Sony Xperia Z5 Dual review: Not much has changed since the last Xperia flagship smartphone

Sony has become the latest company to launch its flagship smartphone – Xperia Z5 Premium and Xperia Z5 Dual to take on the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung smartphones. We have been using the Xperia Z5 Dual for a few days now and here is what we feel about it.

Why is it important?

Xperia Z5 Dual needs to click, for Sony to shine in the flagship space. The smartphone boasts the similar 5.2-inch full HD display with Sony’s X-Reality engine for vivid but true to life colours. It is backed by the same octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB inbuilt memory that can now be expanded by up to 200GB, it was upto 128GB in Xperia Z3+.

On connectivity front, Xperia Z5 Dual gets Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB OTG, NFC, FM radio and dual-SIM connectivity with 4G LTE on both the SIM card slots. A 2900mAh battery unit runs the show. For imaging i.e. the highlight of the Sony’s flagship devices, Xperia Z5 Dual features a 23MP rear camera and a 5MP front shooter.

Till now Sony did not have a device with a fingerprint sensor and Xperia Z5 Dual is the first to feature one. The smartphone puts the company in the arena with the other big names and though it packs all the ingredients of a high-end device, it has a fair share of challenges in order to shine in the market.

Design

Changing the design philosophy of smartphone brand can be a tricky affair. Companies may not want to sway away from something that is pleasing but sticking to an age-old design might lead in consumer loosing interest in the device all together. And we have seen the examples of big names such as Samsung and HTC becoming a victim of their philosophy of not altering the design of their flagship products.
Having said that, when we look at Xperia Z5 Dual, we couldn’t find anything new except some cosmetic changes when compared with the Xperia Z3+ but that doesn’t mean the smartphone looks and feel bad in hands. It is still a premium looking handset.

The 5.2-inch display at the front has minimal edges on either sides but the bezel at the bottom of the display is quite wide and still does not integrate any touch capacitive buttons. Above the display is the 5MP shooter, sensors and a notification LED.

The rectangular design with sharp lines and rounded edges looks clean and gives smartphone a sleek look. The left side has the SIM card and microSD card slots covered with a rubberised flap and the Xperia branding engraved at the bottom.

All the buttons are placed on the right edge and are in the reach of the thumb. But unlike the physical and volume rockers, the power button, which also integrates the fingerprint sensor and now comes with a flat design. It does not offer a good tactile feedback. It makes a creaky sound and its silver colour does not blend with the overall colour of the smartphone. However, it is very accurate in unlocking the smartphone and this placement of the fingerprint scanner feels much convenient and natural when compared with other devices that have scanners on the front.

The back of the phone has now been given a frosted glass (in a range of colours), which looks like metal but takes fewer fingerprints. The microUSB ports sits at the bottom and the 3.5MM headphone jack is placed at the top. Just like most of the smartphones with metal and glass construction, Xperia Z5 Dual is quite slippery and you have to handle it carefully.

Another important aspect of the design is the IP68 certification. And if you are still confused about the Xperia Z5’s water and dust resistivity then let us clear that the smartphone is not fully water resistant and we don’t recommend trying underwater photography. However, it can easily handle the accidental spills.

Using it

Considering the growing trend of 2k and even 4K displays on smartphones, a full HD display does not seem much tempting for a flagship handset priced at Rs 53,000. However, the 5.2-inch full HD display of Xperia Z5 Dual will not let you down for a moment. Its high brightness level makes the content easily visible even in direct sunlight and your naked eyes will not notice any pixilation during watching videos, pictures or while playing games. The colours are vibrant and at the same time are very natural. And if you like your content to have that extra vividness then you can switch on the super-vivid mode in display settings. Viewing angles of the display are also very good.

All looks good but then you have the Galaxy S6/S6 Edge, LG G4 and Nexus 6P with sharper and more vivid displays.

With the octa-core Snapdragon 810 Soc paired with 3GB of RAM, all of your jobs will be done without a hitch. We would say that just forget about the number of applications running in the background as you will not feel any performance lags while using the smartphone.

Playing graphics intensive games on Xperia Z5 Dual is also a breeze. The Adreno 430 GPU does not break a sweat no matter how long and what game you are playing on the smartphone. However, we had to stop the gaming sessions in between as the smartphone heats up to an uncomfortable level. The effect is also quite evident while you charge the smartphone. Xperia Z3+ was also the victim of same problem. Sony has always been known for its amazing audio quality and the same goes with the Xperia Z5 Dual. It is one of the few smartphones that can let you enjoy a full movie without headphones. The two stereo speakers placed on top and bottom of the display delivers crisp and loud audio that feels even more polished than the audio output we experienced on the Xperia Z3+.

We can’t say about the bundled earphones as we did not get any in the review unit but we tried the Xiaomi’s Piston 2 and the sound was simply amazing. If you are looking for a smartphone that delivers the best in class audio output; there’s nothing better than the Xperia handsets, and especially the Xperia Z5 Dual.

Talking about the software, the smartphone runs on Android 5.1.1 with Sony’s custom UI. The smartphone will definitely receive the Android 6.0 marshmallow update but there no word when it will happen. The UI is clean and free of glitches. For customization, a number of themes are available to change the icons and other aspects of the user interface but there’s not a wide base in the store and almost all good ones are unavailable for Indian market. The usual audio customization options in the settings menu let you set the audio output according to your choice and are quite effective.

There are quite a few pre-loaded applications such as Mortal Combat 5, Real Football 2015, Thor, Hungama, Sony Liv, etc. but thankfully you can uninstall most of them.

Camera

Sony claims Xperia Z5 being the fastest snapper with just 0.03 auto focus duration, but the 23MP main camera takes noticeable time to process the images you shoot. There’s a pause after the camera takes a picture and saves it to the gallery. Moreover, if you tap on the shot image within the camera interface, Xperia Z5 takes its own sweet time to display the results. We did not face such issues with the Samsung Galaxy S6/ S6 Edge and iPhone 6s and even with comparatively affordable devices such as OnePlus 2, Gionee Elife E8.

Now talking about the image quality, the results delivered by the 23MP main camera are fairly impressive. The camera performs well under variable lighting conditions. In day-light, it captures images with true to life colours and the detailing is quite impressive whether you take a landscape or a macro shot.

You can also tweak the camera settings with the manual mode to get the desired effect however, Superior mode delivers good results most of the times. We really like the Background defocus mode as it can actually give some amazing shots but the one in Z5 Dual was not very consistent. You need to take multiple shots to make it work but when it does, the results are amazing. 4k video recording was simply stunning on the smartphone.

Camera Sample shots

Battery

Xperia Z5 Dual features a number of modes to save on battery but people tend to forget them in daily routine and turn them on only when battery shows in red. Having said that, the phone’s 2900mAh battery drains quite fast when compared with other flagship smartphones such as Galaxy S6 Edge and the predecessor Xperia Z3+ even during the basic tasks such as camera usage. With moderate usage, the smartphone can last for a day and half. The smartphone supports Quick charge 2.0 and the battery recharges upto 35 percent with the bundled charger in 30 minutes.

We also ran the battery mark test to evaluate the performance in which Xperia Z5 Dual lasted for 10 hours 34 minutes.

Like

Xperia Z5 Dual does not break a sweat no matter what and how many applications are active in the background. The images captures by the 23MP camera are true to life and have good detailing. Moreover, the water and dust resistivity comes handy in day-to-day usage.

No like

A smartphone that is priced this high disappoints if it heats up frequently and that too upto a level that makes you give a pause to whatever you are doing. Besides, the noticeable delay in camera performance is a bit setback on Sony’s part that is known for its imaging abilities. A software update might resolve the issue but for now it’s there.

Should you buy it?

At Rs 53,000 you are getting a smartphone that is dust and water resistant, offers dual-SIM 4G LTE connectivity, crisp full HD display, good battery life and sharp images. But there’s nothing exceptional in the Sony Xperia Z5 Dual that forces us to shell out this much.

For users who are already using Xperia Z3+, the smartphone does not make much sense and for someone willing to invest in a flagship smartphone, there are other affordable competitors.

Specifications:

Display: 5.2-inch full-HD IPS display
OS: Android Lollipop 5.1.1
CPU: octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC, 3GB RAM
Storage: 32GB inbuilt storage, expandable upto 200GB via microSD
Cameras: 23MP (rear with LED flash), 5 MP (front)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3G/4G/2G, GPS, Bluetooth, microUSB charging port, NFC, USB OTG
Battery: 2,900mAh
Dimensions: 146x72x7.3mm
Weight: 154 grams
IP68 certification
Price: Rs 52,990

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