Sony launches three new flagship Xperia Z5 variants

This September, Sony has decided to grace us with the presence of three variants of its brand-new flagship – the Xperia Z5, Z5 Premium and Z5 Compact. Debuting in the smartphone market with these devices is a staggering 4K-resolution display, alongside the first appearance of a fingerprint sensor in a Sony device. Read on to find out more!

Earlier today, Sony officially announced its new flagship device – the Xperia Z5. A device leaked all over the Internet (nothing new there, really), it serves to shake up the smartphone market and address claims of going ‘stale’ with previous iterations. Including a fingerprint sensor, a never-before seen 4K display in a smartphone and claims of having the quickest smartphone autofocus, it will be interesting to see how far Sony gets in its challenge against the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6.

First and foremost, let’s get a rundown of the key specifications and differences between the three variants on offer.

Specifications

Xperia Z5 Xperia Z5 Premium Xperia Z5 Compact
Display 5.2”, Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels) IPS LCD 5.5”, 4K-resolution (2160 x 3840 pixels) IPS LCD 4.6”, HD (720 x 1280 pixels) IPS LCD
Camera ·         23 MP

·         f/2.0

·         1/2.3 inch sensor

·         0.03 seconds Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF)

·         5x lossless zoom

·         24mm lens

Video Recording 4K-resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels)
Processor 64-bit Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
GPU Adreno 430
RAM 3 GB 2 GB
Storage 32 GB, micro-SD expandable
Battery 2900 mAh, non-removable battery 3430 mAh, non-removable battery 2700 mAh, non-removable battery
Other ·         IP65/68 (waterproof and dustproof)

·         aluminium unibody

·         front-facing speakers

·         fingerprint sensor

·         flapless micro-USB charging/data transfer port

What’s New?

Z5_white_fronthoriz

It’s been nearly an exact year to the day the Sony Xperia Z3 was announced, which was – and still is – an absolutely superb device. However, with the launch of the utterly lacklustre Z3+ in the interim, Sony needed their next device to wow the general public. Enter the Xperia Z5.

Now it really is far too early to pronounce a judgement of the Z5 until we actually get one in our hands, but lets see what Sony has improved and what we hope they have improved.

Pixels… Pixels everywhere

Z5_Premium_gold_group
The Z5 Premium’s coloured chrome is shiny enough to act as a mirror – no joke

If you buy the Xperia Z5 Premium, you’re treated to a display that is 0.3″ larger than the standard Z5, and one that also has 4 times as much as pixels as the standard 1080p, Full HD display. This means that Sony gets the honour (or misfortune?) to be launching the first smartphone with a 4K-resolution display.

The good part about this is that you can finally, truly, take advantage of the 4K media that exists – such as some YouTube videos, and your games (assuming they scale that far). However the 4K market is still sparsely populated with very few pieces of media that are truly 4K in resolution. One hopes this will start a trend, inducing further 4K content to be produced.

What is a matter of concern is the impact on battery life. Even though Sony is including a larger battery for the Z5 Premium, it is too soon to say if that will successfully offset the increased battery drain by the larger and denser display. Pair that with the suspect Snapdragon 810, and you may find yourself in a battery-life quagmire.

The camera’s really fast

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An improvement that should endear itself to parents attempting to photograph their newborns or teenagers looking to capture their wild moments, all the three Z5 variants come with a really fast Phase-Detection Autofocus (PDAF) system that clocks in at a speedy 30 milliseconds. This autofocus system is analogous to what exists in high-end DSLR cameras, like the Canon EOS 70D.

Not only is the camera literally faster, it’s also fast in the technical-photography sense. The lens aperture has been widened by about 1/3 stops more to f/2.0, from the previous f/2.2. In layman terms, this means the camera can let in more light, reducing the blur in your low-light photography since you can get by with a faster shutter speed. The wider aperture means that there is a wider depth-of-field, so that creamy bokeh (what many smartphones artificially replicate as ‘Background Defocus’) will naturally be more pronounced too.

There’s so much room for activities!

After two long years of begging Sony for internal storage larger than the then-offered 16 GB, we’ve now finally got it. All three Z5 variants now come with 32 GB of internal storage, and still keep their micro-SD card slot. Maybe a certain South Korean manufacturer could learn from them…

Getting touchy-feely

Z5_WHITE_FINGERPRINT_0064

Being only one of two major manufacturer to have not included a fingerprint sensor in any smartphones previously (LG is the last one now), Sony has now given in to public demand and slyly engineered one to hide behind the power button on the right-side of all three Z5 variants.

While there isn’t much chance Sony will be able to match Touch ID’s speed and accuracy, it still bodes well that they are responding to threats posed by their competitors.

What’s not new?

The Z5 Premium has
The Z5 Premium has “Xperia” engraved into the side

There are many things Sony hasn’t changed from the various old Z-series flagships – most of them good. For example, the design looks as stunning as ever, video recording is still at 4K resolution, the memory is still 3 GB, micro-SD card slots are still a thing, battery capacity is as good as ever, the devices are still waterproof (without pesky micro-USB flaps since the Z3+), and the speakers still face the front.

However, there is one major issue that we will not know has been solved until we get to run comprehensive test on:

Getting steamy with the Processor

Snapdragon_in_mobile

You see, the main reason we (and pretty much everyone else) did not like the Z3+ was because it got hot. Like unbearably it’s-gonna-burn-my-hand-to-embers hot. While our Z3+ reviewer, Nicholas, ‘got around’ the problem by repeatedly dunking the phone in water, it did hamper his attempts to actually use it.

The cause for the body temperatures of the Z3+ reaching the heat output of a thousand suns was Qualcomm’s arguably worst system-on-chip (or commonly referred to as a processor), the Snapdragon 810. While on paper it is a far faster device than the previous Snapdragon 801 and 805 SoCs, it frequently suffered performance hits as software throttled processor speed in order to keep the temperature (rather unsuccessfully) in check. I’m not going to dwell too much on why this happened – for that you can read Ars Technica’s in-depth analysis – but I’m going to jump right into why this is a cause for concern (which you probably already realise by now).

Sony is using the same processor as it did in the Z3+, albeit version 2.1, which is supposed to fix the heating issues. The good news is that the OnePlus Two, which uses the same v2.1 Snapdragon 810, does not exhibit these extreme heat issues seen in the Xperia Z3+.

Further good news is that preliminary tests show that the Z5 has solved these issues and tamed the dragon. However, the cause for wariness still remains regarding the S810, and we’ll be eagerly awaiting the time when we can get our hands on the three Z5 devices.

Final Words

Z5_White_onWhite_DI_007

I have always been of the view that Sony Mobile could easily be world-beaters if they step up their marketing and make it easier for US citizens to purchase their products. I’m sure they would not be operating in the red if they did so. With the exception of the Z3+, all of Sony’s Z-series flagships have been superb devices, and the Z5 has just one obstacle to clear before cementing itself as another great Sony smartphone.

The Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact will be launching later in October this year, with the Z5 Premium coming a month afterwards in November. As for pricing, you can check out the table below and the accompanying pre-order bonuses.

Product Model Price Availability Pre-order Bundles
Sony Xperia Z5 SGD$998 October 2015 Pre-order available from 24 Sep to 11 Oct 2015

Free Micro USB Charging Dock DK52 (RRP $58)

PWP promotion of the new High-Resolution Audio Headset MDR-NC750 at SGD$49

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact SGD$828 (Single SIM) October 2015
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium SGD$1098 (Single SIM) November 2015

Which Xperia will you be getting?

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