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Sony Xperia Z5 review

Sony fixes up the problems of the Z3+, so how does this model compare?

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony devices have always come thick and fast. After all, the original Z was only released in March 2013 and since then we’ve seen the Z1, Z2, Z3 and Z3+ (aka the Z4). However, the relentless pace of releases hasn’t always been matched by an equal pace of significant innovation. Sony’s approach has been one of evolution rather than revolution and at first glance it seems the same applies to the Z5.

You’d be hard pressed to tell the Z5 apart from its predecessor. It uses the same omnibalance design language, retains the stereo speaker positioning (which also is very similar to the Z2) and even has virtually the same dimensions, although it’s actually 0.4mm thicker than the Z3+. Look carefully and you’ll spot the main visual changes: the small, round power button has changed to a lozenge shape, the volume buttons have moved from the top of the right-hand side to the bottom, the back panel is now frosted glass and there are two new hues available for the device in gold and green to complement the graphite black and white that now has a silver back.

As a flagship device with a flagship price, the Z5 ticks all of the right boxes on the specification sheet. An octa-core Snapdragon 810 features, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage (with microSD expansion) are included and Android 5.1.1 is on board out of the box with a Marshmallow upgrade already confirmed by Sony. If you’re concerned about the Snapdragon 810 processor and the notorious heat it generates, you’re right to be as on the Z3+ it was a real problem. Thankfully for the Z5, Sony has utilised heat-pipe technology in the design (hence the relocation of the power buttons) together with improved software tuning to try to avoid this problem. While the device does still get warm, it doesn’t get uncomfortably hot so this is a significant improvement. Most importantly, unlike on the Z3+, it doesn’t force software to shutdown during normal use. When recording 4K video, the Z3+ would get unbearably hot, but the Z5 is still perfectly usable.

Want to know more about our reaction to the Z5? Check out issue 57 of Android Magazine, available for instant download now.