Sony’s Xperia Z5 premium is the flagship phone Sony has owed us for a long time. While thewas a fairly uninspiring reissue of the brilliant , the Z5 Premium packs a bigger screen with a whopping 4K resolution, which is 3,840×2,160 pixels. It’s the first phone to have a 4K resolution and it’s the highest resolution I’ve ever seen on a phone.
Cue wild applause.
But wait: Don’t get too excited about seeing your photos with revolutionary levels of resolution. I personally could tell no difference in clarity on a high-resolution image between the Z5 Premium’s display and that of the— even though the iPhone display has half the resolution of the Sony.
We’ve debated before whetheris worth bothering with on small devices like phones, and that argument is even more pertinent having spent serious time with this phone. The major selling point of the Z5 Premium is its 4K display — that’s also how Sony tries to justify its whopping asking price — but when you can’t see any real difference, it’s more of an empty marketing boast than a real benefit.
Fortunately, the Z5 Premium has other bragging rights, such as a meaty processor, a waterproof design and a 23-megapixel camera that puts it on par with any of today’s top-end flagships. Yet it’s all let down by a design so dull it could send a hyperactive toddler to sleep and a price tag somewhere north of ridiculous.costs less and looks far more stylish. It’s where I’d spend my money, over the Z5 Premium.
In the UK, the Z5 Premium can be yours for an eye-watering £630, SIM-free, directly from Sony. In Australia, it’ll set you back AU$1,199. Sony has yet to announce whether it’ll be available in the US, but that UK price converts to around $960. Better start saving now.
- 5.5-inch screen size
- 4K (3,840×2,160-pixel) resolution
The Z5 Premium’s resolution equates to a massive 801 pixels per inch. That’s the highest resolution I’ve seen on a phone, beating both iPhone 6S Plus (401ppi) and the(577ppi). On paper, that’s an impressive feat, but the reality isn’t quite as groundbreaking.
While you might think that cramming a truckload more pixels into a screen will make everything look sharper, I couldn’t see any real difference in clarity between high-resolution images seen on the iPhone 6S Plus and the Galaxy S6 and the Z5 Premium — even when I looked very close up at the displays to try and pick out individual pixels. The same goes for video. I showed comparison photos to several people and they agreed that the difference was so marginal, you’d never notice it was there.
You’ll find the Z5 Premium in black, mirrored silver or gold. The black model I reviewed is really very dull and is without doubt the last colour variation I would ever choose for this phone.
The phone has an IP68 level of water resistance, which technically allows it to withstand being submerged in water up to 1.5 metres (5 feet) in depth, for up to 30 minutes. Sony, however, no longer recommends fully submerging its phones in water. That’s a real shame, as the ability to take underwater photos was one of the main reasons to buy one of the previous Z phones.
What this means for you is the waterproofing is there to keep the Z5 Premium safe from spilled beers, and for taking calls in the rain. The latter of which I’m pleased about, given I live in perpetually damp Britain. You’ll need to firmly secure the rubberised flap over the combined nano-SIM and microSD card slot, although thankfully the 3.5mm headphone jack on top and Micro-USB port on the bottom don’t need a seal to keep the water out.
Android software and Sony’s skin
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- Custom Sony skin
- Too much pre-installed bloatware
The Z5 Premium comes with Android 5.1 Lollipop as standard, and there’s no word yet on when this phone might receive an update to the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow. I can’t hold this against Sony too much, as it announced the Z5 Premium last September before Marshmallow was even available. Sony doesn’t tend to roll out software updates to its phones quickly either, so I wouldn’t recommend buying the Z5 Premium if you really crave your first taste of Marshmallow.
Sony’s thick Android skin is one of the main reasons updates are so long in coming. I don’t mind Sony’s tweaks on standard Android though. It looks quite neat, it’s easy to use, and you can easily sort apps in the apps tray by alphabetical order, most used or by name, which makes it easy to find the tool you’re looking for.