Verdict: The Sony Xperia Z5 packs in more tech than many rivals, but feels like a modest upgrade on the Xperia Z3+.
Sony Xperia Z5 Review and Specification
There was no Xperia Z4, at least on these shores, with Sony instead calling it the Xperia Z3+ due to what a small upgrade it was over the Xperia Z3. But with the Xperia Z5 Sony has rolled out a new number, suggesting a more significant improvement.
A fingerprint scanner and a new camera certainly make for eye-catching additions, especially from a brand which seems reluctant to change, but are they the only new additions? And is the Sony Xperia Z5 the new Sony flagship we’ve been hoping for? Read on to find out.
Things don’t get off to a great start with the design. You can check it out for yourself in the video below, but in short the Sony Xperia Z5 has a metal frame and a glass back, which on paper makes it as premium as rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S6. But it has a slightly boxy appearance which leaves it looking a little worse and feeling a little less comfortable in the hand.
It’s also little changed from the last few models of the phone, although this time around the glass back is frosted, which gives it a slightly different appearance.
More positively it’s slim at just 7.3mm thick and its real win is IP68 certification, which makes it water and dust resistant, so while the glass-heavy design might make it shatter-prone it can at least survive a splash or even an extended dunk in a pool.
The Sony Xperia Z5 has a 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 IPS LCD screen with a pixel density of 428 pixels per inch. It’s not the sharpest screen around, with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium outgunning it there with QHD and 4K displays respectively.
Nor is it the largest screen, but it rivals many flagships for size, without veering into phablet territory and it’s as high resolution as say the HTC One M9, so it’s not enormously lacking.
It’s a bit disappointing that this is essentially the same screen as we got on the Sony Xperia Z3+, but the colours are quite vivid while remaining natural and it’s got good contrast. So there was no desperate need for an upgrade and keeping it the same size and resolution as before likely helped battery life, but even so, it’s a small shame.
There’s no shortage of power here, with the Sony Xperia Z5 packing Qualcomm’s troubled Snapdragon 810 processor. That’s an octa-core chip with four cores running at 2.0GHz and the other four running at 1.5GHz. There’s also 3GB of RAM, which is a decent amount though lower than say the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, which has 4GB.
It’s plenty enough for smooth and consistent performance though, which is the most important thing. There’s never any doubt that this is a flagship.
One of the main upgrades present in the Sony Xperia Z5 is its camera, as the company has ditched its old 20.7 megapixel sensor and replaced it with a new 23 megapixel one.
It’s perhaps not quite the best smartphone snapper, especially given the absence of optical image stabilisation, but it’s certainly one of the best, able to take sharp shots and focus in an incredibly fast 0.03 seconds.
It also sports a lossless digital zoom, so you can snap things from a distance and like Sony phones past there’s support for 4K video recording, plus a whole bunch of camera modes, from useful ones which makes use of the likes of HDR and phase detection, to gimmicky AR ones. So there’s a lot to play with here.
Round the front there’s a slightly less inspiring 5.1 megapixel camera, but it’s more than up to the job of taking a decent selfie.
Interface and features
Sony always keeps its interface simple and that remains true on the Xperia Z5. It runs Android 5.1 overlaid with Sony’s own UI, which is easy to navigate if not that inspiring to look at. There are lots of pre-installed apps covering music, videos, fitness and more. These are a mixed bag and there are usually better alternatives on Google Play, but they’re easily ignored.
As for features the big new one is the fingerprint scanner. This is built into the power button on the side of the phone, which isn’t quite as comfortable a position for it as the front would have been, but once you get your digits positioned it’s fast and accurate, so it’s a useful addition.
The Xperia Z5 also supports Hi-Res audio and has front-facing stereo speakers, so whether listening through headphones or the phone itself sound can be delivered at a high quality.
Battery Life, Memory and Connectivity
The Sony Xperia Z5 has a 2,900 mAh battery which affords it good life, keeping it going for up to two days at a time, though if you’re heavy on the games and videos it won’t last quite that long. Still, it’s a lot better than most 2015 flagships and that should be applauded. With fast charging included too it doesn’t take long to juice up either.
There’s only one storage size- 32GB, which is a decent balance between being too low to be useful and high enough to push the cost up. Plus if you do need more there’s also a microSD card slot which supports cards of up to 200GB. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC.
Sony has made a quietly impressive phone with the Xperia Z5. Its 1080p screen and boxy design ensure it’s not as flashy as some rivals and it’s a little disappointing that it’s not much of an upgrade on the Sony Xperia Z3+, but you could hardly accuse it of being lacking in features.
With a fingerprint scanner, a dust and water resistant design, a new camera, a long lasting battery, fast charging, stereo speakers and a decent amount of power the Sony Xperia Z5 is a great all-rounder, it just doesn’t really excel in many areas.