Sonyís Xperia Z5 is a great flagship Android phone at a time when great†is not†enough to mean sales and profits.
Premium phones from brands not called Samsung or Apple struggle to stand out in a crowded market.
Sony hopes the fingerprint reader, camera and extended battery life in its Xperia Z5 will catch your eye. If that doesnít work, then thereís always the marketing tie-up with the new James Bond Spectre movie.
Samsung and Apple both have fingerprint readers. Neither of them match Sonyís claim of two-day battery life, but that needs taking with a pinch of salt: electronic goods companiesí promises are often over-optimistic in this department.
Which brings us to the camera. On paper the Xperia Z5 camera has a higher specification than youíll find in a Samsung or Apple phone.
The Xperia Z5 has a 23-megapixel Sony Exmor sensor. Samsungís Galaxy S6 also uses an Exmor sensor, but there are just 16 megapixels. The iPhone 6S has a 12-megapixel sensor.
A high number of megapixels isnít always an advantage. It can mean individual sensors are smaller and get less light. The Xperia Z5ís 23 megapixels is far more than you need for most images, but it does make for worthwhile 5x digital zoom and practical oversampling.
Sony has solid experience with cameras and that shows as much in the software as the hardware.
At the phone launch in Auckland I got to play with the camera. Images showed great colour even in the poor light conditions during the product demonstrations. Focusing is fast, thatís immediately noticeable. We didnít have time or suitable conditions to test the flash.
Although the Xperia Z5 gets good still pictures, thatís now par for the course with premium phones. I canít think of any flagship phone Iíve seen in recent years that takes bad photos.
A first sight, the Z5 shoots still pictures that are as good as youíll get from an iPhone or Galaxy phone. When it comes to shooting video, the Xperia Z5 is a cut about the competition.
Software reduces camera shake for beautiful, clear moving images. The camera can record 4K video, but that means 1GB of data for every three minutes so youíll need to use the SD card slot to store your movies.
One other feature that may tempt you to choose a Xperia Z5 over, say, a Samsung Galaxy or iPhone, is the built-in noise-cancelling technology. You have to spend another NZ$75 for proprietary ear buds to use the feature, but thatís a fraction of the NZ$400 or so you might pay for noise-cancelling headphones. Itís also a lot more convenient as there is no need for an extra power pack.
Sony has avoided the trap Samsung falls into and kept the Android software overlay to a minimum. I discussed this with the product manager who said the decision was in part to make it easy for customers to get future Android software upgrades.
In New Zealand the Xperia Z5 is a Spark. It sells for NZ$1200 outright and is also available on a plan.
There are two other Xperia Z5 models. The NZ$1000 Z5 compact is the same phone with a smaller 4.6 inch screen in place of the Z5ís 5.2 inch display. Spark sells it in New Zealand, but itís not an exclusive.
At the time of writing Sonyís Xperia Z5 Premium is not officially on sale in New Zealand. It has a larger 5.5 inch 4K display, which boasts more than 800 pixels per inch. Thatís far more than the eye can see, but you might plug the phone into a 4K display.
All three Xperia Z5 phones are waterproof. They also all have fingerprint scanners on the side under the power button, not the front of the case. Iím told this means more room is†given over to the display and that the fingerprint site makes the phone easier to use.
Overall, the Sony Xperia Z5 phones are excellent alternatives to Samsung and Apple models. They are the most competitive Sony phones to date. Sony offers interesting differences, especially noise cancelling audio. Thereís enough here to tempt Android fans away from Samsung, at least for the next six months.
I asked the Sony product manager and found that doesnít mean you can kill people with one of these phones.†?