Sony confirms Xperia Z5 Premium only displays media in 4K

by: Rob TriggsSeptember 15, 2015
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sony xperia z5 premium aa 10

Sony became the first 4K smartphone manufacturer with the launch of its Xperia Z5 Premium, an impressive feat that sees a whopping 808 pixel per inch packed into the 5.5-inch display. However, such a high resolution has brought with it a fair share of concern about performance and battery life.

When it comes to gaming, smooth native 4K rendering is still well out of reach of mobile devices, but some have also speculated that Sony’s latest smartphone may not even make use of its 4K display to render your day to day Android UI. This makes sense, as the benefits of 4K for everyday tasks are probably not worth the extra strain on the processing components.

Sony has now confirmed that this is the case, stating that the phone’s ultra-high resolution mode is indeed reserved just for image and video content that can enjoy the benefits. All other content is rendered at a more standard 1080p resolution or lower, in order to preserve battery life and performance.

“Xperia Z5 Premium features a 4K display with a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels based on SID Standard and enables all video and image content to be enjoyed in 4K resolution. All other content is displayed at 1080P or lower resolution in order to optimise the performance and battery stamina for this device, ensuring you can enjoy the 4K resolution when you need it most.“

Instead of displaying regular content at 4K, Sony is upscaling most of the time. However, as a 1080×1920 resolution factors nicely into the display’s 2160×3840 pixels, image quality should be very well preserved. Considering that the Xperia Z5 Premium still offers the same two day battery life as its lower resolution brothers, perhaps this news isn’t so surprising. Although the 4K display still requires some extra juice, the larger battery makes up for those extra pixels.

Sony's Xperia Z5 range:

Although Sony has the world’s first 4K smartphone, it turns out that day to day experiences aren’t going to look any more detailed than most other flagship handsets out there. Do you think that this diminishes Sony’s achievement, or is this just sensible engineering?

  • Kelsey Bennett

    In a few years 4K will be a standard.

    • Abhinav Kagdiyal

      Not in Smartphones, we don’t need 4k in a 5″ device

      • Kelsey Bennett

        Don’t need it, but some want it…. So when it becomes standard don’t get it simple.

      • Dexterhank

        We do if the soc can handle it. It would take better screenshots where 4k is displayed.

      • sexyboy

        well people said few years ago we dont need 1080p display in smartphones but now its a standard.

      • DonGateley

        Have you heard of mobile virtual reality? Granted the phone will be incapable of generating such resolution but experiential forms of VR which are just pixel pushing, like virtual cinema, YouTube 360/3D, and Google Cardboard viewers will make the experience acceptable to the masses using 4k. For that, 2160 lines is about a minimum. Even 1440 will seriously disappoint most people who would be won over by the cinema quality achievable with 2160. 4k is _the_ enabling threshold for mainstream acceptance.

    • DBS

      It’s not even standard on TVs yet where it makes a difference, let alone smartphones.

      • Kelsey Bennett

        Do you read? I said “in a few years” I know it’s not standard now, just like 1080p wasn’t standard, or bluray wasn’t standard, but years later it did.

        • DBS

          You do realise that 4K TVs have been out for quite a while now, right? They still aren’t the standard. And there are “standards” that stick (1080p, blu-ray) and there are others that don’t (HD DVDs, 2K displays).
          I don’t know what can make you possibly think that 4K screens on phones will stick when they have absolutely no visible or invisible advantage over a 1080p screen.

          • Hold on, Blu-ray isn’t any standard for me. So when you mention ‘standard’, on who’s standards are you standardizing?

          • DBS

            The market’s. Blu-Ray won the race against HD DVD. And thus it became the standard for high-definition media format.

          • Dexterhank

            Well, just looking at smartphones history I think he is right, they re always pushing for higher numbers. And it actually has a benefit, whereas 4K is actually displayed, it can make for better, more usable screenshots.

          • DBS

            Except don’t forget one thing: the places where 4K may actually be displayed (think films and pictures), will likely get protection from screenshots due to copyright reasons.
            You already see that on TVs. For example, if you have a 4K LG smartTV, you can use the LG app to take screenshots of the screen. However, they won’t be taken at 4K (not even 720p) but at a much lower resolution due to copyright. On a 4K smartphone, I don’t believe you’ll ever be able to take screenshots at 4K resolution. Ever. (Much like, for example, you can’t normally take screenshots of Blu-Ray discs on your computer).
            Which means the 4K on the phone’s display will remain as pointless as a 2K display.

          • Dexterhank

            Was more thinking of in a few years if you can display everything in 4k, like Web pages for instance. But thanks for instructing me. How is your crusade against inovation going? Did you give the same rant when Samsung introduced its edge display?

          • DBS

            Again, what makes you think they’ll ever allow you to take 4K screenshots of webpages when the exact same copyright problem applies?
            Allow me to quote someone else “progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged”. And 4K screens on smartphones are exactly that. Just for the sake of it. They offer no real benefits to consumers at 5″-6″.

            (And no, I don’t bother with Samsung’s edge displays. They are a gimmick too. But at least they are a gimmick that can have more use than a 4K display and at least allowed Samsung to design the first good looking phone in their history.)

          • Sony Fanboy

            There are many benefits for 4k screens. Just because you don’t need them doesn’t mean others don’t.

          • DBS

            Present your evidence of the “many benefits” of 4K screens on phones, then.
            Because so far, I’ve seen none, no study of that AND I’ve heard Sony representatives actually saying the contrary in the past, regarding 2K screens.
            So please, by all means, present your evidence.

          • Sony Fanboy

            Brighter cells, proper screen mirroring, full content support, sharper imaging, smoother scrolling, higher contrast levels, deeper black levels, crisper screenshots, better image depth and more immersive imaging. That’s just off the top of my head. 4K is the future. Get used to it.

          • DBS

            None of that applies to 5″-6″ screens. Care to try again?

          • Sony Fanboy

            Actually, all of that applies to 5″ screens.

          • Epicurus_P

            What if you’re out taking videos for work purposes and want to zoom in closer within the video to see something in particular. Surely 4k recording and viewing on the phone can help in that regard?

          • Sony Fanboy

            What’s all this about copyrights? I can screenshot ANYTHING, copyrighted or not.

          • DBS

            You can also go to jail because of it but hey…I think you’re probably in need of some time there anyway.

          • Sony Fanboy

            It’s what you do with the screenshots that can land you in jail, not the act of taking a screenshot.

          • Dexterhank

            You can take good pictures out of your movies.

          • neonix

            Why on earth does anyone need ultra high resolution screenshots?

          • Dexterhank

            You can make pictures out of your movies ;)

          • neonix

            People lack logical insight. There’s a lot of people who seem to think that we’re just gonna get larger displays and larger phones until we’re all walking around with 7″ 16K displays in our back pockets.

          • Asif Hasan

            4K TVs will be standard in a few years. Price is the only thing that is holding it back for now. People had the same opinion about 1080p before it was standard. Whether 4K on phones has any tangible benefits depends on what you want. If someone wants to watch 4K videos, it is beneficial since 4K video quality is on a wholly different level to 1080p. As of now, it seems unnecessary as the phones lack power for 4k rendering. But in the future, if phones get powerful enough and 4k panel gets inexpensive, why not?

          • DBS

            The problem isn’t so much 4K not being good. It’s just being pointless. 1080p, 2K, 4K, all that just means amount of pixels per inch. The thing is, there comes a point where a display will simply not show any difference anymore.
            On a 50″ TV screen if you bump it from 1080p to 4K you will notice it. The image becomes more refined as there’s nore pixels to convey the image and so they become closer and smaller.
            On a 5″ or even 6″ screen, you won’t notice it. Because the space is so limited that your human eye can no longer see the difference.

            Imagine it like a tray where you start to pour sand. The moment you fill it with a layer that prevents you from being the bottom is the moment you reached the “full resolution” of that tray. You can keep pouring sand into it but you’ll see no difference.
            That’s the point we reached in screen resolutions on phones. 2K, 4K…it’s just the OEM pouring extra sand. You won’t notice it. Unless, of course, you convince God to redesign your eyes in the process.
            I don’t think to embrace and commend these sort of things is helpful. Because the OEMs are simply using gimmicks to sell you a product. In the meantime they’re not really innovating. They aren’t focusing on anything that might actually be beneficial to the user. Like, for example, battery technology.

  • Josh Pizzy

    It’s sensible, that GPU would constantly be struggling to push 4k res on the UI when Android still drops frames even at 1080p, you’d have a really nasty, slow, overheating phone had Sony decided to push 4k on everything. It’s a really sensible choice, and it’s actually swayed me more to buy this phone, as I was a bit concerned if everything was being pushed at 4k.

  • xAntifreeZe

    u don’t need a 4k home screen…its very smart of SONY :)

    • DBS

      How often do you watch 4K content on your smartphone? I’m prepared to bet “never”. Because I’m prepared to bet you don’t even have 4K videos (apart, maybe, on YouTube).

      Which then begs the question: why then would you spend an extra 100€ on the Z5P to have a 1080p experience when you can spare yourself that money and buy the Z5 instead?

      • xAntifreeZe

        I want premium version because it’s 5.5inch and because of the chrome colour, not because of 4k.

        • DBS

          Same answer as above. If FOR YOU larger screen an a colour is worth 100€ extra, then fair enough. To me it most certainly isn’t (well, specially not the larger screen which on the contrary is, to me, a reason against the Z5P)

          • Dexterhank

            You seem to think highly of your opinion, you also seem to think people really want your advice given the number of comments you make and the tone you use.

          • DBS

            1 – If the people are answering me, it’s obvious I answer back.
            2 – Yes, I do think highly of my opinions. Because they’re mine and I take the time to inform myself to build them.
            3 – The “tone” I use is in your head as one can’t actually write with a tone. Since, you know, there’s an absence of sound?

          • Sony Fanboy

            You should go back to school if you don’t think a tone can be set through writing.

          • DBS

            Perhaps so should you to learn what “interpretation” means. You can read the same sentence in a lot of different tones. Only in books (or fairly long pieces of writing) is writing able to correctly convey tone. And that’s because you have an entire setting to back up the mental construction of the appropriate tone. In internet comments? It’s all up to you to pick the one you want to pick.

          • Sony Fanboy

            I beg to differ. Read this short sentence:
            “You are an idiot.”
            I think that sets a tone.

          • DBS

            Nop. Again, it needs context. In this case, I know your tone because I have the knowledge, acquired from reading your previous answers, that you are an arsehole and therefore the tone is an insultuous tone.
            Where it written by a normal person it could be in a plethora of other tones.

          • Sony Fanboy

            This comment reeks of butthurt. What other tones could that comment portray if it were in fact written by a normal person?

          • DBS

            Pity.

          • Sony Fanboy

            Yes, because it is reasonable to portray pity through insults. The OP was speaking of the tone in your writing, not the tone of your voice. Those are two different things.

          • DBS

            You should know better than anyone about insults since you seem to use them rather gratuitously.
            As for the OP, are you his/her mother to answer for him/her? And again, you can not accurately presume tone in comments.

          • Sony Fanboy

            Tone is expressed by your use of syntax, your point of view, your diction, and the level of formality in your writing, and anyone with intelligence can easily presume tone in comments, especially when the writer has posted numerous comments.

      • hansip

        1. For the chrome version
        2. 1080p render with 3450mah battery sounds dreamy
        3. Larger still screen.

        • DBS

          If you think that FOR YOU larger screen an a colour is worth 100€ extra, then fair enough.

          • hansip

            You are correct, it’s totally my choice, Not everybody looking for the best bang of the buck mind you.if everybody does that Apple will be bankrupt today.

  • TheOfficialTed

    While we don’t need a 4K home screen or 4K in other areas of the OS, it would be nice to have the OPTION to turn this on.

    I hope we can confirm with Sony that this is indeed possible, because I know I am not the only one who believed the screen would simple be in 4K permanently.

    But I will say, it is very cool that the phone can change resolutions like this for the sake of battery.

    • At the moment, since the up/down scaling is happening automatically (switching from 1080p on homescreen to 4K when one starts playing video), I think all is happening at the software layer, in which, in a future software update, Sony can decide to give the user the ability to switch between even, perhpas, 720p all the way to 4K.

      Its the software, its all about the software.

    • neonix

      I’m sure it won’t be long after release before an Xposed module or maybe even a simple root app comes along to allow 4K on demand.

    • chrisdbarnett

      It is possible to have 4k all the time by changing the DPI but you need to use the Android Developers kit / studio to do it. I’m reliably informed it’s easy to do.

  • moijk

    I still can’t understand why people want 4k on their phones. You can’t even see the difference on a normal sized tv without sitting too close for a comfortable viewing distance. Only when used with one of those cardboard VR systems you can actually gain anything from this screen. 4k is just like the mega pixel race – you have gone past the sweet spot.

    • Kelsey Bennett

      That’s just it people “want” it if those who don’t then don’t get it. This is aimed at people want it. Also people said the same thing about 1080p.

  • skyelm

    So sony did this just to say 1st. Hahahahahaha
    While others were having a hissy fit that OP2 only has 1080p instead of 2160p. So you will only use 4k for all of 10 minutes then Oven time, nice.

    Can you ask them if other media viewer apps will be able to use the 4k and update the article.

    • Hritik Bhimani

      Being an mx player user… I would appriciate if sony can confirm wheather 4K works on third party apps or no?

      Coz sony’s inbuilt codec support isnt compatible with some mkv n avi files

      • Sony Fanboy

        It’s not up to Sony. It is up to the developers of the third party apps. Most developers already support custom resolutions to an infinite level.

        • Hritik Bhimani

          But what if sony has restricted the display to only run on native apps?

          Can android authority verify this with sony that wheather they have kept it open for devs to change resolution in their apps?

    • Marc Perrusquia

      I have a friend who insists on calling the oneplus two midrange because it “only” has a 1080p display. Specheads can be irritating.

      • Tony T.

        OnePlus Two is an upper mid-range phone for reasons other than only 1080p display… For the time they were releases, OPO was much more industry shaking. Sure, the build quality was extremely questionable, but otherwise it was extremely attractive for the price. OnePlus Two has far more competition in that price range now.

      • Sony Fanboy

        OP2 is mid-range.

  • SIMO

    Obviously just sensible engineering.

    • John Smith

      Not at all, it’s about bragging rights, it’s too early.

      • Sony Fanboy

        What? Did you even read the article?

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  • Dexterhank

    Sensible engineering. I find it reassuring.

  • Jimmy Hauser

    I’d rather have a 1080 display. There is little to no 4k content out there and I would not be recording 4k video anyway.

    • Epicurus_P

      There should be loads of 4k content with your video player able to record in 4k. At the very least it’s an option for thosethat want it. the price is no different to other flagships so no problem if you don’t use the 4k aspect

  • Epicurus_P

    Genius. They realise people can’t distinguish between 4k when using the phone day to day but the core function of video recording and photo taking is displayed in 4k.

  • goldenblls

    Sony has probably done more than any other smartphone maker to give us two day battery life. The Z3 and Compact outlasted every other phone in the battery department and arguably, this is the most important feature because what good is a phone without charge and carrying around portable chargers is a massive step backwards.

    If they can pull this off and give us a 4k capability at the same time, by any means possible, then massive kidos to them. Their new Xperia A3 is being touted with a massive 3 day battery life, which is even better.

    • Great Dude

      Sorry for asking late ,but what do you mean by “Xperia A3” ? is it a typo or a rumored device ?

      • goldenblls

        Xperia A4 sorry.

        • Great Dude

          Ok, thank you.

  • Samson Okoro

    sensible engineering without a doubt

  • Victor Fermino

    I mean, it’s not exactly 4K then, but it’s a great idea to display other stuff in 1080p and only use 4K when needed (VR and that’s it). Makes me wonder why other phones with absurd resolution don’t downscale except on games.
    Sure, it may have something to do with scaling the UI, but still, I think this is a step in the right direction.

    • Sony Fanboy

      It is exactly a 4K display regardless of what resolution it uses. If you play a 1080p video on a 4K TV, it is still a 4K TV.

  • DonGateley

    The comments here make it painfully obvious how ignorant nearly everyone is relative to mobile VR and the impact this resolution will have on that. VR doesn’t even seem to be on many radar screens yet. A device like this will change that.

  • So.. A game that enables 4K won’t be displayed on the phone ? Just videos and photos?

    • Sony Fanboy

      Games won’t render in 4K on phones.

  • Sony Fanboy

    It doesn’t matter because games won’t render in 4K on phones anytime soon.

  • Ahmed Amr Al Wakeel

    Very very smart idea actually

  • 3223

    Just wondering, if a screen is native 4k and it’s naturally showing 1080p content, will there be an abundance of unused pixels? Would you then be able to see the unused pixels under close scrutiny? May sound like a silly question, but it did leave me intrigued as to how they pull it off without reviewers even noticing during their hands on..

    • Great Dude

      No there won’t be any empty pixel.
      The idea is that the GPU will work as for FHD screen instead of 4K screen and that will lead to lesser amount of work on the processor and GPU which will lead to less power consumption.
      Each 4 pixels from the UHD (4K) screen will give the same colour leading each 4 pixels to be seen as 1 big pixel and that would make the screen to appear as FHD screen.
      I hope I was helpful.

      • 3223

        Ah, I see… So that’s how they actually do it. A single pixel normally displayed on a full HD screen will be spread out to 4 pixels on a 4k screen. That actually makes sense and is really helpful! As your name implies, thank you for being a great dude! :)

        • Great Dude

          You are welcome ;)

  • Abd

    ” video and image content to be enjoyed in 4K resolution. All other content is displayed at 1080P or LOWER resolution”

    Fake 4K. S810 is the worst and most unstable proc of its kind resulting in awful battery performance. Slow DDR3 and emmc memory. On screen keys take .3+ ” off screen size most of the time. Good luck!

  • jag

    Ooh… that is indeed smart.