Sony Xperia Z5 Compact – review

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Welcome to my review of the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. The Z5 Compact is a solid feeling design, that is water and dust proof, has a dedicated 2 stage hardware camera button and incorporates some of Sony’s high end audio tech. It also got awarded by Dx0Mark the number spot for smartphone cameras over the iPhone, LG G4, Samsung Note 5 and more. The sensor is the Z5 Compact is the new 23mp sensor from Sony.

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The new Z5 Compact also incorporates a fingerprint sensor in the power button which is located on the side.

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Basics

Key Specification –

– Networks – GSM, HSPA, LTE
– Dimensions – 127 x 65 x 8.9 mm
– Weight 138 g
– Nano-SIM
– IP68 certified – dust proof and water resistant over 1.5 meter and 30 minutes
– Screen – IPS, 4.6 inches 720 x 1280 pixels, 323 ppi
– Multitouch – up to 10 fingers
-Protection – Scratch-resistant glass, oleophobic coating, Triluminos display,X-Reality Engine
– Android OS, v5.1.1 planned upgrade to v6.0
– Chipset – Snapdragon 810, GPU Adreno 430
– Card slot – microSD, up to 200 GB
– Internal -32 GB, 2 GB RAM
– Camera – Primary 23 MP, 5520 х 4140 pixels, phase detection autofocus, LED flash,
– Video 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps, HDR, check quality
– Secondary – 5.1 MP, 1080p, HDR
– Loudspeaker – stereo speakers
– 3.5mm jack with High-Res audio
– Communications – WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP, apt-X
– GPS- A-GPS, GLONASS/ Beidou (market dependant)
– NFC Yes
– Radio FM radio with RDS
– USB microUSB v2.0 (MHL 3 TV-out), USB Host
– Sensors -Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
– Battery – Non-removable Li-Ion 2700 mAh battery

The Sony Z5 Compact is water and dust proof. It even has a lanyard hook. The fingerprint sensor is located on the power button on the side of the phone and this worked perfectly. The 720p screen is fantastic. Sharp and crisp. Good viewing angles too. Call quality was ok too. Sony include several apps – Amazon Shopping, AVG Protection, Dropbox, Facebook, File Commander, FM Radio, Email, Calculator, Kobo Books, Lifelog, Live screen streaming, Movie Creator, News from Sociallife, OfficeSuite, Playstation, Privilege Plus, PS Video, PSN, Sketch, Smart Connect, Spotify, Track ID, Twitter, Vine, Xperia Lounge and What’s New. The Z5 Compact has many options from glove mode, connecting a Dual Shock Controller and playing your Playstation games on your phone, screen mirroring, casting screen, media servers, themes, tap to wake up and one of the best power managements options to give you 2 days or more battery life. Another unusual feature present in the Z5 Compact is the two way camera hardware shutter button.

Obviously being the compact phone in its range with high end specs too, makes the Z5 Compact rather unique in the android world where most phones are just getting larger and larger. The Z5 Compact has a Snapdragon 810 processor and whilst this caused problems with overheating in previous phones, it hasn’t caused any issues with the Z5 Compact. The phone when pushed very hard does get warm, sometimes very warm but the heat levels were under control, and I have not had any heat warnings either.

AnTuTu scored a respectable 64,000.

Camera and Audio

The Sony camera app contains a multitude of options but in reality it is more auto biased. In manual mode you only have a few file size options. Full, 8, 3 or 2mp. You can only select scenes at 8mp. ISO is not controllable at full resolution only 8mp, nor are some other settings. So really manual is not a proper manual mode like that on the LG G4, it is an extension to the superior auto mode.

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There are scenes for every occasion and a selection of camera modes, with some freaky cool Artificial Reality modes and more. There are more modes available for download in the Google Play store too. BUT there is no burst mode! That is really an oversight. I had to download Timeshift Burst which takes 30 shots in a second or two. It was able to grab some fancy action shots, but the quality was poor.

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The camera app also allows for other adjustments dependant on file size and mode used. On the flash front you get auto, fill flash, torch, red eye and off. Other options include face recognition, smile shutter, timers, microphone on or off, brightness, colour, quick launch, grid lines, touch capture, white balance, EV, ISO up to 3,200 in some modes, focus type and volume key. Don’t forget there is a 2 stage camera hardware button. Pressing this always launches superior auto mode. Pressing the app icon, launches the last used mode along with the last used settings. There is no raw option or other manual controls like shutter speed. 

So let us take a look at the picture quality. My observations are that superior auto does a reasonable job. In good light it takes good shots and macros are good too. Superior Auto can shoot at 23mp.  In manual mode, you have a few more options. However in lower light it is best to shoot in 8mp manual and if necessary select the night scene required. Superior Auto is not terrible, it just seems to bias towards higher ISO settings which means more noise in the shots. The sensor does get impacted by bright flare, so it is necessary to place your hand slightly to block the bright light. This is easy to do as you can hold phone in one hand and use the hardware button to take the shot and use the other hand to block the offending light. There is a rumour that Sony is overhauling the camera app soon. I really hope so! The firmware update that’s just arrived has improved the camera slightly. Video at 1080p is excellent as the electronic image stabilisation works very well. At 4K it’s not as steady.  The front camera produced average only shots but does have tons of AR type modes from adding animal faces, making your lips reds or even creating a mysterious look. This gave me glowing blue eyes! You really can have some fun with the camera options. So how would I rank the camera versus the competition now that I have used the Z5 Compact for a few weeks? The Note 5 and LG G4 are ahead of the Z5 Compact across all the different modes (video/stills) and they have full manual controls. However, the Z5 Compact is the first camera sensor from Sony that I would be happy to use daily.

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The above shot is at night of the visitors centre in Princetown.

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Even more challenging is the local church as their is no lights to help focus.

My Bone #Tiggy #HappyDog #SonyZ5Compact

Above a portrait of one of my dogs Tiggy.

Below are 3 of the photos using Timeshift Burst.

Timeshift Burst examples from #SonyZ5Compact

Timeshift Burst examples from #SonyZ5Compact

Timeshift Burst examples from #SonyZ5Compact

Greenery Macro #SonyZ5Compact

Above just some random close up of a plant.

Below are random shots of my local church.

Scenes around the Church of St Michaels and All Angels, Princetown #SonyZ5Compact


Scenes around the Church of St Michaels and All Angels, Princetown #SonyZ5Compact

Scenes around the Church of St Michaels and All Angels, Princetown #SonyZ5Compact

Scenes around the Church of St Michaels and All Angels, Princetown #SonyZ5Compact

Below is a frame from the Timeburst Shift mode.

Doggies charging around on Dartmoor #SonyZ5Compact #TimeshiftBurstMode


Beautiful views around Staple Tor, Dartmoor #SonyZ5Compact

Beautiful views around Staple Tor, Dartmoor #SonyZ5Compact

If you want to see all 25 shots taken with the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, click HERE.

The audio is rather decent. Front stereo speakers that whilst not HTC Boomsound levels are ok. And on the front! Sony’s music app has audio settings DSEE HX (upgrades the quality of compressed music to near Hi Res Audio quality), Clear Audio+, Sound Effects (EQ, Surround, S Force Front Surround for the loudspeaers, ) noise cancellation (with certain Sony headphones) and more. All these audio functions work really well to provide a good quality output via headphones. I would recommend in ear canal type headphones and with certain Sony headphones you can even have active noise cancellation. The music app also includes options to stream music from your home network, podcasts and incorporates Spotify.

Summary

The Sony Z5 Compact is an ideal one handed device, offering tons of functionality and options galore. With its smaller size it becomes unique in the world of android phones. If I had one wish, it would be for Sony to refine and simplify the camera app, so its auto mode was the best in class by making it simpler, and then have a proper manual mode with raw and shutter support.

My thanks go to Clove Technology for supplying the Sony Z5 Compact.

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4 thoughts on “Sony Xperia Z5 Compact – review

  1. I upgraded to the full size Z5 from a Z1. Have to say whilst the phone part is fine, I am mortally disappointed by the camera. So much noise (fuzzy edges), something of a waste putting such a powerful resolution if you can’t use it. Tried bouncing the comment off Sony at Twitter only to be ignored 3 times. I wonder if it could be their software ?

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