The Sony Xperia Z5 – A New Flagship, or Just an Improved Z3+?

December 30, 2015

Sony's Z3+, released last May of 2015, was never really able to keep up with its rivals, the Apple iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6. It actually is a considerable phone, with great design and a good camera, but its good aspects were somewhat overshadowed by an overheating processor that is usually triggered by the camera.

 These past few years, the company seemingly has an habit of releasing smartphones with little enhanced features that sometimes lead to disappointment. So after all the troubles with Z3+, Sony seem to have tried again to impress and released the Z5, five months after the release of its predecessor. The question is, how much has Sony improved on its latest flagship?


Z5's design is something uniquely Sony, a trait shared by the entire Z line. It still has that rectangular-shaped form, which sets the Xperia Z line apart from other flagships. It does, however feel very much similar to the Z3+. 

The Z5 retains the glass on its back which seems easy to crack, but it feels different since it has a frosted, matte-like finish that doesn't pick fingerprints so it always looks clean. Unfortunately, this glass material makes the Z5 quite slippery, so users might want to put on a quality-made smartphone case for added grip. Aside from changing the clear glass we always used to see on the Z line smartphones, the edges of the Z5 has been rounded a little,and the Xperia logo is added onto the side and the NFC logo too, making it easier for users to know where to tap.

 The Z5 has the IP68 certification, which means it is dust proof and water-resistant over 1.5 meters in a span of 30 minutes. Surprisingly, there is only one flap on the Z5, and that's only for the nano-SIM slots and microSD, because the rest of the ports are waterproof and can manage without the extra protection provided by flaps. Having fewer flaps mean fewer worries of breaking them off and the inconvenience of having to pull them off when charging late at night.

 One of the changes in the Z5 is also the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor, which is also the power key. It's pretty decent, fast and accurate, but it is positioned on the right-hand side of the device, which some might find odd compared to Apple and Samsung's front sensors. Sony, however, argued that side-mounted sensors are more convenient, considering how we often unlock our smartphones.

 The Z5 measures 146x72x7.3mm while weighing 153g and comes in four colors: White, Graphite Black, Gold and Green – all which looks fantastic, depending on your taste. 

Z5 Screen and Display

 Z5 has not made any significant leap in this department from its predecessor. Compared to the Z3+, the Z5 is almost identical, sporting the same 5.2-inch displays, and the same Full HD (1920x1080) resolution, with a pixel density of 428 pixels-per-inch (ppi). While other Android phones have made the jump from Full HD to 2K displays, it is unclear why Sony decided to stick with Full HD with the Z5. Still, viewing angles are good and outdoor visibility is excellent, with a maximum brightness of 670 nits. 

Users of the Z3+ who are particular with screen resolution and display might not be inclined to buy the Z5, although its “Z5 Premium” variation is definitely a showstopper with a 4k display (and 806 ppi, making it the world's first smartphone with 4K resolution).

 Internal Specs and Performance

 Aside from the screen and display, the internal specs of the Z5 is also the same as that on the Z3+. Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 with a quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 and a quad-core 2GHz Cortex a-57, and the same Adreno 430. Internal memory is at 32GB, and a 3GB RAM, but the micro-card slot of the Z5 supports up to 200gb, while the Z3+ only tops at 128GB. Both run on Android Lollipop.

 Problems with the Z3+ is attributed to its use of the Snapdragon 810, and Sony has made some people confused with its decision to use the same SoC on the Z5. The company nonetheless assures the people that things won't be the same with the Z5.

 Despite these minor changes, the Z5 managed to score a 51,012, which is expected since the smartphone is of flagship status. 


 A smartphone's battery is one of the biggest things people consider when looking for a phone. While a lot of flagships have already sported batteries of over 3,000mAh, the Z5 comes with a much lower capacity, at 2,900mAh. This might seem as a turn-off to some, but Sony claims that optimization will allow for a 2-day battery life for the Z5. 

Though the battery is non-removable, it is a relief to know that the phone also supports Quick Charge 2.0, promising 60% charge in just about 30 minutes.


 This area is where the Z5 made significant changes from its predecessor. Instead of having the same 20.7MP sensor found in all of the earlier Z line, the Z5 has a new 23MP sensor with an improved image stabilization and clearer digital zoom, with Sony claiming that the image sensor on the Z5 is the best one ever used on a smartphone.

 The hybrid auto-focus found on the Z5 is what Sony claimed to be the fastest auto-focus, capable of speed of just 0.3 seconds. Overall, camera performance is comparable to the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S6, and no sign of the serious heating issues found on the Z3+.

 Apart from these improvements, front cam is still 5.1MP, enough for selfies and capable of 1,080P video which is good for video chatting.


 The Xperia Z5 hasn't changed much from the Z3+. However, it should also be noted that there really are improvements in the camera and most especially the performance of the SoC, an area where the Z3+ disappointed many. Screen display remains at Full HD and while 4k seems a bit too early and too much, 2k display might have resulted to a future-proof phone.

 There is less bloatware on the Z5, and the feel is still uniquely Sony. Though some people may say that the Z5 is just a rushed attempt to replace the Z3+, still, the performance of the Z5 is worthy of its flagship status.