The Sony Xperia Z5: The End of a Once Great Line


I feel like I have to do this disclaimer a little too often, but here it is all the same: The Dark Android Project does not recommend the use of smartphones. While it does recommend Android devices due to Android’s (potentially) open-source nature, I generally only recommend the use of tablets due to the valid security concerns over SIM cards.

Now, that said, I get tons of questions about smartphones all the same. And that’s fine. With IFA and other events creeping up, a lot of people want my take on the latest mobile device releases. The most recent of which is the new Z5 line of Sony’s Xperia devices.

Generally, I recommend Sony’s Xperia line since Sony is surprisingly very good about open-sourcing the firmware and software of their devices–in fact they may be the best major company out there that makes the effort. Also, they have been way ahead of the curve in making fully waterproof mobile devices, which while that isn’t a necessity by any means, I personally really enjoy having things waterproof since you never know when you’re going to need to take a dip in the water (or if I’m doing another Periscope-from-the-shower edition of my science and tech podcast: Sovryn Tech). Though, I assure, I’m well aware that for many phones you can get waterproof cases, and that solves that issue largely, but I find them often to be too bulky, or requiring the plugging of ports with rubber, which the Xperia line has no need for.

Anyway, Sony just recently announced their latest in the Xperia line: the Z5’s. There are at least three models to choose from for now:

  1. The Xperia Z5
  2. The Xperia Z5 Compact
  3. The Xperia Z5 Premium

Honestly, listing off the specs on all of those is pretty meaningless, they come with all the usual high-end phone suspects (the Z5 Premium comes with a 4K display, which I don’t recommend as it will drain battery, but that’s the only thing worth mentioning). And price doesn’t really matter either. Why?

Because for the first time in the Xperia line’s history, I don’t recommend these phones. They have what I consider to be the worst new feature added to mobile devices in recent years: fingerprint readers.

At the Dark Android Project, I talk about achieving what I call “DAPS” (which is Decentralization, Anonymity, Privacy, and Security) with your various devices, and fingerprint readers stand against all of that. They stand against decentralization because it’s (likely) creating a centralized identity database built around your fingerprint (here’s looking at you, Apple). They stand against anonymity because it’s trying to identify you by your fingerprint (and I stand against the notion of ID’s in general). They stand against privacy because you could lose your “rights” to not have to reveal passwords to authorities, but your fingerprint legally can be forcefully ordered to be used by authorities. And fingerprint readers stand against security in real-life use cases like situations that recently occurred with Samsung, and really, they’re just another gateway to your device (and you always want as few of those as possible client-side).

Fingerprint readers are a mess against human liberties and device protection, in my opinion (and often in proven fact).

No Sony Xperia device before now has had them, and the devices available that don’t have them is becoming a shorter and shorter list. Of course, this can be advantageous in a way because you can buy last year’s very solid high-end model at a much lower price, but then be prepared to hold onto that device for a good long while (again, all of this is based around the idea that you are interested in having Dark Android-inspired devices).

If you don’t care about DAPS, then don’t concern yourself with what I just warned about. And that’s fine, I’m all about people having choices. But if you are concerned about DAPS, and you still love you some Sony Xperia devices (I get it, they’re nice, and maybe you want to interact with your PS4, which is a slick option), then stay within the Z3 and Z4 models, or keep a lookout for a Z5 tablet that likely won’t have a fingerprint reader (though I could be wrong about that).

Again, if you care about privacy and security, at least, stay as far away from fingerprint readers as you can.

Carpe lucem!