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Sony Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, Z5 Premium review: Is a 4K display worth it?

By Liu Hongzuo - 20 Feb 2016
Launch SRP: S$1098

Overview, Design & Handling

Overview

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium (left), Sony Xperia Z5 (right), Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (top).

Sony updates its flagship smartphones rather frequently. The most recent additions to the range, the Xperia Z5 phones were available just barely four months after the Xperia Z3+'s local launch (the Z3+ is also known as the Xperia Z4 in Japan). On paper, the Sony Xperia Z5 has similar specifications to the Xperia Z3+. What’s new to the Xperia Z5 is a completely revamped rear camera – with 23-megapixels and 0.03-second hybrid AutoFocus and a built-in fingerprint sensor is now incorporated into the power button.

Besides the 5.2-inch Z5, there’s also the larger Z5 Premium (5.5-inches) and the smaller Z5 Compact (4.6-inches). All three are powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 quad-core processor. The Z5 Premium also comes with a ridiculous 4K resolution display and a significantly larger battery capacity, while the smaller Z5 Compact has an HD resolution display, only 2GB RAM, and a smaller battery.

Sony Xperia Z5 phones compared
  Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Sony Xperia Z5 Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
  Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Sony Xperia Z5 Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Operating system
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57)
Built-in Memory
  • 3GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
Display
  • 5.5-inch / 4K UHD 3840x2160 pixels (806 ppi) / IPS LCD
  • 5.2-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (424 ppi) / IPS LCD
  • 4.6-inch / 1,280 x 720 pixels (323 ppi) / IPS LCD
Camera
  • Rear: 23-megapixel, f/2.0, 1/2.3-inch sensor size, 5248 х 3936 pixels, OIS, autofocus, LED flash
  • Front: 5.1-megapixel
  • Rear: 23-megapixel, f/2.0, 1/2.3-inch sensor size, 5248 х 3936 pixels, OIS, autofocus, LED flash
  • Front: 5.1-megapixel
  • Rear: 23-megapixel, f/2.0, 1/2.3-inch sensor size, 5248 х 3936 pixels, OIS, autofocus, LED flash
  • Front: 5.1-megapixel
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, NFC, Bluetooth v4.1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, NFC, Bluetooth v4.1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, NFC, Bluetooth v4.1
Storage Type
  • 32GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 200GB
  • 32GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 200GB
  • 32GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 200GB
Battery
  • 3,430mAh
  • 2,900mAh
  • 2,700mAh
Dimensions
  • 154.4 x 76.0 x 7.8mm
  • 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm
  • 127 x 65 x 8.9 mm
Weight
  • 181g
  • 154g
  • 138g

 

Design & Handling

Z5 Compact is a wonderful fit in hand.

The glossy glass rear on the Z5 Premium is reflective, but it also attracts fingerprints easily.

All three phones follow Sony’s minimalistic design language that has persisted throughout the Xperia Z series. However, they still have some elements that differ from their predecessors – the Z5 and Z5 Compact devices now sport a frosted glass rear, while the Z5 Premium features a glossy fingerprint magnet. The new versions also depart from their raised display feel. All three phones have a thicker metallic rim, resulting in a display that sits slightly deeper inside the phone’s monolithic form. This change makes the smartphones feel friendlier to the touch.

The signature round, silver power button is also gone, replaced with a larger, oblong-shaped power button, which sits slightly deeper within the phone’s rim. These minor changes also make the Z5 phones slightly thicker than their predecessors. The Xperia Z3+ is just 6.9mm thin, while the Z5 Compact, Z5, and Z5 Premium are 8.9mm, 7.3mm, and 7.8mm thin respectively.

Oblong-shaped power button sits inside the rim, unlike older Xperia flagships where it's raised above the phone's profile.

The combination of thicker phone bodies and raised rims gives the Xperia Z5 series a different grip feel when compared to their less palm-friendly predecessors. The edges feel secure in hand, while it retains the cold and smooth glass texture that highlights the premium build quality of the Xperia Z smartphones. The fingerprint scanner on the power button (located on the right edge) is particularly useful as it allows you to rest your thumb on the button before it’s out of your pocket, so you can swiftly unlock the phone by the time you’re facing the screen.

The Z5 Compact and Z5 have the same frosted glass rear, which adds to the premium look of the smartphone.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium may be a little large at 5.5-inch, but it still fits fine and you get a really sexy display to go with its size.

Beyond these changes, the Z5s’ main design language (dubbed OmniBalance) remains virtually unchanged since the first Xperia Z phone. While keeping its sexy signature look is fine, users upgrading from an old Xperia phone to the next version will probably feel like they are getting the same phone with the same stagnant look. One good feature they kept was the waterproof USB 2.0 port on the phones. The Xperia Z3+ boasted IP68 waterproofing without the need for a USB flap, and the Z5 phones keep the same flap-less design.

The Xperia Z5 phones are waterproof and dustproof with IP68 rating, and the resistance applies even to the USB 2.0 ports.

All three phones have the 3.5mm audio jack nested at the top left bunk of the phone (when it faces you).