Sony Xperia Z5 review

Sony's last Z series phone packs some impressive tech

Sony Xperia Z5 review

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Let's get this straight – Sony's Xperia Z5 is a world away from the Xperia Z3+. Now this phone is here, there's no reason for anyone to pick up the Xperia Z3+. The overheating issues were inexcusable and enough has changed on the Xperia Z5 that it's what you'll want in your pocket if you're a big Sony fan.

And the Xperia Z5 is one of the better Android phones you can buy right now. Sony has seen the lukewarm reaction to the HTC One M9, Xperia Z3+ and LG G4, and this time it has gone all out to beat the Galaxy S6.

We liked

I love the new design. It's a great improvement on the clear glass back and sharp edges of the Xperia Z2. The Z5 is lighter, it's thinner, and the frosted glass back is nothing short of gorgeous. I think it's up in the realms of the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6S for design.

The new fingerprint sensor is overdue but this is one of the best ways I've ever seen it included in a smartphone. We just wish it was in all versions of the phone, including the newly launched US edition.

It feels natural to have it within the button on the side of the phone and it works like a dream. Looking back at how awful the fingerprint sensor was on the Galaxy S5 with a poor sliding action needed, it's good Sony's nailed this first time.

The camera is a curious one. It might not impress the average user every time, as some images can seem a little lifeless, but the technical ability (the zoom modes, the ability to tweak so many settings and the raw images you get) will impress the pixel perfectionists - you'll just need to be prepared to dig a little.

And the battery may not be incredible but it's a step in the right direction and much better than on the Xperia Z3+. If you're not such a heavy user, it may even prove better for you.

We disliked

It still gets too hot – the Xperia Z3+ was unbearable and though this is much better it's still not good enough. Playing a game for an hour shouldn't make the phone unholdable, and Sony needs to rethink the processor for the Xperia Z6.

I really would have liked to have seen a major spec upgrade here. Under the hood it looks remarkably similar to the Xperia Z3+ and it would have been nice to get something that looks a little more impressive on paper.

Throwing in a 2K screen to show Samsung and LG how to do it would have really impressed and demonstrated exactly why Sony should be in this market - if it made it an improvement on 1080p, that is, and not just a spec bump for the sake of it.

The Xperia Z5 Premium hype seems to have done that to some degree, but 4K is still an issue when you realise the battery life isn't perfected, and you will need to shell out quite a bit of extra money to get it.

The Xperia UI isn't good enough either – it really undersells what Sony can achieve in the hardware department and forms an unnecessary barrier between the user and stock Android. It's not the be-all and end-all, but it's certainly disappointing.


If you're going to buy a Sony phone, make it this one. The Xperia Z5 is the best phone Sony has ever produced and it's up there as one of the better Android phones on the market right now.

After the abomination that was the Xperia Z3+, it would have been easy for the company to slip out of the market it was already struggling in. It might have just given up and walked out to sea if it had a similar experience here.

It's still expensive, and that's an issue. I can't help but feel if Sony dropped the price a further £50 on both this and the Xperia Z5 Compact, we'd see much better sales for their line of phones.

In the end, the Z5 isn't as perfect as it should be, but it does have all the right parts.

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.