- Slick design
- Great camera
- Sharp, attractive screen
- Battery life suffers
- 4K offers no real advantage
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Review: The world’s first 4K smartphone is a media monster, but will that visual bombshell also be the Xperia Z5 Premium’s undoing? Check out our full review of the Xperia Z5 Premium’s 4K screen, camera, performance, battery life and more.
Reactions to Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium launch, announced at the same time as the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact, were unsurprisingly mixed. Some quarters were impressed at Sony’s ability to cram 4K visuals into a smartphone, while others asked if it was really worthwhile.
But of course, there’s much more to the Xperia Z5 Premium than just a world-first display. Here’s our full review and thoughts on the Z5 Premium’s performance, battery life, design, camera and more.
The Xperia Z5 Premium is a 5.5-inch enlarged version of the Xperia Z5, riding the increasingly-hazy line between smartphone and phablet. It’s certainly a hand-filler, and with its long rectangular design (similar to the Lumia 950 XL) it’s obviously tricky as hell to use with just one hand, especially given the smooth-as-butter exterior.
However, this isn’t a device that’s designed to be pulled out and played with for just a few minutes; it’s supposed to be clutched in both hands and enjoyed for long periods, as you marvel over that gorgeous screen. The good news is that the Z5 Premium isn’t excessively bulky or heavy. At 7.8mm thick it still slips neatly into a good-sized pocket or bag and the 180g weight won’t snap your arm at the elbow, although that’s still heavier than many other 5.5-inch phones like the LG G4.
From the front and sides, the Xperia Z5 Premium looks just like the Z5 flagship phone. Those tough metal edges come in the colour of your choosing and sport the all-new Xperia branding, along with an uncovered USB port down below and a power-button-cum-fingerprint-sensor on the right edge. That sensor still fits neatly under your thumb when you grasp the phone despite the Z5 Premium’s increased size, so you can quickly jump into your desktops without fiddling around. The microSD and nano SIM card slots are once again hidden beneath a flap, to keep the phone water resistant - dunk the Premium in your pint or the bath and it’ll happily swim for half an hour with no lasting damage.
Flip the Premium over, however, and you’ll find the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact’s frosted glass has been replaced with a shiny surface, just like last year’s Xperia Z3. Unfortunately that shiny back attracts fingerprint smudges like a mofo, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S6. It’s not too noticeable with the black model, but the chrome and gold versions are grease magnets - although you can use that reflective rear to do your make-up or check your hair in emergency situations.
Screen and media
Of course, the star of the Premium show is that 4K screen and it’s once again a solid Sony display, although there are some important differences compared with the Xperia Z5’s panel that stretch beyond the resolution.
Check out our in-depth Xperia Z5 screen review for our full thoughts.
Performance and battery life
One of the most obvious worries with the Xperia Z5 Premium is, what's the impact of the 4K screen on performance and battery life? It's a perfectly valid concern. After all, the processor has to work that much harder to run the display (when viewing 4K content, at least), which doesn't exactly make it very power efficient.
Well, everyday use still gives you a full day of charge, as long as you don’t go nuts by playing games and snapping everything you see with the camera. If you decide to stream 4K footage, making the phone work hard, you’ll get around five hours of playback before it dies. That’s not as strong as the Xperia Z5 or Xperia Z5 Compact sadly, which managed roughly a day and a half of use per charge and seven hours of media streaming.
As for performance, the Snapdragon 810 chip can happily play the very latest games without an issue and handle multi-tasking using Sony’s Small Apps feature. Thankfully the Premium doesn’t get too toasty either, unlike the Xperia Z3+ (which also rocked a Snapdragon 810 chipset). There’s a definite warmth when playing games and shooting 4K video, but not to a worrying level.
Sony's Xperia Z5 Premium packs the same all-new 23-megapixel snapper as the Xperia Z5, which boasts a super-quick and intelligent auto-focus. It’s impressively effective, locking onto your subject immediately even in ropey lighting conditions. You can also now digitally zoom onto a distant point of interest and take a snap and the Xperia Z5 Premium will enhance your photo by filling in the gaps between pixels for a less grainy shot.
For my full impressions of the camera’s photo and video recording credentials, check out my Xperia Z5 Premium camera review.
Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium is the biggest of the new Xperia Z5 family and also a moment in history, thanks to that world-first 4K screen. In truth it’s more of a pub brag than a genuinely useful feature, but the Premium is still a solid media machine that also boasts an excellent camera and strong performance.
However, you'll pay a premium price (hohoho) for this phone, and with no real advantages over the standard Xperia Z5, plus poorer battery life and more difficult handling, we'd say go with the original flagship phone instead.
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
- Snapdragon 810
- 3GB RAM
- Fingerprint sensor