Review: Hands on with Sony's Xperia Z5 smartphone

By James Fordham, January 22 2016

Sony’s latest flagship smartphone, the Z5, is here and we’ve put it through its paces. Not only is it a powerful performer, it packs in a bunch of features that we’ve found indispensable while travelling.

The Sony Xperia Z5 continues where Sony left off with the Z3. The focus remains on strong battery life, a best-in-class camera and understated styling that makes it perfect for the business traveller.

While the clean 'arctic white' shell has plenty of minimalist appeal, the Z5 is offered in a range of colours including black, gold and green (below) as well as chrome, yellow and 'coral' from assorted retailers.

We logged plenty of travel time with the standard $999 Xperia Z5 model, but also available is the smaller Z5 Compact ($849) – with a 4.6 inch screen versus a regular 5.2 inches – and the Z5 Premium, which comes with a slightly larger 5.5 inch display firing at 4K 'Ultra HD' resolution (and a slightly higher $1,199 price tag).

Across the range the Xperia Z5 has some appealing updates from previous Xperia generations.

For the security minded, there's now a fingerprint reader built into the power/lock button on the side: simply press the button to unlock the phone and read your fingerprint at the same time.

Placement of the button means it falls perfectly where your hands would be when using it, so security is seamless and you’re not fumbling around with the phone trying to unlock it or read your fingerprint.

In addition to the inbuilt 32GB of storage a microSD card slot let you load up another 200GB. And with the Z5's impressive 23-megapixel camera, you'll need it!

It's not just about the image capture resolution itself. The Z5's 'shutter speed' is incredibly fast, as is the autofocus, so this is going to be a boon for anybody who wants to capture action shots or just be ready for the moment.

The images themselves are amongst the best quality you’ll find on a phone, and especially good in low lighting conditions.

Impressive low light photos from the Xperia Z5

Daytime snaps boast exceptional accuracy and clarity.

Daytime photo sample from the Xperia Z5

There’s also the option to record 4K video but we found that the phone would start overheating if you record beyond a few minutes. There are no such issues when shooting at a lower HD resolution.

Battery life

Perhaps our favourite feature of the Z5 when we’re regularly using it is the battery life – Sony claims up to 2 days (yes, you read that right) can be wrung out of the battery.

Our tests found we could easily have 20 – 30% of battery life left over after a full day of use and not charging it during the night. For staying connected on the go, it’s extremely handy to not have to worry about charging the phone every night.

For the occasions when you’re running out of juice, Sony offers a quick-charge device, which can be purchased separately.

Sony claims that a 10-minute charge using the quick-charge device will net users around 5.5-hours of battery life – we found it was good for around 4 hours based on our device usage, but still an impressive bit of kit that’s perfect to have handy in the laptop bag or suitcase.

Performance

In terms of performance, Sony’s Xperia Z5 uses the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor – with eight processing cores, it’s more than enough to keep the phone snappy and responsive enough for even the most demanding business traveller.

Sony’s latest flagship smartphone has also been dustproofed and waterproofed so you don’t have to baby it when you’re out and about – the touch screen still operates well even when it’s covered in rain, and you can make phone calls or go about your business without any issues. Sony does advise against using the phone in saltwater, seawater or even fully immersing it, but we found that it was fine to rinse off under the tap if it got dirty or a drink was spilled on it.

The Z5 comes with the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop operating system, and Sony doesn’t tinker with it too much – which we like. If you’ve ever found yourself baffled by Samsung’s Touchwiz software, thankfully Sony has kept the operating system simple to use and intuitive. Sony has also announced they will release an upgrade to Android 6 this year.

If you’re looking for a flagship smartphone with a great camera and tremendous battery life the Sony Xperia Z5 is a solid choice. The added peace-of-mind of the fingerprint reader and waterproofing, the understated style and the storage expansion options available makes the Sony a natural choice for busy travellers.

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Jonnie

Jonnie

09 May 2015

Total posts 34

Wow...a thousand bucks for a phone and they don't even thrown in a quick charger!

And who pays more than 200-300 bucks for a phone these days...mind boggling. 

Alcoano

Alcoano

26 Jun 2015

Total posts 6

The cheapest iPhone starts at $999, and they seem to be pretty popular with the general public so yeah.

jubbing

jubbing

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 203

I mean to be fair, I've met more people who have paid $500+ for their phones than those who have paid less. 

rowwdy

rowwdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

What is the sound like from the earpiece and loudspeaker? Better than say an iPhone?

Lachlan72

Lachlan72

QF

24 Jan 2016

Total posts 27

I've got this phone. Swapped my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge for it, which was driving me nuts with the edges. Grrrr...

Sound/music through headphones is great! Excellent quality. 

Speakers are front-facing which is great. Sound quality from the speakers I'd give about 6.5/10. Good volume but a bit tinny. 

Not as good as the Boom Sound on HTC One. 

Haven't heard iPhone speakers so can't compare. 


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