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Sony Xperia Z5 Is First Smartphone with 4K Screen

BERLIN –  The smartphone display race has a new resolution leader. The Sony Xperia Z5 offers a powerful, versatile camera, but even more noteworthy is that one version has a full 4K display: a first for a smartphone. We're talking 3840 x 2160 pixels, which beats the likes of the Galaxy S6 Edge plus (2560 x 1440 pixels) and every other flagship.

Sony revealed the Xperia Z5 at a press conference at IFA 2015, where Sony CEO Kaz Hirai discussed the new gadget's 23-MP camera at length. While the Z5 is not radically different from its predecessors in terms of design or overall power, the new phone has a number of visual enhancements.

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The first thing to know about the Xperia Z5 is that there are actually three separate Z5 phones: the Z5 Compact, the Z5 and the Z5 Premium. The Compact is smaller than most new smartphones, sporting a 4.6-inch, 720p display and 2 GB RAM. The Z5 features a 5.2-inch, 1080p display and 3 GB RAM, while the Premium clocks in with a 5.5-inch, 4K display and 3 GB RAM. All three run Android Lollipop.

Aside from the display resolution and sizes, all three phones are very similar. They run on Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processors and, like older Xperia models, are waterproof. The big difference between the Z5 and the Z4 is in the camera.

Hirai explained that the Z5 can autofocus in just 0.03 seconds, which is faster than a human eye can blink. The phone also features advancements in night shot and steady shot technology, which should allow users to take better photos in dark or action-packed conditions.

I got a chance to try out the Z5 (the standard model) for myself, and it seems like Hirai's claims were true. The phone is fast and fluid, and runs Android with an overlay of Sony programs, such as its fitness tracker. I experimented with the camera, and while I couldn't take it very far, I did notice that it illuminated the crowd's faces even in a semi-darkened convention hall. Chaotic scenes appeared in focus, and the colors seemed very accurate.

The whole Xperia line has been evolutionary rather than revolutionary so far, and the Z5 does not appear to be an exception. The camera looks better than ever, and 4K display on a smartphone is a first. (Whether or not it's worth having 4K on a 5.5-inch screen is a debate for another time.) The devices do not yet have prices or release dates, but expect the Compact to be the cheapest and the Premium to be the most expensive.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is an editor for Tom's Guide, covering gaming hardware, security and streaming video. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.