Before the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 I wrote a comment in which I stated that I will get the new Note. Back then the rumors were that the Note 5 was going to feature a huge battery that would last a full day even with my usage. At the release event it was made clear that the Note 5 is going to have a smaller battery than its predecessor. The final hit was the fact that the Note 5 is not coming to Europe let alone Finland.
After the disappointment, I turned my head to Sony’s camp. Last spring, I got an Xperia Z3 for my mom, used it for a week and made a full review of it in Finnish to my YouTube channel. After using the Note 3 since launch, I really enjoyed using the almost stock Android, software buttons and Sony’s brilliant power saving features. I almost decided to get a Z5 but suddenly there was rumors about a Z5 variant with a 4K display. All the leaks and rumors confirmed me to get the Z5 Premium and day after the release, I pre-ordered mine, in black.
As I wrote in my original Note 5 comment, my Note 3 is getting old. It doesn’t feel nice anymore as all the new phones have the premium metallic design. It has just got the Android 5.0 update and it will never get the 6.0. The Snapdragon 800 still runs all the apps I need but the hefty skin on top of Android and the ridiculous amount of bloatware make me sick.
Some say that the smartphone industry is standing still with no mentionable development. Yeah, if you look at the plain looks of the devices. The Note 3 is 2 years old and it’s missing a lot of features. It doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner or front facing speakers. Its camera does not work in low light, at all. I mean the camera is completely useless after the sun goes down, even indoors. Here in Finland it’s not acceptable because for example in September it gets dark after 5PM.
A long time ago I made it clear to myself that I’m going to get a new phone this fall. I have been a big fan of AMOLED display since the Galaxy S3 I got in 2012. The blacks and the viewing angles and the power saving have kept me away from any LCD phones. Unfortunately, still in 2015 Samsung is the only manufacturer to use AMOLED. Motorola tried for a couple of years but as soon as they got their battery size to a manageable level, they moved back to the LCD. Luckily, we now have rumors claiming that the iPhone 7 will have an AMOLED display. That would force the other manufacturers to get better displays too. So maybe my next phone after the Z5 Premium would be an AMOLED without Samsung logo.
Back to the Z5 Premium. I really like the Sony design, the sharp corners and the industrial look. It’s even made out of stainless steel instead of aluminium like the other Z series flagships. The fingerprint scanner is integrated to the perfectly positioned power and lock button on the right side and the camera is not protruding like in some other flagships. It even has a pair of front facing speakers stealthily cut to the top and bottom edges of the front glass.
Speaking of glass, the worst piece of design in the Z5 Premium is the back. It’s made out of ridiculously shiny glass, it’s like a mirror. It is also a fingerprint magnet. In device this large and beautiful, it would be wrong to use a case that would prevent the fingerprints so a skin might be the only option. Even the front glass needs some protection. The glass Sony uses is much softer than the Gorilla glass other manufacturers use. A glass screen protector is a must have.
Let’s get under the surface, shall we. Many people were disappointed by Sony’s decision to use the Snapdragon 810 SoC. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t other options. The 808 can’t run the 4K display or the 23MP camera. The 820 isn’t available yet and the Samsung Exynos 7420 would have needed some extra optimization as it’s designed for Samsung phones, if it even was an option. So, Sony was pretty much forced to use the 810 despite its overheating issues. Interestingly, according to a teardown, the Z5 and the Z5 Premium have dual heat pipes and thermal paste to move the heat out of the SoC to the back plate of the device. This is proper computer design and according to the hands-on videos we saw from IFA 2015, it works.
The next killer feature in the Z5 Premium is the waterproofing. The device is IP68 and IP65 certified against dust and water. Sony has updated their waterproofing policy lately but the phone will still be able to take some rain or accidental splashes. It’ll be much nicer to know that the phone will not die if I have it in my pocket when it starts raining.
At this point I know that many of you are thinking that I’m a Sony fan boy but in all honesty I’m not. I’m just a fan of the Z5 Premium. It has almost everything I want from a smartphone and unlike a competitor, it’ll be available here in Finland. Speaking of availability, the Z5 Premium still doesn’t have an estimated launch date. Amazon says December 1st and some other sources claim November. In any case, I’ll need to wait a long time to get my Z5 Premium.