SONY HAS UNVEILED its latest top-end smartphone, the Xperia Z5 Premium, which it is touting as the "world's first 4K smartphone".
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium has the same dust-tight, waterproof design and cap-less USB port as it predecessor, the Xperia Z3+ (or Z4 in Japan), but offers a host of improvements and updated features on top of the 4K display, including a better camera sensor and bigger battery.
The first noticeable thing about the Xperia Z5 Premium is that it's thicker and heavier than the Xperia Z3+, measuring 7.8mm and weighing 180g. This is because of its 4K capabilities and larger capacity 3,430mAh battery needed to power it for longer while running the much higher quality graphics.
One of our favourite new features in the Xperia Z5 premium is the addition of a fingerprint sensor on the side. Sony has somehow managed to retain the same small size of the power button but added the fingerprint technology on top of this so you can unlock the device when you pick it up, without having to then move your hand to a separate button to unlock the screen. We can confirm this works very well, too.
The Xperia Z5 Premium is otherwise very similar to the Xperia Z3+ and the Xperia Z3 before that, which is no bad thing in terms of design as we're fans of its sleek appearance.
Even better, Sony has made it look sleeker with fewer seams on the frames and a nice shiny chrome finish, which is a little too shiny in our opinion. As you'll see from our hands-on photographs, we got a pleasant surprise when turning it over to look at the back ...
Another great feature of the Xperia Z5 Premium's design is that, like the Xperia Z3, Xperia Z2 and Xperia Z1 before it, the Xperia Z5 Premium can be dunked in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5m, Sony claims, owing to its dust-resistant and waterproof IP65 and IP68 certification, the highest possible waterproof rating.
As with the Z3+, the biggest design change from last year's Z3 iteration is that the Xperia Z5 Premium comes with a capless USB port, making it easier and more convenient to charge while remaining waterproof.
The 5.5in 4K UHD IPS display on the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is by far one of its most impressive features. Made with the firm's Triluminos TV screen tech, it boasts a ridiculous 3840x2160 pixel count and 806ppi, the most we've ever seen on a smartphone.
As you'd expect, images appear crystal clear and it is stunning to look at. Text and images look sharp and touch operations are smooth on pages and apps. However, you can't really tell the difference right away between the Z5 Premium's 4K display and the Full HD display of the Z3+.
This is because a pixel density so high is almost wasted on the human eye when looking at such a relatively small display compared with Sony's large TVs.
It is not until you place the screen side by side with a Full HD display that the difference becomes visible. Watching 4K movies on the Xperia Z5 Premium's display is very impressive and is going to be one of the best you'll get for your money when it hits the market.
Sony said that it is also capable of upscaling any HD content to 4K, but we have yet to test this and will let you know how well it performs in our full review.
Performance and software
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium comes with Qualcomm's notorious 64-bit octa-core
Snapdragon 810 processor. This is the chip that featured in the Xperia Z3+ and was blamed for its overheating problems, which resulted in an unexpectedly low score in our review. Sony is still denying any problems with the Z3+ but promised that the Xperia Z5 will not suffer any overheating problems and will offer up to two days of battery life.
Nevertheless, this is coupled with the existing two-day battery life that Sony has bragged about since the launch of the Z3.
In our short hands-on, we found that these updated specs translate just as well in the real world as on paper. The device is very nippy, with no lag whatsoever even when playing and recording 4K video. It does still get a little hot during this task, but it is worth keeping in mind that this is the most demanding function you will ever ask of it.
As for software, the Xperia Z5 Premium runs Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop mobile operating system right out of the box. However, Sony has skinned Android with its own custom user interface. We've never been huge fans of Sony's custom UI, finding it overbearing compared with a vanilla Android user interface, but some of the added apps are a bonus.
The Xperia Z5 Premium arrives with Sony's Walkman and PlayStation companion apps as seen on the Xperia Z3+, as well as many new augmented reality camera features and built-in noise cancellation technologies to help block out background sound while listening to music.
The Xperia Z5 Premium features a larger 32GB internal memory than its predecessor, with the ability to take a 200GB external microSD card, which offers extra room for 4K videos and images.
The Xperia Z5 Premium uses Sony's next-generation camera sensor, the larger 1/2.3 Exmor RSTM for mobile with 23MP sensor and f/2.0 G Lens. This, Sony said, is the first upgraded sensor the series has seen since the Xperia Z1 and will introduce a host of improvements for those snap-happy smartphone users.
The camera improvements aim to relieve three main "pain points" in mobile photo taking. The first is "missed opportunities", which the new camera sensor looks to resolve with a much faster shutter speed than previous versions and the "world's fastest" auto-focusing smartphone camera at 0.3 seconds.
The second is improving "low quality zoom" with Clear Image Zoom, which Sony said allows users to zoom into an image up to 5x without quality loss. The third is better quality photos in low light, meaning users can capture clearer photos in darker surroundings with less noise and blur.
Still images taken with the 23MP camera were far more impressive than on the Xperia Z3+, appearing crisp, clear and full of natural colour, and being taken super-fast. Autofocus is also very swift, and the camera was able to focus on background and foreground aspects of an image instantly in our tests.
We were very impressed overall with our first hands-on with the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, but the handset's success will depend partly on its price, which Sony has yet to reveal.
The Xperia Z5 Premium will arrive in chrome, black or gold sometime in November. Check back with The INQUIRER soon for our full Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review. µ