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Sony Launches Its First 4K Smartphone: The Xperia Z5 Premium

Forbes logo Forbes 03-09-2015 Jay McGregor, Contributor

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium display. Image credit: Jay McGregor© Provided by Forbes The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium display. Image credit: Jay McGregor

Do you need a 4K display on your smartphone? Sony certainly thinks so.

Sony has gone full Microsoft and jumped from the Xperia Z3+ to the Xperia Z5 with its new range of smartphones. The shining star of the pack? The Premium model with 4K display and a quite ludicrous 806ppi (pixels per inch).

Whilst the 4K display smacks of ‘spec war’, having used the phone last week, the display did look impressive. Although that was with a 4K demo video shot in perfect conditions, the real test will be watching home-made content or 4K Netflix videos.

Sony tells me that the Z5 premium can also upscale HD content to 4K using its X Reality engine, which is also found on its 4K TV range. Having compared the upscaled 4K footage and standard 1080p, I couldn’t see much difference. But proper testing in my upcoming review should reveal more.

Xperia Z5 Premium. Image credit: Jay McGregor© Provided by Forbes Xperia Z5 Premium. Image credit: Jay McGregor

How is this going to affect your battery life I hear you ask? The 5.5-inch Xperia Z5 premium carries a larger 3430mAh battery. Sony says that to combat both overheating (a problem in previous Xperia devices) and power drain, the Snapdragon 810 chip will stop running when it’s not being used. For example, if a still image is on screen. “Most of the time the CPU will be asleep” I was told.

As a result, Sony claims that the Premium, the Z5 and the Compact can comfortably survive on a single charge for two days.

Elsewhere there’s a standard Z5 with a 5.2-inch 1080p display and a new compact version with a 4.6-inch 720p display. To Sony’s credit, all three devices carry some fairly impressive specifications including the company’s new souped up 23MP smartphone camera.

Image credit: Jay McGregor© Provided by Forbes Image credit: Jay McGregor

The new camera boasts the world’s fastest autofocus at 0.03 seconds, and a 5x clear image zoom that reduces loss of quality. Low-light performance has also been improved, which was an area previous Xperia devices struggled. Video stabilization has had a huge improvement too with Sony’s Intelligent Active Mode. Footage demoed to me of the Z5 recording a bumpy bike journey was impressively smooth.

Around the outside of the device is the familiar metal frame, glass panels and large top and bottom bezels. The UI, too, hasn’t had a huge upgrade, in fact it looks largely similar to the last generation. Under the hood the Z5 and Z5 Premium both have 3GB of RAM, whilst the Compact has 2GB. All devices continue Sony’s long-standing commitment to water and dust resistance (IP65 and IP68) and all feature expandable memory up to 200GB.

There’s also a new touch-based fingerprint scanner that doubles up as the power button – the idea is that you can wake-up the device and unlock it at the same time. Although, because of its slim width, it only captures a small section of your fingerprint. Which raises questions about accuracy, but I’ll know more once I put the devices through the Review Machine.

There’s no news on pricing yet, but stay tuned for details and my in-depth hands-on review.  

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