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Sony Xperia Z5 Premium vs Z5 vs Z5 Compact: What's the difference?

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Sony Xperia Z5 vs Sony Xperia Z5 Compact vs Sony Xperia Z5 Premium: What makes Sony's three new smartphones so different?

Sony isn't shy about releasing multiple flagship phones each year and the Japanese company has followed up the disappointing Xperia Z3 with not one but a trio of new handsets. First up is the 4.6-inch Xperia Z5 Compact, a 5.2-inch Z5 and the 4K-display-toting Xperia Z5 Premium.

But what exactly is the difference? Well, not a lot. But that's a good thing. Sony hasn't skimped on the smaller model, so it's a real option if you want high-end specs in a smaller, more mangeable body.

The Z5 Premium has a 4K display

Sony has done a great job in ensuring that each of these Z5 phones are crammed with top-end features, but that Premium branding has to mean something, right? The biggest upgrade the Z5 Premium has over its smaller siblings is a 5.5-inch 4K screen, with a 3840x2160 resolution and an 806ppi pixel density. Now, to put that into perspective, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – noted as having one of the best mobile displays – has a QHD 2560 x 1440 display with a 518ppi pixel density. There's a theoretical jump up in sharpness, but if you've read our hands-on with the Premium, we didn't notice an exceptional bump in quality.

Related: Sony Xperia Z3 review

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Left to right: Xperia Z5 Premium, Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact

There's been plenty of discussion about whether phones should bother with QHD panels, so there's sure to be lots of interest in Sony's latest effort and whether there's a difference to be had. In our eyes there are a few positives – it'll be great for virtual reality and for watching 4K content at native resolution. But considering not many of us have 4K televisions at home, it does seem a tad ridiculous to put one on a smartphone right now.

Sony's software will automatically upscale content to 4K, with native apps, Netflix and YouTube supported. You'll also be able to output video to a compatible television. This could be a multimedia powerhouse.

In comparison, the regular Z5 has a 5.2-inch 1080p display – we would have liked to have seen this bumped up to QHD – and the Z5 Compact tones that down to a 720p, 4.6-inch display.

Each display is equipped with Triluminous tech and Sony's X-Reality for Mobile engine, each of which should give accurate colours.

They're all different sizes, obviously. But the design is the same.

The biggest difference between each device is their size. The Compact is, as the name suggests, the smallest and lightest. Weighing in at 138g and measuring 127mm x 65mm x 8.9mm.

Next up is the Z5 which tips the scales at 154g, with dimensions of 143 x 72mm. It also slimmer than the Compact, with a thickness of 7.3mm.

The largest device is the Premium. This weighs 180g and measures 154.4mm x 75mm x 7.8mm. Again, it's much bigger, yet slimmer than the Compact.

Design wise, each phone is very similar. The look hasn't changed much from previous iterations, though they now have 'Xperia' etched on the side. They're all still waterproof, a nice bonus, with an IP56/IP68 rating and no pesky caps covering the ports.

Related: Sony Xperia Z6 release date

Each has the same camera, processor and fingerprint sensor

We've praised Sony before for its approach to its Compact phones, not skimping on the specs and ensuring they're on par with the larger models. Things haven't really changed this year, as each edition of the Z5 packs pretty much the same internals.

You've got a Snapdragon 810 64-bit processor – yes, the same one that caused all those over-heating issues on the Xperia Z3 – plus an Adreno 430 GPU. 32GB internal storage is standard, and microSD cards are supported.

One difference is the RAM, with both the Z5 and Z5 Premium packing 3GB, whereas the Compact will have to make do with 2GB.

Related: How much RAM does a phone need?

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They also all have the same camera tech, an area which Sony is, again, really pushing with the Z5 series. Each phone is equipped with a 23MP main camera with a Exmor RS mobile image sensor and a F2.0, 24mm G Lens with fast auto-focus. Sony is also talking up its digital zoom, which it says doesn't deteriorate that quality of the snaps. We'll have to take it for a spin before we can cast judgement, though.

Image stabilisation comes in the form of SteadyShot, while each can shoot video at 4K. The selfie shooter has also been souped up, again with an Exmor 5MP sensor and 25mm wide-angle lens.

Finally, each one has a fingerprint scanner tucked inside the lock switch on the side. From our initial testing, it seems this is a very fast sensor.

If you've been longing for a fully specced out, yet diminutive handset, Sony might have a winner.

They come in different colours

A minor difference, but worth noting nonetheless, each of Sony's Z5 line-up comes in a different range of hues.

For the Z5 Compact you can choose between white, graphite black, yellow and coral, while the Z5 5.2-inch ditches yellow and coral and adds in gold and green.

Related: Sony Xperia Z5 vs Z4/Z3 vs Z3

The colour selection is smaller for the Z5 Premium, with just gold, chrome and black being the choice. Now, where have we seen those three colour combos before?

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Each has a different battery

With bigger phones comes more space for a larger battery, and thankfully Sony has made the most of the space. The Z5 Premium packs a 3430mAh cell, the Z5 a 2900mAh version and the Compact a 2700mAh. Sony claims each phone should last two days of use, but that can be improved further with the Stamina mode.

We'll have to wait until we get these devices in for review to see how long the battery really lasts, but those estimates seem impressive. Especially for the Premium, which has a 4K screen and a battery smaller than that from the Moto X Play, which only has a 1080p screen.

Early verdict

While they aren't a huge change for the brand, there are a couple of things that have us excited about Sony's new phones. The Z5 Compact could be the perfect mix of power, battery life and features and, depending on how much it costs, possibly value. With phones getting bigger, it's nice to still see a well-specced compact device.

Then there's the 4K display on the Z5 Premium. It might not make looking at emails or browsing the web better, but it could help with VR and viewing 4K recorded content.

Will these phones see a rise to the top for Sony? We'll have to wait and see.

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