Case round-up, best cases for the Sony Xperia 5 ii

The Sony Xperia 5 ii (as in 'mark 2') was a top - though pricey - option from late 2020, as a compact phone with flagship specifications and plenty of 'enthusiast' features (3.5mm jack, 'Pro' camera apps, notification LED, shutter button, the list goes on...)

As usual for my case roundups, I'll cover a variety of styles, with many (though not all) samples supplied by MobileFun, kind people that they are. See their complete range of Xperia 5 ii cases and covers. See also Noreve's Xperia 5 ii cases and covers, two of which are in the review list below.

But on with the individual cases, each link goes to the relevant product page, of course.

Olixar Ultra-Thin, £7

As usual with this familiar design, the aim is to match the title and everything, but everything is subsumed into not adding bulk. Quite reasonably, while still providing some decent grip, on the sides and, to an extent, the back.

And it really does work, and at minimal cost. The down-side, rather obviously, is that there's almost zero drop protection. Yes, yes, the grip means you shouldn't drop your expensive Sony in the first place. But if you did...

In fact, the sheer 'flushness' of the design is impressive, as you can see above, the fit is really, really good. It's just that there's no drop protection at all.

The clear nature shows off the colour scheme of your phone, not that the Sony Xperia 5 ii's plain black here is anything to be dazzled by.

Cheap and effective within its target use case.

Score: 8/10

Spigen Liquid Crystal, £15

It's 100% clear again, but this time twice the price. However, it's easy to see what you're getting for the extra money.... for a start, it's printed on the case!

This clear TPU is altogether more substantial, with a raised lip over the screen all round and with small air pockets on all four corners - it all adds up to significant drop protection.

Add in lanyard holes and you have a top-spec clear case that only adds a millimetre front and back yet provides good all round protection again life's knocks and drops.

If it wasn't for one small factor, this might even be my favourite case so far. 

The small issue I have - personally - is that because the Xperia 5 ii doesn't have Qi charging, I have to add an after-market Qi coil to the phone (it plugs into the Type C port) - and the clear case rather reveals the addition too messily.

It's not the case's fault, but worth noting. If you don't need an additional coil then this is the clear choice.

Score: 9/10

Spigen Rugged Armor, £20

Complete with mock Latin slogan, this is the real Spigen deal - I used a Spigen Rugged Armor on phones back in 2013-14 and I stand by the marque now, this is as solid and rugged as it gets, while not increasing thickness unduly.

In fact, the very styling is much copied - or at least adapted, as you'll see below from Olixar. The edges are subtle, the rear texture utterly superb, the 'carbon fibre' detailing completely unnecessary but helping break up the mass of matt (oh, so matt) black.

In terms of protection, there's a stiff lip all round in case of a face drop, there's the 'air cushion' corners (though without the labelling), there's a lanyard hole (on the left, shown above), and there are diagonal grippy stripes up both side edges. There's also extra raised grip on the all important camera shutter button cover and it's this that raises the case to the next level in real world use for me.

It's all a bit overwhelming, this is indeed the all-round champion case by all metrics... apart from looks. The Rugged Armor design isn't ugly, but the matt-black externals are now so generic and widely copied that it won't stand out in the board room.

Still, in terms of functionality and protection, for me it gets top marks.

Score: 10/10

Olixar Carbon Fibre, £13

Then, as alluded, there are the clones of Spigen's 'Armor' design, of which this is one of the best. Olixar has got very good at mimicking the essentials, not least for smartphones for which Spigen's design isn't made.

Now here, of course, I have the original available as well, above. In the hand, the two aren't that different, but if you look really closely then the deltas do start to add up.

For starters, the side bevels are far more angular - you might prefer these 45 degree edges, but they don't quite satisfy me as much as Spigen's part bevelled, part curved ergonomics. Then there are Type C and 3.5mm apertures, which aren't quite as large, so over-sized connectors are a tighter fit.

The corners so have a little internal dimple, but it's only a nod at best to Spigen's 'Air Cushion' system, which is presumably patented.

Having said that, the Olixar design is, if anything, more handsome than Spigen's original, with  more of the 'carbon fibre' effect backing.

Although the score is fractionally below Spigen's, this is also £7 cheaper. Options, options, eh?!

Score: 9/10

Olixar Genuine Leather Wallet, £20

Although I'm traditionally more of a 'simple' case user, I do like to review the best from the 'folio' world and I can absolutely see the advantages, not all of which are mentioned on the product page.

For starters, we have some wonderful padded leather on front and back. Just padded enough for comfort and protection, and just genuine enough to give off that wonderful smell. The stitching is great and - not mentioned on the Mobile Fun page - the interior card slots are shielded with metal braid from external scanning (tap and go fraudsters are a problem in cities), a really nice feature.

The two tabs are magnetic and hold the case closed sufficiently but the placing of the Xperia 5 ii's fingerprint sensor amidships is unfortunate, since the right tab impedes access to the sensor slightly. It's not a showstopper, but it does annoy a little:

When closed, the folio isn't unbearably thick and I've definitely seen worse. 

Deciding on a folio design is very much a personal choice and has obvious pros and cons. The latter are obvious, but the pros do include a lovely media watching stand mode, something which I use a lot in real life:

While I personally have yet to last more than a few days with a folio, I know people who swear by them - and this Olixar design is one of the very best, that Sony FPS positioning notwithstanding.

Score: 8/10

The second cheapest case in this round-up (so far), we're clearly in Spigen territory here, yet at minimal cost. And the basics are all done right, in terms of textured finish, raised tough TPU lip, air pocket on interior corners, etc.

Styling is clearly reminiscent of the 'carbon fibre' design from Olixar, though with panels reversed and with a tougher and hopefully even harder-wearing texture.

Side texture is plain but eminently serviceable, and yes, there's the usual lanyard hole set.

Actually choosing between this, the Spigen original, and the Olixar copy, is down to personal brand preference and wallet depth. All three will protect your Sony phone while presenting a matt black textured design, and this sits just below the Spigen Rugged Armor (whose extra grip all round just wins).

Score: 9/10

Noreve Tradition E, Ambition grained leather, from 65 Euros

And now we get into the world of premium, custom leather, and metal. The two Noreve hand-made Xperia 5 ii cases and covers here are typical of what the company can supply and the choices are bewildering - look on their site to see half a dozen leather finishes in a dozen colours with a set of logos and other optional extras. For just about every smartphone.

At which point you have to wonder how they keep all this in stock - and they don't, by design. Although some of the most popular cases are kept in stock, if you go all out and pick a custom leather and colour combination that's 'you' then they'll make it to order and typically it'll take a few weeks. Worth bearing in mind. 

But it's worth it in order to have a smartphone case for your specific model that's in the exact texture, style and colour you want, so possibly one of its kind... in the world. 

With all that said, Noreve sent over a couple of cases that they did have in stock (to save me waiting) and there's lots to say about both. Not helped by the sheer number of jacks and physical buttons on the Xperia 5 ii, which all have to be worked around.

Shown here is the Tradition 'E' (backplane) case, made from leather (obviously), over a plastic and metal backplane. The fit and finish is stunning, as you'd expect, and just look at that leather.

As usual with genuine leather, it should be hard wearing, plus it looks super - and if you wanted to make more of an impression in the office then you'd pick one of the other finishes and colours.

As mentioned above, there's a lot for Noreve to work around with a backplane case that has to grip the phone securely and yet allow access to all ports, buttons, and microphones. They've done a splendid job, even if some of the angles and curves look a little strange in isolation.

There are, as you might expect, a few caveats along the way. Chief among these is that the Tradition E design sits flush with the Xperia 5 ii display, so you get protection from edge and corner drops but none at all from face drops (or indeed any impact on an exposed screen edge).

In practice, then, the Noreve Tradition E is mainly about feel in the hand and looks - perfect for the home and office, but once you hit the great outdoors with any kind of vigour then protection becomes a worry.

The other caveat is that the genuine leather is understandably thick-ish. Add in the backplane that it's mounted on and we're talking about adding 4mm to the depth of your phone. Mind you, the flush design at the front means that there's nothing there to add more depth.

Overall, though, a good looker in black and, I'm sure, even better in other colours! 

Score: 9/10

PS. As with all Noreve cases, the prices are high, yes, because of their nature, but see the Noreve home page for promo codes and offers - there's always something on that take a healthy amount off!

Noreve Leather case, Addiction Saffiano Leather, from 75 Euros

Rather splendidly, this is one of the most expensive finishes for this 'Tradition D' design, but they do start from 75 Euros - honest! Here we're talking intricate scored premium leather in a 'taupe' colour, again all hand-made with precision.

The design difference here, obviously, is that there's a front (slightly padded) flap with leather hinge, so that when the Sony isn't in use, the flap protects the phone from accidental damage and even to an extent from face and edge drops.

Closed, we're talking about 4mm added to the front of the smartphone, added to the same 4mm on the back. So 8mm extra depth in all, but then that's what you'd expect from a folio design.

One fascinating design point is that Noreve has saved extra 'depth' by not having to put in a fixing for the closure 'tab' - instead, this rigid element clips over the smooth edge of the naked phone. And surprisingly well. The closed phone never felt in my testing as if it was about to spring open.

The system works well, better than I'd have thought. Nice lateral thinking, Noreve!

Elsewhere, the backplane gaps and curves are as per the Tradition E design, just with that dual layer padded leather folio front completing the design and offering extra protection.

As the close-ups above and below show, the stitching precision and finish is superb, on the outer faces anyway - there are a few ties-off and glue signs inside, but then this is made by hand - someone somewhere had to sit down with sewing and glue machines and actually make this case(!)

In use, the usual folio characteristics come to the fore. Yes, you've got that extra screen protection when closed, but when open, the flap does sometimes get in the way. You can fold it right back behind the backplane, which works, but when taking photos it hangs down and looks and feels a bit odd.

All the things you'd expect from a folio design, anyway. And a very well made one at that, albeit at a price. If you do go for the Tradition D here then look at the starting leather finishes and colours, at half the price?

It's hard to fault the Noreve case here - once you've decided that you want a folio design then this is the Rolls Royce in that field. You can't double-fold it to watch media like some folios, but who cares when you've got a relatively thin and premium leather casing for your precious Xperia?

Score: 9/10


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