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Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review



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  • Camera app


Our Score:



  • High-quality screen
  • Good performance
  • Expandable memory


  • Camera speed and low-light quality doesn't match best
  • Expensive
  • 4K display not much use
  • Screen-on battery life worse than previous years

Key Features

  • 5.5-inch 3,840 x 2,160 pixel LCD screen
  • Snapdragon 810 with 3GB RAM
  • 23-megapixel camera, 5-megapixel front
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £629.00

What is the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium?

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is a an expensive, no-compromise Android phone. It’s Sony’s equivalent to the iPhone 6S Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

In terms of design, each of those phones has a stand-out feature: 3D touch in the iPhone; curved sides on the Edge. The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium vies for the spotlight with its 4K-resolution screen.

Yes, that’s right – this phone features the same resolution seen on the latest 65-inch TVs. From a pure numbers perspective, it’s dead impressive. The reality, however, is different: it’s largely pointless. Add to this a number of deficiencies elsewhere, and the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium stands little chance of outdoing rival top phones from the likes of Samsung, Apple and Google.

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Related: Sony Xperia Z6 release date

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium – Design

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is a super-sized version of the regular Xperia Z5. In terms of build and style, the handsets look very similar.

Flat panes of glass on the front and back are held together by metal sides and plastic-like edge caps that ensure the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium’s glass exterior doesn't shatter the minute it takes its first impact. What hasn't made it across is the Z5's frosted backplate. The one here is ultra-glossy, just like the earlier Xperia Zs.

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To clarify: that's a reflection, not a bizarre decal

The Xperia Z series has plenty of admirers, but I can't say that I'm a fan of its design. All Xperia Z’s feel a little boxy, fundamentally as a result of their rectangular shape – and in this more sizeable handset, this boxiness is even more apparent.

It may be slim, with a footprint that competes well with its rivals, but the Xperia Z Premium feels awkward and is more of a trial for your fingers. I found both the Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge slightly easier to handle, even though they sport larger 5.7-inch displays.

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It isn't only the shape that annoys either. The metal sides sit in a slightly raised position from the glass panels, and while this is sensible because it helps keep surfaces from touching the glass, the metal feels sharp. A softened or bevelled edge would have been better.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium feels expensive, but it doesn’t feel nice. While the engineering is perfectly decent, some consideration to what the handset’s frame is like to hold in the hand would have been welcome.

This isn't something that you can appreciate from the specs alone: at 7.8mm thick and weighing 180g, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium sounds on-par with the very best large phones, if significantly heavier than Samsung’s big phones.

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The sharp feel casts a shadow on the great work that has been achieved elsewhere. For example, like previous Xperia Zs, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is waterproof. It’s totally fuss-free waterproofing too, with no flaps on the micro-USB or headphone jacks.

However, Sony does now recommend that, even though the Xperia Z5 Premium comes with IP68 certification, you refrain from submerging the handset in water. It’s a pretty sensible reaction to the stories of other Z phones dying after being dunked, their seals having presumably failed at some point.

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The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is still home to one rubber flap, which keeps the water out of the little plastic tray slot that holds the nano SIM and microSD slots. There’s another great little extra – expandable memory; the iPhone 6S Plus, Samsung Galaxy Edge and Nexus 6P all come without. The Z5 Premium comes with 32GB of storage as standard, so you may not even need a microSD.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium – Fingerprint scanner

All of the above isn't new to series, though. What does make its debut in the Xperia Z Premium, however, is the fingerprint scanner. See the big power button on the side? That’s it.

It’s an alternate take on the front and rear scanners seen on rival handsets, but the premise is much the same. Right now, its main use is for unlocking your phone quickly and easily.

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Quick it is too. The Nexus 6P’s scanner is a shade more brisk, but the speed and accuracy on offer here is comparable to the scanners in both the iPhone 6S Plus and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge .

You might not be such a fan if you mainly tend to hold your phone in your left hand, of course, since your thumb will naturally be on the wrong side.

I prefer using both front and rear fingerprint scanners, as the move from scanner to screen is that bit quicker. However, it’s largely a personal thing, and the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium’s scanner is still an order of magnitude better than the early scanners that featured in the Samsung Galaxy S5, for example.


September 2, 2015, 7:49 pm

Hmm 4K on a phone...hmm is all I can think of. I guess if you multiply the cost per square inch of a 4K screen it would be worth over 30k on average maybe to purchase a 50" size screen! That said we do not have the cost yet. Me thinks 1080 is a better valued option!

Dead Words

September 2, 2015, 8:39 pm

QHD is the better choice on larger screens like this phone, especially because of the bigger batteries, but I agree that 5 inches and smaller should stick with FHD, and that we shouldn't touch 4K until it hits 10 inches minimum.


September 2, 2015, 8:43 pm



September 2, 2015, 8:44 pm

hehe I never thought might need a magnifying lens to appreciate the sharpness of 4K hehehe

Dead Words

September 2, 2015, 8:47 pm

You can now take 4K video and watch it natively! What benefits does that give me? Oh. None.


September 2, 2015, 8:49 pm

Well its just a matter of time ya know 5k 6k 7k oh and 20" phones!

Dead Words

September 2, 2015, 8:51 pm

But they'll be bendy and fold, so it's okay, right? As long as we grow two more arms.

Johnny Walker

September 2, 2015, 8:56 pm

Where is the Z5 Ultra? I find it shocking major phone providers do not want to provide a 6.33inch+ ultraspec phone.


September 2, 2015, 8:58 pm

It is becoming crazy. I remember when had pagers so much easier!

Dead Words

September 2, 2015, 9:01 pm

I feel like 2016 will be the last year of semi-sane flagships. I may just have to pick my favorite and hold on to it for dear life until people stop wanting weird phones.


September 2, 2015, 9:16 pm

Wait what about the Google Puzzle phone! Cant wait - NOT!


September 2, 2015, 9:19 pm

poor review!

Dead Words

September 2, 2015, 9:28 pm

Because not many people want that.

Dead Words

September 2, 2015, 9:29 pm

Oh I can't wait until I drop my phone and it explodes into FORTY PIECES.


September 2, 2015, 11:15 pm

MicroSD is key. My friend who has an Xperia Z3 recently bragged to his co-worker with an iPhone 6 plus that he can just watch his movies from his 128gb microsd rather than have to stream them from the internet and take up bandwidth (which costs dough), as those with most smartphones have to do beyond the few movies they can save on their tablet. On one MicroSd, you can save dozens of movies-and you can have as many MicroSD cards as you care to take around with you. So you can literally have your entire movie collection at your fingertips, even without internet access.


September 2, 2015, 11:32 pm

Unlike microsd, 4k is unnecessary. Really, Sony did not have to add 4k display because its outgoing flagship already meets or exceeds its competitors-better battery life than S6 or iPhone 6 according to GSM arena and phone arena, 21mp camera, 4k video recording, octa core processor, microsd card slot, full waterproofing, and PlayStation streaming. Sony just needs to up their game in the marketing and promotions front.

Johnny Walker

September 3, 2015, 12:12 am

i'm willing to bet there's a significant minority of power users willing to pay for such a phone and live with its size. the size is actually an attraction. i was desperately hoping Sony would bring out a Z5 ultra. I've had a Note 2 for 3 years and it's dying. I'm not going to be happy with a measly 0.2 inch screen increase.

in anycase, i'm asking my friend to bring me over a LeTV Max 6.33 inch superspec phone (1440p, snapdragon 810, 4gb ram, 128gb mem, 20m sony camer etc.) over from China for me as it's not on sale in the West. However, I would have paid the extra for Sony's update to it's Z Ultra, which is long in the tooth now.

Dead Words

September 3, 2015, 2:12 am

They also need to stop releasing new phones every six months and think about a design refresh.

Dead Words

September 3, 2015, 2:13 am

I don't even consider smartphones with microSD card slots. It's not that I need that storage, it's the fact that if I need it I can get it cheap, and if I want to switch them out quickly I can. It's also about more efficient management of my music and photos.

Dead Words

September 3, 2015, 2:15 am

I would also buy a phone such as that, but we are both in the vast minority. It takes a lot of money to design, produce, distribute and market a high-end, large-screened phone and as well all know Sony's mobile business isn't exactly a fountain of wealth.
Maybe you should consider a 5.7 inch phone like the Note 5 or a 6 inch phone like the Nokia Lumia 1520.

Lukas Grounds

September 3, 2015, 5:33 am

Mate you sound a little negative about possibly the best phone made to date don't you think? Two days battery, premium screen and lens/sensor plus finger scanner on top of everything else such as hi res audio and water proof. Nothing comes close IMO


September 3, 2015, 12:06 pm

Wow what a negative review to a phone you've barely used or tested yet lol. My Z3 is a fantastic phone, with a long lasting battery life. Any improvements on that are welcome, although these Z5s are a bit too pricey for me ATM.

Samson Okoro

September 3, 2015, 12:24 pm

Very negative review from haters clearly, everyone else has praised the camera saying it is top notch from their hands on, then he had to say the screen isn't a match for oleds. This is just a biased review from obvious samsung trolls, waste of time really, it's a good thing most of us have seen these phones side by side and know Sony screens can match anything Samsung has to offer apart from deeper blacks while lcd has better whites.


September 3, 2015, 2:44 pm

I mean, if we are going to be strict about it, I think 8in minimum is fair, but we know 4K phones were going to happen eventually anyway. Good for the VR people too. I kind of agree with the other guy. I wish this was at least 6in, especially with this resolution. Also, I agree as well. 5 and under doesn't "need" anymore than fullhd.


September 3, 2015, 2:48 pm

It's called a case and magnets. Speaking of "crazy" phones. I want to see a Xperia Play 2/Xperia Z Play with the same specs as their flag ship.

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