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Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Hands-on, First Impressions: Does the 4K Display Really Make A Difference?

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We go hands-on with Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium!

In today’s world having a QHD display resolution is almost mandatory for flagships. Sure, there are a few brands that stubbornly stick with plain ol’ full HD, but QHD is where it’s at. In an effort to try and stand out among their rivals, Japanese company Sony has managed to do the impossible: stuff a high-resolution, 4K display in a smartphone that’s only 5.5-inches big. The result is a display with an eye-watering 806 pixels per inch, the first for any mobile device. The big question is: will the 4K display make a difference in how you view things or is it just a gimmick?

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 V2 octa-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch 4K display, 3,840 x 2,160 resolution
  • 32GB of expandable storage
  • 23-megapixel rear camera, 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS sensor, f/2.0 aperture, phase detection AF
  • 5-megapixel front camera with Exmor R sensor
  • Dual-SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS,
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • 3430mAh battery

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First impressions: a flagship worth saving up for

Sony’s Xperia line of devices have been getting incremental updates in terms of their OmniBalance design, and the new Xperia Z5 family is no exception. If you’ve seen a top-of-the-line Xperia device before, the shape and form of Sony’s new flagship will be familiar to you though the company has made some tweaks to their design.

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Sony Xperia Z3 on the left, Xperia Z5 Premium on the right
Sony Xperia Z3 on top, Xperia Z5 Premium on the bottom
Sony Xperia Z3 on top, Xperia Z5 Premium on the bottom

The most noticeable of which are rounded corners and a redesigned power button, which has been enlarged to incorporate a fingerprint sensor.

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Just like the previous devices, the Xperia Z5 Premium uses a water and dust-resistant body, and has an IP68 certification – that means that the Z5 Premium can be submerged for up to 30 minutes in 1.5 meters of water without anything bad happening to it. The back of the Z5 Premium uses premium metals this time around instead of the usual plastic encased in glass,
which makes the device on par with the most of the other flagships of international rivals like Samsung and LG.

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What makes the Z5 Premium stand out is its display. It’s the world’s first smartphone to have a 4K resolution display, and its 5.5-inch size means it has a whopping 806 pixels per inch. It was already impossible to detect any kind of pixels on QHD displays like on the Note 5, and we feel that the Xperia Z5 Premium’s display is a bit of an overkill. That doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty to look at though, because it is – images and text are absolutely crisp, though the display has a few problems of its own.

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To really take advantage of it, you’ll need 4K content to run on the Z5 Premium. 4K content is hard to come by at this point in time, especially here in the PH. Even the most reliable source of 4K content, YouTube, is not a refuge, since you’ll need a beastly connection (either LTE or WiFi) to be able to reliably run 4K content on the Z5 Premium. On the positive side, the phone has upscaling technology that transforms full HD content to 4K, though obviously the detail won’t be as good as native 4K.

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To drive that display, Sony has turned to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor, pairing it with 3GB of RAM. Many people have misgivings about Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line processor, and we won’t blame them – overheating issues have long marred the company’s flagship SoC, but somehow Sony’s managed to fix that. During our brief hands-on, we recorded 4K video for 5 minutes straight without any overheating prompts at all. Sony’s apparently done their homework and have made the necessary design changes to the phone to tame the notorious, overheating processor – something that its peers have not managed to do.

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Sony’s latest flagship also features a next-generation Exmor RS sensor, paired with a 23mm wide angle f/2.0 G lens, along with a super fast autofocus that the company claims has a 0.3 second focusing time. Because of our limited time with the device, we were unable to test Sony’s claims.

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The Xperia Z5 Premium is certainly a step in the right direction for the Japanese company. Armed with a gorgeous display, fast and cool processor and a beastly camera, it’s not difficult to see that Sony’s playing for keeps this time. It remains to be seen if the 4K resolution panel can make people switch from their rival’s phones though – we’ll have to get more time with the device to give you our verdict. Unfortunately, Sony is keeping the price of the Z5 Premium hush hush for now.

But the Z5 Premium is certainly off to a good start.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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3 Comments

  1. SD 810 vs SD 810 version 2, does it really matter if they have the same overheating architecture? I don’t get why they’d call it a version 2, unless there’s some really really drastic hardware overhaul underneath

    1. These type of comments are annoying and hypocritical. Have you done anything to help the streetchildren? Not because you can doesn’t mean you should and that you will.

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