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A return to excellence: Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 9:55 am 24/12/2015

It’s the end of the year and Sony has arrived with its last big phone of the year, and this one is big, packing in a number of impressive features. Could this be the best phone of the year?

Specs

Sony’s third take on the flagship smartphone sector this year borrows from the other two flagships, and packs it into a body that might look and feel a little more premium than other flagships, which we suspect is the general idea.

Inside this handset, you’ll find basically a mirror image of what’s in the Sony Xperia Z5, with Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 eight-core processor paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, the latter of which can be easily upgraded thanks to a microSD slot found in the unit.

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Google’s Android 5.1 “Lollipop” is found on this phone out of the box, just like the Z5, and again like it you’ll find a 23 megapixel camera on the back with support for 4K Ultra HD video as well as a 5 megapixel camera up front.

Connections are the same, too with a Category 6 4G LTE modem providing download speeds as fast as 300Mbps, while home and work networks can be picked up with 802.11ac/a/b/g/n technologies, and other devices can latch on using Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP. You’ll also find GPS and A-GPS here, as well as Near-Field Communication (NFC), while wired connections are handled over a 3.5mm headset jack and a microUSB connection.

This technology is encased in between two plates of glass and a frame of coloured metal, with the front glass being scratch-resistant and protecting a 5.5 inch LCD, and this is a special LCD.

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For this display, you’ll find some special Sony sauce, with a 4K Ultra HD screen — the world’s first mobile 4K screen, in fact — delivering 3840×2160 on a Triluminos screen.

This screen is unsurprisingly a touchscreen, offering ten points of touch if need be, with the buttons for Android applied as virtual soft buttons.

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Other buttons can be found on the right edge, with a power button hiding a fingerprint sensor, with this sitting above a volume rocker and a physical camera button.

A few ports can be found on this phone, with a 3.5mm headset jack up top, a water-resistant microUSB down at the bottom, and a door on the left side hiding a tray for both the nanoSIM and microSD cards, which this phone can take both of.

The battery is fixed, however, with the 3430mAh battery not able to be removed from the unit.

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Design

The monolith design has sure been something Sony has liked for a while now, and this year, we’ve even seen that play on phone form tightened up a bit, as Sony keeps its simple and minimalistic shape in check.

Not far off what we’ve already seen from the company’s 2015 efforts, the Z5 Premium is slightly more refined, softening the flattened rectangular prism’s edges while still affording it a solid grip thanks to edges that are neither too thin nor too thick.

Button placement is quite good on this model, because while phablets normally orient buttons to the top, this device sends the buttons to the bottom end, with the power button and its fingerprint sensor sitting in the middle edge, with the volume rocker just beneath this and the Xperia staple physical camera button close to the bottom along the right edge.

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This bottom heavy design helps to cement the idea that you’ll be using the phone where your hand traditionally holds the phone, super handy given you don’t have to keep reorienting your position to the top and risk letting the phone fall out of your grip.

Materials also help the Sony Z5 Premium in its design, and if the word “premium” didn’t inform you of just how high end the device was, the fact that this is pretty much two pieces of glass held in place by a metal frame should, with all the innards inside.

That’s essentially what this phone is, with metal and glass all the way, and that’s what we like to see.

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We even like the finish, which is more gold in our review unit than we’d have otherwise liked, though it’s still pretty, almost like someone flattened a gold bar and then made a phone out of it.

Two other variants exist too, with a black option and something chrome, you know, in case you like the liquid metal look from “Terminator 2”.

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Price (RRP)

$1149

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Great specs; Feels excellent in the hands; One of the best mobile screens you’ll ever see; Upgradeable storage; Pretty much water-proof; Arrives with a pair of noise-cancelling in-earphones; Can play high-resolution audio; Able to control a PlayStation 4 console; Fast 4G speeds; Decent battery life;

Product Cons

Still the odd bug slowing it down; Camera still loads slowly; Camera performance could be a little better in low-light; Gets very toasty to hold;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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