Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Beautiful, expensive, pointless

Sony delivers on its premium promise, but a 4K screen on a smartphone is plain silly, no matter what anyone says

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Price when reviewed 
577

Sony’s Xperia Z family is growing. Now you don’t need to choose between the brilliant Xperia Z5 or its remarkably capable smaller brother, the Z5 Compact – you can spend a bit extra and get the top-of-the-line Xperia Z5 Premium.

However, why you would remains something of a mystery to me, even after living with the handset for a week.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, and this can be a handy summary of the whole review if you want to save a little time: the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is a very good phone, but it’s no better than the Z5 and only modestly better than the Z5 Compact. All three share the majority of components, from processor to camera technology. The Compact has 1GB of RAM less, due to its 720p screen, but the Z5 Premium costs around £130 more than the Z5, and £200 more than the Z5 Compact. Why? It has a larger 4K screen.

That’s a resolution of 2,160 x 3,840 – giving a total of 8,294,400 pixels spread over a screen measuring 5.5in from corner to corner – and a pixel density of around 806ppi. Why? That’s a very good question, and one that Sony hasn’t convincingly answered, especially since the Z5 Premium stays in 1080p mode for the majority of its usage to save battery life.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: First impressions

Before we get to the innards, though, how is it to hold and look at? That depends on how you get on with big smartphones. At 5.5in, the Xperia Z5 Premium is a monster. In fact, it’s similar in size to the recently reviewed Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, despite having 0.2in less screen real estate, so you probably want to try it in store first, should you feel like taking the plunge.

Ours, as you can see from the photos, arrived bedecked in gaudy gold, which I can’t say would be my first, second or even third choice, but it can also be had in black and chrome, which both look smarter than this. The finish on the Z5 Premium feels quite slippery in the hand, too, although Sony has now taken the step of giving the front and back a small lip, meaning it doesn’t slip and slide when left on a flat surface.

If it wasn’t for the colour, the Z5 Premium would look like a larger Xperia Z5, which, in effect, is what it is. Just like that phone, it has the fingerprint reader on the right-hand edge, the slightly oddly-placed volume rocker near the bottom and a micro-USB charger on the underside: there’s no USB Type-C here, despite the phone’s premium branding. Like its smaller siblings, the Z5 Premium has an IP56/IP68 rating, which means it should withstand some water and dust, but Sony isn’t confident enough to call it waterproof.

Price when reviewed 
577inc VAT, SIM free from free on a £50/mth, 24mth contract

 

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium specifications

Processor

Octacore (quad 2GHz and quad 1.5GHz), Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 

RAM

3GB

Screen size

5.5in

Screen resolution

2,160 x 3,840, 806ppi

Screen type

IPS

Front camera

5.1MP

Rear camera

23MP (f/2, phase detect autofocus, OIS)

Flash

LED

GPS

Yes

Compass

Yes

Storage

32GB

Memory card slot 

MicroSD

Wi-Fi

802.11ac

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 4.1, A2DP, apt-X

NFC

Yes

Wireless data

4G

Size (WDH)

76 x 7.8 x 154mm

Weight

180g

Operating system

Android 5.1.1 Lollipop

Battery size

3,430mAh

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