on 17-11-2015 02:50
…… How to start? Hmm, I mean the into to these things sets you guys up for the tone of how things are gonna be written, guiding you in a way to take on the text in a certain tone, be it jestful or serious delivery of my experiences with the devices I like love to review. And in my mind is the review pinned to the very top of this sub-forum. The review of the single greatest phone created by mankind, the Galaxy S6 edge. It’s a painful goodbye, it is the first time I regret doing something before the new device has arrived, before the unboxing. The worry of Sony’s Xperia history was heavy, the risk, the dread. I was all too aware of my buyers remorse, and the Z3+ was very much in my thoughts…
It’s fair to say, the Z3+ was a bit pants, a dirty mark on the entire Z range, I personally avoided the thing like the plague, played with one once, realised my z3 was faster, and left. Everyone was so sure we would see IMX230, certain we would see a 2k panel from bravia, and it would definitely not overheat like the M9. Instead We got a Z3 with a SD810, the upgrade desire was zero, the S6 edge had been released and was absolutely stunning. The rest was history.
Coming off the poor Z3+ release, no one expected too much off Sony coming in to IFA 2015. There were rumours that the IMX230 would finally see light in the Z5 (or Y1 as people wondered if Z line was finished) rumours of a 2k screen 6 months too late also did the usual rounds, it was expected to follow the pack in other words, nothing mind blowing, nothing too new, the safe option..
But then, just 4 days before IFA, a screen grab from a certification appeared online, normal for devices getting shown at upcoming shows, but this one was very interesting. It showed a Sony mobile phone, with a resolution of 2160p, a 4K phone. What Sony had been working on, since as far back as the Z2, was about to steal the entire IFA news feeds...
Next was then, This is now.
Roll on to November 13th 2015 and the Xperia Z5 premium was released to the western world, and in true viridis fashion...
Heres ya box
Here is the contents which consists of, leaflets, data cable, standard sony earphones and an empty charger box (hmm)
And here is the O2 exclusive Gold Xperia Z5 Premium, a 5.5” UHD phablet.
Specifications (as always, taken from sonymobile.co.uk)
ON THE INSIDE
Google Android™ 5.1 (Lollipop), 64-bit Qualcomm® Snapdragon 810, 64-bit Octa Core processor
Single SIM, Nano SIM
MEMORY AND STORAGE
3GB Ram, Up to 200 GB microSD™ card
154.4 x 76.0 x 7.8 mm
5.5'' 4K UHD (3840x2160), 806 PPI, Triluminos display for mobile, X-Reality™ for mobile, Dynamic Contrast Enhancer
1/2.3” 23 MP Exmor RS™ for mobile sensor, Hybrid AF 0.03 sec*, 5 x Clear Image Zoom, ISO 12800 Photo / 3200 Video, SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode, 4K video recording
I normally begin with the power and the cpu description, but you cant ignore the unique selling point of the phone, it would be like writing a review of the first wheel and starting by describing the brakes.
Sony was criticised to the hilt for not sticking a 2K panel inside the Z3+, they responded by saying “there is no need for a 2K panel” people took that as meaning 1080p was perfectly adequate in Sony’s eyes when in fact they were already developing the 4K panel. You see, Sony is a 4K company, their films are 4K, their TV’s are 4K, their cameras are 4K, Why would they make a 2K panel? As the bloke in the interview also said...”there isnt even any 2K content, its either 1080p or 4K scaled down, the only logical step was 4K” so they invested in this panel instead. The Z5 premium carries a 5.5” IPS LCD with live colour LED at a resolution of 3840x2160 (4K/UHD) which is ALSO a resolution of 1920x1080, it is native at both resolutions...it is also the worlds first dynamic 4K/FHD display.
To do this, Sony has created each set of 4 4K pixels in the same pattern as a single 1080p pixel and following the same pattern over the whole display, simply put, when a set of 4 4K pixels are lit, it is exactly the same as 1 1080p pixel. No loss of quality, no scaling effects, the screen is native in both resolutions. You can see the pattern and likeness in the pictures below, on the Z5 premium image, the smaller circled row is 1 pixel in 4K, the larger row is 1 pixel in 1080p.
Does it really make a difference? Yes it really does, again shown below is 2 pictures, 1st is the Z5 before the 4K pixel separation so is 1080p, the second is after the pixels have shifted to full 4K. The difference is obvious immediately. It does this with ANY 4K content viewed on the device or with any photos in the gallery,
I also strongly believe that all text is rendered at 4K as the pixilation difference is immense, even zoomed right in, the pixels look to be running in 4k mode,
Xperia Z1 above and Z5 premium below
whilst system graphics remain at 1080p. Alternating between the two resolutions no only saves god knows how much battery life, (2 day battery life is a set standard for Sony now) but also helps tame that renowned Snapdragon, preventing any overheating issues which could arise at running 4K all the time. Simply put, there’s more innovation in this display alone, than in the entire mobile market this year, a hybrid dynamic screen with perfect FHD/4K native transition. I could go on about it all day but, space and time innit.
Powering on the device gives the usual, common, and simple task of setting up sony accounts and google accounts, the only exception here is a nice new boot logo which actually looks the nuts. It is quick to set up as you'd expect with Android and can be done even quicker thanks to tap and go NFC set up.
Sony Xperia OS
Xperia keeps things nice and light on the skinning of vanilla Android, the only real adjustments they make is the connect features and various media applications, Music player by the Walkman team, Gallery and Movies by the Bravia team, PSN by the Playstation team and the camera, this time using the team at Alpha. Its nice, quick and easy to use, it is the exact definition of pick up and play that android promotes in its evolving OS, each time its updated, you must be able to pick it up and know what to do. The Z5 series as a whole runs Android 5.1.1 out the box, with 6.0 Marshmallow coming soon.
The Sony Exmor RS is fitted into the Z5, and isnt even the IMX230 we longed for, instead the guys at Alpha developed a brand new sensor, the IMX300. A 25mp sensor (yes 25mp) that can shoot 23mp photos in 4:3 aspect or 20mp at 16:9 aspect (instead of the usual stepdown to 16-18mp) it does this by having a 25mp sensor which no photo mode take full use of, 23mp will use full sensor height, whilst 20mp will make full use of sensor width, see below for better description.
I tell you, its a very capable shooter, able to focus as quick as 0.03 seconds thanks to its 192 point phase detection hybrid auto focus, meaning it wil focus on any point of the screen, and bloody quickly too. The results are quite good, id say it does come out slightly less than the S6 when its lower light, but in daylight and with the right settings, it produces very good shots. It also outperforms all cameras when it comes to really low light, thanks to its 12800 iso.
Oh its good, its really damn good, i managed to go all weekend without even trying the audio, but at work today i put in my Xiaomi piston 3 headphones and played some music, exceptional quality.... but then i went into the audio options and set my preferred equaliser setting and activated the Auto headphone adjustment and was literally blown away with how good it sounds, im convinced Sony make the best audio software available for any phone, and i thoroughly recommend you go in store and compare the quality. Viridis does not lie..
Again, thanks to the 4K panel, videos on the Z5 Premium are an utter delight to watch, even if you dont have 4K videos to hand, any stored or streamed 1080p content is upscaled to 4K using the tech provided by Bravia, it works, it really does and i know i keep banging on about this screen but the extra wow factor it brings to your old videos is truly a fantastic spectacle to watch
Adreno 430 makes this a very capable gaming device, able to run all android games available, it also (of course) plays PS4 games via Remote play, this feature alone is worth its weight in gold if you hate corrie and have a mate waiting to team up in a game, take your gaming wherever you go.
Here we go, it gets warm, it does. Playing 4k or filming 4k will make it get warm, its fast, it does the jobs required of it and i personally have not had any cause for worry in regards to heating or more importantly, overheating. Sony have really done well with these 810’s after the poor year start in multiple devices, utilising dual copper water cooling pipes to drag heat away, as well as making the phone slightly thicker has all helped keep the notorious CPU under control, preventing any issues arising from earlier models.
Yeah its a sony and yeah it will give you two days battery life (“based on user submitted results of average use tests”) being honest though, it really could, i mean it hasnt for me yet as ive been caning it all weekend with 4k films and gaming, but even then i was getting a solid 6hrs + screen on time with brightness at 50% with adaptive lighting on. I see no reason why 2 days cannot be reached with standard usage. Fyi tho, using a standard 1.5a charger will take flippin ages to charge it to 100%, the 3480mah battery is god damn huge and it beggars belief why a “Premium” model of anything would not have a quick charger or any charger in fact in the box considering 1. The price and 2. The fact its a god damn feature of the phone. Instead the onus is ours to go out and purchase a quick charger (or any charger) from sony as the charger box inside the Z5 packaging is actually empty, i found this very sour tbh on a “premium” model and challenge O2 to explain why every iphone has a charger even though 90% of purchasers are guaranteed to already have an Apple charger, i feel many buyers, may resort to buying online and getting a dangerous unsafe charger
Sony has stepped back into the limelight after a break away and again i find myself slightly peeved that a device of its calibre will fail to shift units, if any single brand is proof that being the best has no bearing on sales then Xperia is it, the Z2,Z3, and the Z5 have all been miles ahead of Apple in terms of all round devices, even apple fan sites reviewed some of them and rated them higher than the Iphone at the time, well until it came to the conclusion then they still recommended the iphone, funny that.
Im a Sony fan, i always have been, i grew up in an age where the best had those 4 letters on it, where everyone on earth had a “Walkman” and no one had a “portable cassette player”, did i regret coming back to Sony after the S6 edge? Yes i did. I hated the fact i caved so easily to the design i love without remembering the annoyances, but now? No. After a few hours it was clear this device exceeded everything they had made prior, the build quality is back up to what id expect, the sound quality is sublime and the visual treat that is THAT display is an amazing accomplishment and a true game changer. The buyers remorse has been replaced with utter joy and each time i play around with this thing it just gets that bit better. The samsung is faster, it is more refined in its look, and has a more adaptable camera in lower light, but for me... the Z5 Premium offers the better package,
Its good to be back.
on 17-11-2015 03:15
Absolutely brilliant review @viridis
Although the display and the camera look amazing I'm not convinced this phone would be for me. The device and it's properties would be wasted on my poor eyesight and hearing impediment.
I know you're a Sony fan of old but from your review the Z5 Premium may well be one of the phones of the year.
on 17-11-2015 08:07
Yet again another stunning review @viridis. I admit to being a little surprised when I knew you were changing from the Edge so soon......now it all becomes clear. You are a dedicated Sony fan and this review shows your passion for the brand. I love the way you write, making this so personal and genuine. The pictures are absolutely beautiful....so the camera must be damn good. I make no apologies for saying again...this is how to write a review. Presentation and layout excellent..... Awesome job Lord @viridis
on 17-11-2015 09:18
on 17-11-2015 09:50
OnePlus 6 (O2 & Sfr), Z3 Tablet (Three UK), iPhone 8+ (EE)
17-11-2015 10:07 - edited 17-11-2015 10:23
on 17-11-2015 11:39
This is excellent @viridis! I love how you give your most honest opinion about each and everyone of the features you describe. Perfect use of snapshots and imagery and most importantly great (and honest) summary conclusion in the end. Wonderful piece. Are you enjoying your device then?