Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Premium Definition

Premium Definition

GSMArena team, 25 November, 2015.

Album photo gallery

The Album app organizes images into groups of thumbnails and sorts them by date. You can change the thumbnails size by pinching or even by merely swiping from left or right. It can connect to online albums (Facebook, Picasa, Flickr) and also to other devices on the local network. Maps and Globe albums are also available, which use the geotagging info to sort photos by the location at which they were taken, and faces, which groups photos by the faces of the people in them.

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Album

The Album app is among the few apps to allow using the native 4K resolution of the screen. It switches to 4K resolution upon opening a high-res image. The resolution is lowered again once you exit the single image viewer. the switch in resolutions is seamless and honestly, our bare eye didn't spot the difference without a side by side comparison to a 5.5-inch 1080p phone.

Images can be rotated directly in the gallery. Other tools, including crop, filters and effects are available via the Edit option.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Viewing and editing images Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Viewing and editing images Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Viewing and editing images Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Viewing and editing images Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Viewing and editing images
Viewing and editing images

Music app

The Music app is part of the equipment of all recent Xperia smartphones. The interface is based on a swipe-able menu that sorts your music collection by Artist, Albums, Playlists, all songs and even the songs your friends are listening to (but you need to connect the player to your Facebook account). You can pop up the menu the same way you'd do it in the gallery - just swipe from the left edge of the screen.

The Infinite button is available in the Now Playing screen (just tap the album art) - it will help you find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia and search for lyrics on Google. Gracenote is used here too and it can automatically download information about your tracks and album art.

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Music player

The Music app offers a variety of audio settings - ClearAudio+ option is here, which determines the best audio quality settings depending on the song you're listening to. We liked how it changed the music and carefully accentuated various details.

Dynamic normalizer evens out the differences in the volume between tracks, which is great if you're rocking a mixtape.

The Sound enhancements contain yet more settings. There's an equalizer with presets and manual settings (including tweaking Clear Bass). Then there's Surround sound mode, which imitates the Studio, Club or Concert Hall experience.

Then there's DSEE HX, which uses an almost wizardly algorithm on compressed music files, like MP3s and restores or rather extrapolates high range sound. According to Sony, the result is near Hi-Res Audio Quality. We aren't quite sure about that, but the processing does seem to boost quality quite noticeably. Also, it only works with wired headphones.

Finally, the media server option, when turned on, allows your phone to act like a DLNA server, presenting its multimedia (music, photos and videos) to other DLNA clients in your network - really nifty. Also, you might notice that there is now Spotify integration inside the Music app, it can be enabled or disabled inside the settings menu.

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Sound settings

FM Radio

There's also an FM radio tuner with RDS. The app features multiple visualizations and integrates with TrackID to recognize the currently playing song. You can even directly publish an "I'm listening to..." post to Facebook straight from the FM radio app. The interface is very intuitive and complete with stunning animations. Possibly one of the best FM radio apps out there.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: FM Radio with RDS and TrackID Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: FM Radio with RDS and TrackID Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: FM Radio with RDS and TrackID Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: FM Radio with RDS and TrackID
FM Radio with RDS and TrackID

Of course, you would need to have your headset plugged in for the FM radio to pick up any signal.

Audio output is good, not quite the best

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium audio output is pretty much identical to the other two Z5 family members. We were hoping that the most expensive member of the trio would fix the few niggling issues we had with its stablemates, but that's not the case. Still, the Xperia Z5 Premium performed well when connected to an active external amplifier, posting great clarity scores and matching them with just above average loudness.

Plugging in a pair of headphones harmed the stereo crosstalk but it remained good overall. We also saw some frequency response deviation and brought the volume down a notch, plus a dash of extra distortion and slightly limited dynamic range. None of these is a big deal, but when you have them all you certainly can't call it a perfect performance. Even excellent might be a stretch, considering the price of this one.

Anyway, here go the results so you can do your comparisons.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium+0.01, -0.03-95.989.60.00340.012-95.5
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium (headphones attached)+0.11, -0.40-95.680.70.00570.227-55.2
Sony Xperia Z5+0.01, -0.04-95.589.50.00330.012-94.8
Sony Xperia Z5 (headphones attached)+0.22, -0.24-95.189.50.00570.212-59.8
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact+0.01, -0.04-95.989.70.00330.012-94.4
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (headphones attached)+0.35, -0.11-95.089.40.00610.214-52.0
Apple iPhone 6 Plus+0.04, -0.04-94.094.00.00130.0064-72.0
Apple iPhone 6 Plus (headphones attached)+0.10, -0.04-94.093.90.00160.087-64.1
LG G4 +0.04, -0.07-93.493.30.0021 0.050-92.6
LG G4 (headphones)+0.93, -0.13- 91.491.90.013 0.244-50.4

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium frequency response
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Movies

The video playing app on the Z5 Premium is dubbed Movies and it too has a great custom UI. It's connected to Gracenote, which helps you find additional information about the movies and TV series you have on the phone. It will even download posters for them and for movies, it will download metadata like genre, synopsis, director and cast. As for individual episodes of series, the service is still dodgy, but you might get lucky and find the info you are looking for.

The Movies app also supports PlayStation Video service, so if you log in with your PSN account you should be able to use the streaming service hassle-free.

Movies also minimized your current clip and leaves it in a small window in your bottom right corner when you back out into the menu, just like the YouTube app. This is really convenient and lets you quickly return back to your content.

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Movies app

The flagship Z5 Premium is more than powerful enough to breeze through 1080p and 4K videos. It had issues with the AC-3 audio codec and failed to load sound in videos carrying it but that's mostly the norm for smartphones these days. The MKV movies went through, but without sound because pretty much all of our samples have AC-3 audio.

The video player comes with subtitle support by default, the only requirement is that both file names (video and subtitles) should be identical.

Reader comments

where can i buy this phone and am from kenya

Have you tried "SoundAbout"? (that's the name on the GP Store.) Personally, though, I just resorted to using good Bluetooth earphones and headphones - I got an Aukey Latitude (EP-B40) for super cheap and a Sony MDR-ZX770BN (noise canceling headp...

guys the headphone jack issue is because of its headphone. I used to use my own headphone for two years and it was ok. then it broke and I switched to the one sony provided with the phone (MH750), after a week or two, it messed up with the head...