Compact flagship head-to-head: Samsung Galaxy S24 vs Sony Xperia 5 v

If there’s one search that I hear about once a month from various people, it’s how to get flagship performance and features at a price that’s not extortionate and a size that's not extravagant.

In 2024 we now have flagship phones that are £1000, £1200, £1400, and more, for the folding variety and, if I may suggest, it’s all getting a little silly. Not least because after paying all that money, you’re also stuck with a phone that’s over-large and heavy, cumbersome in day to day life.

Why can’t we have most of those flagship internals in a phone body that’s a regular size and a price to match? Well… there are options.

The 'correct' size for a smartphone, I contend. No monstrosities, please. Oh, and aim for £800 max!

Certainly on the iPhone side, you can’t argue with the performance and imaging in the regular ‘base’ iPhone, the 15 at £800. It’s not cheap, but it’s terrific quality hardware and software and it’s significantly the right side of a grand. But it you're leaning towards iOS then you'd have bought this already, so let's move on.

On the Chinese side of things, we have the Asus Zenfone 10, but a) I don't have this, and b) a core part of what makes a smartphone useful is its ability to be updated, not just with new features, but also essential security patches. And Asus here isn't in the same league as the more mainstream phones on this page.

Because I'm comparing here the £800 Samsung Galaxy S24 and the £849 Sony Xperia 5 v, both with firm update commitments. Admittedly the Sony will 'only' get updates until September 2026, but Samsung promises updates until 2031, which is astonishing.

I should also point out that a third mainstream Android contender in my eyes is the Pixel 8, currently at only £570 (though normally £700), but as with the iPhone, if you're a Pixel fan then you already know its advantages (Pixel camera, stock experience, etc) and will already own one, so won't be looking any further.

But the Samsung and Sony compare very well. Physically and in features. So let's get into it. I normally get in the 'Ultra' S series from Samsung and then describe all the ways in which it's too much, so having the 'base' S series makes a delightful change.

In the hand

Both phones are admirably sized, veritable 'compact' flagships, at least by 2024 standards, though the extra length of the Xperia makes it stand out. You don't necessarily want an extra-tall phone, but if the reason for this is super front-facing speakers then I'll give it a pass.

I can get my hand around each, with middle finger and thumb touching, always a recipe for a secure grip, I contend. Both the Samsung and Sony have flat sides, but the latter gets extra points for extra contours stepping down to display and the back surface - a nice compromise between slab and rounded. (I'd have preferred the Sony to have had the Xperia 1 v's ridged sides and textured back, but hey... who knows what goes on the in the mind of Sony's designers!)

Score: Samsung S24: 9; Sony Xperia 5 v: 10


Samsung are the display kings and the S24's is the best in the world right now, but Sony's isn't far behind, even in full on, bright sunlight, demoed below. Which is essential if, for example, you're taking photos out and about.

Samsung goes for symmetrical bezels but artificially rounded corners, Sony goes for larger bezels top and bottom but has the use of all display corners. Something to be said for each approach, I think.

Score: Samsung S24: 10; Sony Xperia 5 v: 9


This is Sony's strong suit and it shows. From 3.5mm audio jack, and all the flexibility this offers, in terms of plugging into microphones, headphones, and other audio equipment, to balanced front-facing stereo speakers of excellent clarity and response, to (optional) Dynamic Vibration, adding physical oomph to music or movies, anything with audio comes out on top with the Sony.

Not to say Samsung isn't very competent. I'd put its faux-stereo speakers up with most of the phone world, and its microphones are decent. But you'll be relying on the Type C port and DACs for any serious audio use. Yes, the stellar screen helps with video playback, but audio is 80% the equation here, I think.

Score: Samsung S24: 7; Sony Xperia 5 v: 10


Sony's imaging chain has always been a little suspect, and it remains so here, but only if you're very picky. As a pixel-peeper, I'd love to see less edge enhancement, but the new large, stacked sensor produces good, naturalistic photos of static subjects in all light conditions, along with a very usable 2x zoom and a not-terrible 3x.

Samsung, meanwhile, has a dedicated 3x telephoto, but you'll be on the main lens most of the time and this holds up well. As usual with Samsung, by default everything's a little over-saturated and enhanced, but there are a zillion settings to fiddle with, plus extra camera modes to add if needed.

Plus, as ever, photo results are utterly subjective (e.g. Samsung above, Sony below) and we all have our own preferences, our own preferred means of viewing them, our own preferred means of sharing.

Sony includes an optional (DSLR) ALPHA-UI for its camera app, Photography Pro - this includes even more things to fiddle with (ISO, shutter speed, exposure levels, focus modes, and so on).

There's no winner overall for me, partly because each phone camera system has its own pros and cons (along with a few bugs - cough, Sony), but also because both fail in the oh-so-common use case of snapping family, kids, and pets, often indoors and often not in perfect light. Moving subjects aren't handled as well as on the iPhone and Pixel devices, which use clever multi-frame analysis to freeze motion as needed. In addition, there's a fraction of a second shutter lag on the Samsung, so you never really catch the actual moment you meant to - vital when your dog is leaping for a ball, or similar!

Score: Samsung S24: 8; Sony Xperia 5 v: 8

Performance and Battery

In normal use in testing they both got through a day, though the Sony with over 35% left, the Samsung with 20%. In explaining this, the Sony Xperia 5 v does have a 25% larger battery and a lighter 'app workload', plus a genuine Snapdragon chipset, while the Samsung has an Exynos 2400, which is slightly newer but not as proven.

Both were blisteringly fast. When running apps, installing new ones, updating existing ones. I'm not a gamer at all so didn't run any game benchmarks, but both have game optimisation features. The Sony especially, with its Game Enhancer allowing a charging cable to supply the processor directly rather than through a battery, and with dedicated game streaming (impressive, though how many streamers would do this from a phone?) But as I say, I'm not a gamer.

Score: Samsung S24: 8; Sony Xperia 5 v: 9


Both are Android 14 phones right now, of course, a known quantity and fully compatible with everything. But there are questions over Sony's commitment to software support. Samsung's S24 series is supported, in theory, until 2031. Yes, you heard that right. Most years will see actual OS (and OneUI) upgrades, and the last couple will still be much-needed security updates.

In contrast, Sony has its feet stuck in the sand in 2024. Samsung and Google have now caught Apple in supporting their devices for 7 years. While perhaps slightly impractical since a 7 year old device isn't going to be performing that well, it's a worthy aim. I'd put the sweet spot at 5 years, after which a phone would have been sold on and perhaps in its second or even third owner, yet still protected.

But Sony's vowed claim of three years of OS updates and security patches is looking a bit stingy. Especially as the Xperia 5 v isn't a cheap phone, at over £800 new right now. Sony, you can do better here.

Score: Samsung S24: 10; Sony Xperia 5 v: 7


Adding up the (admittedly subjective) scores gives a rough tally of 43 to 43 points, so it's a full-on tie! Both are well worth serious investigation, with different pros and cons.

Why would someone want this Samsung or Sony instead of the aforementioned iPhone 15 or Google Pixel 8? You'd go to Samsung if you're coming from another Samsung (as the UI and extra apps will be familiar) and if you wanted something for the long term; you'd go to Sony if you really valued the hardware bells and whistles (and especially if you had other Sony gear - laptop, headphones, hifi etc).

While the iPhone is also a super choice if you're not dead set on Android, and the Pixel is a great all rounder if you are set on Android!

Which isn't much of a verdict, really. All four devices are excellent value in the modern age. And, I contend, all of them show that you don't have to pay well over £1000 and accept something which is heavy and unwieldy.

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