Sony Xperia Z5 Premium: Hands-on review: IFA 2015:

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Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Come on, you’re only here for one reason: to see whether a phone really needs a 4K screen, or whether it’s just one of the world’s top producers of Ultra HD TVs is using the technology to create a splash on its smartphones.

Of course it’s the latter. There’s very little reason to stick a display on a phone that packs that many pixels in (3840 x 2160, if you must know) as there’s no content out there which can truly do justice to the sharpness.

Yes, you can see your photos and recorded 4K video on there without compromise, and I would agree that’s a great thing if the current QHD phone screens we’ve got are somehow unimpressive.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

But the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 range are already pushing the limit of what we need in terms of pixel count – it’s hard to give one reason why what Sony has done here is a good thing.

But look beneath the dazzling 4K stat and you’ll find a phone that’s actually rather impressive – it might be very expensive when it launches, but it has a lot to offer.

Design

The first addition to the smartphone mix from Sony is the new mirrored backs on the phones – the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium range have the same metal rim as the normal Z5, with the engraved Xperia logo and nylon corners to protect against drops, but also a range of materials on the rear.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

The chrome / silver version is the most curious – I can’t work out if a properly mirrored phone is classy or the equivalent of a Premier League footballer deciding to buy a chrome Bentley. It’s either awesome or gaudy, depending on your standpoint.

It’s odd that not all the phone colours have the same appearance – the gold option is a lot more frosty and in line with the regular Z5 phones, but still looks and feels premium.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Despite having a 5.5-inch screen, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium doesn’t feel like a phablet in the hand. Sure, it’s got a larger display that’s on the tricky side to operate with one hand, but it doesn’t feel as big as an iPhone 6S Plus when trying to manipulate the screen.

The larger size also helps offset the slightly boxy nature of the design, and everything seems to fit in the hand well. Don’t get me wrong here, this is still a larger phone and you’ll have to want the power the 5.5-inch screen brings, but it’s definitely more compact than I was expecting.

4K screen

Let’s dive a little more into that screen – does it really add much? Sony believes so – the 806dpi sharpness is just unprecedented in a phone, so there has to be something there for the brand to add in the tech.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Especially as it decried the current trend for QHD screens as unnecessary recently – Sony really needs to prove there’s a need for all those extra pixels.

In normal use, I couldn’t see the evidence of the extra sharpness though. In the same way as I was slightly nonplussed when looking at the LG G3 last year, the need for such a high res screen escapes me. And I say that with a heavy heart – I love it when new technology comes out and makes me really lust after the performance offered, but here there’s nothing to get excited about.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

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It would be OK if QHD screens – or even the Full HD options – were somehow flawed or offering a poor experience, but they’re not. We’re looking at stunning displays all over phone shops these days, nothing like the grainy displays of only a few years ago.

There’s no 4K content for smartphones at the moment (obviously) and even watching the onboard 4K videos Sony had loaded on wasn’t that impressive… if the parent brand can’t impress, then it has problems.

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Camera

Sony’s kept all the top-end technology from the Xperia Z5 phone on the larger Premium model, and that’s an amazing thing – the 23MP camera is one of the key selling points here. It’s got a 0.03s autofocus, which means no matter what you throw the phone at you’ll get a decent snap.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

It really has to be seen to be believed, as even whirling the phone around and trying to take random snaps resulted in clear and clean pics. There are questions over whether the performance can be replicated in terms of varying light levels, but Sony was hugely confident in its presentation that it was going to have a market leading experience for a cameraphone.

Battery

The battery life of the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is always going to be under scrutiny, given there’s a 4K screen to be powering along. The brand has tried to alleviate this problem by adding in a 3430mAh battery – and as such, it reckons that a two day battery life (like that seen on the Z5) is possible here.

That seems a lofty claim indeed, but if it can use the new technology its created (where the CPU is shut off when the screen is showing a static image) then it can cut battery use down by half on a power thirsty function, which would help enormously.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

I doubt Sony can manage two days using this screen, but it sounds like it won’t be a terrible experience.

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Fingerprint scanner

The other new tech Sony has thrown into the mix is the fingerprint scanner, a lozenge-shaped button on the side of the phone which allows you to instantly unlock the phone with a tap.

I wasn’t able to try this out on the demo units (as it would have locked them to my digits) but the demos we saw were hugely impressive, with barely any lag between pressing the button to wake the phone from sleep and it being ready for use.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

With Android Pay on the way, this biometric authentication is going to be necessary for contactless payment, so adding it in now is a smart move from Sony, especially when many rivals have a decent system in place already.

Early verdict

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is just that, a premium phone in a market of ‘me-too’ handsets. Everything from the build to the components on board is high end, and while I can’t see a need for the 4K screen it will at least be a reason for somebody to want to play with the new Sony phone.

Hands-on review: IFA 2015: Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Add into that PS4 Remote Play (which is going to look great on the high-res screen) and the Hi-Res audio, coupled with the fact this is a water and dust proof phone, and you can see that Sony has gone all out here.

That’s not to say it’s going to be a winner – the price is likely to make you wince, the battery life needs to be thoroughly checked out and the design is still based on the same principles as phones from years ago – but there’s a lot here to be impressed with from Sony, and it’s going to be interesting to see the reaction.

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50 thoughts on “Sony Xperia Z5 Premium: Hands-on review: IFA 2015:

  1. Now Sony has done it, I am sure that Samsung/LG/HTC/Huawei/ZTE or someone else will have a 4K screened device at CES or MWC next year. It’s now become a thing when it clearly shouldn’t, and at IFA this week I saw loads of examples of things being added that aren’t necessary but are happening because the smartphone market has reached a saturation point that everyone is desperate to find something, ANYTHING, to get people to buy a new device. Generally speaking, most phones bought in the last 12-18 months (unless they were dogs to begin with) are still likely to be fine. It’s not as if anything has come out app wise that has suddenly seen a need for better hardware. Sony and Samsung each want to concentrate on the high end with high retail prices and large margins, but I am not sure how that’s going to work out. There’s a shed load of good devices that are more than good enough for MOST consumers now selling from 00a3100-400. Even the Z5 Compact is now a premium device (and incredibly chunky/boxy). I bagged my Z3 from Amazon on the day of release for 00a3430, yet the Z5 Compact will cost more than that. How’s that possible?!

  2. No, if Samsung would have released a phone with 4K at this point it would be just as useless. We all know that that iPhone just wouldn’t.

  3. why you people are supporting samsung or iphone? what will they give for such thing…please try to be fair to a great thing….sony is giving all the best thing but still you dont like it…..but the truth is sonyis the best in terms of quality. and iphone is most overrated phone in the world. they hardly give a full hd display…so you are telling there is no need of 4k…but if iphone and samsung give it before sony , you would tell

  4. I am very excited to see some full reviews/videos on the Z5 premium. I luckily got to watch the livestream and I am thoroughly impressed and excited to know more. I would have been happy with a QHD phablet (read Z5 Ultra) but the Z5 premium is certainly alluring.

  5. Feeling same thing as with note3 2years before, awesome and revolutionary. (screen FullHD/4K switching and sony stamina will be enough to save battery)

  6. The big question for me is will this change how PS4 remote play looks on the Premium VS the Xperia Z5 normal model?

  7. People will be Very eager to see & Read a Full Review about the Z5 Premium,as we already know that Snapdragon 810 as had Over Heating Problems,Sony might have been better releasing this phone with Snapdragon 820 was ready to be used,like this Reviewer mentioned will the 4K Screen Drain the Battery Fast or Not?Hope Sony do not Over Price the Premium to Much because of the 4K Screen as well,will these Sony phones now put more pressure on Samsung with them Struggle at the Moment and get them to release the Galaxy S7 Early

  8. Granted, Remote Play is ‘going to look great on the high-res screen’ , but it’s not going to look any better than on the current Z3 or Z3+, given the PS4 only streams 1080p.

  9. It’s probalby just a few months away, Sony being the only one releasing two top models every year. Wonder why no one wants to watch their live release streams? Oh they have released another phone looking just like the previous 4 models? Wohoo 😛

  10. It’s upgrade time for my phone pretty soon I think. But at the same time, I think i’ll wait a little longer. I still plan to stick with sony I think, good quality handset and my Z2 hasn’t let me down yet, but I think i’ll wait for the snapdragon 820. So probably the Z6.

  11. so this does have a Micro SD slot on it? and when can we expect specifics on hardware?

  12. This is not hands on review, this is merely reviewing the phone at hand….if it’s hands-on, you would test urself on how far the battery would go then post it here.

  13. Yes the design is similar, but that’s a good thing because it’s one of the best looking phones around, and in gold it looks mint. In fact I can’t fault the specs at all and praise Sony for their bold, no compromise release, as far as I’m concerned it blows the competition out of the water and will be my next phone purchase.

  14. sont see the point in a mirror back if buying a cover.. unless the cover is open at the back or something

  15. Sony Xperia Z5 premium looks like a great device. There are a lot of reasons why I would choose it instead of iPhone 6S and I am not speaking only about the 4K screen. I am impressed about its battery power, RAM memory, multi-use system and some other great features that you don`t find at the expensive phones.

  16. I’ve got the Samsung Gear VR for my note 4. I can so see 4k working here, and in games. I was about to pre order but need to see how the battery and processor performs before I shell out 00a3700

  17. Yes but that’s not mainstream yet and a bit silly still for a smartphone; why not have dedicated displays for that?

  18. I can not think of a more pointless spec to put on a smartphone, I don’t have a 4K TV or monitor…why put it in a relatively tiny phone display?

  19. Yep. My note 4 is crap in the vr. But saying that it also burns the battery!

  20. Finally, somebody who actually understands. No point in 4k for using your phone at a normal distance, but when each eye only sees half the screen and is 2 inches away, the extra pixels really will make a difference.

  21. You need a 4k screen for VR headsets. If any launch with a lower resolution, disregard them.

  22. Although the 4K screen is certainly overkill for everyday usage, it’s likely to open up the device to become useful in other areas, such as a screen for a VR headset, for example. The screen will effectively be split in two at the same time as being held very close to your eyes. No USB C port?

  23. Than any 4k screen? U should revise that and go see Sony’s new range of 4k tvs better than anything Samsung has to offer. Do some research and comparisons. But i agree it has nothing to do with the resolution, a lot more has to do with the refinement and tech each manufacturer adds to the screen. If this new 4k screen on the z5 Premium is anything as good as the bigger new 4k screens Sony has in its 2015 offering then this is going to be one hell of a fabulous screen especially when watching 4k content even though it up scales everything even 720p but we know that can’t be the same no matter what compared with real 4k content.

  24. sorry, what you are saying in not true at all, and is complete marketing bull***t. Being a 4k screen simply means having a higher resolution, and does NOT automatically mean higher contrast ratios, better colour accuracy etc. Those factors are to do with the screen quality itself, and not to do with the 4k resolution. A great example is a 1080p OLED tv has a far better contrast ratio, true blacks and usually better colour accuracy than any 4K LED screen. All due to the screen technology and quality and NOTHING to do with resolution.

  25. Hi Robert, You are referring to the Triluminos Technology by Sony, aka Quantum Dot or Nano crystal. In normal LED including 4K, TV has white LED and colors are reproduced using filters, whereas in Triluminos, TV has blue LED which passes through 2 more crystals which will emit Red and Green. All three colors can be combined to reproduce any color in the world. This is available for Sony’s high end 2K TV also.

  26. Which 4K Tv’s do that? the only numbers close to that, which i can find, is that per pixel it is 50% more energy efficient, between two samsung tvs with one being 4k, the other UHD (65-inch), however doing it based upon real-estate, the actual size of the screen, 4K uses quite a bit more energy.

  27. No, that’s completely wrong. 4K has everything to do with pixel count – the clue’s in the name. It means having horizontal resolution of around 4000 pixels.

  28. Utterly incorrect. 4K is a standard of motion picture resolution, defined by the DCI, and first created for film production and cinema distribution. It is EXACTLY to do with resolution – in fact it defines a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels. It’s now been taken as a marketing catch-all for a higher standard next-generation resolution compared with HD, including slightly lower pixel counts due to various manufacturers display technologies and screens with aspect ratios of 16:9 (usually 3840 x 2160). This last resolution is what most TV manufacturers and TV service providers such as Netflix are referring to when the say

  29. 4K (SUHD) doesn’t have anything to do with pixel count (except marketing brainwashing). A 4K display should use 50% less power than a comparably sized HD display. My 65 inch Sony 4K smart Internet TV says that is so as 4K has one less layer of color filters and the light source is blue instead of white. 4K gives more accurate and brighter colors, higher contrast, brighter yellows, thousands of shades of green, and blacker blacks (Sony is superior to Samsung in this regard). 4K will replace all other screens for power consumption reasons alone, and you get the added benefits of highly superior screen quality. And, I believe that Sony holds most of the patents, and has been producing their 4K technology for over a year (Samsung curved OLED is great marketing, but Sony 4K is better).

  30. think it looks awesome!the battery capacity has always been great on the Z serie compared to apple.samsung,htc,etc

  31. It’s ugly, the design have been the same since the Z. The screen will eat up any extra battery capacity and then some.

  32. The skin. I know Sony is light on skins but you can’t beat not having one at all; like Moto. Everything is A+ if this gets AOSP. Instabuy.

  33. Stylish: Check Micro SD: Check Huge Battery: Check Amazing Screen: Check Amazing Camera: Check Great audio amp: Check What is honestly not to like?

  34. Yes exterior design. From the half-circle-radius sides, to the glass back, and more.

  35. Are you talking about menus or exterior design?? Because the the design of the Z have been boring since day one. It is boxy and boring looking, I had the first Z and it has not changed much since then and it looks nothing like any of the brands you compared to.

  36. Well said! Boxy? I have the z1 and it’s a flying machine! And a little on the sexy side. Can’t wait to get my hands on a new Sony.

  37. to be fair… the z3 is my favorite design wise, and this z5 is WAY different, the z3 is nice and rounded

  38. Alright let me get this straight. Sony comes up with the design language currently being used by Apple, Samsung, HTC, Huawei, etc., and you loved the design. You applaud the design language that these other companies use because their phones are great looking. Now, Sony comes out with their fifth iteration of the Z, and you suddenly think its design language is a ‘con’/flaw because it’s boxy. Are you serious? Is there any type of communication going in at TR between the bloggers? fucking phone looks great

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