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Sony Xperia Z5 Review

Ben Andrews reviews the 23 megapixel Sony Xperia Z5 smartphone.

|  Sony Xperia Z5 in Camera Phones
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Sony Xperia Z5 01 Front1

Sony’s Xperia Z5 is the latest in the company’s Z-series line of flagship smartphones and replaces the Z3+. It’s positioned to take on the iPhone 6s, Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC One M9 and LG G4. Three variations of the Z5 are available: the standard Z5 with a 5.2-inch screen that we’ll be reviewing, the Z5 Compact that features a 4.6-inch display, and the Z5 Premium which boasts a 5.5-inch screen with a 4K resolution.

The camera is the same whichever variant you choose. A new 23MP 1/2.3-inch sensor replaces the 20MP device in the outgoing Z3+ and offers hybrid autofocussing, a 24mm-equivalent focal length and a maximum aperture of f/2.0.

Sony Xperia Z5 Features

Sony Xperia Z5 02 Front2

The biggest change for the Z5 is its new camera module. Like the Z3+, the sensor size is still 1/2.3-inches, making it the same size as a standard compact camera sensor and larger than the sensors found in the iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6. The lens’ focal length has been widened slightly, from 25mm-equivalent to 24mm-equivalent, but Sony has made a bigger change to the autofocus system. The Z5 gets new Hybrid AF tech that combines conventional contrast-detect AF with phase detection for autofocus speeds as a fast as 0.03 seconds.

The Z5’s camera app is also crammed with features, like manual controls that enable focussing and metering mode adjustment, along with ISO control. Creative effects modes are also plentiful, as the Z5 includes two augmented reality options where cartoon graphics can be composited into a scene, or placed over your face. There’s also a panorama mode, sticker creator setting and slow motion video recording mode, plus several other shooting modes.

Elsewhere the Z5 closely resembles the old Z3+. It shares the same 5.2-inch screen size and Full HD 1920x1080 resolution. Even the 1.5GHz processor has been carried over from the Z3+, and the new phone also sports 3GB of RAM. IP68-rated water resistance has been carried over, too, along with MicroSD storage expandability and 4K video recording. The Z5 does get a new fingerprint sensor though, built into the power button.

Sony Xperia Z5 03 Back1

Key Features

  • 23-megapixel 1/2.3inch Exmor RS
  • Fixed 24mm-equivalent lens, f/2
  • Hybrid contrast+phase detection AF
  • 5.2-inch touch-screen, 1080x1920, 428 ppi
  • GPS / Wi-Fi / NFC
  • Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) video recording
  • HDR / panoramic shooting / 5MP front-facing camera
  • MicroSD expandability
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • IP68-rated water resistance
  • Available in black, white, gold or turquoise

Sony Xperia Z5 Handling

Sony Xperia Z5 04 Back2

If you’ve held an Xperia Z3+, then the Z5 will be immediately familiar. The new phone has a few design differences – button placement has been tweaked, for instance – but the basic form and feel are almost identical.

The similarities between the Z3+ and Z5 are verified by an identical 146mm length and 72mm width. The new model is marginally thicker at 7.3mm, but this makes it feel a little more secure in the hand and the position of the power button is more easily accessible. Its integrated finger print sensor works very well, requiring around 30 seconds to record your print, but working flawlessly afterwards.

Beneath this are the volume keys, which aren’t as easily accessed when holding the phone conventionally, but rotate to landscape orientation and these buttons are then ideally placed for zooming the camera. There’s also a proper two-step hardware shutter release button that lets you focus and capture an image. It’s a rarity on a smartphone and gives a much more intuitive shooting experience.

Build quality is fine, but not exceptional. Compared to an iPhone, Galaxy S6 or HTC One A9, the Z5’s plasticky case feels more mid-range than premium and it also flexes slightly. The design doesn’t let you access the battery, either, though there is a Micro SD slot is hidden behind a flap on the left edge of the phone.

The Z5’s screen is also taken from the Z3+, and while its 1080x1920 resolution is respectable, the competition from LG and Samsung have it beaten, with the latter also producing slightly more vibrant colours.

Sony Xperia Z5 05 Screen On

The Z5’s camera can be accessed by swiping the camera icon up from the lower right of the lock screen, or by simply holding down the physical shutter release button for one second (even when the phone is on standby).

Basic camera app operation is effortless, with the essential function buttons where you’d expect to find them. The settings menu reveals options like the self-timer and smile shutter (the camera automatically snaps a shot if it detects a smile), as well as resolution settings. Tapping the sliders icon reveals extra customisation such as colour and contrast adjustment.

The mode dial icon contains a whopping fourteen different shooting modes. Superior Auto is the default scene-detecting capture mode, but there’s also a manual mode where focussing, metering and ISO sensitivity can be adjusted, although ISO adjustment is only available when the image resolution is set at 8MP or lower. You’ll also find several creative modes for adding filters and even merging cartoon graphics like fish or a dinosaur into a composition.

The overall user experience is slick and responsive, as it should be for a device packing this much processing power and RAM.

The 2900mAh battery in the Z5 is 30mAh down in capacity from the battery in the Z3+, and though rated talk time is almost identical, music playback has reduced by 4 hours to 87 hours. This still compares well to a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, however, which is rated for 66 hours. There’s no CIPA rating to measure how many photos the camera can capture per charge, but avoid power-hungry apps or extended periods of web surfing and the Z5 should comfortably out-snap a conventional point-and-shoot camera.

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alant1 8 13 United Kingdom
11 Feb 2016 12:49AM
I have the Z5 Premium, the second Sony Xperia Z series I have owned. There are a number of reasons I chose this model and decided to continue using the Sony line. One of the prime reason is that I wanted a top of the line camera capability in the phone. Lets face it, your phone is almost always with you so being able to capture a reasonable image when you need to, maybe as a situation occurs is one of my primary criteria. I also wanted to start to play with 4K video and in particular in video photo shots and the phone met that need. Perhaps overlooked in many a camera phone review is water resistance. This is the camera you always have on you, come rain or shine and where I live in the world, come Songkran where staying dry means staying home.
The other point I would make about the Sony product is just how robust it is. My original Xperia Z has show itself to be far more robust than my wife's Sony when it came to such things like dropping the phone and screen damage so I hoped the new Z5 would share this characteristic. In the first week of ownership I managed to drop the phone onto the road whilst riding my motorcycle at 60-70 kmph. Fortunately I was able to recover the phone before someone ran over it, back and edges showing clear evidence of the fall with scratches, some deep but how lucky, the screen was intact as it seems, is the camera.
As for performance, I think it is a decent camera phone level camera. The low light is not so good but I will try the setting suggested here now I have read this. I quite like the panorama and the time laps app works well. Here is a shot of chili being dried. 168639_1455151685.jpg

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