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Sony Xperia Z5 Premium vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5 comparison

IFA 2015 is well underway and we’ve already seen some big announcements. Top of the list might be the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, the first major Android handset to come with an Ultra-HD display. How does this almighty handset stack up against Samsung's premium phablet, the Galaxy Note 5? Find out in our Sony Xperia Z5 Premium vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5 comparison.

sony xperia z5 premium vs samsung galaxy note 5 comparison2
Which device is better: the Xperia Z5 premium (left) or the Samsung Galaxy Note 5? / © ANDROIDPIT

Please note: we have only had the opportunity to go hands on with these devices, and are yet to publish full reviews. Our thoughts below are based on our initial impressions and their specs.

Xperia Z5 Premium vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: design

Both handsets combine a glass and metal design to great effect. Sony sticks to its OmniBalance principles with the Xperia Z5 Premium, creating familiar looking water-resistant phone. It's flat and thin, with a combined fingerprint scanner and power button on the side. 

sony xperia z5 premium power button fingerprint scanner
New to the Xperia Z series is the combined power button and fingerprint scanner. / © ANDROIDPIT

Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy Note 5

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 is a similar size and weight, but is more rounded, having taken design cues from the Galaxy S6. It has a similar camera sensor on the back but also features soft curves on the rear sides. The bezels are slim, the display takes up around 75 percent of the body, and it feels like a high-end phone. The Galaxy Note 5 also makes use of Samsung’s S Pen stylus (though you don’t have to use it), which can be tucked away neatly in the bottom of the device.

samsung galaxy note 5 sim
The Galaxy Note 5 follows the design language of the Galaxy S6. / © ANDROIDPIT

Which phone has the best design? Aesthetically I’d say the Galaxy Note 5. Maybe it’s a side-effect of Sony’s past few generations all looking largely the same, but the Note 5 feels like the more cutting-edge, more sophisticated device. 

Xperia Z5 Premium vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: display

In this comparison we have two of the highest quality displays on Android. Samsung’s Note 5 arrived with a gorgeous QHD Super AMOLED display, a 5.7-inch beauty with 518 pixels per inch. It's one of the most delicious displays on Android, featuring Samsung's typical deep saturation and pin-sharp detail.

sony xperia z5 premium front display
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium has a 4K display, but is it necessary? / © ANDROIDPIT

Only weeks later, however, Sony has dropped its 4K monster, which features a 5.5-inch LCD display with 2,160 x 3,840 pixel resolution and 806 pixels per inch. It sounds great on paper, but the visible improvement created by even QHD displays has been debated, so we have to ask – do we need a 4K smartphone?

The number of games, apps, and media sources currently providing content at such high resolutions is limited. Most of time, many of those little pixels will go to waste.

samsung galaxy note 5 front
The Galaxy Note 5 has a gorgeous display. / © ANDROIDPIT

No matter which phablet you choose, you'll get stunning visuals, but only if you need 4K quality – right now – is the Xperia Z5 is a clear winner. When viewing the same website on the two phones side by side, the difference in resolution won't be noticeable.  

Xperia Z5 Premium vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: performance and software

The Xperia Z5 comes with the somewhat infamous Snapdragon 810, while the Note 5 has Samsung’s own Exynos competitor, the 7420. Samsung’s device houses 4 GB of RAM compared to Sony’s 3 GB.

If we look purely at the specs, and consider the Snapdragon 810’s history and the current Note 5 benchmarks, we’d predict that a full review of the Xperia Z5 Premium will reveal that its performance lags behind the Note 5.

samsung galaxy note 5 air command s pen
The Galaxy Note 5 has the S Pen and the associated Air Command features. / © ANDROIDPIT

Sony’s device is running the latest Xperia UI software while the Note 5 features Samsung Touchwiz. They are both bundled with some apps, though Samsung’s device is the most customizable. Sony’s system has only received a minor upgrade from its predecessor, and perhaps the most noticeable change is that you can now use all of the camera functions without the device overheating.

The Xperia Z5 Premium does house a microSD card slot (to boost memory up to 200 GB) though, and this is something that some fans will sorely miss on the Note 5. That said, the Note 5 has Samsung's S Pen with the improved Air Command features, and you won't find this functionality on devices other than Samsungs (you can read more about it in our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review).

sony xperia z5 premium side
The Xperia Z5 Premium supports 200 GB microSD cards. / © ANDROIDPIT

In terms of software and performance, the Note 5 wins. It's faster, its interface is cleaner, and it has a stylus. Don’t let that put you off the Z5 Premium though, when you reach the top end of the performance spectrum, the real-world difference in perceptible speed is often negligible.  

Xperia Z5 Premium vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: Camera

The Z5 Premium features a 23 MP main camera with the world’s fastest camera autofocus (on a leading smartphone). The Galaxy Note 5 has a 16 MP rear camera, and similar technology to the highly regarded Galaxy S6.

sony xperia z5 premium camera
The 23 MP Sony camera has yet to prove itself, but we have no doubt it'll be good. / © ANDROIDPIT

We haven’t been able to put the cameras through their paces fully yet, but both feature optical image stabilization and 4K recording – though you’ll only be able to view the benefits of this on the Xperia Z5 Premium. Both manufacturers are known for making great cameras, and whichever you choose you're unlikely to be disappointed.

Xperia Z5 Premium vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: battery

The Xperia Z5 Premium has the larger battery capacity, 3,430 mAh compared to the Note 5’s 3,000 mAh. Both devices are Quick-Charge 2.0 compatible, but the Galaxy Note 5 can charge wirelessly and the Xperia Z5 cannot.

samsung galaxy note 5 speaker usb headphone jack
The Note 5 supports both quick-charging and wireless-charging. / © ANDROIDPIT

Though Sony’s Xperia Z series handsets are known for long-lasting batteries, we have no benchmark for measuring the affect of a 4K display on battery life yet, and it's possible it could be a huge drain. We’ll learn more about this in our upcoming full review.

Xperia Z5 Premium vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: Price and conclusion

Though we don't have a final price for the Xperia Z5 Premium, it's likely to cost at least as much as the Galaxy Note 5, which is currently available new and unlocked for around 750 bucks. With that in mind, deciding where to drop money on such expensive products can be hard, so let's try to sum it up. 

If you want a stylus and wireless charging, get a Note 5. If you want a 4K display, expandable storage and waterproof design, get an Xperia Z5 Premium. If those features don't sway you one way or the other, things get a little bit trickier. The Xperia Z series has traditionally had superior battery life, but the UHD display might offset this on the Z5 Premium. The Note 5 has an exemplary camera, but Sony's new 23 MP snapper has the potential to be even better. 

We’ll revisit this comparison once we have both handsets in house and can better assess the intricacies. If you want our early verdict though, we're going to say the Note 5 is the best bet. I love Sony's desire to push mobile technology forward, but am not convinced that 4K wil pay off just yet, and the Note 5 has better software and design. 

Which device would you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.


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  • Is it just me, or was this review sponsored by Samsung? Every positive point of Samsung has been really highlighted while the positive points of the Z5 have been offset by some feature that Samsung has.

    For example, the screen. Argued that it "is a delicious display" and has deeper saturation. Then in the Sony part of the display review, he asks the true merit of a 4k screen regardless of the fact that it will undoubtedly by superior.

    Then the expandable memory which Samsung doesn't have. For Sony it can expand to 200gb...this feature is offset by the fact that the Samsung Note has a stylus. Incidentally the stylus can get stuck and break the phone...not so much a virtue as it is a major design flaw.

    There is no mention of the Sony camera which has been mentioned by all other reviews, and even mentioned in various replies to this review. Sony has the fastest autofocus and best sensor on the market which for time being will be exclusive to Sony Xperia. Why is this important? The best sensors from Sony have always gone into Samsung flagships and iPhones as well as Nikon and Fujifilm cameras. The Hasselblad cameras are actually Sony cameras with custom bodies (which is changing in the future) this shows that Sony knows its cameras and its sensors. So, it deserves to be noted that this camera is potentially the game changer for the next generation flagships along with a 4K screen.

    The two day battery life of the xperia has been challenged regardless of history telling us that Sony can pull it off. Two day battery life? Show me a person who doesn't want two days of phone usage and I will show you a person who probably also considers technology a form of witchcraft.

    The Samsung is a beautiful phone, no doubt, but the aesthetic of the xperia is equally beautiful for those who like minimalism and an uncomplicated phone design which has been continuously evolving over each iteration of the xperia to come to this stage. Is it a complete overhaul? No. Is it familiar? Yes. But they have no magnetic charging which for me, looked terrible (I am typing this on a Z1 which has the magnetic charging point, ewww). It is now continuous.

    The other game changer setting Sony aside from other manufacturers, a water resistant and dust resistant body. I always listen to music in the shower, it gets me active and gives me an idea of how long I have been in the shower...I can't do that with another phone.

    There is a story of a man who lost his phone at the beach, in the water and the phone was under water for a week. Someone found the phone and after charging it, it was functional. Proper working. The phone was sent back to the poor bloke who lost his phone in the sea after one week of lying in the sea water and in the sand.

    So...the best of Sony has not been really shown here. Maybe its old news, but they are positives which continue to be positive.

    4k screen
    2 day battery life
    23mp camera with the fastest autofocus in the market
    Water and dust resistance
    And a stylus that doesn't destroy your phone.

    On the other hand, if you want a stylus the Samsung is magnificent...I think I also have a PDA lying around from a couple decades ago as well...perhaps I will ebay it and the stylus. When God gives you a find a new God.

    • I have a Galaxy Note 5 after coming from the z3. I loved the design of the z3 but had nothing but problems with them ( I went through 3 phones) I had overheating issues and 2 of them got wet once, with the dust covers on, and the phones were ruined. The camera was decent but not the greatest ever. If sony can get its bugs fixed out it will definitely have a great handset but if not, then its just another xperia.

      • Peter H Oct 11, 2015 Link to comment

        I have an xperia z and z2, and they have been the only phones ive ever had which never gave me trouble.

        I've known numerous people who were hardcore samsung fanboys and have since moved over to LG die to the constant stream of issues that tend to pop up with every samsung model.

        I've had both of my xperias underwater numerous times ajd never once has either of them had any issues. A quick google youtube search will show you countless videos of being doing rediculous torture tests on the phones (freezing them in a block of fanta for hours, putting them in a hot chocolate fountain, drowning then in every liquid you can imagine) and they always seem to survive perfectly.

        I find it very hard to believe Z3's are dying from water damage when being used within manufacturer conditions. Sorry, but my own personal experience as well as all the things I've seen others do to them makes it very hard to believe there is any common fault with the waterproofing.

        Of course no product will have a 100% fault free release the odd dodgy unit is inevitable...but I've never really seen anybody present evidence (videos, etc) of an xperia dying from regar water exposure. Ive seen many videos showing that they have.

    • yes I could not agree with you more on all those points and check out fam arena comparison of note 5 z5 and nexus 6p you will find that SONY is 10/10 when note 5 has 9/10 and nexus about 8/10 so i am definitely getting the SONY asap

  • I'm waiting for Z5 premium.

  • Z5 have one big advantage for PS4 gamers. You can stream your PS4 through Z5 and play with it any place if your connected to the same WiFi.

  • Nice hands: those can't be yours Scott :) Anyway I like the Note 5 but it isn't cheap.

  • TouchWiz faster and cleaner than SonyUI? Seriously? As a person that used both, I find this a joke statement.

    • Ha HA.... :) TouchWiz has come so far.. now it's very lighter than what it use to be... but still need some more work to be very fluid like Vanilla Android...

    • Peter H Oct 11, 2015 Link to comment

      It is a joke...just like the claims that the Samsung AMOLED is "gorgeous".

      Touchwiz is a buggy, laggy mess. The AMOLED is horrendous, with attrocious white balance no matter what setting you put it in.

      Bt its a Samsung, and Samsung are the new Apple - the 'fashionable' device to have. Because of this samsung can do no wrong and people constantly ignore their many faults.

      I still cant get over the amount of praise the Galaxy S6 gets for its design - which looks almost completely identical to an iPhone 6 with the only exception being the glass back plate.

      I also laugh at how people praise the s6 edge, but never ever mention hiw putrid the 'curved' part of the display looks, or that there is no touch input on the curved part of the screen - the purest definition of "form over function" and a total gimmick.

  • This article seems not as, "thought out" as I would have hoped. These are two very different phones, aimed a different demographics.

    Sony is media driven with multimedia "4K screen" and Camera etc. and The Note series is productivity oriented (Note taking). I agree with the last post. Water proof and more makes the Sony very appealing to it's demographic.

    • Mmm I don't think the waterproof thing is such a big deal. It's only waterproof under specific circumstances (fresh water, certain depth), it's not like it's meant to be used in a swimming pool. It's just an extra layer of protection. (new display tech to help usability when the screen is wet is nice though).

      Thanks for the comment I'm going to update the article once we have both devices permanently in-house.

  • Just for arguments sake I'll throw these two missing points from the comparison above out there ( in favor of the Z5 ). The Z5 has an IP65/IP68 dust-tight, waterproof design with cap-less USB port & the camera is + 7 in megapixels and also boasts the 'world's fastest' autofocus at 0.3 seconds, as well as Clear Image Zoom and improved low-light performance. It's no secret anymore that Sony made Samsung's cameras as of recent anyhow, I'm confident that Sony would better this in their new flagships...

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