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Sony Xperia Z5 Premium hands-on and first look

The display wars are over guys and Sony leads the pack with the Xperia Z5 Premium offering the world's first 4K smartphone display. Is it any good though?

Published onSeptember 4, 2015

The race to next generation displays is certainly heating up and while most companies still offer either Full HD or Quad HD panels, Sony has sought to steal the IFA 2015 show with its new Xperia Z5 Premium.

Featuring many of the same specs as the rest of the Xperia Z5 family, the Z5 Premium stands out as it sports the world’s first Ultra HD smartphone panel but is the next-generation resolution enough to make the Xperia Z5 Premium, the phone you have to buy? Let’s find out in our hands on first look.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium officially announced: what you need to know

The Xperia Z5 Premium looks and feels like most other Sony devices and shares the same updated design language as the other members of the Xperia Z5 family. That means we’ve got a tweaked build including rounded corners and the redesigned larger power button, which sits on the right and incorporates a fingerprint sensor.

A key feature of Sony’s Xperia line-up over the past few iterations has been IP certification, with the Xperia range known for its dust and waterproofing. The Xperia Z5 Premium continues in the same mould with IP68 certification meaning it is dust proof and resistant to water for up to 30 minutes and up to 1.5 meters underwater.

The Xperia Z5 Premium is certainly a large device by Sony standards but it can be forgiven thanks to the incredible display. This is what sets the handset apart from the rest and the 5.5-inch Ultra HD 4K panel offers an eye-watering 806 pixels per inch density. As the first smartphone with a 4K display, Sony has certainly stolen a march on its rivals and the display itself is gorgeous, with amazingly crisp text, images and videos.

A problem many people identify with UHD (or even QHD) resolution is a lack of suitable content and Sony aims to fix this by working with partners to develop content. Until content is widely available (which hopefully won’t be too long), Sony has also incorporated the upscaling technology from its TV lineup and the Xperia Z5 Premium will be able to upscale your Full HD content to make full use of the 4K display.

What good is an awesome display if you don’t have the hardware to match it? Obviously, not a lot but Sony has given the Xperia Z5 Premium every chance of succeeding. Under the hood, the handset is powered by a 1.9GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor paired with 3GB RAM and an Adreno 430 GPU. Some of you may have concerns about the high resolution screen slowing the rest of the handset down but thankfully, we haven’t noticed any performance-related issues (although we’ll give you our final word in the review later in the year).

Aside from the powerful internals, the Xperia Z5 Premium also comes with a specs list that is certainly worthy of a flagship device. The components include 32GB internal storage that can be expanded by up to 200GB using a microSD, NFC, the usual array of connectivity options and the one-touch fingerprint sensor, which certainly performs well enough in our first tests.

You may be forgiven for thinking the display is the standout feature on the Xperia Z5 Premium and while you are certainly right, Sony also wants to let you produce amazing content of your own to watch on that display. On the back, the Xperia Z5 Premium features a next-generation 23MP Exmor RS sensor with super fast autofocus and Sony claim the camera can focus on a subject in just 0.3 seconds.

Here's what the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium camera can do

The camera itself has a 23mm wide angle f/2.0 G Lens, which should mean impressive camera shots and thanks to 4K video recording, you’ll be able to record native 4K content with the camera and then watch it back on that excellent display. On the front, the Xperia Z5 Premium has a 5MP camera, which is on par with most current smartphones.

Of course, it’s difficult to tell just how good the camera is in a first look but we’ll go into a lot more detail in the upcoming review. Sony has traditionally provided camera modules to several of its rivals and quite often, the Xperia range has produced less than stellar shots compared to other devices using the same sensor. With the new camera, Sony has finally delivered its first meaningful update to Xperia smartphone cameras since the Xperia Z1 and with the company’s Alpha camera range capturing excellent photos, maybe its smartphone cameras will finally live up to their promise.

On the software front, the Xperia Z5 Premium runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with Sony’s Xperia UI on top. If you’re familiar with past Sony devices, you’ll be right at home here. It doesn’t stray to far away from a vanilla build of Android, but does come with a few of Sony’s software enhancements like Small Apps and built-in Playstation integration.

A key problem and criticism of Ultra HD (and even Quad HD) displays is the supposed effect on battery life that comes from having to power all those pixels. Having only just had hands on with the Xperia Z5 Premium, it’s obviously too early to tell whether the large 3430 mAh battery will be big enough to deliver Sony’s claims of 2 days’ battery life from a single charge but we will definitely be testing this in the full review. Does it live up to Sony’s claims? We shall see!

There you have it; the display wars have heated up another notch and Sony is at the head of the pack with the world’s first 4K smartphone. The Xperia Z5 Premium is without a doubt one of the stars of IFA 2015 and while Sony is yet to reveal exact US pricing or availability, it has said the handset will start going on sale around the world in November. One thing is for sure; for the Xperia Z5 Premium, you can definitely expect to pay a premium price.

What do you think of the world’s first 4K smartphone and Sony’s new Xperia design language and feature set? Let us know your views in the comments below guys and don’t forget to check out all our IFA 2015 coverage!

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