On first glance, the back of the Xperia Z5 looks like it’s made from metal, but it is actually frosted matte glass. This looks good but also makes it smooth and very slippery. The sides of the phone are slippier still. The edges of the phone – where the sides meet the front and the back – are slightly but signifcantly pronounced.Despite these peculiar design choices, the Xperia Z5 is the best-looking Xperia device yet. It stays true to Sony’s Omnibalance design but boasts some subtle improvements. The Xperia Z5 is very well put together, with Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and back, an aluminum frame and rubber bumpers on the corners to help absorb shock if the phone is dropped.The Xperia Z5 is also dustproof and waterproof , although you should observe Sony’s advice regarding water-resistance on Xperia devices. The Xperia Z5 measures 146 x 72 x 7.5 mm, but fits comfortably in your hand. The buttons for volume, camera shutter and power are all located on the right-hand side of the phone. The power button, which was circular on the Z3, is now pill-shaped, and also houses a fingerprint scanner.The left-hand side of the device now has a stamped Xperia logo at the bottom and a flap at the top, under which you’ll find the nano-SIM card slot.The top edge has a headphone port and a pinhole mic. The bottom features an uncovered USB 2.0 port and a small loop for attaching a lanyard. On the front of the Xperia Z5, there’s a subtle Sony logo up the top, with a proximity sensor and the front-facing camera (with a 5.1 MP Sony Exmor sensor) on either side of it. The upper edge of the display glass features a barely discernible speaker cut-out. The Z5 has another speaker grill at the bottom of the display, providing stereo sound.The layout on the back of the phone is the same as ever, with the 23 MP main camera in the top left-hand corner and a single LED flash beneath it.
The display hasn’t seen an obvious upgrade. Despite the fact that Sony is lavishing a 4K screen on the larger Z5 Premium, the Z5 remains lumbered with a bog-standard 1,080 x 1,920-resolution IPS display, topped with unbranded tempered glass.Despite the protestations of various manufacturers, a 1080p screen stretched across a 5.2in screen diagonal is sharp enough that most people won’t be able to discern the pixels from normal viewing distances.More importantly, the quality is excellent, particularly when it comes to brightness. Push the Xperia Z5 up to its maximum level (with adaptive brightness turned off) and it reaches eye-searing levels of the kind that make it readable in the sunniest of conditions. Despite the fact that the phone uses a standard IPS panel, Sony’s X-Reality adaptations mean that colours really leap out at you – the effect is not dissimilar to the super-saturated colours you get on Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens.If you prefer your colours more muted you can always turn it off, and in this case, the display stacks up pretty well. When it comes to outright quality, the Sony Xperia Z5’s screen can’t quite match the immediacy of Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays, or the contrast ratio and solidity of the screens on Apple’s latest smartphones, but it’s the match of anything else on the market right now.
Software & Apps
The Z5 ships with 5.1 Lollipop and Sony will, of course, make Android 6.0 Marshmallow available for the Z5 range but there’s no timing for the upgrade at the time of writing.On top of the stock Android elements like recent apps, Sony still adds its floating widgets giving you things like a calculator, timer and even a web browser which can be resized, and pinned to the side when not in use. We also welcome the ability to customise the quick settings so you can make sure the ones you use the most are there.We’re seeing much less fragmentation with Android these days and Sony is one smartphone maker which doesn’t really mess too much with the vanilla interface. It does have the firm’s usual style and add-ons such as nice wallpapers, widgets and apps such as Walkman and PlayStation.We think users should be the ones to decide which apps are installed. Combine, they take up a reasonable amount of space but you can uninstall any you don’t wish to keep which means this isn’t a big problem.
It’s now a 23MP shooter, one that Sony is claiming to be “the worlds best smartphone camera” according to a batch of adverts scattered all over the UK.Although the sensor now has a higher pixel resolution, the most exciting element of the new camera is autofocus. There have been some major improvements here and the new hybrid autofocus works within 0.03 seconds.As for video recording you’ve got the same options as on previous Xperia handsets. You can film in 4K video on the rear camera, but it uses up a good deal of the space and there isn’t really much point with a Full HD screen to watch it on.If you’re really interested in 4K video recording you may be interested in the Xperia Z5 Premium that is coming in November this year with a 4K display on the front.Other video options are 1,080p at 60fps or 720p at 120fps. Other features on the camera also include face detection, HDR, an LED flash and phase detection autofocus.On the front is a 5.1MP selfie shooter which is the same we saw on the last phone. Nothing seems to have been changed here but there doesn’t really feel like much needed to be. It’s going to film 1,080p video that looks great and is good for video chatting while there are a lot of pixels here to make your selfies look gorgeous.
The Xperia Z5 has a octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (MSM8994) CPU with four low power cores clocked at 1.5 GHz and four high-performance cores clocked at 2 GHz. The 810 is a 64-bit chip with the Adreno 430 GPU built in alongside 3 GB of RAM.Android Marshmallow means external storage will be treated in the exact same way as internal storage (although it is less secure than flash memory), but you’ll have to wait a little while for the update.If the Snapdragon 810 sounds familiar, that’s because it is the same processor used disastrously in the Xperia Z3+. The good news is that Sony has taken care of the processor’s overheating problem in the Z5, so it won’t suffer the same fate as the Z3+.The bad news is that the first level solution was to underclock the CPU, making it slightly less powerful than it was designed to be. When it comes to raw performance, the Xperia Z5 benchmarks at around seven percent below the scores posted by the Galaxy S6, which is currently the fastest Android smartphone on the market. In Geekbench and Vellamo, the difference grows to between 16 and 23 percent, but the Z5 scores better than any other phone with a Snapdragon 810.
The Z5 is equipped with a 2,900mAh battery, which Sony claims delivers up to two days of stamina.Sony’s battery management schemes are pretty good, and contribute to excellent stamina in moderate use.Do any gaming, audio streaming or video watching, however, and you’ll be looking at battery life of closer to a day. A comfortable day, with 20% to 30% of battery capacity remaining at bedtime, but a single day nonetheless.Still, the Z5 has support for fast charging, and will give you 5hrs 30mins of battery life from ten minutes plugged into the mains.
If you’re going to buy a Sony phone, make it this one. The Xperia Z5 is the best phone Sony has ever produced and it’s up there as one of the best Android phones on the market right now.After the abomination that was the Xperia Z3+, it would have been easy for the company to slip out of the market it was already struggling in. It might have just given up and walked out to sea if it had a similar experience here.It’s still expensive, and that’s an issue.