Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review

The world's first ever 4K phone is here

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Our Verdict

Sony has done it – here's the first phone to ever have a 4K display and it's unsurprisingly stunning. But in the search for a headline feature, Sony has managed to miss the mark on a few of the basics that could have made this a fantastic phone.

For

  • Huge 4K display
  • Impressive finger scanner
  • Great camera set up

Against

  • Poor battery life
  • Lacklustre design
  • Cumbersome for some

Sony has gone and done it: this is the first ever 4K screen on a smartphone. That's the big headline for the largest of the Xperia Z5 family, and it's a truly remarkable feat from the company.

It's no secret that Sony has been struggling in the mobile phone game for quite some time, and the Japanese company has come back strongly with its new Xperia Z5 series.

The family includes the Sony Xperia Z5, which has a 5.2-inch Full HD display, a new frosted glass design and a fingerprint scanner. Then there's the smaller sibling of the Xperia Z5 Compact that boasted a similar set up, but with a 720p 4.6-inch screen and a much smaller design.

And now the newest, and largest, member of the Z5 family is hitting the shelves: the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. It's the first time we've seen a large-screen Sony phone since the Xperia Z Ultra, which came with a mammoth 6.4-inch display; the Xperia Z5 Premium is measly in comparison though, with a 5.5-inch offering.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

You can pick up the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium for £599 / AU$1199 (about US$953). The phone had a last-minute price drop from Sony before the launch, and it's gradually dropped down a little bit extra on top as well.

It's certainly not the cheapest phone you can buy, but this top-end tech does cost money.

And this is the go-to Sony phone for those who love larger handsets, and those who want the latest and greatest thing. The Xperia Z5 Premium has received a lot of hype for its headline 4K display, but a lot of other features need to be present and correct if this phone is to live up to its high-end billing.

One problem is even though the phone has been out in the UK and Australia for a couple of months now, it's still not available in the US. Techradar has reached out to Sony to try and get comment on why this is, but even though you can now buy the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact you still can't get its larger brother.

Design

Sony has its own particular design philosophy, and has generally stuck to it ever since the original Xperia Z, making only minor changes with each new iteration.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

The Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact are especially notable for the way the rear design has switched from clear glass to frosted glass. Sadly, Sony hasn't seen fit to do the same for the Xperia Z5 Premium.

Instead, Sony has decided to keep the clear glass back of the Xperia Z3+, and as before this picks up fingerprints as soon as you touch it.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

The Xperia Z5 Premium is much heavier than you'd expect a phone to be in 2015, coming in at 180g but feeling even weightier in the hand – it was the first thing I noticed when I picked it up.

Weight isn't always a bad thing, of course – it's good to know your phone isn't going to fly off in a gust of wind. But the Xperia Z5 Premium is large all over, and sometimes it's difficult to use because of its sheer size – and I don't have particularly small hands, so anyone with smaller mitts is going to struggle.

The edges on the Xperia Z5 Premium are an aluminium with a high-gloss texture – but it's quite easy to mistake these for plastic. In fact, I did for quite some time. The edges feel a lot less premium with that high-gloss over the top and that's an issue when the edges of the Xperia Z5 really added to the design.

It means the Z5 Premium doesn't have a convincingly 'premium' look, and it also feels a little slippery in the hand – I sometimes found when holding the phone that I was nervous it was going to fall out of my hand.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Sony has included the reinforced corners also seen on the Xperia Z5, which are designed to prevent the phone from breaking if it lands on one of them.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

On the right-hand side of the phone, about halfway down, is the fingerprint sensor, which doubles as the power button. It's a sensible placing, and makes it really easy to unlock the handset.

The volume rocker is just below this, and if you're right-handed it can be quite difficult to get used to it being so low down. I'd rather it was placed above the power button, where my fingers could reach it a little more easily.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Below the rocker is the camera button – again, this is well placed, as you won't accidentally hit it when you're using the phone, and it's in easy reach when you want to take a shot in landscape orientation.

Previous Sony phones have been covered in fiddly little flaps that are prone to breaking off, and thankfully the Z5 Premium has just one, on the top-left edge.

It's easier to use than previous examples – and the slot beneath houses the microSD and nanoSIM cards, so you won't need to play around with it very often anyway.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

And it also means you won't be losing that really useful waterproofing technology. Being able to take your phone into the shower with you is one of the pure joys of owning a Sony handset.