It was only a couple of months ago that the Xperia Z2 took to the shelves. Now we already have the Xperia Z3 in hand. Sony are pushing their flagship devices out every six months; the latest device includes a lot of new chips and modules — which include the Snapdragon 801 chipset, a 25mm wide angle lens, and increased battery life. While not the most exciting update to start with, a new device to play around with none the less. Let’s start off the review and take a look at the official specs for the Xperia Z3, and then move on and take a closer look at the phone itself.
- Android 4.4.4 KitKat
- Display: 5.2″ 1080p IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen
- Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801, Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400, Adreno 330 GPU
- Memory: 16GB/32GB storage, MicroSD card slot
- Rear Camera: 20.7 MP auto-focus camera, 1/2.3” Sensor, LED flash,
2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps
- Front Camera: 2.2MP front-facing camera, 1080p@30fps
- Networking: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, standard microUSB 2.0 port, GPS/GLONASS receiver, 3.5mm audio jack
- Modem: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA/LTE Cat 4
- Battery: 3,100mAh Li-Ion non-removable battery
- Other features: Stereo FM radio with RDS, IP68 certified – dust proof and water resistant over 1 meter and 30 minutes
- Dimensions: 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm, 152 g
The Xperia Z3
The design hasn’t changed a massive amount over the Z2 from just a couple of months ago. The subtle changes included are still enought to impressive. We have a thinner and lighter profile, but with the same 5.2-inch display. The device feels pretty solid in your hand and definitely gives of that premium impression when holding it.
The design features a glossy glass cover on the back, protection guards on the the exposed connections for the included IP68 water proofing. We also continue to have the propriety Sony dock connector.
Sony still use their own app launcher and UI. Not much has changed compared to previous Sony devices, but let’s take a look around anyway.
Most of the layout is pretty straight forward. The app launcher includes a menu system by swiping all of the way to the left. This allows for changing the order of the apps and quickly uninstalling some.
The dialpad and keyboard also have the same design and features. The launcher and keyboard are take it or leave, as with Android, you can simply install your own. That being said, we personally had no real issue with it. It’s fairly straight forward and easy to use.
Let’s a take a quick look at the camera UI before taking a look at some photos taking with the Xperia Z3.
The main mode is Superior Auto – which pretty much handles all of the settings. Images are downscaled to 8MP and users can start recording video or take pictures from the same screen.
The Camera includes a lot different modes. The Manual mode opens up a lot of options for the camera. Here you can select the full 20.7MP resolution, turn on HDR, image stabilization and more.
The video options include 1080p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p, VGA, and finally MMS size. Users can also record in 4K by selecting the specific mode first.
Since the camera app includes a lot of different modes, we have a lot of photos to take a look at. We took photos with a few different settings which are Superior Auto, Manual 20.7MP, and Manual 8MP with HDR. While most users will probably stick with the Superior Auto mode, the broad range of tests should cover all of the different quality levels available. Our conclusion on camera performance is included among the finally conclusion.
Since the Xperia Z3 Compact Camera has a good few modes to play with. First up is those recorded with 1080p. Here we alternate between Normal, HDR ON and OFF. We used Superior auto mode when recording without HDR and switched to manual when using it. The other video is simply recorded with manual mode using the 1080p@60fps. Lastly we have some 4K footage as well.
Let’s take a look at some benchmark numbers for the Xperia Z3. Since the phone includes a Snapdragon 801 chipset, we’re of course going to see high side numbers.
|3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited||17871|
|Geekbench 3 Single-Core||989|
|Geekbench 3 Multi-Core||2774|
|Vellamo Browser (Chrome)||2965|
The performance is exactly what we expected. The Snapdragon 801 will have no issues providing us with a nice smooth experience.
Gameplay is a great way for us to detail some real world performance of the device. The games we’re taking a look at are Dead Trigger 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Modern Coombat 5.
It’s time to take a look at how long we can expect out of the Z3. Thankfully Sony include a nice large 3,100mAh battery – which should hopefully get us through the day.
|Phone Calls||20-30 Minutes|
|Text message/Chat/Emails||Throughout the day(checking) and 20-30 sent|
|Video recording||20-30 Minutes|
|Internet browsing||Throughout the day(around 30-40 minutes total)|
|Connectivity||WiFi and 3G; mostly 3G|
After our 12 hour period, we had just over 30-percent battery life left. This simply means that a full day usages shouldn’t be a problem with medium to heavy habits in mind. Keep in mind that doing more or less of any single task can have a big impact of your battery life. Turning the brightness down a bit, using 3G less, and no gaming – the Z3 can probably offer you two days usage. A great offering indeed.
It’s time for the conclusion. As always we break down our conclusion in a few different sections – this includes Design, Screen, Camera, Performance, and finally overall.
Sony’s six month release schedules are seeing near incremental updates with Sony’s Xperia designs. The Xperia Z3 is thankfully the best yet. Sony have kept the metal frame and glossy back around, but have given the phone a more symmetrical look and feel. We’re pleased that Sony have kept the water proofing features around, but that does mean some protection flaps on the MicroUSB, MicroSD and NanoSIM slots – hardly a deal breaker since it brings us water proofing. Overall the build quality is a solid offering. Sony are hitting the market pretty hard with their flagship devices, but at least their design is improving over the years. The Xperia Z3 is a great looking device that offers a premium look and feel, but also offers water proofing proection, which can make all the difference.
We’re not seeing a resolution bump in the least Xperia smartphone, but pixel count isn’t everything, as the display’s quality is pretty top notch. Max brightness levels are fairly high and provide ease of use in direct sunlight. It’s not the best display we have seen, but still offers great quality. To be honest – we have no real negatives for the display. Color is nicely produced with sharpness and detail typical of a high quality 1080p display. Brightness levles are the only real change over the Z2 but a welcome upgrade all the same.
Since we have already reviewed the Xperia Z3 Compact with the same camera – we have a pretty solid opinion on the camera’s quality and overall performance. Much of the conclusion for the camera below is the same as the Z3 Compact camera.
The Z3 camera can take some great shots, but we aren’t blown away by the performance. This could be due to it being identical to what we already saw before, but also the fact we’re seeing better quality coming from the competition. The quality on the Xperia Z3 is great, but not as good as what we have seen and doesn’t offer much of an upgrade over it;s predecessor. Sony did include a nice 25mm wide-angle lens, which provides a great field of view, and the increased ISO does help with low-light shots, but not by much. Like most of the device – your getting a small update over the Z2.
We’re not seeing anything really new here. We have a 1080p display with a snapdragon 801 chipset – which uses a Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU. This provides the nice smooth performance throughout the device. This includes great gameplay performance and 4K recording without any issues. We can’t see anyone running into performance issues with the Xperia Z3.
The Xperia Z3 is pure evidence that Sony are begining to see diminishing returns from their six month release cycles. The Z3 on paper offers a better display, thinner and lighter footprint, better camera features, better CPU performance, and long lasting battery life. The problem is, these are all extremely incremental in terms of better. We have a slighty brighter display, a wider lens, and barely an increase in performance. It’s not completely negative;the device is much nicer looking and Sony have done a great job getting the design of the device better each time around. The downside is that Sony really don’t have much to offer over the Z2. To make it simple, the Z3 is a worthy device if anyone is looking for a beautiful phone with water proofing, great camera, and excellent performance. It’s not nearly enough to warrant an upgrade over the Z2, but those who were stuck in contract or waited longer to upgrade will no doubt be thankful of that little advantage.