Sony’s let out their new device – the Z5 Premium Dual. Clearly aimed at being Sony’s #1 workhorse, it is Sony’s answer to top-tier devices like the S6 Edge and the iPhone 6S Plus.
Well, is it really? The answer is not quite.
While it sports a 4K UHD display which might have garnered people’s curiosity and cause many a raised eyebrow, but it is utterly pointless and so the eyebrows can rest.
Apart from the screen, there’s not much in the device to impress. When I say impress, I talk in context of the competition and the Z5 Premium Dual, Sony could and should have done better with the feel of the phone – the first step of which should have been improving upon the oh-so-dated look that Sony continues to stick to for some reason.
Well well, the Xperia Z5 Premium Dual sports a 4K Ultra HD screen which is what you normally get on a 64 inch Sony TV. The screen’s resolution is 3840×2140 pixels and the pixel density as a result is a whopping 806 pixels per inch, which is double the density of pixels on the iPhone 6s!!
As impressive as these specs are, they end up being pretty pointless. The 4K capability is reserved for displaying photos and only 4K video. 99% of the times, the screen operates at 1080p just doubling up on pixels.
You know what’s funny? You can’t even make use of the 4K screen while playing YouTube or Netflix videos! The reason for that is that these platforms are not primed to recognise when a phone is simply hiding its real resolution.
So, in reality, when you’re using the Z5 Premium Dual normally, the resolution is even lower than that of the LG G4! So, the UHD doesn’t find much use does it?
Let me just go ahead and kill the remaining anticipation here. You cannot use the 4K for video streaming, gaming or while using the phone generally. All you can use it for is 4K videos that you physically import onto your device. Also these videos are not very easily available either!
Apart from that letdown, the display in general is decent. It is a 5.5 inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen. The viewing angles are good and the blacks are decently deep. Outdoors visibility is not great and devices like the LG G4 have somewhat better outdoors visibility than the Z5 Premium Dual.
The Xperia Z5 Premium Dual feels like a bigger version version of the Xperia Z5. The front and back panels are all-glass and sandwiched in between them is a metal frame. There are plastic-like edge caps which may provide protection for the two glass panels.
The all-glass back of the device is expectedly glossy and very reflective as is the case with most Xperia devices that have used this material design.
Sony’s Z series characteristics are retained in the design of the Z5 Premium Dual – the rectangular shape makes the phone look kind of boxy and outdated as well. The Z series has always been this way and while I’ve personally liked the look originally, now its just plain boring one wonders if Sony’s fired all of it’s designers and are just belting out new internals in old externals.
Worse still, while all Z-series devices look boxy, but this one in particular, given the huge size of it looks like it was an uninteresting bar of some sort.
The phone is fairly slim and lightweight. Even so, it does not feel quite comfortable in your hands. The metal sides sit in a slightly raised position from the glass panels, and while this is sensible because it helps keep surfaces from touching the glass, the metal feels sharp. The Z5 Premium Dual feels larger than it actually is and that maybe because of the size of the bezels on this phablet.
All this said, the phone does feel classy, it just is not that comfortable to hold, but the glass panels supported by the metal frame do make the phone sturdy. There are no engineering defects with the design but it seems to lack a little perspective in a sense of how it actually feels in the hands of the users.
The design of the phone does have a few flaws and quite frankly, it undermines the good things about the design and the phone in general.
This phablet uses a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset with two cores running at 1.5 GHz and the other two running at 2.0 GHz. The GPU is an Adreno 430 which is supported by 3 GB of RAM. The Xperia Z5 Premium Dual seems to tick all the right boxes on its spec sheet.
That said, Sony’s opting for the much maligned Snapdragon 810 is a little surprising. The 810 has gained quite a reputation for heating issues and even the last Sony device struggled with heating issues of its own.
This device too, does get a little warm while performing CPU intensive tasks but the heating issues in general have reduced. But they’re there.
Going through the usual day to day tasks like opening and browsing through web pages, switching from one app to another and opening and closing them do not pose any problem for the device. The benefit of the 810 I would say is that it does perform very well.
The phone is fast and snappy. Gaming also does not provide any problems and even demanding games run smoothly. The phone does get a little warm while playing these demanding games for the reason cited earlier.
So, generally, this phone is excellent as far as the performance goes and can actually compete convincingly with its competitors on these grounds.
The Xperia Z5 Premium runs the Android 5.1 Lollipop, with the same UI that has been previously used in the Z5 – which results in the apps laid down in a different way from the usual Android approach. There are a lot of Sony style apps. Apps like the Sony Media seem completely unnecessary as Google services can handle all of what Sony’s “proprietary” apps have to offer.
Having said that the UI does not seem to interfere much. It doesn’t add too many ground-level functions, maintaining a fairly simple approach. There aren’t any interface elements that change the way you interact with stock Android.
Yet, as mentioned earlier, Sony seems to be on some form of a break these days. The UI too, seems a little old and jaded. After using it for a few days you will come to ask yourself what’s new about the device.
We inevitably find ourselves discussing the UI of every manufacturer instead of the Android version it offers. Well, that is the way it is and the manufacturers seem to want to stamp their devices and provide something different. Most of them fail, and Sony unfortunately falls in that category. It just has not made any useful additions, which leaves you preferring a stock Android experience.
Cameras are an area that Sony excels in, and keeping in mind the fact that Sony makes some of the best camera sensors anywhere on the planet, we always expect good things from Sony in this department.
The Z5 Premium Dual comes with a 23 megapixel rear camera but most of the times it uses just 8 of them to click photos! You need to switch over to 23-megapixel shooting manually, and even when you do, you’ll be unable to use certain scene modes, including HDR!
Overall, the camera is pretty good. The daylight shots are as good as they get and more importantly the night shots are the best I have seen yet. The autofocus really helps with the night time shooting and as a result even very dimly lit shots pack enough detail and color. The camera does this by making the pictures a little brighter which might take away that natural element from the snaps but atleast things are visible.
A closer look at the hardware reveals that the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium Dual lacks optical image stabilisation, or large sensor pixels such as the Google Nexus 6P. As such, it generally needs to use higher ISO settings. Also, you might feel that the camera deos not make full use of the hardware available.
The camera app is a re-worked version of the older one but it still lacks a lot of features that the competition provides and feels a little slow as well.
All in all the camera of this device is pretty good and the flaws that are drawn out are in the light of this device being a top tier smartphone competing with devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and the Apple iPhone 6s.
The entertainment on this device can be marked as “decent”. The majority of the fun comes from the 5.5 inch screen and given the fact that you cannot stream 4K videos you really are left with 1080p of resolution which is not bad but the screen normally performs a little worse than the competition.
Located at the front are dual stereo speakers above and below the display for crystal clear audio, especially while watching movies on that big 5.5 inch screen.
The performance of the phone is good enough for you to not be interrupted while playing demanding games.
There’s not much else to say for the entertainment package on this phablet. You’ll be able to pass your time with this. But may not remember the time too well, later.
Business is set up the usual way and accounts can be set up easily requiring just a username and password.
The Xperia Z5 Premium Dual houses a fingerprint scanner which sits within the power button at the side of the device. It’s an alternative to the front and rear scanners seen most devices and it may be an attempt to try a more convenient place for the sensor. It does unlock your phone quickly and easily.