The Xperia Z5 Dual is Sony’s attempt to make a premium smartphone on the cheap. To that end, it falls flat. Upgrades like a beefed-up camera and a fingerprint scanner can’t disguise the limitations of what’s supposed to be a flagship device.
And when that device comes with a Dh2,699 price tag, that’s a real problem.
The Z5’s design is virtually identical to that of its predecessor (in the Middle East at least) the Z3+. That’s a problem, given that the Z3+’s design was virtually identical to the Z3, which in turn offered only minor updates to the now 18-month-old Z2.
Even worse, the Z5 retains the uneven joins of the Z3+, its sharp edges giving its design a distinctly mid-range feel.
Also unchanged is the 5.2- inch full HD display, which is also starting to show its age in comparison with the likes of the iPhone 6S and Galaxy S6 range, but also with far cheaper competitors like the Huawei P8.
Those looking for a better viewing experience are advised to turn their attention to the 4K display of the Z5 Premium, retailing for Dh300 more.
One welcome innovation over the Z3+ is that the power button on the right-hand side of the phone now doubles as a fingerprint reader, allowing for easy unlocking of the handset without entering a PIN or swipe code.
The other major upgrade is the camera, with the Z5 offering a 23 MP rear camera, while retaining the 5.1 MP selfie snapper.
While the Z5 captures images with plenty of detail and nice bright colours, they aren’t significantly different to those taken with other devices to make the camera a key selling feature.
At the end of the day, the Z5 is only worth buying if, for some reason, Sony’s handset designs still appeal to you. Despite the camera upgrade, it doesn’t have the design or specifications to compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple, and at Dh2,699 it’s a far more expensive offering than excellent alternatives from Huawei and LG. For fans only.
q&a no more underwater selfies
John Everington expands on Sony’s new Xperia Z5 Dual:
I was just getting used to the Z3+. What about the Z4? I’m confused.
It is a bit complicated. The Z3+ was indeed the last handset launched here in the UAE, but the same device was branded as the Z4 in Japan. Perhaps the Z5 will bring things back together again, or perhaps Sony’s next flagship will take a leaf out of Microsoft’s book and be called the Z8. We’ll keep you posted.
Back to the Z5. What happens if I want a smaller phone or a sharper display?
Well, you’re in luck. In addition to the Z5 Dual, there’s also the Z5 Compact, which sports a 4.6-inch display and is available now for Dh2,299. More intriguing perhaps is the Z5 Premium, the first smartphone in the world with a 4K display, which will go on sale this month for Dh2,899.
Can I still use the Z5 to take underwater selfies?
Unfortunately not. After touting the Xperia’s underwater capabilities for ages, Sony has performed a volte face, and now recommends not using the camera in the pool. It’s apparently still waterproof enough to survive having a cup of coffee spilt on it, though I thought it best not to test this.
And how about battery life?
Sony reckons you can get two days of use off a single charge. While this is a tad optimistic, it gets through an entire day of standard usage comfortably enough.