When it comes to the display, Sony is pretty much adopting the philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and applying the screen from last year.
That means the Z5 doesn’t quite nail the top-notch high resolution experience of its friends over in the Samsung smartphone space, but you still get an excellent display all the same.
Sony itself doesn’t use AMOLED screens in its smartphones, sticking with its Triluminos technology instead, known as “quantum dot” to other companies beginning to employ it, and while the colours aren’t super saturated like on Samsung’s AMOLED screens, they’re still lovely all the same.
The pixel ratio is also very high, offering roughly 424 pixels per inch, spot on to what Sony offered in the Z3 last year, though the screen feels like it has to content with less of a bezel this time around.
This level of detail comes together with the Triluminos technology nicely to reveal a beautiful display that is hard to take your eyes off, even if the brightness and clarity can’t compete with the level of display type Samsung has used in its 2015 flagships.
There’s more to a phone than a screen, though, even if the entire thing is built under a large touchscreen, and new features are part of this.
Quite simply, we want to talk about one of these new features: the fingerprint sensor.
We’ve seen this technology come and go over the year, but since Apple reinvented how the fingerprint sensor should work in the iPhone 5S, and apps have begun to come on board to make this the new way of securing your phone, it has been the new “must have” feature in a premium phone.
In the Z5, Sony is showing off its first experiments with a fingerprint sensor, and wow is it impressive.
Like other companies, Sony has incorporated the sensor in a button, taking the power button on the right edge and installing it inside, but because Sony’s power button is on the edge where you grip, the fingerprint sensor doesn’t require any extra handholds to get the sensor to pick up on your finger.
It’s not like where the fingerprint sensor is on other popular devices, which is the home button on both the Apple iPhone 6S or Samsung Galaxy Note 5 under the screen. No, for those devices, you have to have an awkward one-handed hold where your phone feels like it might fall out from under your hand, which is odd, uncomfortable, and can be a little confusing.
But the with Sony’s placement of a fingerprint sensor in its typically edge-mounted power button, the security spot is a revelation, like something you wonder why has taken as long as it has to be made into a reality. It’s just a logical place for the security strip to be, and you’d never realise it if you didn’t own or play with the phone.
This excellent placement is made better by the fact that the sensor is so good.
It’s not just a matter of it scanning your fingertips or the broad surface of your digits.
Rather, Sony has allowed this scanner to pick up on more parts of your finger, like the joins of the finger you grip with, meaning you can actually pick up the Z5 and open it with your finger simply by gripping the phone, with a little haptic vibrating giving you a buzz to tell you that “yep, you’re in” finishing it off.
About the only time the sensor doesn’t work is when your fingers are wet, which on a waterproof phone — which the Xperia Z5 is — might be a bit of a problem, except that’s a bit of a hard problem to get around right now.
Fortunately, you have a backup PIN that you can enter, so it’s not that bad an issue.
Water resistance is also worth talking about because it’s still a pivotal feature on the handset. While Samsung has killed the feature going from last year’s S5 to this year’s S6, Sony has kept the slight ruggedisation around, and it still works a treat.
Even better is the water-tight microUSB port at the base of the handset, meaning you have no doors to close up or seal when you want to take the phone into water, or if someone accidentally spills their beer.
Granted, the water ratings Sony certifies its phones with aren’t matched to anything outside of freshwater, but if you run the phone under a tap after taking it to the beach or into a pool, it should be better than leaving it to try with chemicals or minerals on the various elements.
And hey, you can even take pictures of your food as you cook without fear that the flour or oil will ruin your phone, because you can just run it under a tap and clean it off quickly. Awesome.