Flashback : The Sony Xperia z5 premium was the first ever smartphone with 4k display

Sony recently decided to take the niche in its smartphones and created the Xperia Pro and Pro-I – rare cases when “pro” actually means “pro”. One is dedicated to helping with live video streaming, and the other is more of a vlogger tool, both of which make extensive use of the 4K OLED display that was introduced with the Xperia 1 and is improved with future releases.

Well, with a resolution of 3,840 x 1,644 pixels, these are not proper 4K displays, instead they were cropped in 4K resolution to 21:9. But once upon a time, Sony made a decent 4K display and it was the first of its kind – and it was also the great-grandfather of for Xperia Pro today.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium (launched in late 2015) was the heyday of the Z series, which launched in 2013. It traces its design language back to Omni-Balance, introduced by the first Z phones, but the recent Xperias don’t look that far So in terms of proportions, the magic of the squared Xperia has never gone away.

The Z5 Premium’s display is the most pixel-dense smartphone display ever. It was hardly beaten by the XZ Premium due to the diagonal of the screen – 5.50 inches for the Z and 5.46 inches for the XZ (both have the same 4K resolution).

However, at 806 pixels per inch, there’s nothing else that comes close. Not the future premiums, whose screen size has grown, not even the recent Xperia 1 series. This sits at “only” 643dpi, again due to a larger diagonal screen. Keep in mind that feature phones use LCD screens with a full RGB strip – these screens really pushed the boundaries of sight.

Okay, so what possessed Sony to make a phone with a 4K display, anyway? The company has always prided itself with delivering the best quality – video, audio, anything it tries its hand at, Sony wants to be the best at.

Smartphone cameras had been recording 4K video for a few years at that point, but the phone themselves had to rely on external displays to show those videos in full resolution. To that end, the Xperia supported DLNA and an MHL 3.0 connector.

More important to today’s story is that this was the first phone that could display 4K video pixel to pixel. The screen was a boon for displaying photos, too, with its original 8.3-megapixel resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Speaking of aspect ratios, Sony did an interesting thing with the camera’s image sensor – which it did with the Pro-I despite for various reasons.

The viewfinder did not completely cover the image sensor. Instead, the two are arranged so that the phone can get maximum resolution when shooting 4:3 shots (it worked up to 22.85MP) while getting very high resolutions in 16:9 (20.14MP) mode. The full sensor was 25 megapixels.

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