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


Switch the phone on and you can get stuck into the performance, which despite having the same processor and set of specs as its normal sized sibling, the Xperia Z5, seems to handle itself far better.

Synthetic benchmarks put the Z5 almost 10,000 points higher, which doesn’t make much sense given they should be identical, so we’re putting it down to tweaks and performance problems of the previous model.


Read through our Z5 review and you’ll find performance problems abound, and yet the Z5 Premium didn’t feel nearly as bad.

In fact, one might say that the Z5 Premium felt good, offering little lag and an overall system performance that made it operate less like a slug and more like a cheetah, which is always a good thing.


The look of Android hasn’t changed much either, and while Sony does run its own take on the Google operating system here — complete with Android 5.1 “Lollipop” found on this model and not the latest 6.0 “Marshmallow” edition of the OS — it’s fairly minimalist, with a flattened skin, multiple home screens, widgets, and an app menu system that you can easily uninstall apps from.

Getting around this is fairly easy, and the on-screen soft buttons of Android help, allowing you to focus on the system itself, which every so often reveals a bug or two and a crashed app, but generally is fairly efficient, much like what we saw on the Z5 Compact.


Mobile performance is also good, and the Category 6 modem in the phone revealed speeds as high as 188Mbps in our tests in Sydney’s CBD on the Telstra 4GX network, though given that the maximum of a Cat 6 network is 300Mbps, it’s clear you can get a little more speed out of this phone if need be.

Just be careful how much you push the Z5 Premium, as it can get a wee bit toasty. Depending on how much you drive the processor, you may find the back of the Z5 Premium gets a little hot, almost to the point where you wonder if a heater has been included in its feature list (it hasn’t).


That 4K screen

One of the major parts and probably the raison d’être to consider the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium over other smartphones is the screen.

There have been some pretty monumental screen changes this year, and now that Quad HD’s 2560×1440 resolution is on more than a handful of devices, it’s hard to imagine how we went this long without super sharp screens.

Still, the display on the Z5 Premium is something different again, bringing a blistering Ultra HD resolution to a smartphone.


To put that into perspective, the 5.5 inch screen on this smartphone delivers an astonishing 3840×2160 pixels, making it sharper than anything else out on the market.

Indeed, no phone can match what Sony has offered here, and no other screen in general. This is the smallest 4K display on the planet, delivering an insane 806 pixels per inch, over 500 higher than Apple’s so-called “Retina” concept where eyes apparently stop noticing screen difference, and almost 300 higher than LG’s suggestion that art print books are sharper again and the human eye can spot up to a little over 500 pixels per inch.

If the numbers and stats are getting you down, know this: Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium is the sharpest display we’ve ever seen.

It’s also fairly bright, offers outstanding colour, with solid viewing angles across the board. Almost every staffer held this one in their hands and just gazed at it, commenting on the quality as if it was a game changer.

And it’s not far off.


Indeed, it’s so sharp, sometimes you notice the screen hasn’t been super optimised necessarily for what has appeared on screen to the point where it feels you might cut your finger on the information (you won’t).

There are some catches to this clarity, however, because you don’t always see the 4K resolution, which is probably a good thing. Aside for being superfluous, firing up this many pixels would be a huge grain on the 3430mAh battery, even with Sony’s special sauce Stamina mode included.

To get around this, Sony instead fires the 5.5 inch display at Full HD’s 1920×1080 most of the time, delivering closer to 400ppi, which is still good enough for most of your activities and spot on with what the Apple iPhone 6S Plus delivers. No one has complained about the screen quality there, so we can imagine Sony is cool with this.

So when do you get that 4K goodness?

Doing regular Android stuff? Your 4K screens runs at 1080p Full HD.
Doing regular Android stuff? Your 4K screens runs at 1080p Full HD.

Why when you have something 4K to show on the screen, like say an image shot at 8 megapixels or higher, or when you have a 4K video to show off.

Luckily, you have something that does both of those.