A 4K screen embedded in a smartphone sounds brilliant at first, just talking about 4K gets a lot of people to their feet and their ears perked up to attention. But think about it for a minute, we're talking about a portable device with a small battery, a small screen, and limited processing power – is it as good in use as you might think it will be? That's what this review is here to answer.
Sony's Z5 was released in the midst of massive budget promotional campaigns from Samsung's Edge S6 and S7 and Apple's latest iPhone series of smartphones looming ominously as they always seemingly will. As an answer to this marketing might, Sony added a 4K display and advanced camera to this product to make it stand out from the crowd.
While the Samsung Edge models offer superior water resistant designs and the Apple iPhone 6 panders to its forever-upgrading audience, Sony released a 4K screen, a stellar camera, and upgradable storage possibilities with this model. Let's see how it performs in the wild.
With the 4K screen being mentioned multiple times already, what has Sony provided to hold it up? Packed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit octa-core processor, this chip provides a significant advantage over the previously-released Xperia Z3 that included a same-brand 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz unit. But wait, there's more! This new Snapdragon 810 is linked with an Adreno 430 GPU, set to help with 4K and high FPS recording stability.
Boasting up to two days worth of battery life through the use of its 3430 mAh internal pack, this offering blows away Samsung's S6 offerings of 2,550 mAh in the standard and Edge models – likely due to the addition of a 4K screen and the bigger structure as a whole of the Z5.
Packed with 3GB of RAM and capacity to house up to 32GB of flash memory, the Z5 Premium enables microSD storage of up to 200GB and closely matches that of Samsung's latest offerings. While it is on par with Samsung in this category, it's important to remember that Apple smartphones don't contain this expandable storage option, opting for consumer-pays internal storage upgrades that can hurt the wallet.
Expanding on the screen, this Sony smartphone offers a stunning 5.5-inch 4K Triluminos display that supports auto-upscaling. Coming in at a UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, this crisp display comes further packed with Sony's dynamic contrast enhancer – great for consumers, but maybe not for photo editing junkies.
While the screen is one main selling point of this device, the camera is certainly the other. With a standard 5MP front camera that supports HD video through the utilization of its Sony Exmor R mobile sensor, the rear-facing option is a 1/23" 23MP unit that features the Exmor RS mobile sensor and boasts a hybrid autofocus timing of only 0.03 seconds. Further featuring video stabilization and wide-angle capabilities, this smooth camera records video at 30FPS in 2160p, 60FPS at 1080p and a sleek 120FPS at 720p.
As for connection options, you can expect full LTE 4G compatibility and Bluetooth 4.1, along with classic audio enhancements that include digital noise canceling, an inbuilt DAC, and more - something I will expand on later.
Wrapping up the feature list is a waterproof and dust tight rating of IP65 and IP68 to help compete with the Samsung S7 range, further offering up an overall size of 154.4 x 76.0 x 7.8 mm and weight of 181 grams. This size is of concern for some, coming in at bigger than the Samsung "S" units, further added to the fact that the Z5 contains square edges.
The specifications are extremely competitive with any other big-brand offering on the market, offering water resistance, a high-quality screen, brilliant camera, and large battery.
Availability & Price
If you're looking to pick up your very own Z5 on a plan and are looking to ease into this new (and expensive smartphone market), there will be some issues. It's worth noting that this product won't work entirely on Verizon, Sprint, or U.S. Cellular due to them using CDMA for 3G coverage – something that the Z5 doesn't support. It also seems that most of the major carriers don't wish to support the Z5 either way, with little-to-no websites listing this phone as available and in stock.
Where does that leave you? Outright only is the answer. If you're looking at buying the Z5 premium through this method, expect to pay at least $600 through Amazon online with free shipping, being priced at over $100 more than the Galaxy S6 Edge and around the same point as the newly-released S7 Edge model.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a significant lack of carriers willing to offer the Z5 up on a plan, with outright purchases being quite pricey too. However, if you want a 4K screen, you can't expect your purchase to be cheap.
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