Sony Xperia Z5 review: Finely tuned

Finely tuned

GSMArena team, 19 October, 2015.

Display

As already mentioned, Sony has opted for a more traditional panel on the Z5. FullHD might be a letdown for some, but, then again, there's the Z5 Premium to fill that niche and add some. In reality, 1080 x 1920 pixels are perfectly adequate, especially on a 5.2-inch screen and with 428 ppi, the phone is definitely not suffering from any shortage of pixels.

Other than that, the panel itself is of the typical for Sony IPS LCD variety, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, especially considering the improved tech, reportedly put inside - things such as Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, Triluminos technology and X-Reality engine for mobile come to mind (and being able to quote those on the top of our heads can't be a healthy thing for sure).

All this amounts to nice and sharp images on the Z5 and the 1080p resolution also brings the added bonus of less stain on the GPU and consequently, less heat and a longer battery life, at least in theory, that is.

Sony Xperia Z5

The Sony Xperia Z5 screen has an above average maximum brightness (583nits) and it can go even slightly higher in bright sunlight when in Auto mode (603nits). Unfortunately, these levels are a far cry from the ones achieved by the Xperia Z5 Compact and most importantly, the Xperia Z3+.

On a more positive note though, the blacks on this year's Sony flagship are deeper than on any of the predecessors. The reason for that most probably being the newly added Contrast filter between the backlight and LCD panel.

Unfortunately, these weren't enough to produce anything more than average contrast ratio (986:1), especially when compared to the Xperia Z3+ (1158).

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia Z5 compact 0.10 106 1060 0.65 680 1053
Sony Xperia Z5 0.10 90 900 0.59 583 986
Sony Xperia Z3+ - - - 0.68 789 1158
Apple iPhone 6 0.17 207 1230 0.61 740 1213
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 0.17 208 1197 0.52 705 1361
Samsung Galaxy S6 0 208 0 363
Samsung Galaxy S6 max auto - - 0 619
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 0 208 0 313
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge max auto - - 0 601
LG G4 0.09 108 1240 0.43 532 1238
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 0.00 291 0.00 399
Motorola Nexus 6 0.00 149 0.00 372
HTC One M9 0.15 175 1180 0.44 534 1221
OnePlus Two 0.16 180 1139 0.30 399 1334
Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML 0.13 107 796 0.44 390 879
Huawei Honor 7 0.07 89 1372 0.32 450 1398
Sony Xperia M5 0.08 110 1392 0.63 527 839
Meizu MX5 0.00 117 0 346.00
ZTE Nubia Z9 0.29 258 893 0.49 440 898


In terms of sunlight legibility, the Z5 is pretty comparable to its little brother. Both get decent scores, but there is still a lot of room for improvement left.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy E7
    4.485
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Motorola Nexus 6
    3.543
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • vivo X5Max
    3.472
  • LG G Flex2
    3.465
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Lenovo S90 Sisley
    2.892
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Sony Xperia Z3+
    2.824
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • vivo Xshot
    2.465
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • HTC One M9
    2.334
  • LG G4
    2.317
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo R1x
    2.281
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
    2.149
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • ZTE Blade S6
    1.927
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows Phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Acer Liquid Jade S
    1.734
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Microsoft Lumia 532
    1.615
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Microsoft Lumia 435
    1.598
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1.467
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Much like on the Xperia Z5 compact, color rendering without image enhancements is off to a higher extent than we're used to see lately (Avg deltaE 6.6 for the primary colors plus black and white), but it's the white to blame as it has a relatively high purplish tint (deltaE 15.2). Still, you would certainly have a hard time noticing a color cast without a reference.

Color accuracy of course takes an extra hit when you turn on the screen image enhancements such as the X Reality for mobile mode (Avg deltaE 8.3) but the representation of the whites remains unchanged in this mode. The maximum brightness however is reduced in this mode down to about 550 nits. Interestingly, from there on the Super Vivid mode doesn't make things any worse and it's not as wild as the name suggests.

As usual, display colors are a matter of personal taste and perception so if you don't need calibrated color output, you will probably be quite happy with the default settings of the Xperia Z5 display.

You can fine tune the display color rendering to an extent as Sony gives you fine grain sliders for adjusting the Red, Green and Blue channel, but the UI is far from user friendly and unlikely to produce any serious results without a reference point sitting side by side with the display. Even worse, as soon as you start fiddling with those sliders, the maximum brightness will take a hit.

Sony Xperia Z5 battery life

The Sony Xperia Z5 is powered by a 2900 mAh battery, sealed-in, as expected. That is quite a bit less less than the Z5 Premium at 3430 mAh, but still better than the 2700 mAh pack of the Z5 Compact. As for the Z3+, it has just a bit more juice at 2930 mAh, but that still makes the pair quite comparable and will help up see if Sony has, indeed, improved the power efficiency of its flagship offer.

Sony Xperia Z5

Overall, with an endurance rating of 73 hours, the Xperia Z5 definitely did alright in our tests, but still not quite the 86 hours the Z5 Compact managed to clock in. Granted, the scores are pretty close, but we expected almost identical results, considering the identical hardware, but, apparently the display size played a huge role. Our test reveal that the Z5 did slightly better than its smaller sibling in terms of web browsing, but failed to impress with only about 8 hours of video playback, only 17 hours of call endurance and quite a draining standby mode.

On a more positive note, however, the Z3+ managed to last only 65 hours under the same test conditions, despite having a slightly bigger battery than the Z5. This is a definite improvement on Sony's end.

An endurance rating of 73 hours means that the Z5 should be more than happy to facilitate two days of average use, or at least our understanding of it - one hour of browsing, video playback and calls a day, respectively and the rest - standby.

Such usage pattern is of course entirely artificial, but we've established it so our battery results are comparable across devices. And if it doesn't quite fit your bill, you can easily hop on to our battery life chart and adjust the pattern to your liking for an even more comprehensive comparison.

Update, 09 Aug 2016: Since we reviewed the Xperia Z5 back in 2015, two major circumstances changed and as a result today we're announcing a re-test of the phone's battery performance.

Regarding the reasons, which led to this, first Sony has updated the Xperia Z5 to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.

Secondly, and more importantly, we standardized the display brightness for our battery tests to 200nits as opposed to the 50% setting on the brightness slider, which we used before. The change didn't affect the relevance of most of the phones we've tested because the median brightness of all tested phones was 200nits anyway. The thing is that the Xperia Z5 was one of the outliers and with a brightness of only 90nits midway on the brightness scale, it had an unfair advantage over the rest of the 2015 flagships.

Freshly updated to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and with a screen brightness firmly set to 200nits, the Xperia Z5 pulled off an Endurance rating of only 48 hours.

With the two-fold increase in brightness the phone's battery life in the web browsing (7:42h) and video playback (4:05h) tests got slashed in half compared to before and the optimizations by the latest Android version didn't help much.

Sony Xperia Z5  review

The Snapdragon 800 chipset was notorious for overheating and we did notice that during video playback the phone would get very hot so this is still very much an issue. Cooling it down as much as we can didn't help its case much.

So there you have it - an up-to-date re-test of one of the key 2015 flagships.

Don't miss the other updated pages throughout this review. We've re-tested the phone's benchmark performance under Android Marshmallow and we've also reshot our test charts and posters in the camera section. End of update

Connectivity

Sony is offering the Z5 in both a single SIM and dual SIM variant, just like the Z5 Premium. The handset offers quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSDPA support. LTE is enabled and Sony has multiple regional models to make sure the Xperia Z5 will work with the most widespread 4G networks. It is worth noting that the E6653 variant offers Cat.6 LTE with speeds of up to 300Mbps, while the E6603 one still has Cat.4 with a theoretical maximum of 150Mbps. This, however, makes little difference in real world conditions and shouldn't really be a consideration.

Local connectivity features dual-band Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac and Wi-Fi Direct. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP. Satellite navigation is also a given, with additional A-GPS and GLONASS or Beidou (market dependent) support.

The Xperia Z5 also has an FM radio with RDS.

The phone doesn't offer an IR port, but it does come with NFC.

There is a microUSB 2.0 port for charging and data connections and now, thanks to special coating, it no longer needs to be covered by a flap. Media transfer mode is supported for accessing the phone's built-in memory and microSD card over the USB cable.

USB host functionality is present, but requires a little more work than simply plugging in a device. There is a special menu under Xperia Connectivity in the setting that allows you to "discover" a plugged USB device. It still works as expected, but it requires some extra legwork. This is most likely related to the aforementioned coverless USB that might be vulnerable to shortages under water.

Being part of the premium "Z" line has a few other benefits, like MHL 3 TV-out support. You can also output your phone's screen wirelessly via the Miracast protocol or Sony's Xperia Connectivity Throw option.

The app also lets you share your media over DLNA by creating a media server, as well as connect to a PlayStation DUALSHOCK 3 (or 4) wireless controller.

Last, but not least, the Z5 offers advanced active noise cancelling when paired with a supported handset like the Sony MDR-NC750.

Reader comments

  • Qz

Bootloop

  • Anabela

My Xperia z5 for some reason it shuts off by itself and turns on by itself, feels like it has a mind of its own. I'm not able to use it for anything can someone please help me?

  • chiragchau1991

Use earphones when calling