Sony Xperia Z5 premium – outstanding level


Key Features: 5.5-inch 3,840 x 2,160 pixel LCD screen; Snapdragon 810 with 3GB RAM; 23-megapixel camera, 5-megapixel front
Manufacturer: Sony

Sony made a big splash in September at Berlin’s 2015 IFA show with the reveal of three new handsets in the Xperia Z family. The Xperia Z5 was the workhorse of the three handsets, the Z5 Compact continues the Japanese company’s belief that a smaller phone should be as highly specced as the flagships, and the Z5 Premium pushed boat out in terms of new technology.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is a an expensive, no-compromise Android phone. It’s Sony’s equivalent to the iPhone 6S Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

Sony Xperia Z5 premium – outstanding level
Sony Xperia Z5 premium – outstanding level

Sony’s smartphone shipping with a 4K screen was the big marketing point that came out of IFA. This means a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels and an eye-watering 806 pixels per inch. For a comparison, Apple’s iPhone 6S Plus comes in at 401 pixels per inch on its 1080p screen.

Yes, that’s right – this phone features the same resolution seen on the latest 65-inch TVs. From a pure numbers perspective, it’s dead impressive. The reality, however, is different: it’s largely pointless. Add to this a number of deficiencies elsewhere, and the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium stands little chance of outdoing rival top phones from the likes of Samsung, Apple and Google.


That’s not to say that a 5.5 inch screen running 1080p by doubling up pixels is a bad thing to have on a smartphone, but out of the box it does feel like over-engineering for the sake of it, rather than for a practical reason. Ask me again in a few weeks how it’s working out. Right now I love the screen but it’s not offering me any more than the iPhone 6S Plus, and offering less than Samsung’s various top-end handsets.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is a super-sized version of the regular Xperia Z5. In terms of build and style, the handsets look very similar.

Flat panes of glass on the front and back are held together by metal sides and plastic-like edge caps that ensure the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium’s glass exterior doesn’t shatter the minute it takes its first impact. What hasn’t made it across is the Z5’s frosted backplate. The one here is ultra-glossy, just like the earlier Xperia Zs.

The sharp feel casts a shadow on the great work that has been achieved elsewhere. For example, like previous Xperia Zs, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is waterproof. It’s totally fuss-free waterproofing too, with no flaps on the micro-USB or headphone jacks.

Apart from the screen, Sony has matched the expectations of specifications in a flagship handset for late 2015.The SnapDragon 810 System on Chip is used here, and thanks to a teardown of the handset its known that Sony has addressed the thermal issues that dogged the launch of the chip earlier this year. It’s paired up with 3GB of RAM, and my review unit comes with 32GB of internal storage.

It also supports microSD cards, so it’s a simple matter for me to pop out the card that holds my ‘portable’ music collection and have it instantly available. That’s something I appreciate. A careful examination of the microSD/SIM card storage area shows a rubberized gasket around the flap, and this is to keep the Z5 Premium waterproof. Continuing Sony’s tradition of hardening its smartphones to the elements, the Premium has an IP68 rating, although Sony suggests you don’t deliberately immerse the handset in water.

All of the above isn’t new to series, though. What does make its debut in the Xperia Z Premium, however, is the fingerprint scanner. See the big power button on the side? That’s it.

It’s an alternate take on the front and rear scanners seen on rival handsets, but the premise is much the same. Right now, its main use is for unlocking your phone quickly and easily.

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