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Sony Xperia Z5 vs Xperia Z3+ vs Xperia Z3: Should I upgrade?

Sony has launched its massive Xperia Z5 flagship phone, boasting a number of improvements over the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3+. So what is the difference and should you upgrade to the Xperia Z5?

Read next: Our Sony Xperia Z5 review

Design

The Sony Xperia Z5 keeps the Omnibalance design ethos of the previous flagship phones, but jazzes it up in a couple of areas.

For a start, you now have the Xperia branding on the edge of the handset, which adds an extra touch of character to the Xperia Z5. More importantly, the glass rear is now frosted which helps to keep it scuff free, handy when your palms get a little greasy. Okay, so it’s not quite a reason to upgrade, but it’s nice all the same.

The Sony Xperia Z5 has jazzed up design in a couple of areas.

Another ‘nice-but-not-quite-upgrade-material’ feature found on the Z3+ and Z5 but not the original Z3 is the uncovered USB port, which allows you quick acces when charging. Despite those uncovered ports, all three phones are water-resistant, so you can happily dunk them in your pint.

One of the only design features on the Xperia Z5 that makes it a worthy upgrade is the fingerprint sensor, built into the phone’s power button. This works like Apple’s TouchID – just press your thumb or finger against the button’s surface to jump straight into your desktops. It’s impressively accurate considering its size and very conveniently located. If security is an important feature for you, that scanner will make the Z5 a seriously enticing prospect.

The Xperia Z5 has a fingerprint sensor built into the power button.

Screen and media

‘Unfortunately’ there’s no real update between these three Xperias when it comes to visuals. The Xperia Z3, Z3+ and Z5 all sport 5.2-inch Full HD IPS screens, boasting strong, richly coloured visuals. There may not be any Quad HD goodness on the Xperia Z5, but it’s still a gorgeous panel that makes movie watching a pleasure.

Audio fans are also well catered for by all three handsets too, with Hi-Res support all-round.

In fact, the only upgrade is the memory card slot. The Xperia Z3 and Z3+ support cards up to 128GB, whereas the Xperia Z5 supports up to 200GB, great news only if you need to carry around tons of Ultra HD movies.

The Xperia Z5 supports cards up to 200GB.

Performance and battery life

The Xperia Z3 is still a nippy performer, as our recent one year re-review showed, thanks to the capable Snapdragon 801 processor. You can still play the latest games and stream HD media without any stuttering or lag. Of course, if you’re looking to buy a Z3 now, it likely will start to age before the end of a standard 24-month contract.

We still prefer the Xperia Z3 to the Xperia Z3+ however, because of the Snapdragon 810 processor packed inside Sony’s follow-up. The Z3+ got more than a little toasty under pressure, to the point that the camera app actually shut itself down regularly.

Sony has promised improved performance in the Xperia Z5.

The Xperia Z5 rocks the same Snapdragon 810 processor as the Xperia Z3+, but thanks to a combination of improved processing software and tinkered hardware, the processor isn’t strained as much and the phone gets a lot less toasty. It’s also a solid performer with only the occasional little pause when loading an app to mar an otherwise smooth experience.

As for battery life, the Xperia Z5 boasts a day and a half of life between charges just like the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3+, which is much better than the average modern handset. And you can enjoy a slightly improved seven and a half hours of media streaming per charge.

Cameras

Sony has finally updated the camera sensor from the Xperia Z3 and Z3+ 21-megapixel snapper to a new 23-megapixel Exmor RS lens.

The Z5 has a crazy 23-megapixel Exmor RS lens.

Check out our full Xperia Z5 vs Xperia Z3/Z3+ camera test to see how the cameras compare.

Verdict

The main reasons to upgrade to the Xperia Z5 are basically the fingerprint sensor and the all-new camera. That said, the Xperia Z3’s camera is still a solid snapper, while the phone itself performs as well as expected a full year on. So you might want to save your upgrade until your handset is starting to lag, unless the bolstered security is a serious plus for you.

If you’re currently rocking the Xperia Z3+, the Xperia Z5 is a big step up in terms of performance, with no overheating issues or other problems unless you cane it with 4K video recording.

Read next: Our full hands-on Xperia Z5 Compact review at IFA 2015

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