Sony Mobile has yet to announce any plans to carry the Xperia Z5 family in the United States. No US carriers have picked up any of the models (so far) and Sony is currently not selling the unlocked version (with US warranty). This has led to a large number of emails from readers in the United States wondering how they can get hold of an international model and any potential pitfalls involved.
Given the volume of incoming we have received on this, we thought we’d create a buyer’s guide for US customers looking to buy the international model. We’ve tried to cover most of the questions we’ve received, but feel free to let us know if we’ve missed anything in the comments below.
2) Which US carriers will the international Xperia Z5 series work with?
Sprint uses CDMA for 3G, which means none of the Xperia Z5 family will work.
T-Mobile US: Yes
U.S. Cellular: No
U.S. Cellular uses CDMA for 3G, which means none of the Xperia Z5 family will work.
Verizon Wireless: No
Verizon Wireless uses CDMA for 3G, which means none of the Xperia Z5 family will work.
3) Which Xperia Z5 model numbers will work with AT&T and T-Mobile US?
The short answer to this question is that any variant of the Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact and Z5 Premium will work on both AT&T and T-Mobile. Sony has expanded the number of supported LTE bands on each variant, which means no matter which model number you buy, it will work. The handsets are compatible across most of AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s 2G (GSM), 3G (HSPA+) and 4G (LTE) bands.
The only exception is that Sony has dropped T-Mobile US 3G/HSPA+ support at the 1700MHz frequency (1900MHz remains supported). This shouldn’t be too much of an issue though as T-Mobile has been re-directing all of their 1700MHz AWS spectrum over to LTE.
4) Which Xperia Z5 model number does Xperia Blog recommend?
As mentioned above, you are free to purchase any variant of the Xperia Z5 series as they will all work with AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States. However, our recommendation is to focus on the following variants for each member of the Xperia Z5 family:
This is due to these being the main global models for each handset and should receive the quickest software support. Also, the variants above are the only ones to support LTE Cat 6 download speeds (up to 300 Mbps). All other model numbers support LTE Cat 4 only (up to 150 Mbps).
Obviously, if you need a dual SIM model then that will still work on AT&T and T-Mobile. However, you may find that firmware updates will be slower and it will only support LTE Cat 4 download speeds.
5) Purchase considerations
This will come down to personal preference, although there are some considerations to take given that you are buying from overseas:
Price – Much of your decision will come down to the price you can buy the handset for. A purchase from an eBay business in Hong Kong or Taiwan, may work out cheaper than buying directly from an international seller elsewhere. On the flip side, be sure to check the feedback reputation of eBay sellers to ensure a smooth transaction.
Returns – Wherever you buy, ensure you check out the return policies. Most established retailers will offer a return policy, the same can’t be said for eBay sellers, so check the T&C’s carefully.
Warranty – As you are purchasing an international model, be aware that if something goes wrong with your handset then it may be tricky process in getting it repaired. In the first instance you will probably need to contact the Sony Mobile US support team to see if they can help. As you are buying the Xperia Z5 outside of the US though, they are not obliged to help. In this case, the onus will be on the retailer that you bought the handset from. Ensure you check with whoever you buy the handset from that there are policies to help in this regard. More than anything, it gives some extra peace of mind.
The reasons we picked these are as follows:
– We chose UK retailers over other countries as they provide an English-language experience (making it an easier website experience for those in the US)
– All official UK stock will correlate to the model numbers we have recommended above.
– Each company has a good reputation for shipping smartphone devices globally.
– Strong customer feedback.
– If you use Amazon.com, then your same log-in details will work for Amazon.co.uk
– All three retailers accept international returns. Amazon.co.uk T&Cs here; Clove T&Cs here; Handtec T&Cs here
7) Will the UCH20 USB Charger work in the United States?
It will work with a UK-to-US travel adaptor. However, any micro USB charger you have lying around will also work to charge the Xperia Z5. We recommend you use one with an output of 1500 mA, or you could use any Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 Certified charger.
8) How will firmware updates work with me being in the United States?
Software updates for Sony Xperia devices depend on the regional firmware that is installed on the device itself. If you buy a UK-sourced phone, you will receive an update once the UK firmware is pushed out, regardless of where you are located around the world.
This is where the 3rd-party Flashtool comes in really handy as you can easily change the regional version of your handset if an update comes out to that country quicker – this does not require root or an unlocked bootloader which is why it’s popular.