Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Review

Interface and functionality

Not treading any new grounds

Sony's light interface has remained mostly unchanged for quite a while now. Users who have operated an Xperia device in recent years will feel right at home, and those that have had experience with vanilla Android will be quick to get to grips with it. But if you've used a competitor's phone in the last couple of years, you may feel like the Xperia interface needs a slight facelift and a re-tuning of some of its features.

The UI covers all the basics – it's light, mostly snappy (we'll get to that in the next section), and it doesn't have a myriad of settings and sub-menus that the user can get lost browsing through. Everything is to-the-point, well explained, and placed where it should be. Sure, you will find a heap of Sony's own apps, which many may deem as “bloat”, but the user is free to uninstall or at least disable them, without needing to resort to root wizardry. We can't complain here.

One would've also hoped that Sony would make slight tweaks to the software in respect to the larger 5.5-inch screen. Having split-screen functionality is a pretty common theme among premium range phablets nowadays, but the Xperia Z5 Premium continues to rely on the so-called “Small Apps” – apps that launch exclusively in a floating window, above the rest of the UI. The issue with these is that the user has to go out of their way to download them specifically from the Play Store, or manually convert a widget into one such Small App. Additionally, there is no one-handed mode to be found, and while that's not a huge problem with the Xperia Z5, we definitely found ourselves missing it with the Z5 Premium.

The workflow with the phone also strikes us as somewhat dated – it doesn't seem like Sony has taken any cues from the competition or spent a thought on how to improve upon the day-to-day user experience. The things we are talking about are mostly trivial – adding apps from the app drawer to the home screen takes a swipe more than it should; pressing backspace after a wrongly swipe-typed word doesn't erase the whole word; the Videos and Music apps will not greet you with a list of your albums, but will instead present you with a “Recently Played” or“Recently Added” view; the “tap to wake” function doesn't read the phone's proximity sensor to prevent accidental wakes and this has actually caused us to unwillingly activate the flashlight and Airplane mode while the device was in our pockets. It's all in the little things, but when they add up, it feels like the user experience as a whole is not up to par with other flagships.

System performance

Does this phone have the hiccups?

The Xperia Z5 Premium packs Qualcomm's flagship SoC under its hood – the Snapdragon 810. Outfitted with 3 GB of RAM and running a fairly light interface, downscaled to 1080 x 1920 as we talked about, the phone is quick to respond to touch, fast to scroll, and isn't quick to kill off background apps, so switching around and doing different tasks on the device in one run feels smooth and uninhibited. We generally felt like we could throw whatever we wish at the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium and have it play it like a champ. The hardcore and graphic-intensive Vainglory, the more laid-back Hearthstone, or the super-colorful Angry birds – all these games ran pleasingly smooth. Of course, as mentioned, the phone didn't draw them in super-fine 4K resolution, so we weren't treated to sharper graphics than the ones we get on other 1080p phablets.

There are, however, some slight tears and hiccups during use, which just plain annoyed us. For example, during an active chat in Facebook's Messenger, each time you receive a message, the phone would fully freeze until it draws the other party's avatar and text. Granted, this lasts less than a second, but if you happen to be typing during that time as well, your text and keyboard feedback will be frozen for the period. Tapping on a name from your contacts to initiate a call will also be followed by a second's worth of lag – just enough for one to start wondering “Did I tap it? Should I tap again? Let's try, oh no, wait – it started dialing.”

The Xperia Z5 Premium comes with 32 GB of internal storage and 3 GB of RAM – just like the Xperia Z5. Considering that the software that the phone comes with already takes about 10 GB of the storage, we can't help but wonder – why didn't Sony throw in 64 GB of memory with the phone that the company itself labeled “Premium”? Sure, we are given the option to expand it via microSD, but internal storage is always better and faster. Adding an extra GB of RAM would've been nice for future-proofing, too, especially since the competition is already doing it.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 52189
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 67207
LG V10 46905.33
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 58664
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 2220
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 2532
LG V10 2216
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 3946
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 5476
LG V10 3571.33
Sunspider Lower is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 688.8
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 677.7
LG V10 1047.16
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 218.2
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 52
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 37
LG V10 25
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 59
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 18
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 15
LG V10 5.7
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 38.4
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 1443
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1765
LG V10 1148.33
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 2032
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 1324
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1431
LG V10 870
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 2526
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 4390
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 4717
LG V10 3361.33
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 4404


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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: 474; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

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

52. Subie

Posts: 2415; 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: 2067; 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: 654; 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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