- 5.5-inch UHD display
- 23-megapixel camera with 4K
- Snapdragon 810 SoC
- 3GB RAM
- Gorgeous 4K display
- Stellar hardware
- Promising cameras
- Barely any 4K content
- Removing SIM tray is cumbersome
- Non-removable battery
In late October, Sony launched the Xperia Z5 Premium along with the Xperia Z5, as a part of the Xperia lineup of flagship devices. The Xperia Z5 Premium boasts of being the first and the only smartphone in the market currently, to have a 4K resolution display. Featuring top-notch hardware, this device competes neck to neck with the Samsung Galaxy Note5 and the Apple iPhone 6s Plus for the top spot. The 23-megapixel image sensor that the Z5 Premium features and its dustproof and waterproof qualities undoubtably gives this device an edge over the other two. Sony also offers a Dual SIM 4G LTE model of the Z5 Premium in India.
The smartphone is available for a price of Rs.62,990. To turn attention away from its hefty price tag, Sony also bundles a Quick Charger and a Smart Cover (redeemable for free through the Xperia Lounge app) along with the device. So, do these qualities allow the Z5 Premium to tower over the rest of the devices? To find that out, we got our hands on a model of the Xperia Z5 Premium and put it to test. Here’s what we think.
The Xperia Z5 Premium is one of Sony’s best looking devices and looks pretty distinctive when compared to the rest of its competition. The glass panel and metal frame combination that the Z5 Premium boasts of, has been the de facto design standard for a few handset makers for some time now. In a mono-block candy bar design, the Z5 Premium looks quite similar to the Xperia Z3, and improves upon the Xperia Z1. It weighs 181g and is merely 7.8mm thick.
The device has glass panels on both sides which make it look plush. Having said that, it also makes the device extremely slippery and prone to retaining smudges. The rear glass panel has a silver coating, which gives it a mirror-like effect. An anodized metal frame runs along the rim of the phone and has the Xperia logo on the left edge. The corners of the device are nylon-coated to protect the glass panels. They do so by absorbing vibrations if the phone happens to land on either corner of the frame.
The memory card and the Dual SIM card slots are present on the left edge, concealed by a metallic cap. Ejecting the SIM tray is not as convenient as on other phones as one has to pull out the plastic tray using one’s nails. On the right edge you have a recessed power button with an integrated fingerprint sensor, the volume control key and a dedicated camera button. The earpiece and a 5.1-megapixel front-facing camera are present above the display. A thin stereo speaker mesh lies at the top and the bottom edge of the screen.
The minimalistic design of the Z5 Premium makes it appear a bit blocky. Just as its other Xperia devices, Sony’s Z5 Premium is IP68-certified. As per this certification, Sony claims that this device can function even after being immersed in a container of water of up to five feet for 30 minutes. However, just as Sony, we too advise you against double-checking that claim. While its dustproof and waterproof qualities are pretty great for a flagship device, what’s worrying about the device is that its glass panels render it as a device that needs to be handled carefully.
Sony takes the credit for introducing a 4K resolution display on a flagship device. The Xperia Z5 Premium sports a 5.5-inch IPS LCD panel and offers a 2160x3840p resolution which translates to super-sharp pixel density of 806PPI. The screen features Sony’s usual set of display technologies - TRILUMINOS Display for Mobile, X-Reality engine for mobile and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer. All the three technologies focus broadly on enhancing colours, improving contrast and sharpness, and reducing noise in videos as well as images.
One needs to keep in mind that the Android interface operates at a resolution of 1080p only. Therefore, the use of a 4K screen on the Z5 Premium is limited to only watching a couple of YouTube videos and select test videos downloaded from the web.
Great contrast and vivid colour production make images as well as videos appear more natural. The screen is highly reflective, which makes it difficult to use the phone under direct sunlight. Bumping up the brightness only makes it better temporarily. The waterproof display protects it from any accidental splashes. Just like the rear glass panel, the screen too is a fingerprint magnet.
Sony packs stellar hardware in the Xperia Z5 Premium. The smartphone houses a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 mobile chipset clocked at 2GHz, and integrates Adreno 430 GPU, which can handle all sort of modern games and graphic-heavy apps without any issues. Sony packs 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM to support the mobile chipset. The device offers 32GB of built-in storage which the user can always expand up to 200GB using a microSD card.
The phone supports both 4G LTE network bands (Band 3 and Band 40) for India. Though the phone supports two Nano-SIM cards, only one SIM latches to the 4G network at a time. The dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac ensures fast downloads. Bluetooth v4.1 comes in handy for transferring files quickly and connecting the device to supporting accessories. A fingerprint sensor is integrated with the recessed power button on the left edge
The Xperia Z5 Premium boots Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. A few Sony-styled icons and animations distinguish the user interface from that of the stock Android. The software offers you slick transitions and spiffy animations, which result in an overall smooth user experience. The fingerprint scanner integrated on the home button takes about a minute to set up, and you can use it to unlock your phone quickly. While the fingerprint scanner is quite fast to unlock, it is still not as fast as the one on the Honor 7 and the Nexus 6P.
The App Switcher is similar to the multitasking window on Android phones. A white bar at the bottom allows you to switch to multi-window mode. Sony also offers support for themes in the Z5 Premium, but instead of accessing these from a dedicated app, one will need to download and install them individually from the Google Play Store. The File Commander app is preinstalled as the default file explorer. The Movie Creator app can be used to create a highlight reel automatically from your saved photos and videos. We tested the Remote Play feature of the PlayStation 4 Gaming console with this phone, and it worked fine. The only issue we had was with the internet connectivity.
The Z5 Premium comes with select PlayStation apps which may look like bloatware for those who don’t own any PlayStation console. For those of you without a need of it, you can uninstall most of them. The Z5 Premium otherwise offers smooth software experience.
Sony uses a new 23-megapixel image sensor for the primary camera at the back and a 5-megapixel image sensor for the camera in the front. The hardware is pretty impressive on the specifications sheet, however, we are surprised as to why the wireless charging support was dropped since it existed in the last flagship - the Xperia Z3.
The Xperia Z5 Premium features a new 23-megapixel Sony Exmor RS image sensor, which is also found on the Xperia Z5. The camera’s 1/2.3 micron sensor has an F2.0 aperture and a 24mm wide-angle G Lens. Power-packed with great image sensors and optics, the phone truly feels premium. By default, the 23-megapixel sensor shoots in an aspect ratio of 4:3, and yet, manages to cover a lot of area. We managed to capture more area on the Xperia Z5 Premium than on its closest rivals such as the Galaxy Note 5 and the LG G4. The dedicated camera button acts as a two-stage shutter control. The Camera app is minimalistic and you can easily swipe through the various modes such as Manual, Super Intelligent Auto, Video.
The camera shoots in Intelligent Auto mode by default, which automatically adjusts the settings according to the situation and light. You can also choose to shoot in the Manual mode by swiping right, which offers much more control over settings such as ISO control, Focus, Metering, and Resolution. The HDR mode allows clicking better exposure packing images.
Phase Detection Hybrid Autofocus is spot on, even when shooting moving subjects. This fast autofocus capability comes quite close to beating laser-autofocus. The stellar hardware configuration of the camera packs a lot of promise, but leaves a bit more to be desired in post processing. Images are extremely crisp and have great balance. However, the edges tend to lack sharpness and have pastel effect. Having said that, the camera captures a lot of details while taking pictures in natural light. Colour production in images is quite controlled and not too punchy. Low light images aren’t something worth showing off, despite having good white balance. There’s a lot of noise which creeps in.
Videography enthusiasts can make the best of the 4K video recording capability. We recommend that you use a good case so that the phone doesn’t slip out of your hands while doing so. Sony’s SteadyShot feature comes in handy for recording videos that have minimum shake. You can also make the best use of the HDR mode to capture some really good videos. Whether it be at 4K or 1080p at 60fps, the Z5 Premium offers great video recording capabilities.
Images taken with the front-facing 5.1-megapixel camera have a good balance between colour and white balance. It also captures a good amount of detail.
The dedicated Music app offers great support to a variety of high-resolution audio files. The built-in audio settings allow you to customise the sound output as desired. The ClearAudio+ optimises audio automatically. Dynamic Normaliser levels increase the volume output for each song. If you’re listening to .mp3 files, then enabling the DSEE HX option will boost its audio quality. It's quite helpful for low bitrate .mp3 files. The speaker is loud enough in an empty room, but is barely audible in crowded spaces. Meanwhile, audio is much more pleasant to listen to on headphones and earphones.
The video app can play a number of video files easily. The preloaded 4K videos look stunning. The video player has a built-in function that streams video to a connected external device. Sony has covered most of the bases to ensure that one gets good multimedia experience on this premium model.
The Xperia Z5 Premium truly feels a lot better than other flagship devices in terms of looks and in-hand feel and its stellar hardware definitely sets high expectations. Sound through the earpiece is certainly louder than on most other smartphones, but is not clear at times. The microphone though, on the other hand, easily cancels out any ambient noise and allows crystal clear audio to pass through.
Games like Modern Combat 5: Blackout and Mortal Kombat X were able to run at maximum graphics settings without any stutter or any other issues. However, the top portion of the rear does start to get warm after 20 minutes of gaming. The phone locks the location on Google Maps quickly and the A-GPS and GLONASS support also help in mapping the location accurately. You can tune into FM Radio by plugging a pair of earphones into the device.
We tested the hardware by running some of the usual benchmark tests on the device. In the AnTuTu benchmark test, the phone scored 72,554, which slots it close to the Xperia Z5. While in the 3DMark’s benchmark, the phone scored 1,178, in the Slingshot ES 3.1, it scored 25,773 points in the Ice Storm Unlimited test - which is a clear indication that the phone is capable of playing almost any game available in the Google Play Store. The phone scored 22,188 points in the Basemark X 1.1 benchmark, which highlights the gaming prowess of the GPU. Finally, in terms of the Vellamo web browser benchmark, the phone scored 5,270 points. These scores only point out that the phone is capable of handling any task thrown at it.
A non-removable 3,430mAh battery is placed inside the chassis of the Z5 Premium, which takes about two hours to charge fully. We made a couple of voice calls that totaled approximately an hour, watched a 40 minute long TV episode, listened to music for almost two hours, browsed the web, used social media apps, Telegram as well as WhatsApp. With this kind of usage, the phone still had about 10% juice left at the end of the day. Throughout this time, we had set the brightness level to about 45 percent. At about 15%, the STAMINA mode kicked in, which promises an extra four hours of battery. The different power saving modes in the Power Management setting help the device achieve two things primarily - an extended standby time and allowing for extended usage. The STAMINA mode is quite easy to configure. Of course, these power saving modes come at the cost of hardware performance. That said, Sony has done a good job of offering a variety of options on this device. The lack of wireless support, though, does pinch a bit.
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is the company’s best flagship till now. The Xperia Z5 Premium offers a reliable battery life despite the 4K resolution display and also packs some competitive camera performance.
The phone competes closely with the Samsung Galaxy Note5 and the Apple iPhone 6s. The iPhone’s strong app ecosystem and the Galaxy’s great all round performance work in favour of these devices. Although the 4K display of the Z5 Premium with its unmatched pixel density steals the show and makes it future-proof, the lack of equivalent content renders it a bit futile. The Z5 Premium’s waterproof as well as dustproof properties help it score a few brownie points over other flagships.
If you want a stylish flagship, the Xperia Z5 Premium is your best bet, but we recommend that you buy a case for it. With a stunning design, impressive performance and smooth Android experience, the Z5 Premium can easily be one of your top choices if you’re looking for a flagship Android device. While it checks off most of the necessary requisites for a flagship device, it would definitely do it good if it were also the first to get the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update.