It seems like just the other day that we had our hands on Sony’s Xperia Z2 smartphone and already the next version has dropped its thin and stylish form into our laps. Actually it was a bare five months ago that we were reviewing the Xperia Z2 (sometimes these things arrive late) and now we’ve got the pleasure of playing with its successor.
Unfortunately this is more of an incremental release than a full-fledged upgrade: the short ending to this review is that if you’re already rocking a Z2 you might as well keep on rocking it.
Sony haven’t made many changes to the Xperia Z3 on a visual level, with the outer appearance being confined mostly to the dimensions. Laying this handset down next to the last generation, you’d be hard-pressed to say which is which without lifting them up and noting that the Xperia Z3 is 0.9mm thinner than its predecessor. A few millimetres have been shaved off the top and sides as well but a quick glance wouldn’t tell you this.
Otherwise, the design aesthetic remains just about the same as it’s always been, a flat phone flanked by glass on the front and back, a fairly thick top and bottom bezel bracketing the 5.2-inch display and rounded metalling edged with plastic facing in the four corners. It’s very Sony and very Xperia.
Chipset/CPU: Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801/2.4GHz quad-core Krait 400 (3GB RAM)
Storage: 16GB/32GB, up to 128GB external
Camera: 20.7MP (5,248 х 3,936), autofocus, LED flash/2.2MP (front)
Connectivity: LTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G
Battery: 3,100mAh Li-Ion (non-removeable)
Operating System: Android 4.4.4 (Will support Android 5.0 one day)
SIM Card: Nano-SIM
Features: IP68 certified
Dimensions: 146mm x 72 x 7.3
There’s more of the same when it comes to the internal hardware and screen. The display remains identical to the Z2, being a gorgeous 5.2-inch IPS LCD that provides excellent video playback, as well as offering a clear UI for your eyes to feast on.
The Xperia Z3’s processor is also identical, the Snapdragon 801 that we saw so recently; only now it’s had a slight speed bump from 2.3GHz to 2.5GHz. It’s not enough to be really noticeable but you’re still looking at a zero-lag phone, no matter how hard you attempt to slow it down. Well, you can but it’ll take some serious doing. What you will notice is that the Xperia Z3 runs hot when under load, which is something that’s been around for ages. We really wish they’d sort it out.
The RAM allocation remains at 3GB, which is a crazy amount for a smartphone, but there’s just about nothing that we haven’t seen inside an Xperia before.
The 20.7MP camera, which Sony have somehow plopped into a thinner handset without any bulges, is all but the same as the Z2 handset as well. There are a few minor changes – mostly software based – which turns this into the slightly better camera between the two phones, but you’re going to get excellent performance from both. 4K recording is, of course, still a thing.
The UI, which is Android 4.4.4 overlaid with Sony’s idea of what a mobile operating system should look like, puts us in mind of the PlayStation 3 dashboard. This is probably because of the default wallpaper on the home screen but Sony’s use of icons is very PlayStation as well.
Sony’s gone a bit berserk with their app selection; for once their own custom apps completely outnumber the default Google icons that we’re so used to seeing. This isn’t a good thing, by the way, we’re highly unlikely to make use of most of it. Thankfully most of it can be deleted if you’re not keen on switching your life over to Sony and there are a few good additions. The Xperia version of Garmin’s Navigon software is just one of these but there’s OfficeSuite, Kobo and a selection of social network apps to play with as well.
There are changes from the Xperia Z2 to the Z3 but they’re also so minor that you wouldn’t notice them if you weren’t looking out for them. But the alterations and upgrades here do give the Xperia Z3 the edge over its close ancestor, making this the best Xperia handset we’ve handled to date. It’s just not all that different from what has come before.