It was not too long ago that Sony released the Xperia Z2 but Sony presented its latest flagship, the Xperia Z3, at IFA 2014. Sony claims that it is leading a smartphone revolution, but does Sony truly live up to this claim with the latest edition to the Xperia series? Let’s find out.
- Processor: 2.5 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
- Display: 5.2″ Full HD TRILUMINOS display, with 1920 x 1080 resolution at 424 ppi
- Memory: 3 GB of RAM
- Storage: 16 or 32 GB with microSD, up to 128 GB
- Camera: 20.7 MP rear-facing camera, 2.2 MP wide-angle front-facing camera
- Battery: 3,100 mAh battery
- OS: Android 4.4 Kit Kat
Design & Build Quality
The design of the Xperia Z3 is very much similar to its predecessor, the Xperia Z2, but sleeker. The device has the IP 65 and IP 68 certification, which means that the device is completely protected against dust and resistance to water damage up to 30 minutes within 1.5 meters of water depth. Thus, each of the slot (except for the headset jack) are well protected.
Along the edges, there’s a microSD and nano SIM slot door, the power button, volume rocker and a dedicated camera button on the right, a 3.5 mm headphone jack up top and a microUSB 2.0 port for charging and syncing alongside a dock connector port on the right.
We did not like the fact that the power button is located at the middle right side of the device, which can be difficult to reach for users with larger hands. It just feels out of place, having to adjust the hand position to turn the device on. But luckily for us, Sony has implemented a feature that can wake the device by tapping twice on the screen, very much like the LG’s KnockOn feature.
Like its predecessor, the Sony Xperia Z3 boast a 5.2″ full HD Triluminos display with X-Reality Engine for mobile, which provides users with sharper images. However, we would still say this is not the brightest displays of all. The outdoor viewing on the display of Xperia Z3 is not the best, but the color reproduction, the sharpness and noise reduction is done in a brilliant way.
The Xperia Z3 is powered by the latest Qualcomm processor, Snapdragon 801, with the Andreno 330 GPU. The Snapdragon 801 processor is a popular choice due to its efficient economical use of power leading to impressive battery life.
Benchmarking with AnTuTu, the device scored a rating of just over 42,000, making it comparable in processing and graphics power to the Samsung Galaxy S5. Resource-intensive games such as ShadowGun were buttery smooth and looked better than we’ve seen on most other devices. We barely noticed any lags at all.
We did notice that the back of the device tends to get very warm, especially when taking 4k videos or after 10 minutes of gaming.
Sony had claimed that the battery on the Xperia Z3 will last for about 2 days. We managed to get about 3 days of mixed usage out of the device, which includes mixed network usage (part 4G, part Wi-Fi).
We also ran our usual battery test, in which we run continuous video while the device is connected to LTE and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is turned on but not connected. We also leave the GPS on and set the display to 1/2 brightness. We were able to get almost 16 hours out of it, which is really darn impressive.
Sony has also included a few battery saving options for the users to take advantage of:-
- Stamina mode: Wi-Fi and mobile data is temporarily disabled when the display is turned off. Hardware performance is also restricted, and thus power is saved.
- Ultra Stamina mode: Only basic phone functions are available. This helps when users can’t find a power outlet and the battery is critically low.
- Low-battery mode: Users can select which options to the options to turn / off. You can set a level of battery, below which this mode turns on automatically.
- Location-based Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is enabled only when the device is near a saved Wi-Fi network so the device is not searching for Wi-Fi network continuously.
- Queue background data: Using this, the battery is saved by sending background data at ser intervals, rather than continuously sending and receiving it.
Overall, we’re very impressed with the battery life on the Xperia Z3.
Sony has retained the same camera module in the Xperia Z3 from the Xperia Z2. While it still features the same 20.7 MP camera on the rear and a 2.2MP front camera, Sony has increased the max ISO, from 3,200 on the Z2 to 12,800 (highest for a smartphone camera) on the Z3 for better photos in low light conditions.
There are also multiple modes for the users to choose from, which includes 4k video recording. Be aware that the default Superior Auto mode only takes 8 MP photos, so users will need to switch to Manual to get full 20.7 MP shots.
In short, the camera on the Xperia Z3 has a slight improvement over the Z2.
Audio & Call Quality
We’ve had no trouble connecting to T-Mobile’s network on the Xperia Z3. The same goes for making or receiving calls on the device.
The Xperia Z3 comes with dual front-facing speakers, which has the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine and we must say, the sound quality is brilliant. The volume output is high, and we noticed every bass and shakes when the device is held in hand. There are plenty of audio settings to fiddle around with. With the ClearAudio+ mode, the Xperia Z3 automatically optimize the balance of frequencies with just a single touch, eliminating the need for tedious fine-tuning.
The interface, as always is very intuitive but still we won’t call this as one of the best interfaces on the flagship smartphones. We prefer the Sense UI on HTC due to its more polished looks but there is no complaints about the UI during the initial use. Apart from the entire Google Play Services apps, Sony has included their own apps so users will be able to fully utilize the device.
Users are able to personalize the device in the settings to increase the user experience. Gesture controls, themes, wallpaper, lock screen wallpaper, notification clearing, managing notifications and selecting which icons to show in the status bar are all possible through the Personalization settings. The display settings has image enhancement options, glove mode, brightness and white balance settings, smart backlight control, daydream, tap to wake up and notification LED settings.
Sony delivered a great smartphone, the Xperia Z2, just half a year ago, and already they’ve topped it with the Z3, even if only marginally.
Nevertheless, many features have been improved upon, though many of these could easily be transferred to the Xperia Z2 via a software update. In conclusion, the Z3 is a phone we would recommend, especially for those who are looking for a device with an elegant look in combination with powerful hardware and a nice software package. For the Xperia Z2 owners, we would not recommend updating. It would be worth waiting for the next generation.
With the camera, although there is no major upgrade, Sony has made the low light capturing a little better.