Sony returns to form with 4K Xperia Z5 Premium

Joined by Z5 and Z5 Compact

Sony is readying for a comeback after taking the wraps of the world’s first 4K smartphone, the Xperia Z5 Premium, which boasts a completely redesigned camera, the ability to make transactions and water-resistant tough credentials.

It represents the first major update Sony has made to a smartphone in more than two-and-a-half years, putting an end to the company's practice of releasing a refreshed smartphone every six months.

Direct rivals include Samsung’s Galaxy Note5 and Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus with its large 5.5-inch screen. Joining it are companion smartphones including the Xperia Z5 and the Z5 Compact.

Sony leapfrogged the competition by equipping the Z5 Premium with the first 4K screen to be used in a smartphone. It boasts an unprecedented 806 pixel-per-inch density, which is more than twice the pixel count of an Apple iPhone 6.

Taking advantage of the resolution-rich screen is a “completely re-imagined” camera module. The rear camera will take photos 23-megapixels in size and will record 4K videos. Not equipping optical imaging stablisation means the camera sits flush against the body. Improving the low-light performance is an f/2.0 aperture, ISO 12800 and the fastest autofocus in a smartphone at .03 of a seconds

Revising the camera puts Sony at an advantage over its rivals. The cameras in Apple and Samsung smartphones are based on older Sony sensors.

New to the Xperia range is a finger scanner that hides inconspicuously in the power button on the smartphone’s side. It can be used to unlock the smartphone, but Sony has bigger ambitions.

The finger scanner will support the fast identity online (FIDO) standard so that the smartphone can be used to make everyday transactions. The move will give Sony a chance to compete in the emerging tap-and-pay market. Apple Pay is a stalwart in the US and Samsung is readying its rendition, Samsung Pay, before it launches in Australia in 2016. Currently Sony smartphones equipped with NFC can be used to make Commonwealth Bank transactions.

Read more: Sink or swim: The right way to use your waterproof smartphone

Other changes made to the Z5 Premium are evolutionary. The styling, for instance, has been streamlined, but the revision here has helped retain the tough credentials in which Xperia smartphones have become renowned. Its IP65/68 rating certifies it against dust and freshwater 150cm deep for a period of thirty minutes.

Computing hardware includes an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Unlike Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Note5, it supports microSD cards up to 200-gigabytes.

This computing hardware is shared with the 5.2-inch Xperia Z5, while the 4.6-inch Z5 Compact differs by packing a lesser 2GB of RAM.

Compensating for the Z5 Premium’s increase in screen resolution is a 3430 milliamp-hour battery that supports fast charging. Sony claims 10 minutes charging the smartphone will replenish the battery enough for it to last 5.5 hours.

Sony will begin its global roll out of the Xperia Z5 Premium in November, while its Z5 and Z5 Compact is expected to reach Australian shores in October.

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Tags ApplesonyiPhonesamsungXperia6 PlusGalaxy Note5Z5 PremiumZ5Z5 Compact

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