We test the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium’s 4K Ultra HD resolution display to see if that boosted resolution makes a difference to everyday use and media enjoyment, comparing with rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the original Xperia Z5.
The limelight-hogging star of Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium is definitely that 4K screen, which crams a mind-exploding eight million pixels into just 5.5 square inches. For the record, that’s 806 pixels-per-inch (ppi), compared with a frankly paltry 577ppi for the Galaxy S6 and a simply embarrassing 401ppi on the iPhone 6 Plus.
So, do you really need a 4K screen on a mobile phone? It’s a hot debate, with plenty of advantages and disadvantages – check out our full ‘is 4K on a phone necessary’ feature for some in-depth analysis. In a nutshell, there’s little to no real benefit over Quad HD on a panel this size, but movies do look stunning on the Xperia Z5 Premium, in part thanks to the sharpness of the screen.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect the Xperia Z5 Premium to put out 4K images non-stop. In fact, it displays content in 1080p during everyday use, the same as the Xperia Z5, until you try to view some 4K content. The phone then snaps into the higher resolution and allows you to zoom into video with a pinch.
There’s obviously very little 4K content out there right now, with the likes of Netflix only supporting up to HD streaming. I couldn’t even get 4K videos on YouTube to stream in Ultra HD as my WiFi bandwidth wasn’t strong enough. And while the Premium can upscale HD content to 4K, it’s basically impossible to notice any difference with the naked eye.
In fact, we had to crack out our macro lens in order to see the difference between the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Premium. Zoom right in (x21) and you’ll spot individual pixels on the Z5, while the Z5 Premium only shows a subtle ‘wavy’ effect, as you can see below.
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium screen zoomed x21:
Sony Xperia Z5 screen zoomed x21:
Sony’s X-Reality software engine ensures crisp visuals and realistic colour reproduction, with the option to boost the screen’s vibrancy in the settings if you prefer. Don’t worry about the panel not being bright enough, either. Even under harsh glare, you can easily read text and enjoy video with the automatic brightness adjustment activated.
However, compared with the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact, the Premium’s screen is rather subdued. Colours are clearly less punchy, even after turning on Sony’s Super-Vivid Mode and boosting the brightness. That means that rivals such as the Galaxy S6 are also much more vibrant, while the Premium leans towards realistic hues. Viewing angles also suffer, although the sheer size of the Premium’s screen means you can still comfortably watch movies with a mate, without having to cram your heads together.
The Xperia Z5 Premium packs a gorgeously sharp screen, but it’s hard to notice any real difference between this and the Z5 – besides the viewing angles and colour reproduction. Considering the extra expense, we’d have to recommend the Xperia Z5 over this model.