Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Review

Introduction


Let it be known that 2015 is the year when we saw the first-ever commercially available smartphone with a 4K display. That's a 2160 x 3840-pixel resolution crammed in a 5.5-inch screen. Of course, as you probably know, the smartphone in question belongs to Sony's flagship Xperia Z line and is called the Xperia Z5 Premium.

At first sight, the device looks like an inflated version of the Xperia Z5, only with a larger battery and an extra-super-insanely-crisp display. But does it really deserve its "Premium" moniker and can it stand on its own two feet in the harsh battleground of high-end phablets? Let's find out!

Design

When bigger is not better

We often speak fondly of Sony's bold rectangular design – an elegant shape, with stark angles that manages to strike the balance between sense and beauty. It has worked great for the Xperia Z line so far, the Compact models included, but if we are to be honest, it looks a bit iffy with the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.

Naturally, the increased size of the Premium's screen demands a larger phone body, and large dimensions do not go well with the good old rectangle. We can see how keeping an uniform look between the 2015 Xperia Z handsets helps to define the brand, but in our experience with the Xperia Z5 Premium, we found the phone's ergonomics to be sub-par. It would've definitely benefited from smaller bezels and softer corners in the back to make it easier on the palm.

On its back, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium does not have the matte Frosted Glass that adorns the Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact, but a glossy, mirror-like finish. Described in one word – it's shiny! Place the phone screen-down on the bar, and everyone is going to know that you have something special there. But give us six words to describe it and we'll say it's an insane fingerprint magnet susceptible to scratching. And yes, we've complained about fingerprint smudges on devices before, but they are somewhat easy to live with when they're not too visible. Having a reflective surface will show all that grease your palm leaves on the device in its full glory.

On to the buttons, we have the new fingerprint-reading power key located on the right. It sits flush with the phone's frame, so looking for it by touch and pressing it is not the best of experience. As a biometric scanner, it's fairly fast and pretty consistent. However, if you choose to place a case on the phone to battle the smudges and potential scratches to the back, the power button becomes even harder to access, and the scanner becomes less accurate, as the skin on your finger gets deformed when you try to press through the case's opening.

The volume rocker is placed in an unorthodox manner as well, as it sits below the power button. This is a rather uncomfortable position, as it demands that we either adjust our grip to set the volume, or learn to use our ring finger for the task. In terms of feedback, it feels a bit spongy, but generally stable with a reassuring click behind it.

Of course, the Xperia Z5 Premium also rocks a dedicated two-step camera key. It doubles as a camera shortcut – just press and hold, no matter what state the phone is in, and the camera app will open. As far as use goes, we preferred not to rely on it, as it's a bit hard to press and would sometimes cause us to shake the device just as we are trying to take a snap.


Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Dimensions

6.08 x 2.99 x 0.31 inches

154.4 x 76 x 7.8 mm

Weight

6.35 oz (180 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Dimensions

6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches

153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm

Weight

6.03 oz (171 g)

LG V10

LG V10

Dimensions

6.28 x 3.12 x 0.34 inches

159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Dimensions

6.08 x 2.99 x 0.31 inches

154.4 x 76 x 7.8 mm

Weight

6.35 oz (180 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Dimensions

6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches

153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm

Weight

6.03 oz (171 g)

LG V10

LG V10

Dimensions

6.28 x 3.12 x 0.34 inches

159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page


Display

Did we mention this thing has 8.3 million pixels?

Yes, let's get right to addressing the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium's most defining feature – the phone rocks a 5.5-inch 4K (a.k.a. Ultra HD) display. This means it is capable of reproducing images at a resolution of up to 2160 x 3840 pixels. The way we worded this is no accident – fact is that, for most of the time you use it, the phone will actually keep the display in a 1080 x 1920 resolution. And there is good reason behind that – running at 4K all the time will put the device's processor and battery in constant stress, severely reducing performance and battery life. That, and the fact that Android 5.1 Lollipop, together with most apps, currently don't support the resolution. Android 6 Marshmallow does support 4K, and Sony has confirmed that an update to the new OS is coming for the Xperia Z5 line, but we doubt that the downscaling will be removed. Right now, the drawbacks of having such an extreme resolution on a 5.5-inch screen at all times far outweigh the benefits.

So, how does one bask in the glory of 4K? Sony's proprietary Album and Video apps will open images and videos in 4K automatically. The extra-high resolution is also supported by Netflix and YouTube. And that's pretty much it – the screen does have nearly 8.3 million pixels, but as of this writing, these are the only four apps that actually make the most of them.

Of course, the question that must be on everyone's mind by now is "How noticeable is the difference?". And the answer is – not much. We ran a few tests with the screen, we squinted, we stared, and we compared with different phones and different pictures. This is the best way we can describe the experience – in normal viewing conditions, the extra details provided by the extreme resolution cannot be seen, but can be perceived. By this, we mean that the images look slightly sharper, not necessarily more detailed.

As mentioned, most of the time, the Xperia Z5 Premium's resolution is downscaled to 1080 x 1920 pixels. This still gives us a rather crisp density of 400 pixels per inch. Rest assured that you will have no trouble reading tiny text or enjoying visual content in apps.

In terms of color reproduction, Sony continues its tradition of shipping devices with a really cold display, and then giving us the option to fine-tune it with three RGB sliders in the phone's settings. The cold white point aside, colors tend to miss their targets consistently and easily go in oversaturation territory. On paper, the measurements, which can be seen below, may seem terrible, but we've found that the Z5 Premium's screen offers a very vivid, eye-pleasing picture, with only its reds sometimes bordering on being aggressive and unpleasant to the eye.

Out of the three Z5s, the Premium has the lowest maximum brightness, measuring at 593 nits, which is an amazingly good result. We took it out on a sunny day and used the phone with the sun's reflection blasting straight into the screen and found that we had no issue reading what's on the display. The minimum it would go to is 4 nits, which is not the best for night-time reading, but will not cause you to melt if you need to check your chat notifications late at night.



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119 Comments

3. TyrionLannister unregistered

This phone is for showing the impressive feat of 4K display in a screen and bragging rights. For normal people, the regular z5 is much more logical solution. This is like the S6 edge or the BB priv.Those phones don't make much sense for normal people as they have too many issues and exist for proving that this is possible to make these phones. But don't make practical sense to buy. This I obviously my personal opinion. You might disagree.

15. combatmedic870

Posts: 986; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

4K display makes sense with VR. I don't know if its the SD810. But this handset would do really well for VR if it did it in 4K. We will see what happens with the Z6

28. Zomer

Posts: 361; Member since: May 31, 2013

I'm pretty sure the Snapdragon 810 will burn down a complete village when it has to render images in 4K

34. Acer_Predator unregistered

what u think will happen? what else you wanna add on smartphone? more mHz? stupidity of people..(naive youth) problem is apple exists..

51. rkoforever90

Posts: 466; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

a galaxy s4 will be more than enough for normal people.

52. Subie

Posts: 2395; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

I agree with you Tyrion. However, the regular z5 and z5 compact scored poorly on here as well.

119. DSP96

Posts: 20; Member since: Oct 13, 2015

True. It is more of a technical exercise that such a display is possible and as an answer to those people who were saying that QHD displays are the sharpest displays achievable on a mobile phone. To be honest, a 1080p display on a phone is more than enough, because even though people might discern the extra sharpness (which they can't), getting media (videos) in QHD is very difficult. The world of media and movies have not totally moved to QHD or 4K.

8. quintessential

Posts: 86; Member since: Mar 11, 2015

It's funny, when everyone else reviewing the Z5 Premium seem to think the phone has good ergonomics, display and prowess, the people at PA appear very keen to put down Sony with every review of their models, often ending up recommending a Samsung as a conclusion. Personally, having used a Sony Z2, Z3, and Z3+, its really not as bad as the folks at PA often make it out to be, which is pretty puzzling. Apart from the differences in interface outlook, I feel that whatever Samsung flagship models like the Galaxy S series or Note can do, these Sony flagships are as equally capable, if not better. It just boils down to a matter of brand choice. Nothing incompetent about the Sony handsets. In fact, they served me well longer than my Samsung handsets did. I tried out the Sony Z5 Premium at a telco store earlier this week. The phone feels good in the hand, looks great, works great and takes good photos. I would choose it over a Note 5 anytime. With the kind of ratings PA gives to Sony phones for their reviews, it's kinda hard to believe there is no biasness involved.

101. Danieldaniel1

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 09, 2015

You really do not understand some things here... PhoneArena like many other publications are payed by samsung and apple for a good marketing... If there is a person who want to buy a new smartphone, than is gonna go to test it itself, if there is a person who buy any product because others says is a good product... Than that person have some psychologically problems... They are what we name sheeps and becouse are so many sheeps in this world... some financial empires evolve very well...

114. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Show proof that they are paid.

10. jesus_sheep

Posts: 279; Member since: Apr 18, 2015

I agree, the z5 premium is a massive fail ( just an overblowin z5 which itself is an unattractive device).

12. combatmedic870

Posts: 986; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

Ummmm S6 edge+??? Just an overblown S6 edge. What's your point?

73. maccess

Posts: 742; Member since: Jan 16, 2013

The thing is the s6 edge+ is much more attractive than the z5 or hell any other phones on the market..

13. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

7 Is The New Standard Around It.

14. nycguy54

Posts: 64; Member since: Dec 13, 2014

I bought it for $693 on eBay

17. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

Hello everyone, please dont trust this review.check for other reviews from youtube and notebookcheck as well. From personal experience i can say that the 4k display of this device is not a gimmick.The display panel is really really better than the iphone 6s plus.It somewhat equals or is better than even the note 5 display. Batterylife is really very excellent for a 4k display.but average in comparison which means same as iphone 6s and samsung S6. Standby is better than almost all android phones because of stamina mode. As for the camera ,it sometimes beats the S6 and sometimes doesnt.but the colors are better than S6. Dxomark doesnt lie. I think their are 3 different camera qualities from the imx300. There is one version out which beats the S6. And another version with bad camera. Buy this device for yourself and see that i am not telling lies.

18. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

I would have given it a rating of 9 out of 10. Even 9.5 out 10 if it had the Sd820.

24. natypes

Posts: 1110; Member since: Feb 02, 2015

You don't say :/

80. ph00ny

Posts: 2055; Member since: May 26, 2011

4k res is a gimmick until VR comes into play. I don't think there is one for sony. Only for Samsung and HTC

104. Rhinoface

Posts: 179; Member since: Dec 05, 2014

Google Cardboard lol

20. ryq24

Posts: 875; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

A 7!!! Ouch!

23. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Looks great honestly and I'd love to own one but this would get a 7.5 from me based solely on availability in the USA. Sony continues to eff up by not offering it on any of the carriers or all of the carriers.

26. Theus

Posts: 13; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

They didn't even bother to update the firmware or camera app to their latest version and there is no batery benchmark listed, just charging time.

27. adecvat

Posts: 647; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Crappy camera, again. Sony style.

29. TezzaBP

Posts: 274; Member since: May 18, 2015

PA is really beginning to annoy me now

105. ogee4life

Posts: 105; Member since: Apr 12, 2014

I don't bother with their reviews any more, u should follow suit. The score isn't surprising and can never shock those here. These guys are certainly and officially the worst mobile phone review site i have ever seen.

30. Hallyu

Posts: 790; Member since: Jul 21, 2015

Lol. Look at those Sony paid shills crybaby. Let me tell you that this 7 rating is almost too high for such a worthless phone. There are a lot better phones from Chinese OEMs than this toy and were rated at just 6 and 6.5. Stop acting childish immature because no one is going to care about your complaint.

41. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

I guess you are from korea.no wonder. Well i would buy a apple or sony even if it was 50% more expensive than samsung with same specs. There are people who still love japanease products. I only like the samsung amoled display and their innovations . Nothing else

55. Hallyu

Posts: 790; Member since: Jul 21, 2015

Because they are blind by old school theory that Japanese products have best quality. Or maybe their parents and their older generation are just mean to them that they still believe in this propaganda. This is not the 80s or 90s anymore. Business and innovation grow everywhere. If they can't keep up with Korea's Companies, they are not the best anymore. Look at the electronic and appliances sectors where Samsung and LG are dominating in. That's what you need to judge in real life.

60. xperiaZlover

Posts: 202; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

Who cares? atleast the design looks awesome .and not a copy of no other phone. Sony Z series have an original genuine design although used for the last 3 years. Yes i agree samsung is dominating.that is why i am fed up of buying samsung.everyone has a samsung. Have to move on.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Xperia Z5 Premium
  • Display 5.5" 2160 x 3840 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Octa-core, 2000 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3430 mAh(19.17h 3G talk time)

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