is the color screen. For me, 7.8 inches is a good size – decent amount of screen real estate so you don’t have to constantly keep turning pages and, thus, eating into the battery life, and it’s still portable. That said, this screen doesn’t always display full pages of a graphic novel – depending on how the file has been set up.
What I’m not quite a fan of is the fact that a 2023 ereader model is using an older-generation screen technology. PocketBook has stuck with the E Ink Kaleido Plus screen it used in its original color ereader, but has tried to improve on it by using a new color filter. This filter, PocketBook says, adds more saturation to the colors displayed compared to the older model. While that’s ever so slightly true for some hues, the overall results are quite mixed. For example, there are some blues that look a lot richer compared to what I saw on the InkPad Color, but some reds and browns still look washed out.
The screen retains a 300ppi resolution for grayscale reading (black and white only) and has just 100ppi resolution when viewing in color. The latter is quite low, considering you can get ereaders with 150ppi color resolution. This may not mean a lot to you if you’ve never used a color ereader before, but I found a significant difference when comparing the InkPad Color 2 side by side with the newer Kaleido 3 display on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C (see the Performance section for details).
What the InkPad Color 2 does better than its predecessor is offer adjustable light temperature. To be able to change the frontlight hue to warmer tones in the evening or night reduces eye strain and can help maintain your sleep pattern. One thing to note, however, is that if you are reading in color, warmer light will affect the colors slightly.
The InkPad Color 2 gets what PocketBooks calls its SmartLight functionality – when selected, the device will automatically adjust the frontlight temperature to suit the time of day. While that’s nice to have, I found that the auto-selection of the warm tones are just too warm and the display is just too… jaundiced for my liking.
• Design and display score: 3.5 / 5
PocketBook InkPad Color 2 review: Software and user interface
1GB RAM and 32GB GB internal storage
Arguably the best file format support of any ereader brand
User interface could do with some improvements
As I’ve mentioned before, the InkPad Color 2 gets a new processor – while no specifics have been revealed of which precise chip it is, it’s now a 1.8GHz engine compared to 1GHz in the older model. This is paired with 1GB of system memory (or RAM), which might not sound like much but is more than enough for a low-power device like an ereader.
Where the previous model had 16GB of internal storage alongside a microSD slot that can support an additional 32GB, the second-generation color ereader gets non-expandable 32GB of storage. This is usually a lot if you’re mostly storing a library of ebooks, but if most of them are comic file formats – they are typically larger than your average ebook – and audiobooks – which can be larger still – you could eat through that storage space. Even then, it’s a lot!
As with any PocketBook ereader, the operating system is Linux based and I’m still not quite a fan of the user interface. It’s not too bad, really, but it’s not as smooth and streamlined as other ereader setups from the more popular brands. Even Onyx’s Android-based interface is a bit smoother, but the staggering number of customizations available there can be a little mind-boggling.
That said, I like the fact that audiobooks are stored separately from ebooks on the PocketBook, making them easier to find when you want to listen rather than read. Another thing I like about the audiobooks on the InkPad Color 2 is that it continues playing if you go back to the home screen or jump into your library to decide what you’d like to read next. In fact, it will continue playing even if you open an ebook and start reading… handy if you can multitask like that.
Updates to the user interface since I tested the PocketBook Color have helped make the UX a little better, but I still find it lacking. While the general layout of the home screen is good, I would like to be able to sort my library out as I see fit. On PocketBook ereaders (all of them), your library gets sorted alphabetically by title, but you can filter by author name.
Another thing to commend PocketBook on is the staggering number of file formats its ereaders can support. The InkPad Color 2 can handle a staggering 36 file types, which includes document, images and sound. That’s very impressive indeed. You may not even have some of these file formats, but it’s good to know that the support is there.
The onboard book store, while accessible in any region, will display prices in Euro. You can set up an account if you live outside of Europe and don’t mind purchasing in a different currency. That said, the store doesn’t have a lot of titles you’ll see from the top publishing companies, so your choices will be quite limited.
• Software score: 4 / 5
PocketBook InkPad Color 2 review: Performance
Improved performance over InkPad Color and Era models
Speaker sound is good
Screen color resolution is disappointing
Giving the InkPad Color 2 an updated processor was a good call. Issues I noticed in the PocketBook Era – sluggish refreshes, slow loading of page numbers – are no longer a problem. However, I am a little disappointed with the screen.
Despite the 300ppi in grayscale, the screen lacks contrast. A side by side comparison with other monochrome ereaders shows a distinct lack of sharpness to the text displayed on the screen. This makes the InkPad Color 2 comparatively harder to read indoors unless you raise the brightness up. During my testing, I found that the screen looked best at 90% brightness even when using it in a well-lit room. That, however, becomes an issue if you’re reading at night with your room lights off as it can strain the eyes (even if you change the light temperature to warmer hues).
The lower color resolution is also an issue – which is evident when comparing alongside the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C, a 7.8-inch color ereader sporting a Kaleido 3 screen. While some colors look better on the InkPad Color 2 compared to its predecessor, I could see lines and textures that kept distracting me while I was reading a volume of The Sandman graphic novel. Other colors look a lot better on the Onyx ereader, with no texturing evident at all and I think I would pay extra to have a better screen experience.
Aside from the disappointing screen, the new processor has made page turns faster, which was a complaint I had with the InkPad Color 2’s predecessor. The screen is also more responsive than before. However, the refresh rate isn’t as good as what I’ve seen on other ereaders and ghosting can be a problem till a page refreshes. For example, if you’ve selected some text to highlight, you will see light ghosting within the highlighter’s circular color choices. At other times, the cover page takes a second or two to refresh to look its best in color.
If you’re a fan of audiobooks, the built-in speaker is pretty good, but I still think it’s unnecessary. The sound doesn’t get as loud as I’ve experienced with some Onyx Boox models, and I found using Bluetooth headphones an easier experience as it gave me the freedom to move around without the sound getting too faint. Where the sound quality from some Onyx Boox speakers was tinny, the InkPad Color 2 in fact has better sound despite its mono speaker. Not bad, PocketBook!
Battery life is also quite good. The 2,900mAh pack inside will get you about 4 weeks between charges, but that will depend on how you use the ereader. Just reading about 30 minutes a day can get you up to 5 weeks between charges, for example. However, if you read longer or listen to audiobooks more often, you could get less than 4 weeks. The screen brightness setting can also affect the battery life.
Topping up that battery can be a little over an hour from 30% to full, depending on the kind of USB-C cable you use. The one packaged with the ereader itself is quite slow and took me 2 hours and 23 minutes to go from 34% to full. I used an USB-C Type 3 cable plugged into a 65W GaN wall plug and that took1 hour and 17 minutes to go from 30% to 99%.
• Performance score: 3.5 / 5
Should I buy the PocketBook InkPad Color 2?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
If you think the PocketBook InkPad Color 2 isn't for you, take a look at a few other alternatives below, with a full specs comparison to help you choose.
How I tested the PocketBook InkPad Color 2
Used it to read for about 7 weeks, in both color and B&W
Used it to listen to audiobooks
Compared it directly to other 7-inch and 7.8-inch ereaders, both color and grayscale
I’ve used the PocketBook InkPad Color 2 as my main ereader for just under two months now. While it came preloaded with a lot of titles already, several were in European languages (German, Polish, etc), so I sideloaded a bunch of my favourite DRM-free titles that I own.
As a voracious reader, I used the InkPad Color 2 to read a minimum of 2 hours a day, sometimes more. I did browse the onboard store out of curiosity to see what was on offer, but refrained from purchasing anything.
While most of my reading was word-heavy – so ebooks in grayscale – I read a couple of graphic novels on it to test its color rendering and resolution. I compared how these same titles were rendered on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C to come to my final score of the InkPad Color 2.
MSI has partnered with car company Mercedes AMG on a customized Stealth 16 Studio A13V laptop dubbed the Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V. This sleek 16-inch ultra-portable is technically pitched at creative professionals, with studio drivers and Windows 11 Pro, but it’s a blurry line at best since MSI is also happy to boast about it’s gaming prowess.
There’s a 16-inch OLED screen with 4K resolution up front that will work equally well for professional video and color work, as it will for immersive single-player gaming. It is only 60Hz capable however, so it won’t suit every play style, but full DCI-P3 color and a bright display is perfectly suited to creative visual work.
The device uses conservative thermal design power maximums to keep weight down to a total of 1.88kg. This also means you’ll get reasonable battery life lasting up to 7 hours and 8 minutes, but it also means that performance doesn't match the workstations that aren’t trying to maintain a slim and light form factor.
You’ll get 100 frames-per-second averages running games at FullHD Ultra settings, but you’d definitely want to run titles in QHD or 4K in order to utilise the power on offer from the Intel Core i9-13900H CPU and a 105W Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU.
You can get slightly thicker gaming Ultrabooks with better performance for notably less, but you’ll generally take a solid hit in battery life. This is a premium device for those that want great performance and the best possible battery life in an extremely portable and professional-looking package.
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MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V review: Price and availability
Retails for $2,899 / £2,399 / AU $5,499
Available now in the US, UK and AU
The Stealth 16 Mercedes AMG Motorsport A13V is available now in one main configuration for the US, UK and Australian regions. The recommended retail price lands at $2,899 / £2,399 / AU $5,499 and comes with a bundle of exclusive merch' including a gaming mouse, mousepad, a dual USB, a pouch (for some important things), and a cable tie for either the power brick or your Lewis Hamilton-styled man bun.
The price is more expensive than many competitor's, with Razer and Asus both offering similar configurations for less. The MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V does offer additional battery life over the competition, but you do have to pay extra for it.
On the whole this is a well balanced spec sheet. The 4K display may have been an issue if this was a dedicated gaming laptop (since it’s only got a 60Hz refresh rate), but it’s perfectly suited to someone wanting to use it for creative work.
The CPU is powerful, but only draws 45W (unlike some of the top higher core 13th gen i9 chips) and it pairs nicely with the 105W Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU to offer power without totally disregarding battery life.
The 32GB RAM allocation will be adequate for many professional workflows and the 2TB SSD is fast and expansive enough for a modern creative pro.
The Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V is an ultra-portable 16-inch professional laptop with a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card and a 13th generation Intel i9 processor. Usually having this much power leads to laptops that are bulkier and have limited battery life, but the A13V has a generous 99.9Wh battery and a 4.2lbs (1.88kg) total weight, so it’s designed to be easy to work with on the go.
This portability focus extends through the exterior design, offering a premium feeling magnesium-aluminum chassis that keeps the device rigid at just 0.85 inches (2.2cm) and a power brick that isn’t as large as you might expect from a laptop this powerful.
The Mercedes branding is muted enough to be palatable for those that are indifferent to the partnership, and there aren't any outlandish design tweaks since the most notable changes are cosmetic golf-ball-dimples added to the edges and rear vents, and a chequered flag effect on the space bar.
The keyboard is a reasonable membrane-based setup with enough travel to be comfortable to type on and quiet enough to work in communal spaces. It does still include MSI’s coveted RGB per-key backlighting array so you can customize how you want your keyboard to look.
MSI used Mercedes' audio component manufacturer Burmester to produce the speaker array for the laptop and the 6 speaker array sounds great for media playback. This is, of course, complimented by the 4K OLED display with Vesa DisplayHDR 600 color and brightness certification to make it an exceptionally appealing device to watch (and create) audio-visual content on.
The device comes with a 1080p webcam that can manually be shuttered and an infra-red camera for quick Windows Hello sign-in. It’s also got the other standard business feature of a fingerprint reader and offers a wide range of ports and interface options for a modern laptop.
An Intel Core i9-13900H CPU and a 105W Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU is a pretty powerful system configuration that’s capable of impressive creative performance. The CPU isn’t the most powerful available on a laptop today, outpaced by Intel’s unlocked 13th gen i9 and i7 processors (which have more performance cores) and AMD’s Ryzen 9 7940HS, but it is still very competent and will be capable of handling demanding workloads.
The same could be said about the 105W RTX 4070, which is outperformed by systems willing to divert additional power to the graphical capabilities, but which still offers respectable frame rates of around 100 fps on modern titles using 1080p settings. This level of GPU output offers close to 60% better performance than an Apple MacBook Pro 16 and the Stealth 16’s lower wattage GPU is able to keep up with a 140W RTX 4070 on a Razer Blade 14 for most synthetic benchmarks.
This performance will drop back with more consistent loads since higher powered 4070 GPUs offered 5% to 8% higher framerates across gaming benchmarks, but it’s not as big a difference as you might expect.
The SSD manages read speeds of 6473MB/s and write speeds of 4707MB/s which isn't exactly breaking records, but it is the latest spec of PCIe internal drive, meaning transferring large files can happen surprisingly quickly. Combine that with Wi-Fi 6E or the direct Gigabit ethernet connection and you’ve got a setup that can move content as quick as anything.
Performance score: 4 / 5
MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V review: Battery life
7 hour 8 minute work lifespan
6 hour 36 minute movie playback
Sub 2 hour gaming lifespan
Battery life is one of the main drawcards of the Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V. Sure it’s not the almost 20 hours you’ll get on a MacBook Pro 16, but it’s a heap more than the 4-ish hours you’ll get from a standard gaming laptop.
We got a very reasonable score of 7 hours and 8 minutes of light work using PCMark 8 Home battery benchmark, which translates into 6 hours and 36 minutes for 1080p movie playback.
You should expect these lifespans to drop to under 2 hours when engaging the GPU, so if you need to do intense work we wouldn’t recommend leaving the charger behind.
Battery life score: 3.5 / 5
Should you buy the MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V?
Buy it if...
Battery life is important You need something powerful that can last close to a full day for light work tasks if needed.
Don't buy it if...
You need uncompromising performance You want the absolute pinnacle of laptop power. You can get more powerful devices if you’re happy to trade out some battery life.
How I tested the MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V
I tested it using both benchmark tests and video game benchmarks
I stress-tested the battery using the TechRadar movie test
I ran the MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V through our standard suite of benchmarks to get a feel for the laptop's peak performance and to see how it compares with the best on the market.
In addition to our standard suite of testing, I also tested the device using it for a day of work to see how it fares when typing, web browsing, working and for light photo and video editing tasks.
The screen was analysed using TechRadar's standard movie test and was compared against other screens running standard web browsing and movie editing software.
The battery life was benchmarked with two tests to simulate different battery life scenarios.
Next week Apple will unveil the next generation of iPhones, but this week things are relatively quiet. Still, we’re getting closer to the end of 2023, so makers and retailers are starting to think about old inventory and what can be done about it. We also found some deals on (very) recent devices too.
Amazon has limited time deals on Samsung’s latest foldables. The Galaxy Z Fold5 starts at $1,500 for the 256GB model, that is $300 below MSRP. For additional deals on the Z Fold5, check out our post on Samsung’s fall sale.
Sony's Xperia 5 line started life as a low-compromise alternative to the Xperia 1 series – the first three packed the exact same camera systems as their flagship counterparts, with the Xperia 1 III being a serious high-point with its continuous zoom periscope camera.
In recent years, the compromises seem to have been creeping in, and the Xperia 5 V is the most compromised in its line. But does not being a carbon copy of the Xperia 1 V make the 5 V a bad phone? Absolutely not.
After a couple of weeks of testing, the Xperia 1 V's solid build, comfortable size, excellent battery life, consistently good performance, and fantastic primary camera really do help it shine. But it isn't without some shortcomings.
Firstly, design. The Xperia 5 V may feel great and be hardy – with its IP65/68 water resistance being a particular highlight – but from the front, the phone looks far more mid-range than it ought to. I understand Sony doesn't subscribe to that notch or punch-hole life, so its Xperias have bookends above and below the screen. Whereas the Xperia 5 IV was almost borderless either side of the screen, though, the 5 V has chunky bezels, making it look almost like a cheaper Xperia 10 series phone.
Next, it's the Xperia 5 V's storage. To my knowledge, only a 128GB version will be launching, at least in the UK. With 33GB filled up after pre-installed apps are updated, that leaves just 87GB for all your apps, games, and WhatsApp backups. This might be plenty for some, but it isn't enough for me, and likely you, if you consider yourself a power user.
The Xperia 5 V's screen is also weak when it comes to color-integrity off-angle, with the display suffering more than any other high-end panel from low-end, OLED color-shifting. Not something we'd expect from a Sony device. While you probably won't notice this in isolation, alongside a premium device, the 5 V clearly falls behind.
There is a microSD card slot – and that's the Xperia 5 V's saving grace – so video, offline movies and songs can be loaded up on it. But most apps don't support offloading files to the SD card nowadays, as such you'll likely still run out of space soon enough, if you download loads of offline content through an app. And, as an example, if you want to install Genshin Impact, you're losing 27.25GB of space with just one install.
So, despite plenty of highlights, especially for camera fans who like total control over their photography and filming experience, Sony hasn't made the Xperia 5 V a winner across the board, even if it is still a good phone.
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Price and availability
Available from late September
Priced at £849 / €999 (approximately $1,075 / AU$1,665)
Cheaper than the Xperia 5 IV and 5 III on launch in the UK
The Xperia 5 IV is the lowest-cost Xperia 5-series phone since 2020's Xperia 5 II, at least in the UK. Costing £849 / €999 (approximately $1,075 / AU$1,665) – £100 less than the Xperia 5 IV at launch – the slightly more affordable positioning goes some way to explain some of Sony's decision to pare some specs and styling back for 2023, even if I'm not happy about that.
The Xperia 5 V also costs a lot less than the flagship Xperia 1 V, which comes in at a pricey $1,399 / £1,299 / AU$2,099. For anyone who wants to experience Sony's new, Exmor T for Mobile stacked camera sensor, therefore, the Xperia 5 V is now the lowest-cost way to do so.
Compared to other phones on the market, Sony's pricing starts to look a little less affordable. The Google Pixel 7 Pro, which has a periscope telephoto camera and a much more striking design and display, costs the same as the Xperia 5 V. And if you want a small phone with wireless charging, a headphone jack, and even more storage, the Asus Zenfone 10 is a great shout – though you'll be taking a hit on the camera.
Value score: 3.5 / 5
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Specs
Sony's Xperia 5 V sits in that awkward is-it-isn't-it-a flagship space. Some of its specs are as good as they get as a result – that Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and the superb Exmor T for Mobile primary camera sensor – but other specs let it down.
The biggest culprit holding the Xperia 5 V back is its 128GB storage and 8GB RAM combo. While I'm not too concerned about the modest amount of RAM – I had no performance issues with the phone in my time with it – the 128GB storage is a bit of an issue at the phone's price. The aforementioned Zenfone 10 starts at 256GB, matches most of the Xperia 5 V's specs, and costs a fair bit less.
Sony also opts for slower charging than much of the competition, and it hasn't included a telephoto camera for this series of Xperia 5. Both these factors work against the phone at its premium price, but neither is a deal breaker.
What you do get, though, is IP65/68 water and dust resistance, expandable storage, a headphone jack – which should please wired audio lovers, a decent OLED screen, and novel Sony highlights, like a SIM tray that can be pulled out with a fingernail (i.e. without any tools).
Sony phones definitely have their charm, but a couple of weak areas limit the Xperia 5 V's full-package factor.
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Design
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Gorilla Glass Victus 2 back and front
IP65/68-certified water resistance
Feels clunkier than Xperia 5 IV
The Sony Xperia 5 V looks like a fine phone in a bubble. Forget about all past Xperia 5s, and forget about all the low-on-bezel Honor 90-a-likes launching with all-screen, curved, immersive displays, and the Xperia 5 V's design nails it.
Of course, no phone is an island, and the Xperia 5 V starts to look chunkier and clunkier when you compare it with its predecessors and its competition.
Specifically, the one element that makes Sony's latest phone feel less than competitive alternatives are those chunky bezels on either side of the screen. When it comes to phones, small bezels equate to a flagship look, and bigger bezels to a budget look, and the Xperia 5 V has big, budget bezels.
What's really interesting is that no phone shows the 5 V up more than its predecessor, the Xperia 5 IV. Side by side, the latter looks like the newer model – so anyone thinking of upgrading from another 5 series phone will likely be underwhelmed on the design front. This feels like a move that could alienate Sony Mobile's die-hard following.
Everything gets a lot better once you get past the Xperia 5 V's bezelly fascia. It's IP65/68 water and dust-resistant, so you can submerge it in water for 30 minutes at 1.5 meters, without fear of wrecking it.
The Xperia 5 V also feels solid. Its metal frame is easy to grip – likely owing to its profile being thicker than past Xperia 5s, and the blasted matte texture also feels great. I also love the fingerprint-resistant finish around the back, and Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on both sides is a fitting addition for added peace of mind.
Sony favorites are back, including a headphone jack for wired audio fans, a SIM and microSD card tray that can be pulled out without any tools, and a physical camera button. The Xperia 5 V doesn't have that rich, textured shutter button as on the Xperia 1 V, but it's still a dual-detent photography tool that fans of the series will appreciate.
With the 6.1-inch screen's modest size helping the phone feel very manageable, despite its extra heft over past Xperia 5 phones, the 5 V is comfortable to use and didn't pull up any red flags in our time with it. I just wish it looked a bit more Xperia 5 and a little less Xperia 10.
Design score: 3 / 5
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Display
6.1-inch Full HD+ OLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
Bright and sharp, but color shifting off-angle is noticeable
21:9 aspect ratio and plenty of display options to customize
The Xperia 5 V's screen is fine, but it isn't excellent. At 6.1 inches, it's small compared to most modern-day flagship phones, but I still found it wide enough for comfortable typing and swiping, and being an OLED panel, colors look vibrant, and contrast levels are high. This combo makes for a manageable, pleasing, high-impact watching and messaging experience, but there are some quality shortcomings.
The Xperia 5 V's OLED color shifting is much more pronounced than on most high-end phones out now, including its predecessor. In fact, the visual characteristics of this pricey phone more closely resemble those of the Xperia 10 V than the Xperia 1 V off-angle. While they probably aren't using the exact same display – one is 60Hz and one is 120Hz – they both suffer from exceptionally bad color shifting.
If you aren't familiar with the term color shifting, some OLED screens take on a slightly blue or magenta tint when you aren't looking at them head-on. This varies from display to display, and the Xperia 5 V I tested showcases some of the worst performance on this front outside the budget and mid-range space I've seen in a while. Tilt the phones almost totally side-on, and both the 10 V and the 5 V screens turn totally blue.
This color shifting is particularly visible when looking at white or very light content, but on the plus, it doesn't affect viewing angles – content is easy to see and read head-on or off-angle – but it does impact color integrity.
Even much cheaper phones like the RedMagic 8s Pro outperform the Xperia 5 V in this respect, which we wouldn't have expected, given Sony's Xperia line is so focused on creators and content consumption.
If you dive into the settings, Sony gives you plenty of control over how your Xperia 5 V screen performs, including complete manual white balance.
There are two color gamut and contrast modes to choose from: creator mode and standard mode, with the prior designed to work perfectly with HDR and 10-bit content. A Real-time HDR drive option boosts visibility when playing back HDR content, and Sony's X1 image enhancer is also back, adding a little extra zing and pop to video.
You can choose between two refresh rates, 60Hz and 120Hz, with the Xperia 5 V screen set to 60Hz by default. There's no third option to activate dynamic or variable refresh rate, so the phone can't automatically choose based on what's on-screen, and it can't drop the refresh rate to save power. These refresh rate limitations seem like a missed trick, as both features are now commonplace in much more affordable devices.
Weak peak brightness levels have hamstrung Sony phones in the past, but the Xperia 5 V beamed brilliantly on a hot summer day, making for easy reading in direct sunlight with auto-brightness fired up. Manual brightness doesn't shine quite as dazzlingly, but it never left me wanting.
Old favorites like an always-on display are back, and there's a really intuitive one-handed mode – swipe down from the gesture bar in the bottom center of the display – so navigating all 6.1 inches of the Xperia 5 V is plain sailing.
So, yes, the Xperia 5 V nails the basics – it's bright, sharp, responsive, and has loads of customization options – but the excessive color distortion off-angle is just too much of a compromise for a phone that costs this much.
Display score: 3 / 5
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Software
Runs Android 13 with Sony's relatively light UI
2 years OS updates + 3 years security updates
Floating windows and split-screen working customizations
Sony phones have almost always looked clean and fuss-free, and that tradition carries forward to the Xperia 5 V in virtually every respect, including its user interface (UI).
For the most part, the Xperia 5 V's experience is stock Android 13, though Sony's added highlights. These include Side Sense – a menu that pops up on the side of the screen for shortcuts to frequently used apps. This also makes it easy to quickly launch split-screen app combos; a fun, handy customization.
Swipe right from the main home screen to activate the Google App and news feed, swipe up from the bottom to pull up an apps tray, and swipe down anywhere on a home screen to bring down your notifications menu.
Sony has also upgraded its Game Enhancer for 2023, with the Xperia 5 V debuting its new look. This gaming portal congregates all your games in one place, and when you fire one up, it overlays a host of options to help level up your gameplay.
You can launch an app in a floating window, access a browser to pull up a walkthrough, or access YouTube alongside your gameplay. It's also where you can toggle performance mode, customize your display settings, and make other changes on a game-by-game basis.
Perhaps the most confusing aspect of the Xperia 5 V UI relates to the camera – there are three camera apps. That said, with the upgraded Photography Pro now supporting vertical capture and a fantastic auto mode, not to mention perfectly respectable video capture, non-filmmakers and creatives should be more than happy to just live in Photo Pro and ignore Cinema and Video Pro; an option that wasnt always as easy to recommend.
The main drawback of the Xperia 5 V's software isn't what it's like to use, it's the lack of future-proofing Sony commits to. While other brands like Oppo offer four years of major OS and five years of security updates, Sony only commits to two and three years, respectively.
Sony charges a premium for its phones and is vocal about its commitment to reducing e-waste and focusing on battery longevity. Its innovation when it comes to eco-friendly packaging materials is also part of its sustainability narrative, making limited OS and security support the clear weak link in Sony's commitment to long-lasting smartphones.
Software score: 3.5 / 5
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Cameras
52MP primary camera
12MP ultra-wide camera
12MP selfie camera
Updated bokeh (portrait) mode
The Xperia 5 V has a 52MP primary camera with a 1/1.35-inch sensor and an f/1.9 aperture lens. Unlike past Xperia 5 phones, it misses out on a telephoto camera, but it does have a 12MP ultra-wide with an f/2.2 aperture and autofocus.
It's worth talking about the main camera first, as thanks to the sensor's novel dimensions – 4.3:3 – versus traditional 4:3 sensors, the camera only uses a 48MP, 4:3 portion to capture photos. That's why you might have seen the Xperia 5 V marketed as a 48MP camera phone, but technically, it has a 52MP sensor.
Even calling the 5 V a 48MP phone is a stretch, as the photos are pixel-binned down to 12MP, whether captured in JPG or RAW. So while some phones, including the iPhone 14 Pro, support full-res, 48MP photos, Sony caps all photos from all cameras to 12MP; an odd move to be sure.
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The Xperia 5 V also carries forward the Sony tradition of including no less than three camera apps. The default app, Photography Pro takes you from full automatic camera – a la iPhone – through to full manual, controlling every aspect of your shot other than the aperture.
Video Pro is one for online video creators who shoot in 16:9. It has extensive slow-motion shooting options with maximum control over frame rates and also offers an 'S Cinetone for mobile' look, which Sony Alpha shooters will appreciate.
Finally, Cinema Pro is a 21:9 lover's jam. Ideal for filmmakers, this is where you'll find terms like shutter angle, manage recording projects rather than files, and access the super-flat Venice look that shoots with almost log-grade low contrast.
The Xperia 5 V shoots video at up to 4K, 120fps, and also benefits from a microphone around the back, so you can choose to prioritize voices captured on it, or general sound from all three microphones on the phone.
All this might sound like a lot of features, but I haven't scratched the surface when it comes to all the manual control Sony makes possible.
One aspect of the Xperia 5 V we didn't get to test out was a new Video Creator app, which can be used to manually edit videos or create an auto-generated montage, similar to GoPro Highlight Clips.
Sony Xperia 5 V camera samples
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If you aren't a fan of heavily processed photos – shadows boosted to within an inch of their lives, backlit subjects brighter than their background, and nighttime photos that look like they were taken in the day – Sony's natural, realistic styling will be a breath of fresh air.
I found the Xperia 5 V's shots to be nuanced, detailed, and low in noise. Sony's conceded a little when it comes to computational photography when compared to the Xperia 5 IV. Now, shadows are richer in detail than ever, and night shots look great.
For anyone who's concerned about the lack of a telephoto camera on the Xperia 5 V, I've created some examples of how well its zoom fares when compared to its predecessor and its 2.5x optical zoom:
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In bright environments, the optical zoom does edge ahead, but when the lights drop, the Xperia 1 V's larger sensor nails it. In fact, even in middling light – which is more common than bright or near-night ambient light – the quality of the Xperia 5 V photos won out for me.
As a result, in the case of the Xperia 5 V, two cameras really are better than three, if the third is a mediocre telephoto camera. Were it a quality periscope camera, though, that would have been a different story.
Unsurprisingly, the ultra-wide camera doesn't perform as well as the primary camera. Sony's processing helps it along with night shots, but it can't keep up when it comes to exposure when the lights drop. That means its photos will usually look a little darker when set against the primary camera in a low light environment, and it will also be a bit noisier.
It's great to see the ultra-wide lens feature autofocus, and that offers some versatility, but with a nearest focus distance of around 20cm, there's no ultra-wide macro option. Nevertheless, ultra-wide group shots and selfies should look a bit crisper than generic fixed-focus snaps.
Sony's improved its Bokeh (portrait) mode, apparently for the Xperia 5 V, however, I still experienced the same crunchy subject masking as on old Sony phones in more challenging scenes. Simple, head-on, posed portraits look great. But get a bit further back or load up the scene with complication, and it can't stack up to a Pixel or iPhone.
Video captured on the Xperia 5 V's main camera looks fantastic, and stabilization is strong across resolutions. The ultra-wide camera is the weak link, so you'll want to lean on the main camera, especially when the lights drop, but if you do, the 5 V serves up a best-in-class primary camera across both photo and video.
As for the selfie camera, it’s a solid snapper, especially when the light is right. Benefiting from Sony’s balanced processing, photos look natural, detailed, and we had more success with the bokeh mode on it than when using the rear camera mix. It also captures night photos too, and if you hold still, results are impressive even when the lights drop, and with 4K video, it’s one of the more versatile front cameras on the scene.
Camera score: 5 / 5
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Performance
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
One memory option: 8GB RAM
Global storage options TBC with one in the UK: 128GB
The Xperia 5 V is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which is a mighty chipset that's tried and tested to run cool and fast for the most part. Sony's struggled with heat management before, but with its slightly thicker chassis and superior internals, the Xperia 5 V does a decent job of keeping heat in check.
The phone benchmarks brilliantly, scoring a Geekbench 6 score of 5140 multi-core and a 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme score of 3600, putting it in the upper echelon of non-gaming phone performance alongside the OnePlus 11 5G and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The biggest challenge I faced when gaming was that I cycle eight games when testing a phone: Diablo Immortal, DragonBall Z, Genshin Impact for performance, Injustice 2 and Sky for some mid-tier, relatively demanding gameplay, and TMNT: Shredder's Revenge, Streets of Rage 4, and Marvel Snap for 2D gaming.
It wasn't gaming performance that left me wanting on the Xperia 5 V, even though Sony's phones won't stack up to gaming phones; GSM Arena found that throttling occurs to keep the temperature in check. That said, 128GB is too little storage for a phone of this price. Genshin Impact alone fills up 27.25GB, Diablo Immortal over 4GB, and DragonBall a similar amount. Add the 33GB of pre-installed software, and between three games, you're over halfway to filling up your Xperia 5 V.
The Xperia 5 V does have a microSD card slot, which is a saving grace, though more and more for Android phones, its value is limited. Apps can't be installed onto SD cards, and big storage hogs like WhatsApp backups have to be installed on internal storage. So, yes – your massive 4K video files can be recorded to a huge 1TB SD card – but that doesn't mean a power user won't have to watch how many movies and games they download. That's fine for a midrange phone but not for one as pricey as the Xperia 5 V, which has already seen cutbacks to design and screen quality.
With Samsung and other brands scrapping the 128GB entry-level storage capacity in their premium phones, it's time Sony did the same if it wants to compete.
What the Xperia 5 V does exceptionally well is sound great – both from the front-firing dual speakers and headphone jack – and it offers up plenty of audio settings. These include control over the Dolby sound profile – you can choose from Dynamic, Movie, Music, Custom and advanced (full EQ control) – toggle on 360 Reality Audio or 360 Upmix, as well as DSEE Ultimate for audio upscaling, and Effect Priority to pick which feature to prioritize. The phone also supports Spatial audio across the phone speaker and wired headphones.
Performance score: 4 / 5
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Battery life
5,000mAh battery (same as Xperia 5 IV)
Almost double the screen-on time versus the Xperia 5 IV in tests
The Xperia 5 V has excellent battery life. For the screen-on battery test, I calibrated the Xperia 5 V and 5 IV to the same brightness level with a lux meter and streamed a one-hour clip from YouTube over Wi-Fi, then ran identical benchmarks. Last year's Xperia 5 IV discharged almost double as quickly, dropping to 92 percent, versus the Xperia 5 V, which was at 96 percent – very impressive – and possibly owing to the different (visually inferior) display used in the newer model.
The phone easily lasted a whole day, even with some tethering, gaming, watching, and a fair amount of camera use. It's also great to see wireless charging back, so quick top-ups throughout the day means you could get two days out of the Xperia 5 V if you're more conservative with it.
The fact the Xperia 5 V's charging caps out at 30W and the phone misses out on a USB-C cable and a power brick will matter more to some than others. For me, the relatively slow charging isn't an issue – the phone powers up from 0-100 percent in around 90 minutes, which is competitive with iPhones.
As I'm a wireless charger who tops up rather than plugs in overnight or on the go, and have a number of cables and plugs already – the potential battery health benefits of slower charging, smaller packaging, and reduction of e-waste mean the Xperia 5 V's setup is great for me. If you know you rely on fast charging and are short on cables and power bricks, then the Xperia 5 V might not fare so well for you.
Battery score: 4.5 / 5
Should you buy the Sony Xperia 5 V?
Buy it if...
You're a photo and/or video enthusiast The Xperia 5 V's main camera combines excellent hardware with balanced photo processing and more manual control than any other camera phone at its price.
You want all-day battery life If you want a relatively compact phone that lasts for ages, the Xperia 5 V is it, and its wireless charging is also a nice-to-have not seen on alternatives like the OnePlus 11.
You're an audiophile If you don't want to carry a DAC like the excellent Chord Mojo 2 but still want wired audio, the Xperia 5 V is one of the best-sounding phones around, and its speakers are mighty as well.
Don't buy it if...
You're on a tight budget The Xperia 5 V is best-in-class in some areas, but it's expensive, and you can get a better-looking design, superior screen, more versatile camera system, and more power for less.
You prioritize watching and screen quality 21:9 screens may be good for cinematic movies, but they aren't great for 16:9 or 4:3 TV shows, putting the Xperia on the back foot. The 5 V's new screen isn't as high-quality as we've come to expect from the brand either, so web pages and content with a white background suffer from off-angle color shifting.
You want loads of internal storage With just one storage option available on launch – 128GB – and games needing to be installed on internal storage, eight or so titles could end up zapping 30-40 percent of your internal capacity. Yes, there's a microSD card slot, but most apps can't offload to external storage.
Sony Xperia 5 V review: Also consider
The Sony Xperia 5 V is an excellent phone for a certain kind of user, but there are plenty of alternatives that might check more of your boxes.
Google Pixel 7 Pro It's a much bigger phone, but costing the same, and with an optional 256GB version and a periscope camera, not to mention a superior screen and much more standout design, the Pixel 7 Pro is a fantastic flagship choice, if you can handle its extra size.
Asus Zenfone 10 It costs less but arguably offers more, at least when it comes to storage, the Asus Zenfone 10 packs in much of what makes the Xperia 5 V great – compact size and a headphone jack – but with double the storage, faster charging, and a superior screen, could edge ahead for a certain type of user.
How I tested the Sony Xperia 5 V
Review test period = 2 weeks
Testing included = Everyday usage w/ web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
I started using the Xperia 5 V a week before flying out to Berlin for IFA 2023, so had a week of using it in the UK, and three days of roaming with it in Berlin before wrapping up my review back in the UK.
Initially, I was eager to put the camera through its paces, so went out and about in London to try out all the modes and capture most of the photos you're seeing in this review. I then gamed on the Xperia 5 V on a hot summer day to check if the heat issues that plagued its predecessor were resolved – and they are – and made calls, messaged, listened to music wirelessly, and wired to give it a 'lifestyle test'.
When I had the phone in test conditions, I ran benchmarks and in-depth screen tests. I knew outdoor viewability was solid, but I picked up on the weak off-angle color integrity only when conducting indoor tests alongside other phones.
The battery tests were also done indoors, which supplemented my real-world use, and a direct camera comparison was carried out between the Xperia 5 IV and 5 V, so users looking to upgrade could gauge how much zoom they're be sacrificing.
The rest of the review findings were the result of using the phone as my primary device for two weeks and making notes as I went along, matched with almost 15 years of industry experience as a technology journalist and phone reviewer.
As IFA week comes to a close we look back at all the new models that were unveiled – and also at all the new phones that technically weren’t at IFA too, it was a busy week. We also offer some alternatives to those phones.
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