The Sony Xperia M5 is an imposing five-incher but the general impression is toned down by the clean lines of the classic Sony design and the reasonably slim profile.
There's little to set the Xperia M5 apart from the M4 Aqua, which in turn is quite reminiscent of the ex-flagship Xperia Z3. Even the dimensions are almost identical: 145 x 72 x 7.6mm for the M5, as opposed to 145.5 x 72.6 x 7.3mm for the M4 Aqua.
So, the M5 is a tiny bit smaller, but slightly thicker and heavier, weighing in at 142.5 grams. The new camera setup surely accounts for some of the extra heft.
The M5 has the same overall appearance, as its predecessor, down to every corner and groove of the device. Build quality seems to be comparable as well. Everything on the M5 Aqua is nicely put together and fits tightly, it's an IP68-certified device after all.
Expensive finish like glass and metal reserved for the high-rolling Z series, the Xperia M5 has been treated to plastic but still manages a stylish appearance. The back cover also seems to be sturdier this time around - there is almost no give when pushed, which we noticed on the M4 Aqua.
Sony has really got the most out of the available materials. The body feels nice to the touch and the finish does not look cheap in any way. The M5 comes in two classic colors and, just like the M4 Aqua, has a flashier third option - in this case bright gold. This is exactly the unit we have and the gold paintjob is a touch too much bling to our taste.
The M5 is undoubtedly based on the M4 Aqua, but a few notable changes in the hardware and control layout were inevitable. The phone is equipped with a 5.0-inch IPS display, just like its sibling, but now with a seriously improved resolution of 1080p. That makes for a respectable 441ppi, up from 294ppi on the M4. Bezels have been slightly slimmed down compared to the M4 Aqua but, with a screen to body ratio of 66%, the M5 still has a little too much of those.
Above the screen, the front camera has kept its place to the right of the Sony logo but the lens is noticeably bigger - no surprise, considering it's now 13MP instead of 5MP. The phone does not feature any physical buttons at the front, so the area below the display is mostly empty, except for the mouthpiece, which mirrors the earpiece.
Going around the device, we find the left side now somewhat less cluttered. The microUSB port which resided there on the M4 Aqua is now moved back to the bottom of the handset, where it simply feels more natural. The only thing left on the left is a flap covering the card slots. Depending on the version you get, the upper compartments fits one or two Nano-SIM cards. The lower tray is for a microSD card, with a theoretical cap of 200GB.
The right-hand side is a little bit more crowded, but still better than the M4 Aqua. Moving the SIM slots on the left has freed up some extra space for the signature round Power/Lock button, conveniently placed slightly above the middle of the device and, below it, a slim volume rocker. Near the bottom, there is a very thin and almost unnoticeable shutter button. It makes taking photos all that more-convenient, especially underwater where the capacitive touchscreen would be of little use.
The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on the top of the device, in the right corner. Next to it is the secondary noise-canceling microphone.
The bottom of the Xperia M5 houses a speaker on the left and the microUSB port. Just like on the M4 Aqua, the USB is exposed, no flap to undo to charge or connect the M5. Sony has applied some additional waterproof coating to the microUSB port, making it is just as waterproof as its old solution.
Around the back, the the finish is also Corning glass, just like on the front and is equally prone to smudging. It only features the new 21.5MP main camera and a single LED flash.
Other than that, there is both Sony and Xperia branding near the bottom and a tiny NFC logo. Actually, the only real difference between the back of the M4 Aqua and the M5 is in the position of the flash, but you really have to know what to look for.