We review the Xperia Z3!
When Sony announced a year ago that they would be releasing a flagship every six months, we were interested to see what devices would result. Pushing a new, updated version of your flagship device is a tall order in the usual 1 year product refresh cycle, doing it in six months is nigh impossible. But it seems that the company has managed to make good on its promise with the Xperia Z3, though the gains seem to be incremental at this point.
Sony Xperia Z3 specs
- 2.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor
- Adreno 330 GPU
- 3 GB RAM
- 5.2-inch IPS Full HD display with tempered glass panel, Triluminos
- display and X-Reality Engine, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 16/32GB of storage, expandable via microSD up to 128GB
- 20.7-megapixel rear camera, 1/2.3-inch sensor size, AF, image
- 2.2-megapixel front facing camera
- WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, USB OTG
- 3G, LTE
- Android 4.4 KitKat
- 3100mAh battery
- 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm
A slight change in the overall aesthetics over the previous flagship
Looking at the Xperia Z3 for the first time, it’d be difficult to see the changes in the design for the new flagship over the Z2. Probably the most important and most glaring is the rounded, nylon corners that help the Z3 withstand corner impacts when you (inevitably) lose your grip on the slippery glass body of the device.
Look closer you’ll see the matte-finish metal edges of the device, as well as the slightly thinner profile, though you’d have to have the Xperia Z2 set right on top of it, as the difference is only 1mm.
Aside from that, the Z3 inherits many of the same design features as the Z2, along with the fully sealed ports for the USB, microSD and SIM slots. The Z3 is also more waterproof than ever before, possessing an IP65/68 rating over the IP55/58 rating of the Z2. Would that higher IP rating matter? Not really – unless you regularly go out to swim and dive, that higher IP rating isn’t going to affect you immensely, but it’s good to know that it’s there.
The 5.2-inch full HD display is, for all intents and purposes, the same one from the Z2. Not that we’re complaining the 5.2-inch full HD Triluminos panel with Sony’s X-Reality engine has great viewing angles, great color reproduction and contrast. While some may be disappointed that Sony didn’t jump in the 2K display train, you’ll be happy that they didn’t once you read how long the phone lasts on a single charge.
Almost the same hardware as the Z2, but tweaked for better performance
We’re not going to lie – if you put the spec sheet for the Z3 side by side with the Z2, you’re going to find very little has changed in the overall configuration. The Z3 uses a faster variant of the Snapdragon 801 processor (MSM8974AC over the MSM8974AB one), but retains the 3GB of RAM inside.
As far as performance goes the Z3 gets high marks in both AnTuTu and Geekbench, and since the device is running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801, it’s perfectly capable of running all apps that you can think of without any issues whatsoever. While it’s not the fastest flagship out there, it’s capable of running almost everything you can think of well enough, without any issues.
Sony’s flagship offerings usually have very good cameras in them, and the Z3 is no exception. We’re not surprised to see that the Z3 still has the same 20.7-megapixel rear camera as the one in the Z2, but like with everything in this incremental flagship, Sony’s tweaked the camera a bit by adding a wider 25mm lens in the mix, which allows you to get a little bit more of whatever you’re taking a photo of in the device.
Photo quality is amazing, and Sony has also thrown in a couple of neat features in the mix. One is their TimeShift Video feature that allows you take 60FPS video then slow it down Matrix style. Our only gripe with the camera is that it heats up when you try to shoot 4K video really fast, which means that you’ll only be able to get around 3 minutes worth of 4K content in one go.
Amazing battery life for a smartphone that has less than 4000mAh battery
Turns out all that incremental updates have a place in the world after all. Sony’s Xperia Z3 probably has the best battery life for a smartphone that has a battery that’s not even close to 4000mAh rating. On moderate use, we racked up an impressive two days on a single charge – with the Z3 only giving up the ghost on the evening of the second day. Previously we’ve seen that kind of battery endurance from phones that have rather large bodies to accommodate ridiculously large 4000mAh and 5000mAh batteries.
Verdict: it may be an incremental flagship, but it’s one of the best you can buy today
Sony’s Xperia Z3 may be the company’s best flagship ever. Don’t let the minor changes on both the hardware and design of this smartphone fool you – it’s every bit as good as all the current flagship devices of Samsung, LG, Huawei and Lenovo. While it doesn’t make sense for Z2 owners to spring for the Z3, everyone else is welcome to upgrade to the Xperia Z3, especially if you’re looking for a handsome, good performing, long-lasting smartphone as your daily driver.