I can recall when I first tried a Sony Xperia Z3. It felt like what I wish my iPhone 4S was like back in the day. It was ergonomically a masterpiece. After trying a Samsaung Galaxy S4 and HTC One M8, I thought I've finally give the Sony Xperia Z Series a try.
Finger Print Scanner
Before I bought the phone, there were already reviewers expressing there angst against the phones finger print unlock function. I can summarize the finger print scanner in three words: Don't sweat it! No... That is not a figure of speech. The finger print scanner will not work when you have any form of precipitation on your finger. As the scanner is longer than it is wide (see picture bellow), it absolutely struggles when you don't line up your finger with the phone. Given these conditions, it works reliably. It is nowhere near as reliable and probably not as quick as the iPhone 6S, but I'll still give Sony credit. Most people around me have no idea the scanner is even there, as it just looks like a generic power button!
Speaking of buttons, the Xperia Z5 is thinner than the Xperia Z3, with a more angular design. Sadly, I find it very uncomfortable to hold. This can be fixed with a case, but that makes the phone even larger and unyielding. I'd encourage you try the phone for yourself, but I far prefer the HTC One M8 ergonomically, even considering the top mounted sleep/wake button! Comparing to a iPhone 6, I prefer the more rounded corners, although I dislike how slippery and difficult to grip both the Xperia Z5 and 6S are. Since the power button is placed a little too low to my liking, and the volume button is absurdly mounted even lower, I am constantly moving the phone up and down during one handed operation. This has resulted in some very near falls, so I ended up with a Tech21 case. In future, I hope Sony implements the volume button on the other side of the phone.
This is reason enough to not buy this phone alone. I realise not everyone uses their phone to make phone calls... But being a photographer, I always carry headphones around, as I literally cannot understand the person on the other end of the line without them! The speakers are almost invisible front mounted stereo slits on the top and bottom. HTC's Boomsound is leaps and bounds better, and the iPhone 6S also puts it to shame, even with its bottom mounted single speaker.
The phone app itself is very inconsistent in performance as well. For some reason, my unit can't put people on hold, stating "unable to switch calls." This was pretty embarrassing as when I first said to a client I'd put them on hold, I couldn't, and I had to listen to them speaking in a foreign language trying to get my phone to work.
Downgraded Waterproofing from the Z3
I have several friends with Xperia Z's and Z3's. All of them have found the waterproofing to be unreliable. One friend of mine even had his Xperia Z snap in half. Hence, Sony has now revoked warranty for water damage in the Z5, and downgraded the waterproofing spec. The message then is clear. Do not rely on the waterproof gaskets on the phone, as it'll be your fault if you damage the phone, which I've found to be common.
The phone itself gets very warm. If I were to compare, it is similar in temperature to an iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy S4 (both of which I have owned). Ironically, I've found the phones hot temperature makes my skin precipitate, hence disabling the usefulness of the finger print scanner. The software experience is also unreliable. Sometimes it will just freeze, or just outright reboot. This has become a real issue when I need information on demand, and why the iPhone has become so ubiquitous. The camera app is another place where the phone stutters. The phone gets very warm, especially when recording 4K or using the virtual reality apps which admit-ably, are a lot of fun.
Another quirk. Out of the box, I updated the Android version. The phone didn't require me charge the phone to a particular level, so when it downloaded the update and tried installing, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. The phone doesn't charge when booting or updating, and the boot sequence takes a very long time comparative to other phones. So when Android was upgrading, the phone died. Another issue, the phone continually restarted the moment it detected it was charging. So whenever it would auto restart, the phone would die before the update was finished. Additionally, if the update was interrupted by the phone dying, the progress made in the updating process would reset back to zero percent. So basically, my phone was rebooting continuously, constantly failing to complete the update due to the phones inability to charge when booting or updating, and how the phone kept rebooting every time I'd plug in a power cable. I ended up solving the issue by charging the phone, and deliberately forcing the phone to turn off (and hence charge) every time it would boot, until there was sufficient charge to complete the update. After 30 minutes of constantly turning the phone off, it finally completed the update without running out of juice.
Sadly, I can't recommend the phone to most people. Its just too slow, unreliable and ergonomically difficult to use. The phone doesn't really have any unique features (namely waterproofing), and although the design is a selling point, it is also in my experience its downfall (literally). For the price, there are far better options out there on the market, and honestly, I would go so far as to say buy the Xperia Z3 over this phone and save the extra money. The finger print scanner is so unreliable I find myself just pinning in my code anyway.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll be sure to get back to you.