Review: Sony Xperia Z5 – Best camera phone with best features

Sony’s Xperia Z5 is the latest flagship mobile from the Japanese tech giant. However, unlike other flagships, Sony released three different variants at the same time: Z5 premium, Z5, and Z5 compact. In many ways, Xperia Z5 is quite similar to Z3+. But unlike Z3+, Z5 uses a new camera sensor and includes a fingerprint scanner. Plus, there are other fine tunings and improvements to make Z5 a worthy upgrade.

Design

Sony Xperia Z5 has an elegant, minimalistic design. Symmetry plays an important part in Sony’s new design language. The phone is almost identical from different angles. The dimension of Xperia Z5 is 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm and it weighs 154g. On the front side of Xperia Z5, we have a 5.2 inch 1080p full HD display with about 69.3% screen to body ratio. The front also has a 5.1-megapixel front camera beside the Sony logo. Interestingly the earpiece grill on top and speaker plus microphone grill at the bottom are barely visible and completely symmetrical in shape.

On the right side of the Xperia Z5, we have the fingerprint enabled power button. Xperia Z5 also has the volume controller and a camera shutter button there. On the left, there is the SIM plus memory card slot, sealed with a customary cover. There is nothing else on this side except an engraved “Xperia” sign.

The top of Z5 contains the 3.5mm audio jack and a secondary microphone. The bottom has the USB port. Interestingly, the USB port is not covered even though Xperia Z5 is a waterproof smartphone. The back panel of Xperia Z5 is beautifully made with frosted glass. Here we have the 23-megapixel camera along with an LED flash. The Sony Xperia and a tiny NFC logo is also present on the back.

Display

Sony Xperia Z5 has an IPS LCD screen with 16M colors. The 5.2-inch display has a resolution of 1080 X 920 pixels with a pixel density of about 428. The display uses many Sony technologies like the BRAVIA and X-Reality engine plus the Triluminos filter for better color production. The brightness was good, but the contrast ratio – not that much. An interesting option in Xperia Z5 allows you to control the display’s color balance manually. But in practice that is not of much use.

Interface, Apps

Sony Xperia Z5 runs on Android Lollipop 5.5.1 (and will soon be upgraded to Marshmallow). The OS has been customized by Sony to give it a distinctive look while embracing the material design. There are multiple home panels with widgets. However, lock screen widgets are not available anymore.

The notification panel is similar to standard Lollipop. The app drawer has a search bar on top and a pull-down menu on the right. Default Android task manager is present to switch between open apps or close any of the background apps. There are also some special apps, called Small Apps, available. These apps don’t open in full screen and let you do the tasks quickly. The contacts and messaging system is the standard ones with a Material design. In addition to the standard QWERTY keyboard, the sweep input feature is also available. A keyboard can also be optimized for one-handed input.

The default browser is Google Chrome, which is most probably the best choice. Other pre-installed apps include the Calendar, Office Suit 8 (with PDF viewer), File Manager, Calculator and the Clock app with a stopwatch, timer and world clock. Several power saver options are available, and they work quite effectively. The Backup and Xperia Transfer (to transfer data from an older phone to new one) works perfectly.

The new security feature obviously includes the fingerprint recognizing option and it is very well implemented at the software level too. There are other pre-installed Sony apps like – PlayStation, Lifelog and Google apps like – Gmail, Google maps, etc. So all pretty standard.Other apps worth mentioning are the Sony’s Album, Music and Video apps. The Album app is basically a photo organizer plus editor. The music player was previously called Walkman in Sony devices, but now it is only called Music. It is a fairly advanced app with lots of enhancements available. Works excellent.

The Movie app is fine too. The only problem is that it does not work with AC3 audio codec, which is a common issue with almost all smartphones. That means you cannot play MKV files in the movie player. More specifically, you can play the MKV video but won’t get any audio output. The player can play 1080p movies with ease and also supports subtitles. The FM radio is RDS enabled. You can identify music with TrackID.

Hardware and performance

One of the distinctive feature of Xperia Z5 (and the Z series in general) is the IP68 certified water and dust resistance. The touchscreen is capacitive LCD with scratch resistance and oleophobic coating.The newly introduced fingerprint sensor on the power button is probably the best implication of biometric security. Sony Xperia Z5 uses an industry standard Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 chipset, powered by an octa-core processor – a quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex A53 and another quad core 2 GHz Cortex A57 and 3 GB RAM. On the graphics department, it features an Adreno 430 GPU. It has a 32 GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 200 GB using a microSD card.

The phone has good network connectivity, clear voice output with good noise cancelation and clear stereo sound. But the sound output of the speakers is somewhat low. Inbuilt sensors include proximity sensors, gyroscope, compass, accelerometer, and barometer. In benchmark tests, Xperia Z5 stands on par with other flagships of the current market. But lagging behind iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 in many comparisons. But the Z5 is really fine tuned with many improvements and Sony has successfully solved previous issues like overheating.

Camera

The Sony Xperia Z5 uses a new image sensor IMX300 with the hope of making Z5 the best smartphone camera on the market. The 23-megapixel rear camera shoots really great photos. It has HDR and Sony’s exclusive superior auto mode among other features. But still we can’t say this is the best camera out there. The front camera is 5.1 megapixel with fairly decent image quality. Z5 can record 4K videos with a frame rate of 30. The quality of videos is really impressive.

z5 camera

Battery

The Sony Xperia Z5 has a 2900 mAh Lithium Ion non-removable battery with 540 hours of standby time and 17 hours of talk time in 3G. With many enhancements from the previous Z3+, Xperia Z5 has a better battery life, and there are also several power management systems like Stamina Mode to make it run longer.  There is a fast charging mode that can charge 60% of the battery in just half an hour.

Connectivity

The Sony Xperia Z5 is a GSM / HSPA (3G) / LTE (4G) smartphone. It uses nano SIM. Other standard connectivity features like Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Wi-Fi direct. It has Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP. A-GPS, USB 2.0 and NFC are present. There is no Infrared port.

Verdict

Sony is trying really hard to gain position in the mobile market with their new flagship Z5. The struggling smartphone makers have shown their determination to come back. Xperia Z5 does almost everything right. But unfortunately still it feels like just a minor upgrade. This has been a consistent problem with Sony. For example, the previous Z3+ is not really much different form Z5. However, a better camera and superb build quality may make Xperia Z5 a preferred mobile for many smartphone users.

The Review

Sony Xperia Z5

8.2 Score

"The Sony Xperia Z5 has a 23-megapixel rear camera, 5.1-megapixel front camera, Snapdragon 810 chipset with 3GB of RAM."

The Good

  • Build Quality
  • Camera
  • Waterproof
  • Solid battery

The Bad

  • Feels minor upgrade
  • Expensive

Breakdown

  • Build Quality 90%
  • Features 90%
  • Display 80%
  • Camera 80%
  • Software 70%
  • Performance 80%
Amit Shinde

Author

Amit Shinde

I am a simple person trying to go beyond my boundaries. Technology is my passion, and I like to play with gadgets to find the new technologies. I need the internet in every step of my life, and without the internet, I feel like it's a waste of my life.

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