The Sony Xperia Z5 was just released in Japan last week on 29 Oct, being the first of the three models in the Z5 family to hit the shelves.
As the Xperia A that I had been using was kind of nearing the end of its life, I ordered a set when pre-sales started, and got a set delivered right up to my doorstep a day after sales started. Talk about efficiency!
So after a week of usage, here are some of my thoughts about the new handset.
(Note: I am using the Japanese version of the handset, so some differences might appear, especially with the software)
Firstly, let me list down some of the key technical specifications of the phone.
Dimensions: 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm
Weight: 154 g
SIM type: Nano SIM
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 430
Flash Memory: 32GB (expandable with microSD)
Display: 5.2″ 1080p
Main Camera: 23 MP (1/2.3″ sensor)
Front Camera: 5 MP
Battery: 2900 mAh embedded
Durability: Waterproof and dustproof
Available colors: Graphite Black, White, Gold, Green
Out of the Box
Handsets purchased in Japan usually come without any accessories bundled at all, and all accessories, including chargers and cables, are optional items which have to be purchased separately. This was no different – opening the box, apart from the quick guide, only the handset was lying snugly fit in it. This is an environmentally friendly move by the telcos here to reduce waste since most of us may already own chargers or cables.
However, don’t worry if you are getting a set in SG! The sets sold in SG come complete with a charger, USB cable and a headset, and certain telcos have promotions with free microSD cards and cases as well. Sigh. How I miss having all the goodies when getting a new phone! Dear DoCoMo, while I can understand not bundling chargers or headsets, at this price, and being one of the first few to get it, at least give me a free screen protector man! /sadface
So setting up the phone is pretty straightforward:
Open the tab on the side, slide out a small tray, put in the Nano SIM, slide it back in, power it on!
To minimize the number of slots, microSD cards also share the same tray with the Nano SIM.
Design and Handling
The design is clean and minimalistic, with only one protective tab used for the tray mentioned above. On the opposite side, we have 3 physical buttons – the power button (which also doubles as a fingerprint sensor), volume control button, and dedicated camera shutter button. They are all very responsive and placed in comfortable locations. Having a physical camera shutter button makes taking pictures in landscape mode feel much more natural too!
The earphone jack and USB connector are now capless in design. Personally I could not understand what the big fuss was about the caps – I thought that they were pretty useful in keeping my ports clean actually, so this change to capless design did not really matter much to me.
I got myself the graphite black model, so the front of the phone is black, while the sides and back are accented in a dark-grey kind of tone. I like it that they swapped the glossy glass back for a frosted glass back this time – it is now less of a fingerprint magnet and makes the phone easier to grasp. And in my opinion, looks nicer too!
Software and Features
The phone comes equipped with Android Lollipop, and after signing into my Google account, set-up was fairly straightforward as with most Android phones.
Thanks to the 3GB of RAM, the phone is very responsive overall, and the UI Sony provided does not feel too bloated as well. Sony does bundle several apps with the phones, some which are pretty useful, like Album and Walkman apps, and others not so for me, like Playstation apps. If you have totally no use for the apps, some of them can be uninstalled to free up memory, and for the others which cannot be uninstalled, they could be hidden away in some obscure folder. Either way they don’t seem to clog up system resources much, so I do not find them too problematic.
One of the new features is the implementation of a fingerprint sensor into the power button. I thought it was pretty clever to put it there. By pressing the power button to wake the phone, and leaving the finger on the button for a second more for the recognition to kick in to unlock the phone, movement is minimized overall. However, as many users have also experienced, sometimes the recognition does not work too well and will not unlock the phone. I guess it is due to the small size of the sensor. A new firmware released by Sony last week seems to have improved its accuracy, but I have yet to receive the new firmware in Japan so I cannot confirm this detail yet.
One of the main drawing points of this phone is its newly designed camera module. The auto-focus system, which was claimed to be one of the fastest, is certainly no hoax – focus was very fast and accurate, and even in slightly dim conditions the phone had no issues focusing. As mentioned earlier, the dedicated physical camera shutter button also makes taking shots a lot more natural. A half-press focuses, and a full-press will snap a shot. Long pressing the shutter button while the phone is locked or in sleep mode will also launch the camera app. One interesting thing I had noted was that when the camera app is launched in this style, after taking a shot, you are only allowed to preview the most recent picture snapped – meaning it is not possible to use the preview feature to scroll through the entire album. Pretty neat security here!
The camera itself performs really well so far, capable of producing shots with rich colors and fine details. Using it together with Snapseed is like a perfect match – we can use the image processing app to fine tune the mood of the images to our liking, and yet retain the clarity of the fine details taken by the powerful imaging sensor. I will write a more detailed review of the camera’s performance in a separate post after I spend a little more time with it. While its software stabilization is pretty decent and works well for most cases, personally I would prefer if it had optical image stabilization. Unfortunately, this camera module is unable to record RAW files currently. With the recently updated version of Snapseed being able to edit RAW DNG files directly, I hope that Sony will release a firmware update to allow RAW recording soon.
Lastly, my thoughts on the battery life. Battery life is really good – it can easily last a full day with me abusing it with all the push notifications, mail checking and replying, net surfing, Google mapping, and checking on my nekoatsume. I think the phone should have no issues lasting for up to 1.5 days with normal consumer usage.
That’s it for my short review on the handset!
Overall I am very pleased with it, especially with the frosted glass back, battery life and camera module.
Hopefully RAW support comes to the phone soon!
As of writing, the Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact models are available in Singapore.
The Z5 Premium is slated to go on sale later this month, and pre-orders are currently being accepted at this link.