Sony Xperia Z5 review

Sony's last Z series phone packs some impressive tech

Sony Xperia Z5 review

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A lot of the Android competition has decided to go for 2K displays this year. Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4 have higher resolutions, but Sony has decided to stick with a Full HD display on the Xperia Z5.

Some will be disappointed that Sony hasn't upgraded the phone from the Xperia Z3+, but I think it was a strong choice to hold onto the 1080p option. For anyone who is really after those extra pixels, there will be the Xperia Z5 Premium coming in November with a 4K 5.5-inch display.

Sony Xperia Z5

The Xperia Z5 has a 5.2-inch 1,080 x 1,920 pixel resolution IPS LCD display with scratch resistant glass and an oleophobic coating to protect it from damage and grease.

It looks even better than previous Xperia handsets. While there will be some who still want to hold out for the ultimate pixel count of the Premium, if you're after a phone that looks good without sacrificing battery, the Xperia Z5 is for you.

The other thing to note is the size of the screen. For me, the Xperia Z5's 5.2-inch screen is the sweet spot between a large phone for everything I want to do and a phone I can actually hold.

I'd prefer if Sony dropped those bezels so it could up the screen to 5.4 inches or maybe 5.5, but this phone sits perfectly in my palm. Bear in mind though that I do have fairly large hands, and if you don't, the compact might be more suitable for you.

Sony Xperia Z5

Key features

Sony has given in and finally included a fingerprint sensor in the Xperia Z5, adding a level of security and preparing for the launch of Android Pay - you'll be able to buy things with your Xperia phone soon.

There will be a big push on mobile payments within Android, and Sony wants to futureproof its phone and make it secure. Just don't look for this technology from the hobbled US version of the phone.

Installing a fingerprint sensor makes your purchases more secure than a simple PIN. That easy-to-spot NFC logo will also help with knowing exactly where to tap for Android Pay to work.

Sony Xperia Z5

The fingerprint sensor itself is sat inside the power button on the side of the phone, and to look at the button you really wouldn't know it. I didn't have any problems with how it worked though as every time I tapped the button with a registered finger it unlocked immediately.

It's a better position than Huawei chose for its phones, for instance, which have sensors on the back. However, it can be difficult here to get a good reading on the Z5 when your phone is on a table, although if you can't access the sensor you can just enter a PIN or password to unlock the phone.

Another key feature that many have forgotten is Sony has now upped its microSD support to 200GB. Not many Android manufacturers offer that and it's only Sony out of the big players.

There aren't many 200GB microSD cards out there right now, but that's sure to change in the coming months.

Sony Xperia Z5

More space is always a great thing, and this means you can have up to 232GB of space on the Z5 – that's unheard of in a smartphone. I'd struggle to fill it but I'm sure there's someone out there who will try.

If you've got a 16GB iPhone 6S, someone with this phone could have 14 times the amount of storage space you do.

The waterproof design of the Xperia Z5 may not be anything new, but it's still be a big selling point for the phone. No other manufacturer has taken waterproof design in its stride like Sony has. And I do see some genuine benefits from the tech. Whenever I go back to using other Android phones I almost forget I can't run it under a tap.

It's useful if you ever get the phone dirty. You can just wash it off under a tap – I've done this multiple times, and there's no more need to place your phone in a bowl of rice when you've got caught in a thunderstorm.

But I also find myself taking my phone into the shower as well. Being able to listen to a podcast or some music as I clean up ready for the day ahead and not have to worry about my phone slipping into the water is a great benefit.

Sony doesn't agree with me though, and recommends that you don't do this kind of thing. A lot of the marketing material for previous Sony phones has shown it in water with people taking it into swimming pools to show the depths it can plunge. Now Sony has changed its stance.

On the official Sony website it reads, "You should not put the device completely underwater or expose it to seawater, salt water, chlorinated water or liquids such as drinks."

It's a strange move to now suggest it's not waterproof enough, but it's worth mentioning that excessive underwater use will void the warranty. I didn't experience any problems with the waterproofing technology though, and had no issues from giving it a plunge in the bath.

If you want a phone that survives a drop in the water and won't get angry if you take it to the beach, the Xperia Z5 is actually one of the suitable choices on the market – and that's a key USP Sony should be pushing more.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.