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80 days with Sony Xperia Z5.
Model E6653 (not compact and not premium) and running on Android 5.1.1.
It is time to say good bye to this attractive phone but before I do that, let me give you my final verdict of this flagship by Sony.
It is going to be an average consumer’s feedback of this phone.
I am not going to bore you with specs and nitty gritty details. My aim is to give you a real-life feel of this device and help you to make your decision if you are thinking of buying this phone. Or perhaps, you are just curious to know more about this phone.
Note that I have used the Samsung’s S6, HTC’s M9, LG’s G4 and OnePlus’s 2 before using this phone so my this review will have an element of comparison built into it. I am sure you are fine with it and in a way, it is good because you get a bigger picture.
Straight to the point.
I see 2 strengths, 2 passes and 2 weaknesses in this flagship by Sony.
Let us explore them one by one.
Table of Contents for Quick Navigation
- Z5’s First Strength – The Design
- Z5’s Second Strength – Display Screen with X-Reality and Triluminos Technology
- Z5’s First Pass – Its User Interface (UI)
- Z5’s Second Pass – The Battery Life
- Z5’s First Weakness – Its 23MP Main Camera
- Z5’s Second Weakness – Price to Specification Ratio
- Sony Xperia Z5 – The Verdict
Z5’s First Strength – The Design
I wrote my detailed analysis of the design of this smartphone a few weeks back.
Click on the picture below to read full article but I am going to summarise my views on its design, feel and look in the next few paragraphs if you are interested in reading the summary only.
Z5 is a beautiful device.
The size feels right in your hand for a 5.2 inch screen and its 7.3mm thickness looks slick.
It is made with attention to detail and good workmanship using premium quality materials. The frosted glass back adds to the overall effect and the metal band around the phone feels premium.
Yes Sony has stuck to its traditional rectangular style and slab-like look without any step-change here. But it feels elegant in hand. I must say that Z5’s design is more matured and refined (although looks similar) as compared to the Z3 which was the previous Xperia device I used.
It is a subtle change and steady refinement of the Xperia range.
If you ask me personally, I like curves more.
I will still rate the HTC’s One M9 and its unibody metal construction on top of my list of favourite Android designs but that is only me.
It is purely your choice if you like lines (Xperia style) or curves (HTC style).
Even I like curves more, I still enjoyed the design of the Xperia Z5 and I can appreciate that Sony has given us a beautifully made device here. If design is a priority matter for you, this phone should definitely be in your list of considerations.
It will have my 8.5/10 score (feels extremely good).
Z5’s Second Strength – Display Screen with X-Reality and Triluminos Technology
I know that these terms and high-tech terminologies can be gimmicks for an end user.
What matters is how it looks to your eyes and how it feels to use.
Xperia Z5 display is brilliant.
I am not talking about the 4K premium version here. This is a review of the normal 1080p IPS LCD screen with a pixel density of approximately 428ppi. In other words, a bog standard full HD screen which comes as a standard offering in almost all flagships nowadays.
Sony uses two special features here to bring its users an immersive and rich viewing experience.
- X-Reality Engine – software based image processing technology which enhances the picture quality.
- Triluminos Display – produces richer and deeper colours by forcing LCD display to show wider range.
And that is about it.
I am not going to go any deeper into details here. Android Authority has written a useful article on this subject if you want to know more. Although it refers to the Xperia Z Ultra device but the logics explained are valid for our Xperia Z5 as well.
So how does the display look like in a normal day to day use?
I took my plastic screen protector off for two full days to analyse the screen quality without any layers on the top.
The screen looks sharp, rich and real-to-life. It does not over-exaggerate the colours. The colours remain nicely vivid and tonal quality is excellent. It is the best Xperia display that I have enjoyed to date having tried and used 4 Xperia devices before.
I would definitely class it as one of the strengths of this device – its picture quality through its full HD screen.
Z5’s First Pass – Its User Interface (UI)
Pass is something which is acceptable and satisfactory for me but not great.
Sony’s Xperia UI has been an “OK” element for me for a long time. Nothing that I can write or boast about and at the same time, nothing that bothers me much.
The UI in Z5 is clean, practical and intuitive though. I have written a full article on Xperia Z5’s user interface – check it out if you want to go into further detail. It does not show any significant signs of sluggishness or lag with day to day use. It is stable and does not crash much either – in fact in these 80 days, it only crashed once needing a reboot. Not bad at all.
Menus are good. Navigation is practical and settings are easy-to-use.
However, good is not good enough in today’s fierce competition.
Sony fans are after a killer UI experience. Upcoming Android flagships are trying hard and investing more and more effort in bringing a smooth, fluid and pleasant UI experience to the end-user. This is an area where Sony needs to put more effort and energies in.
I am sure in coming Xperia X range devices, we will see a further refinement and maturity in Sony’s user interface for mobile devices with Android Marshmallow as their base operating system.
Z5’s Second Pass – The Battery Life
What a difficult topic to cover.
Everyone is different and everyone’s nature of use of their smartphone is different. To me, it is practically impossible to tell you a number or grade for Xperia Z5’s battery performance.
However, there are a few things I can tell you to give you a flavour.
Xperia Z5 comes with a 2900mAh Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery which I believe is a decent size battery for a device which is only 7.3mm thick and has a glass back (thicker than plastic back such as LG G4 etc.). In an ideal world, the software optimisation (operating system, apps usage and user interface) should have made the best use of this battery capacity to give an end-user the longest battery life possible in an average situation.
Xperia Z5 to be fair, has done well on this front.
The battery lasts for a day with light to moderate use needing you to recharge overnight.
You may need to charge it in the evening if you are a moderate to heavy user.
Perhaps in the early afternoon if you are a gamer or use apps which are demanding and battery-hungry.
So it all depends on your circumstances. Sony does give you options of Stamina Mode and Ultra Stamina Mode to increase the battery life but there is always a compromise on functions and features.
I have used the Stamina mode regularly and found it to be the best balance of battery life and performance. You don’t feel that you are slowed down or tasks are taking longer but at the same time, the battery life is considerably prolonged.
In essence, no complaints but can Sony give us something stunning in their next Xperia device in terms of the battery life?
Z5’s First Weakness – Its 23MP Main Camera
23 mega pixels and Sony’s own lens with 1/2.3 inch sensor with f/2.0 look good on paper.
Here is the DxOMark verdict – a giant 87 score putting it right on the top along with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus (March 2016).
But how does it perform for an end-user in a day to day scenario?
Below average for me, considering it is a 2015/2016 flagship by Sony.
Click on the picture below to read my in-depth review of the camera performance of the Xperia Z5.
I was expecting more from Sony.
The images were not as sharp as I was expecting. Especially around the full frame. The edges were soft-focussed generally.
The picture colours were not deep (rich) and real-to-life on many occasions. Yes I appreciate that it is only a smartphone camera and we can not compare it to a DSLR but even in the smartphone camera market, the expectation (right or wrong) is that for a flagship device, the camera should be good enough to replace a decent point-and-shoot camera.
In summary, it is an OK-performer for those who are not super-concerned with their smartphone camera. It can still take some great photos for you.
However, if camera performance is one of the main considerations for you in deciding for your personal smartphone, look elsewhere.
Techradar has analysed the Xperia Z5 camera in depth and presented the results in this detailed article – have a read if you want to have a second opinion.
Z5’s Second Weakness – Price to Specification Ratio
Price is a subjective matter again.
A device which is nearly six months old at the time of writing this article (released September 2015) is still selling for approximately £410 on Amazon UK (March 2016).
Xperia Z5 is a relatively more expensive flagship if we compare it to the rest of the competition such as S6, M9 or G4 etc. All of them are selling for less than the price of the Z5 when I am writing this review.
Sony Xperias are traditionally more expensive than the rest of the market. This has been Sony’s style for a long time now.
I think differently.
I am an advocate of “value” – even in the flagship market.
OnePlus has demonstrated that a flagship can still be competitively priced. Yes it will be difficult for Sony to adopt OnePlus’s business model but an attempt can be made to make Xperia devices more affordable and more commonly used due to their “value for money”.
LG’s G3 and G4 in the recent years have been good examples too. Not super-cheap, but still demonstrate a good value for money in the flagship market.
Sony Xperia Z5 – The Verdict
Before I give you my verdict, have a look the following poll results which I carried out on REASONTOUSE. This was closed after 200 responses in November 2016.
Z5 has its strengths and it has its weaknesses too.
I will give it a 7.5/10 (feels good).
I am a design lover so I love it on that front. I am not overly bothered about the camera performance as I am a casual shooter hence it is not a big deal-breaker for me personally.
You might be different.
Camera and picture quality might be important considerations for you hence your view of this phone could be completely different from mine.
Only you can make a decision.
Think about the Xperia Z5 strengths and weaknesses that I have explained in this article and see if they help you to make a decision.
And when you have your views ready to share with us, let us know what do you think.
Do you think Sony has done enough this time?