Verdict: The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is a high-end and mostly impressive phone, but the 4K screen actually does more harm than good.
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Review and Specification
Alongside the Xperia Z5 Sony launched an even higher end phone- the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. This takes almost everything good about the Sony Xperia Z5, such as its powerful processor and great camera, and adds a 4K screen into the mix.
That’s a big deal as the Z5 Premium is the first smartphone with a 4K display and it’s extra surprising coming from Sony, a company which until now had stuck to 1080p screens, not even venturing into QHD territory.
But while 4K is a major bullet point for the box does it actually translate into a better viewing experience?
One thing that Sony hasn’t fully made premium here is the design, as it’s almost identical to other Xperia handsets and nowhere near as stylish as the likes of the iPhone 6S or HTC One M9.
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium has a blocky build and it’s on the large and heavy side too at 154.4 x 75.8 x 7.8mm and 180g.
The mirrored glass back is nice, but unlike the frosted glass on the standard Xperia Z5 it’s also a real fingerprint magnet and the overall look of the phone is both a little plain and a little too familiar. You can see what we mean in Sony’s unboxing video below.
On the other hand, it is at least IP68 certified water and dust resistant, so you can submerge the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium in up to 1.5 metres of water for up to 30 minutes. That’s a great feature and one we wish more phones would adopt, as it gives you real peace of mind.
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is all about its screen, as at 2160 x 3840 it’s the highest resolution smartphone display on the planet. The size of 5.5 inches means you get a pixel density of 806 pixels per inch, so it really is incredibly sharp.
However, there’s not much 4K content yet and even with 4K it’s hard to make out any real difference in resolution between this and a QHD screen. 5.5 inches is on the large side but it’s still not really big enough to make the most of all those pixels.
In a sense then the 4K resolution is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s still one of the best screens we’ve ever come across. While a QHD resolution would have probably sufficed it’s crisp, clear and has great viewing angles.
There’s an octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip and 3GB of RAM under the hood of the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. Those are high end specs and a match for the Sony Xperia Z5, but no better.
It translates into slick, smooth performance. The Xperia Z5 Premium really can handle anything you can throw at it, from swiping across home screens to 4K video, HD gaming and multitasking, but its performance is no better than most other flagships, including the standard Xperia Z5, so if you don’t care about the extra pixels on the screen the normal Z5 is a better buy.
The Z5 Premium also has the same camera as the Z5, but that’s no bad thing as it’s a 23MP snapper and it’s among the best yet to grace a smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S6 produces more vibrant images and the LG G4 gives you a whole lot of control, but the Z5 Premium can snap high-quality, largely true-to-life photos.
There’s also a 5.1MP camera on the front, which, while not quite as impressive, is still a capable tool for selfies and video calls.
Once you’ve actually taken photos or shot videos (which you can do in up to 2160p with the main camera) the Xperia Z5 Premium’s screen is a great place to view them.
Interface and features
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium runs Android Lollipop, but an upgrade to Android Marshmallow is likely to be made available soon. It’s overlaid with Sony’s own UI, but fortunately it’s a fairly simple skin, with minimal pre-installed apps and operation that’s not far from stock Android.
The main feature of the Z5 Premium, other than its crystal clear screen, is its fingerprint scanner. This is on the side of the phone and rivals Apple and Samsung’s scanners for speed and simplicity, though the positioning of it on the side of the phone isn’t quite as ideal.
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium also supports PS4 Remote Play, so you can play your favourite console games on a small, portable screen, from anywhere in your house. It’s a feature that will only appeal to certain people, but if you have a PS4 it can be really handy.
Battery Life, Memory and Connectivity
Many Sony phones have great battery life, but despite a sizeable 3430 mAh juice pack the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium isn’t among them and that 4K screen is likely the problem.
All those extra pixels will suck down extra juice and it leads to a phone which will last around a day, like many other flagships, but not into a second day, like many Sony phones are known to. That’s a big shame as it dilutes one of the main selling points Sony handsets typically have.
It’s also worse battery life than the Sony Xperia Z5 has, which leaves that as arguably the better phone even when you don’t factor in price.
Memory comes in at 32GB plus plenty of room for expansion, with a microSD card slot which supports cards of up to 200GB. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC.
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is designed to be the most premium Sony smartphone yet and with a £629.99 RRP it’s certainly priced at the upper end. But while its 4K screen gives it something which no other phone can match it’s not that beneficial most of the time.
The hit it takes on the battery actively makes it a bad thing in fact in some ways and in most other areas this is just the Xperia Z5 with a higher price tag.
That makes it a tough sell, but the Xperia Z5 is one of the best phones of 2015 and the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is almost as good. It’s just a shame it’s also more expensive.