Android Product Reviews

Sony Xperia Z5 Review

Christian Cawley 15-12-2015

You’re looking for a new phone. Something reasonably powerful, big screen, great sound. A handset to blow your iPhone-loving friends out of the water.


This might just be it.

Sony’s Xperia Z5 is a larger phone, verging on phablet dimensions. Available in a variety of finishes, we’re reviewing and giving away one in a stunning gold finish. But is it a good enough smartphone for you to spend time reading this review?

The Sony Xperia Z5: What’s Inside?

This phone comes with a lot of spec.


Requiring a nano SIM, the inside of the 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm case is packed full of tech, the highlight of which is the Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 chipset with a Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU and Adreno 430 GPU, backed up by hefty 3Gb of RAM.


Several versions of the Xperia Z5 are available, including the Xperia Z5 Premium, a super flagship boasting a 5.5 inch 4K display. The model we’re reviewing, however, is the Xperia Z5, the standard flagship, still with phablet dimensions (a slightly smaller 5.2 inch), but with a more battery friendly Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel display, complete with Sony’s TRILUMINOS™ with Live Color LED for remarkable color reproduction.


A microSD slot – in the same caddy as the nano SIM – will support up to 200 GB, which will add to the 32GB internal storage.

As with any modern smartphone, you can expect to get online via mobile Internet (GSM, HSPA, LTE) or wireless, and the device also features Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA and wireless hotspot. Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, micro USB with USB host support and FM radio are all included.


Fingerprint Recognition Brings Added Security

One particularly useful feature is the fingerprint recognition, made possible using a small scanner mounted in the power button. Setting this up requires several cans of your thumb to be captured, and if you don’t vary the position of your chunkiest digit, you’ll be setting this up for a while. The best approach is to consider that the scan is looking at a strip of your thumb, and between scans move it slightly so that a different portion of your opposable digit is scanned.


All in all, the results are good, but the only benefit a thumb fingerprint recognition brings – beyond the obvious security benefits – is to save you pressing the power button. Instead, you just rest your thumb against the scanner to unlock the phone.

It’s nice to have, and can frustrate any unauthorized user, however.


Portable Entertainment Center

Like most Sony devices, the Xperia Z5 is an entertainment center, albeit one you can stick in your pocket and take with you anywhere. As a result, the smartphone has superb video and audio. The TRILUMINOS system makes a massive impact when you start watching video, while hi-res audio reproduction is as good as any other on the market, including Beats Audio, if not better.


Factor in the microSD slot and you have a smartphone that can hold its own against any other (and quite a few tablets and PCs) in multimedia playback. Whether you’re planning on enjoying music, streamed video or gaming, put simply, the Xperia Z5 is a fun device.

On the subject of gaming, meanwhile, you’ll find a PlayStation subfolder in the app drawer. From here, you can connect to your PS4 and use the Remote Play feature, as well as access various services on the PlayStation Network. It’s a bit like the Xbox 360 and Xbox One apps Smartglass with the Xbox One - Is it actually useful now? SmartGlass was Microsoft's attempt to integrate this phenomenon into the gaming and Xbox experience - interactive meta displays when watching movies or TV; mini-maps for games or extra controls. But mostly it was just crap.... Read More for Windows Phone and Android, only better…


Lollipop with a Stripped Back Custom UI

Upon booting, the first thing you see is Android 5.0 Lollipop Android 5.0 Lollipop: What It Is And When You'll Get It Android 5.0 Lollipop is here, but only on Nexus devices. What exactly is new about this operating system, and when can you expect it to arrive on your device? Read More . Although the phone ships with the promise of an imminent upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow: What It Is and When You'll Get It Android Marshmallow is here -- but why should you care? Read More (likely January), the most important thing to note here is that Sony has been working on a new user interface that closely resembles stock Android.


The result is a user interface that feels very much like Android 5.0 Lollipop but with a heavy dose of Sony software. As for branding, the only ever present element is the clock/calendar widget which can be removed if preferred. All in all, this is a slick, satisfying presentation of Android Lollipop, which suggests good things for the imminent update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

A nice addition to the UI are the Favorites Bar shortcuts on the Recents screen. Here, you can add a collection of lightweight apps (all windowed) such as a calculator, timer, browser, etc., that can be instantly launched. These can prove useful, and act more like widgets that can be quickly closed rather than standard apps.

Battery Life & Performance

One of the biggest surprises about this phone is the battery life. The non-removable Li-Ion 2900 mAh battery lasts up to 520 hours on standby, with up to 13 hours talk time. How does this translate into daily use?


While on standby and disconnected from both 4G and Wi-Fi, the Xperia Z5 battery decreases in daily chunks of 10-12%. Essentially, this means the phone can last over a week without recharging in a low-use scenario, although of course this would be an unlikely occurrence.

But what it does mean is that you can leave the Xperia Z5 at bedtime and wake up 6 hours later to find that it still has something approaching a useable charge. Better still, it recharges within a couple of hours and is equipped with several battery management tools. STAMINA mode and Ultra STAMINA mode activate power save functions, the latter enabling only basic phone functions – ideal for those desperate times when you’re nowhere near a power source for recharging. Background data queuing can also be enabled to reduce battery impact.


Using Antutu Benchmark to gauge an idea of how fast the phone is, we can see that, unsurprisingly, it’s a bit of an animal. User experience and other benchmarking tools may well differ, but based on Antutu, the Xperia Z5 running Lollipop is very highly rated, with only the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Note 5, and the Letv Le1 Pro coming in ahead.

That’s not bad at all.

However, it isn’t without its quirks. For instance, EA’s Dead Space seems to launch incorrectly half the time, sometimes with perfect sound, others with just ear-splitting static. For a phone with such good audio, this is particularly jarring.

Does the 23 MP Camera Deliver?

An impressive 23 megapixel camera (5520 x 4140 pixels) with phase detection autofocus and LED flash is mounted in the chassis of the Xperia Z5, offering a 16:9 ratio. You may prefer, however, to decrease to 20 MP and get the standard 4:3, but it is 8 MP that is selected by default, so if you’re looking for hi-resolution images from this camera, open the Settings screen in the camera app before you start snapping.


Color reproduction is convincing, with tones and hues appearing lifelike regardless of the environment. Various apps can be used within the camera app, such as 4K video, Multi camera view (which records footage from your device’s main camera and that of another Sony Xperia Z5 series phone or a recent Wi-Fi-compatible camera), panorama mode, and even Face in Picture, which records or snaps from both front and back cameras, and Vine, for uploading video clips to Twitter. In total, 12 camera apps are available, with more ready to be downloaded.


Other settings are also present, such as scenes and camera modes, and the smile detection works really well. Nighttime photography without the flash is impressive, with a more realistic color reproduction than you would find on cheaper phones. Think a camera on a par with the Samsung Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6S, here, but with the added polish that Sony brings to photographic hardware.


Meanwhile, snaps and videos recorded at the same location are automatically compiled into a story, much like the feature in Google Photos and other automated movie making apps 3 Automated Editing Tools for Android to Easily Create Amazing Movies Google's Photo app automatically creates awesome little videos, but now it has some competition. Let's compare them. Read More .

Is the Xperia Z5 a Phone You Want?

As you’ve seen, the Xperia Z5 delivers a competent smartphone experience, combining the best of Android Lollipop with some surprisingly good pre-installed Sony apps and solid hardware.

This is a good smartphone, perhaps Sony’s best (although 4K fans will prefer the Z5 Premium.)

Compared to another 2015 phablet that we’ve reviewed – the Samsung Galaxy A7 Samsung Galaxy A7 Phablet Review And Giveaway Read More – the Xperia Z5 is the more user friendly device. The useful thumbprint scanner on the power button saves time; the weight of the phone is perfect – not too heavy, not too light – and the camera is superb. Benchmark results speak for themselves.

Sony Xperia Z5 E6653 3GB/32GB 23MP 5.2-inch 4G LTE Factory Unlocked (GOLD) - International Stock No Warranty Sony Xperia Z5 E6653 3GB/32GB 23MP 5.2-inch 4G LTE Factory Unlocked (GOLD) - International Stock No Warranty Buy Now On Amazon $165.99

However, you might be concerned that the phone ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop rather than the current Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Sony has stated that it will be making Marshmallow available on the Xperia Z5 in due course. So no need to panic!

Our verdict of the Sony Xperia Z5:
Rightfully a flagship device, the standard Z5 is always going to be in the shadow of the Premium, super-flagship. But for a piece of hardware like this, available on Amazon for $565 or so, that shouldn’t be too much to worry about if you’re not too bothered about 4K resolution on a 5 inch screen.
9 10

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact James Bruce for further details.

Related topics: MakeUseOf Giveaway, Sony.

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  1. Anonymous
    January 30, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Yes, there are many good things about this phone. One of which is that it can be used to download and use all your favorite apps. One of MY favorite apps is the app, designed for iOS and Android operating systems. It's now available on Google Play and in the App store. It's free to download in both systems. The premise behind is that people want to get something for something. So for uploading your pictures, videos, and comments, at you get paid. There are contests that you can enter for cool stuff, but you can EARN cool stuff there, tool And you get paid for signing up with an Amazon Gift Card. So since it's free, and I could earn the cool stuff I want, I signed up and got an Amazon Gift Card for 5$. There's no expiration date on the card, so I can save it for when I get the amount I need for something like this.

  2. Johny
    January 4, 2016 at 5:18 am

    Who is the winner? I am desperate to know the result.

  3. Aleksandar
    January 3, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    And the winner is...?

  4. Thomas Gladdines
    January 3, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    And who is actually the lucky person this time?

  5. Anonymous
    January 3, 2016 at 7:47 am

    A true flagship phone *sheds tears*. Thanks guys, awesome giveaway !

  6. Anonymous
    January 3, 2016 at 7:46 am

    A true flagship phone *sheds tears*. Thanks guys, awesome giveaway !

  7. Pauleen
    January 3, 2016 at 5:41 am

    I hope philippines will be picked.

  8. Pauleen
    January 3, 2016 at 5:40 am

    I wish i may, i wish i might, had the wish i may tonight..

  9. Rian Syah Effendi
    January 1, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Although My Chance is Very Thin, I Want to Try This One :)

  10. Erika
    December 30, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I wish I can win this, but if I dont it's ok~ :D

  11. Sheila Dhinel
    December 30, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Love to win this so many good things about it!!!!

  12. Anonymous
    December 28, 2015 at 5:56 am

    Best mobile phone according to features and its display and sound quality. Its completely user friendly and slim in look. Its battery backup is too good and screen size is large, so you can see the videos very clearly and best sound quality too.

  13. Anonymous
    December 27, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    More giveaways: https:// intentasorteo .wordpress. com/ sorteos-diciembre-2015/ Remove Spaces

  14. Israel Gallogo
    December 26, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Great! Hope I win this time...pray for me :D

    December 26, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Many Great Thanks for this year ending Mega Giveaway. I would definitely Like to WIN this Incredible Smartphone once in my Life to start a Great New Year ahead. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year 2016 ahead ! Chow ... !

  16. Anonymous
    December 25, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Great review.

    One question, though: How come makeuseof is able to make giveaways of everything that it reviews while other sites don't? Are the giveaways for real?


  17. Mary Maria
    December 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Cool phone!!

  18. Anonymous
    December 22, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Neat. Currently I own an Xperia Z2 and I plan to make it work for another couple of years since I purchased it new less than a year ago. I always lag behind a couple of models, for the sake of saving money, but when it comes to upgrading next time, I know what I'm aiming for. I'm thoroughly pleased with the quality of the Xperia series.

  19. Tanmay
    December 21, 2015 at 3:44 am

    Really wannaaaa win thisss!!

  20. khaoula
    December 20, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I hope i will win this <3

  21. Anonymous
    December 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I would really love to win this super smartphone! I have a Galaxy Nexus from 2012 now and it is sloooow as hell! Thank you makeuseof team for this giveaway! Greetings from Italy

  22. Maxxdowner
    December 19, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    I love this phone wish I had one tho lol

  23. Francisco Perez Escudero
    December 19, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    I'm really desperate to have this phone. I'm a complete fan of Xperia and this one is the best phone nowadays.

  24. Maxxdowner
    December 19, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    If I won this z5 I would fall on my face lol

  25. John David
    December 19, 2015 at 7:43 am

    The newest Z-series phone from Sony is an absolute killer.Rocking a Snapdragon 810,performance is really snappy.Definitely I would ditch my old iPhone 3GS as to win this giveaway.Thanks to all makeuseof editors,reviewers and admins!!! Cheers!!! :D

  26. Alfred C
    December 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Finally it's here. :)

  27. Dave Wilson
    December 18, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Want to try out the camera sooo bad!

  28. Sonic Jensen
    December 18, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Login to your existing account

    has already been used to log in to Gleam.

    Please login to your linked account

    Well thanks for us that dont use facebook anymore, cant enter..

  29. Anonymous
    December 18, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Would love to win it.

  30. Joumana
    December 18, 2015 at 6:12 am

    I am very interested to try it . use it and recommend it to my friends.. Since i am a big fan. And loyal from my red phone sony xperia till my last z3

  31. Sachin Gadgil
    December 18, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Sony Xperia Z5 is "BEAUTY WITH BRAINS" Smartphone. Would like to win this beauty. The Speed and Clarity is magnificent. Censors works smoothly without any delay as shown in the video. I would definitely like to win this giveaway and would refer to many of them to buy this brainy smartphone.

  32. Mike
    December 18, 2015 at 3:19 am

    Would love to try it.

  33. Rohan Kuche
    December 18, 2015 at 2:25 am

    Great review and an amazing giveaway! Thank you :)

  34. Ken
    December 18, 2015 at 1:58 am

    I don't see a place to enter the contest

  35. ron
    December 18, 2015 at 1:45 am

    Definitely what I need. No phone right now

  36. Anonymous
    December 18, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Stunning !!! It's been a while since I wanted to win anything this bad but dang, that is one fantastic phone! Thanks for the giveaway!

  37. Jess
    December 18, 2015 at 12:48 am

    A fantastic phone!!

  38. Anonymous
    December 18, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Got the Premium awesome product, awesome screen awesome sound awesome camera good battery life and very robust. I ejected it from my motorbike at 70 km/hr, scratches on the back and sides all I can see wrong (would not try to reproduce).
    Just a caution.
    I took my Xperia Z for a paid repair and was told the model was from another country so they would not repair it. Here I was thinking Sony was a global company. My phone goes around the world with me.

  39. Anonymous
    December 17, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    looks good new stuff, i hope the batteray good too
    Btw, thanks for the giveaway ;)

  40. Dennis
    December 17, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    This is an AWESOME phone! Thanks for the giveaway and I hate to be this way, but I hope I win it!!!

  41. ogee
    December 16, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Nice review, great job. It's an awesome phone without a doubt, better than the i phone 6s and s6 in my opinion. s6 has a slightly better screen cause of the resolution but overall the z5 is a better phone.

  42. Aadeesh Sharma
    December 16, 2015 at 10:14 am

    need something hot before the winter arrives.!

  43. Leo
    December 16, 2015 at 8:17 am

    My first problem is the reviewer compares sound quality to beats audio!!!??? Clearly has not tried other types, such as bose, audio technica???!!! Beats ?really?? After that I skimmed over the review.

    • Christian Cawley
      December 16, 2015 at 8:58 am

      My first problem was that the commenter is unaware of smartphones with Beats Audio software included.

      After that I skimmed over the comment.

  44. Janet Humphrey
    December 15, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Watched the review video twice, there doesn't appear to be a video code!

    • Thomas
      December 15, 2015 at 9:08 pm

      Look at the end of the video, i seen it.

      Btw, thanks for the giveaway ;)

    • Leo
      December 16, 2015 at 9:02 am

      I'm aware, the software was in htc phones first. Obviously it never made it big, it's not a staple in a multitude of devices.

    • James Bruce
      December 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      Look for little white boxes in the corner; one will say "enter code ... for bonus entries".