Sony has been quite busy this year. As we saw launch of Xperia Z2 in Barcelona at MWC and Z3 at IFA Expo in Berlin. With this biannual release, there were some concerns, on what kind of upgrades we would see on the new Xperia release. And in this review, we see if that worry holds up or not. We have been using this device for the past month. Now here are our thoughts on the device.
If there’s one thing that you can count on Sony is their design language. There is the same dual glass panel which we saw on the Z2 while the design has been tweaked a little. With metal frame been given the more polished and rounded, look and feel. Giving it much sleeker design than we saw on the previous iteration of the Z flagship series. The Z3 returns with big silver power button, volume rocker and a dedicated camera button. Though, given that buttons needed to blend-in, with much more rounded design. Now there isn’t much distance between the press and it doesn’t feel as good as in previous versions.
There is another improvement regarding the water and dust resistance. As a company has improved the ratings for water and dust to IP 65 and 68, from the IP 55 and 58. The front-facing stereo speakers on Z3, not have only been redesigned. But now they have a small cut out for both of them, and quality has also been improved. The notification LED has been repositioned from behind the earpiece to the top left edge. And SIM card and microSD card slots are placed on the same right edge.
The Z3 now has a smaller footprint at 152 grams and 7.3mm thickness. There were many devices that I appreciated for the design and comfort, but the Z3 holds on much better than expected. However, I would say that with dual glass panel, I did find the phone pretty slippery at times. Though, it is a worthy upgrade in terms of the overall design.
Next up is a display on the Sony Xperia Z3. With the Triluminos technology for mobile included just like in the predecessor, the display has been made bright. Company has put in some efforts to make the images sharper with the X-Reality. But we would still say this is not the brightest displays of all. The Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy S5 still impresses us more than this. While it won’t be fair if we compare it with a 2K display on Galaxy Note 4 and LG G3. The outdoor viewing on the display of Xperia Z3 is not the best. Though, the color reproduction, sharpness and noise reduction is done in a brilliant way.
Coming to the hardware on the Z3. Company tends to be ahead in the market with release schedule. Though, they fall slightly behind with the performance aspect. Or else we would have seen Snapdragon 805 on the Z3, instead of the 801 processor. It is complimented by the Adreno 330 and 3GB of RAM. All complex gaming and multitasking are done smoothly, as Sony UI keeps it simple and minimal, thus it is fast. Jumping between apps is still a breeze. While it would have been good to see the latest processor on Z3. But with 801 inside, it will still be a top tier performer among the vast major UIs out there.
Speaking of battery, a 3100mAh is braced with the usual sony battery setting options. So, under the correct circumstances, the battery life should be pretty high. With the company claims proving to be just about right, as the battery stick out for around two days of usage. The Wi-Fi was turned-on all the time, while camera was used for 30 minutes. As well as browsing on apps like Youtube was about an hour, and additional music playback of over an hour. I stopped around 48 hours of usage, as the battery was at 10 percent.
As for the software, Sony’s UI is always intuitive. But still we won’t call it the best interface we have seen on the flagship smartphones. Because the Sense UI is more elegant in look and faster in functionality. There is a bloatware, a lot of it, and that can be annoying for someone, according to their preference. With minor upgrades, UI experience has been improved by Sony. With its almost stock like elements, the UI seems pretty familiar for a stock Android user. We are always happy that Sony keeps its UI simple and clean, keeping things fast. Nonetheless, you get the general home screen, notification panel, app drawer and the quick settings shade. As well as the small apps that can be found in the recent apps, to do some small overlay task.
The main addition includes the Sony’s specific applications like Walkman, Album and the unlimited media buying experience. Connectivity to a Play Station is possible. Allowing to streaming from the console to the phone on the same network. Ultimately, there is a lot to like about the UI on Xperia Z3, because of its simplicity.
It’s clear that Sony has a lot of faith in its camera optics. As it’s the same package found on the original Xperia Z. The 20.7MP shooter is capable of shooting some enormous pictures, which also brings a lot of modes and fun for creativity. While the 2.2 front snapper takes decent selfies and is quite good for Skype calls. Modes like AR effect, background defocus and time shift gives you the tools to experiment your skills. There are plenty modes available to download, should you need dedicated camera for services like Evernote.
4K recording is also available, but the huge file size will make you opt for good quality 1080p shots. The 4K recording for a long time was not possible because of the heating issue. But Sony did manage to extend it few more seconds than what we saw on Galaxy S5. Another good part was that the video was saved on Z3. While the S5 was not able to save the video once heating was at peak. With increased ISO sensitivity, the camera now takes better photos in the low light.
While the natural light shots were no different than Z2. Now that being said the picture quality is still very satisfactory. And if anything that using a dedicated camera button to take shots was quite a tactile experience.
Talking about the cons on Xperia Z3. With Display and Camera, there was no major upgrade, except the low-light shots on camera, are little better. The major issue being the device getting heated during games or using the camera for a long time. The dual glass body did manage to slip a lot, when a small tilt is provided on the surface. Proving to be very slippery.
For the price tag of around INR 48K, it is clear that Sony isn’t going to be any more aggressive with pricing. But honestly, it doesn’t have too. As Sony has not compromised with anything at all on their latest flagship. The Biannual upgrade from the company may be a bold move, but looks like it was worth it. As the upgrades are pretty great including IP65/68 certification, the brilliant design, great battery life and the camera improvement.