|Style & Handling|
|+ Incredible battery life||- Screen only 1080p|
|+ Brilliant camera||- Large bezels|
|+ High-end appearance||- Too similar to the Z2|
Verdict: If you’ve used the Xperia Z2 then there’ll be a definite sense of déjà vu with the Xperia Z3, but it’s better in almost every way.
Sony doesn’t waste any time bringing flagships to market. The Xperia Z3 is its second this year and the Xperia Z4 is likely to arrive early next year if the company sticks to its current pattern.
With so little time between them it’s easy to worry that there might not be much difference between them and in some senses that’s true, as the Xperia Z3 is a very similar handset to the Xperia Z2, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a significant improvement. Read on for all the details.
The Sony Xperia Z3 has a 5.2 inch 1080 x 1920 IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 424 pixels per inch. If that sounds familiar it’s because the Xperia Z2 had a screen with identical specifications.
For a new flagship to have such a similar screen is disappointing but then when it comes to size we wouldn’t actually want it to be any bigger. It’s already one of the largest non-phablets around and any bigger would definitely compromise the ease of use for many people.
The resolution is a little more disappointing, since Samsung and LG have both started equipping phones with QHD displays, but most high end handsets are still 1080p, so while disappointing even that isn’t a big deal, though if the Xperia Z4 hasn’t upped the resolution that will be another matter entirely.
Despite all the similarities it’s not actually an identical screen to the one on the Xperia Z2 though. The Sony Xperia Z3’s screen can reach 600 nits of brightness, which makes it the brightest smartphone display in its class and significantly brighter than the Xperia Z2’s screen.
The display obviously looks brighter as a result and this translates to a screen that’s easier to view in direct sunlight and maintains a high level of brightness when not viewed square on.
Little has changed on the design front either, but it is an improvement over the Z2. The Xperia Z3 has a tempered glass back and a metal frame just like that phone but at 146 x 72 x 7.3mm and 152g it’s a little lighter and a lot slimmer. In fact Sony has managed to shave off precious millimetres from the length and width too, so there’s less wasted space.
It’s not a total victory of design though as the Xperia Z3 still has large bezels above and below the screen which don’t look great and make the phone a little chunkier than we’d like.
It’s IP65/68 certified though, which means it’s exceedingly dust and water resistant. So much so that you can even take it swimming, just as long as you don’t submerge it deeper than 1.5 metres or leave it in the water for more than 30 minutes.
With a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM the Sony Xperia Z3 is a powerful handset, though not quite as powerful as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
It’s likely that other phones will out-power it soon too as it’s really not much improved over the Xperia Z2, but those are all just numbers, when it comes right down to it the Xperia Z3 delivers almost perfect performance, with little to no noticeable lag.
It also supports 4G LTE of course, so you can enjoy high speed internet as well as high speed general performance.
The Xperia Z2 had a great camera and the Xperia Z3 has an even better one. It’s still 20.7 megapixels, but it’s a 25mm wide-angle lens so you can fit more in your photos.
Better yet it supports ISO 12800, which no other smartphone does, aside from the Z3 Compact. This is a setting which vastly improves its low-light performance so you can capture incredible shots whenever and wherever.
It makes for a pretty good video camera too thanks to being able to shoot in 2160p at 30fps and there’s a 2.2 megapixel camera on the front which can shoot 1080p video at 30fps.
The most useful additional feature of the Xperia Z3 for most people is likely to be its audio skills. Not only does it have impressive dual front-facing speakers but it gets even better when listening to music through headphones, as there’s built in noise cancelling technology and support for high-resolution audio.
Not everyone has their music collection stored in a high-resolution format, but that’s ok because the Xperia Z3 can also upscale non-high-resolution tracks.
The other standout feature of the Xperia Z3 is PS4 Remote Play. Along with the Xperia Z3 Compact it’s the only smartphone which you can remotely play your PlayStation 4 games on. You still need the games, a PS4 and ideally a contraption to strap a controller to your handset, but once you’ve got all that you can enjoy games the likes of which you won’t find on any other smartphone.
Sony has really put a focus on battery life with its phones, which is great because good battery life is one of the few things that most handsets still lack. With the Xperia Z3 it’s delivered some of the best yet, allowing it to just about stretch to two days with moderate use.
Sony’s managed that by using an efficient processor and imbuing the screen with clever technology which means it doesn’t need to refresh as often.
There’s 16GB of storage plus a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 128GB and for connectivity there’s 3G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC.
The Sony Xperia Z3 is a great handset. Like the Z2 before it it’s a brilliant all-rounder with no major failings, except this time it’s even better, thanks to improved battery life, a better performing camera, slightly more power, better sound quality, a brighter screen and a refined design.
Sony hasn’t reinvented the wheel here, it’s stuck with what works and simply polished it. As such this is a very similar handset to the Xperia Z2, but with improvements in almost every area it’s about as good as we could have hoped for given the quick turn around on it.
Have you read our Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review?
Sony Xperia Z3 SpecificationDimensions : 146 x 72 x 7.3mm Weight: 152 grams Screen size: 5.2” IPS LCD (1080 x 1920) Screen Resolution: 1080 x 1920 display resolution Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 424 Processor: 2.5GHz Quad core application processor RAM: 3 GB On-board Memory: 16GB (microSD card support) Camera: 20.7MP (rear) (2.2 megapixel front-facing) Operating system: Android 4.4.4 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ Yes Battery capacity: 3100mAh Colours: Black, White, Copper, Silver Green Launch Date: September Price: TBC