Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: A great smartphone with a gimmicky screen

Alex Kidman 24 December 2015

Sony’s high-end smartphone impresses with a quality camera and high resolution display.

The Z5 Premium plants its flag in the high end space simply by its title; as you might expect it sits at the very top of Sony’s 2015 flagship offerings ahead of the Sony Xperia Z5 and Sony Xperia Z5 compact. It’s an Android 5.1.1 device, sold outright in Australia for $1,199.

Bonus quick charger and noise cancelling headset with Xperia Z5 Premium purchase from Sony

For a limited time, grab this premium smartphone with a next-generation camera (23 MP Exmor RS™ Hybrid Autofocus) and stunning 4K display and get Sony noise cancelling headphones and a quick charge charger included.

View details
SonyXperia Z5 Premium
Screen size5.5in
Resolution2160x3840
Display density806ppi
Storage32GB
Weight180g
ProcessorQuad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57
Rear camera23MP
Front camera5.1MP
Battery3430mAh

Upsides: Why you’d want the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

  • Excellent performance: The combination of the Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB of RAM gives the Xperia Z5 Premium plenty of grunt to play with, and it shows in both anecdotal real world testing and in benchmarks. In Geekbench 3’s multi-core tests, the Z5 Premium narrowly squeaks its way to the top of the performance chart for 2015 handsets:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Sony Xperia Z5 Premium13484922
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    Apple iPhone 6S25404410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    Sony Xperia Z513584134
    LG G411903313
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 36552461
  • Gorgeous display screen: The Z5 Premium’s claim to fame is its 4K capable screen, with a resolution of 2160 x 3840 pixels and a pixel density of 806ppi. In some ways for a screen this small that’s overkill, but if you do throw high resolution video at it, it performs admirably.
  • Great camera: The Z5 Premium’s 23MP camera has a very sharp and fast focus, and it’s aided by the inclusion of a proper side-mounted shutter button. As with any smartphone, you can still take lousy photos from time to time, but the Xperia Z5 Premium does open up possibilities for some truly stunning shots as well.
  • Waterproofing: Like the Sony Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact, the Z5 Premium is IP-rated for water and dust proofing. This isn’t quite the same thing as saying you can go deep sea diving with it. IP ratings refer to fresh water immersion, not salt water (or for that matter chlorinated water). Still, Sony is the only company to have maintained waterproofing across its premium product lines.

Downsides: Why you might not want the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

  • Average battery life: In the premium handset space, the Z5 Premium only manages an average battery life in Geekbench 3’s battery test with the screen dimmed.
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
    Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
    Sony Xperia Z5 Premium6:09:303695
    Sony Xperia Z55:41:303414
    LG G45:27:503224
    Apple iPhone 6s3:52:102321
    Alcatel OneTouch Idol 35:42:002276

    In practical use terms that’s well enough to last a single day of usage, but it’s not quite the two days of battery life that Sony hypes the Z5 Premium as having.

  • 4K Video is a gimmick (for now): We noted this above, but it’s worth reiterating. So far, the actual support on Android for 4K video is quite limited, so while you might think that Netflix, for example, would output 4K on the Xperia Z5 Premium, it doesn’t. Most of what the Z5 Premium does is only at 1080p, which undoubtedly spares the battery life considerably.
  • Super slippery: This is a common problem for many metallic handsets, but the curved sides of the Xperia Z5 Premium make it particularly noticeable. Sony’s done a decent job in terms of waterproofing and dustproofing the Z5 Premium, but if it slips out of your hand and onto the concrete, it’s still just as likely to shatter as any other smartphone.

Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

The Xperia Z5 Premium manages to combine style and power in a package that’s quite compelling, even against the high bar set by competing smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 6s Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. It’s also a decent step up from its own sibling, the Sony Xperia Z5.

At its outright asking price -- and for the moment, outright purchase is the only way to get the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium -- it’s not markedly cheaper than competing offerings, save for the Google Nexus 6P or LG G4 smartphones.

Where can I get it?

At launch in Australia, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is only available as an outright purchase with a recommended price of $1,199.

You’ll need to pair that up with a SIM-only plan, either outright or month to month contract; here are some options with more than 5GB of data per month that would pair nicely with the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium.

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