Sibling rivalry: Sony’s Xperia Z5 reviewed

Australia has missed out on a flagship from Sony in the year 2015, but now we’re about to get three. First off the rank is the Xperia Z5, and it’s a phone for people who like a 5.2 inch display, but want something clean, simple, and upgradeable.

Features

Sony’s latest thwack at a smartphone in Australia is the Xperia Z5, with this handset taking an evolution of last year’s Z3 and improving design, specs, and a little more.

In this handset, Sony has equipped an eight-core processor from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 810 which will work alongside the Adreno 430 graphics processor, 3GB RAM, and 32GB storage, with a microSD card slot to expand this if need be.

Google’s Android 5.1 “Lollipop” can also be found on this unit, here out of the box, here with Sony’s interpretation of how Android should look and feel.

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Connection options are pretty normal for a flagship, offering 802.11a/b/g/n and 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP and apt-X, GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS, and 4G LTE, all of these for the wireless connections, while wired is handled through the microUSB charge and data transfer port at the bottom of the unit. A 3.5mm headset jack can also be found on the phone.

Cameras can also be found here, with a 23 megapixel rear camera with autofocus and an LED flash, capable of capturing video in 4K Ultra HD, while the front camera caters for Full HD video and 5 megapixel stills.

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All of this sits in a glass and aluminium body beneath a 5.2 inch Full HD display, revealing 424 pixels per inch across the 1920×1080 resolution. Sony’s Triluminos technology lights the display up, providing colour and contrast similar to the company’s TV efforts.

Water resistance can also be found here, with IP65/68 protection, suggesting that the Xperia Z5 should survive a close encounter with liquids, though given the ratings, it might be best to not send it down below one metre for over 30 minutes.

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Buttons on the handset all exist on the right side, with a power button hiding a fingerprint sensor, just above a volume button and then a camera button.

The remainder of the buttons are on-screen, with Android’s back, home, and multitask buttons appearing under the display as digital representations.

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Ports are also limited, fairly normal for Android phones, with a 3.5mm headset jack up top while the microUSB port sits at the bottom. A tray can be found behind a port on the left side holding both the nanoSIM and the microSD.

The battery in the Sony Xperia Z5 is rated at 2900mAh and is not removable.

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Performance

Sony has been a little absent for the 2015 year, and while every other major smartphone maker has had at least one big phone out (and some have offered even more), the maker of the Xperia range has been fairly quiet, at least in Australia.

Overseas, it has announced improvements that never quite made it here, with a Z3v upgrading last year’s phone of the year, the Z3, as well as a Z4 that didn’t really go anywhere, beyond an excellent tablet that we’ve recently taken a look at.

But finally, Australia isn’t left out in the cold, with the Z5 arriving, offering up a 5.2 inch Full HD display to replace last year’s screen of the same dimensions. This year, the design is a little smaller and Sony has even managed to pack in some useful bits and bobs, like a fingerprint sensor, a redesigned camera, while keeping in last year’s ruggedisation.

Is the Z5 the phone that can steal the crown from Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy range?

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We’ve always been a fan of Sony’s flattened rectangular brick design, called “Omnibalance” by the company, and the Z5 feels like a tightening up of that concept.

The edges are a little softer, and the phone feels a little shorter, too, almost as if even Sony got a little tired by its oversized bezels and thought reducing them made sense this time around.

A smart move, as that’s an area we’ve always been critical of, as have other reviewers and even a few customers.

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The build is also decent, with glass on each side and aluminium framing, adding up to a mobile that doesn’t really feel like any other out there, so you don’t have to worry abut looking like another person with an iPhone or even a Samsung device.

To put it simply, the Sony Xperia Z5 offers a clean look and a minimalist feel, and if it feels like you’re holding two pieces of glass held in place with a small metal frame, it’s because you basically are.

But get past that and switch the phone on, because that’s where you see it’s not just two sheets of glass wedged in between some metal.

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