Sony Xperia Z range has a distinct style.
And this style is not fundamentally changed for the last few years. Instead, Sony has tried to bring maturity and refinement in the feel and look of the models over the period of time.
I used the Xperia Z3 as my last Sony flagship in early 2015 and now I have managed to use the Z5 for a few weeks now. I am ready to share with you my feedback and opinion about the design, feel and look of the Xperia Z5 in this article.
How does the Sony’s latest flagship look and feel in real life?
As a die-hard “design-lover” in the Android world, how do I see the Z5 in terms of its design and build-quality?
Stay with me and I will give you my verdict at the end of this article.
I hope that it will help you to make your decision about this device if you are thinking of buying or comparing it to any other phone.
The model that I own is the Xperia Z5 (E6653) in Emerald Green colour and is bought from the UK market. Note that this is not the “Compact” or the “Premium” version.
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Xperia Z5 from the Front
Sony’s Xperia Z5 is squarish (rectangular to be more accurate) and slab like in front view – in line with the typical Xperia’s style. The only roundness comes from four corners where a slight radius is introduced in each corner.
The 5.2 inch IPS LCD screen (1080 x 1920 pixels with ~428 ppi pixel density) is the main talking point here. While the left and right bezels are acceptable in size, the top and bottom bezels feel a little “too big”. I appreciate that there must be a lot happening behind these areas but on the front, a few millimetres less on each bezel would have made it even more attractive.
Having said that, the Xperia Z5 feels about the right size for a 5.2 inch screen in hand.
The two speaker slots can be seen at the top and bottom of the front view. The two grills are minimal in size and cleverly placed in the overall design.
I like it up to this point.
But I feel that these slots can be a magnet for dust and dirt. Although mine has not attracted a great amount yet but I can not say that it hasn’t at all and I am a careful and cautious user of my phone. I am thinking about those who have a lot of outside use of the device and this can be a bit of an issue for them.
30.04.2016 update – Nexus 6P speaker grills present similar issue too, read full Nexus 6P design review in this article here.
Finally, Sony’s logo with front facing camera and sensor on either sides of it sit in the top bezel.
Overall a decent look from the front.
Sony’s typical Xperia feel is retained with on-screen software based buttons which are inherited from Stock Android style.
I personally think that a 5.5 inch screen could have been accommodated in the same footprint with a reduction in bezel sizes from all sides and a possible introduction of off-screen buttons (hardware based or touch screen).
I am not complaining here.
I just believe that this could have given the design a big plus for a flagship device.
Xperia Z5’s Frosted Glass Back
Sony has changed the style a little from other previous models at the back of the Z5.
It is still glass, but frosted this time. It is not clear.
This has created a small niggle for me and I am sure for many others as well.
Using a tempered glass (like I did in case of Z3 previously) or plastic protector will cause this frost effect to disappear. It is up to you if you want to use any protection at the back or leave it like that.
I have personally put a thin plastic protector at the back – I am afraid of getting it scratched.
The primary camera with single LED flash sit on the top left corner.
NFC point and Sony’s logo are both in the middle and top half of the phone.
Finally, there is an Xperia logo in the middle but towards the bottom of the phone.
And that is about it.
Xperia Z5’s back is simple, elegant and to-the-point. The frosted glass feels attractive and gives the phone a premium touch. It is flat, squarish and slab like but this is consistent with Sony’s style.
I personally prefer “curves” (as in HTC One M9) but would like to give my appreciation and thumbs-up to Sony for their flat and premium looking design.
It is a matter of personal choice for you if you prefer lines or curves.
Here is a quick snap of the Z5 and Z3 comparison when looking from the back.
Xperia Z5 Frame (All Sides)
There is a lot happening on the sides of the phone
I can clearly feel that Sony has refined the buttons, their placement and practicality in Xperia Z5. The metal frame does a good job of sandwiching and holding two glass panels in Xperia Z5. There are four Nylon corner pads in each corner to help with absorbing shock (impact) in case of significant falls and drops etc.
Let us first see some comparison pictures with the previous models Z3 and Z2. I will then explain each side further.
The power button is combined with the fingerprint scanner in Xperia Z5. A welcome addition and a useful feature if it works efficiently. I will not cover the “effectiveness of this fingerprint scanner” in this article but position wise, I have no complaints.
The volume rocker below the power button is slightly too far down in my opinion. I found it a “touch uncomfortable” however at the same time, I believe that I am getting used to it. Personally, I would have put the volume button approximately 1cm higher than its current location.
Finally, the dedicated camera button for taking pictures is on the lower right. Sony has persisted with this button for a few years now and I think it is a useful button to have. I am not a massive picture-taker but perhaps if you take many pictures, you can shed more light on its usefulness.
Left side of the frame is relatively simpler.
A longish slot with a tray that can take Micro SD card and Nano sim card is fully covered to retain the IP68 rating of the device for waterproofing. It is not the easiest and most practical way of swapping your memory card or the sim card but you are not going to do this frequently, hence it is not a huge issue.
Basically you need either a pointed object or a finger with nail to comfortably take the tray out.
And the etched Xperia logo at the bottom left of the frame which adds to the overall premium effect of the device.
Top frame only houses the standard 3.5mm audio jack and the microphone which are visible parts.
I like the audio jack to be on the top and it is even better to have it on the left side. I found it to be comfortable and practical to use.
A waterproof micro-USB port which is not covered with a flap.
This sounds interesting.
I have not carried out any testing on that front but I would strongly suggest to read full details and recommended usage style of this device under water or in wet conditions before trying.
The only other item at the bottom is the connection hook for hand-strap. Again something which Sony frequently uses in its devices due to inclination on imaging properties and using them as point and shoot cameras.
Sony Xperia Z5 – Overall Design Feel
Xperia Z5 design review is not complete without telling you how does the device feel in hand as a personal smartphone.
It feels smart, elegant, balanced and refined.
However, this is all with a rectangular and slab style look of the Xperia Z series devices. If you are comfortable with this “linear-ish” style, you will like it.
At 154gms, the device feels about the right weight.
The 5.2 inch screen fits in well in the overall footprint and thickness of the phone (7.3mm).
It is a balanced and well designed piece of hardware by Sony. I agree that it is not massively different from the Z3 however, we can clearly see refinement and maturity in the design and build quality.
HTC One M9 was not a massive change from its previous flagship, the M8.
On a similar trend, Sony’s Xperia Z5 is not significantly changed from its previous model, instead, minor tweaks and design changes are implemented to make it a better looking and more refined flagship device.
I am fine with this approach as long as the end-user like me and you feel that the company has done enough to keep the design as one of the main considerations in overall package.
I believe Sony has just about done it.
Xperia Z5 Design Review – Wrap up
So here we are.
A nice and elegant smartphone by Sony.
Materials used in its build look good and overall device feels premium in hand.
If you are a fan of Sony’s slab-like and rectangular design, you will like the Xperia Z5.
If you are like me who is more inclined to round and curvy designs (like HTC One M9), I would ask Sony to introduce more curves and gentle contours in their future devices.
It just feels that Sony wants to stick with their traditional style at the moment.
How do you see the Xperia Z range in general and Z5 in particular on design front?
Do you see Sony at the forefront of the premium and elegant looking flagship Android smartphones?