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Sony Xperia Z3+ review

Andy Vandervell



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Sony Xperia Z3+
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Our Score:


User Score:


  • Fewer annoying flaps and ports
  • Less-is-more approach to software
  • Water and dustproof


  • Unacceptable overheating issues
  • No optical image stabilisation
  • Poor HDR photo mode

Key Features

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor
  • 20.7-megapixel camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 5.2-inch Full HD 1080p IPS screen
  • IP65/IP68 dust-tight and waterproof
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB onboard storage
  • microSD card up to 128GB
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £499.00

What is the Sony Xperia Z3+?

Sony’s made a habit of updating its flagship phone every six months or so, and the Z3+ is the latest example. It’s taken a little longer this time around, but the Z3+ is the ‘six-monthly’ update to the Xperia Z3 that was launched in September last year. It’s thinner and lighter, while also adding the new Qualcomm 810 processor and a wide-angle front camera.

That ought to be enough for it compete with the Samsung Galaxy S6, LG G4 and other top-end Android smartphones, but it isn’t. It’s a nice phone, but the only thing that stands out at present is a totally unacceptable overheating problem with the camera. If Sony wishes to continue as a phone maker then it needs to get its act together – and soon.

Related: 13 Best Smartphones and Mobile Phones 2015

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Sony Xperia X3+ – Design & Features

Sony has made all the right moves in some respects. The Z3 was hampered by an overabundance of annoying flaps and buttons, and the Z3+ isn’t. The main Micro USB port is now uncovered and on the bottom, instead of on the left and behind a delicate, easy-to-break flap, while the side-mounted dock connector is gone, too.

The latter change makes the Z3+ much nicer to hold – it has fewer protrusions and more smooth, undisturbed edges. The new pullout tray for the microSD card (up to 128GB) and Nano SIM is a tad awkward, but overall these small changes make for a better phone to use.

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Yet it retains the benefit of water- and dust-proofing that’s attracted people to the range over the years. The Z3+ has an IP68 rating, which means it’s totally dustproof and waterproof down to 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes. Waterproofing isn’t a killer feature, but it’s a nice one all the same.

The basic button layout makes using this large, 5.2-inch phone much easier, too. Both the standby button and volume buttons are within easy reach, and they aren’t as easily confused as they are on the HTC One M9. There’s also a dedicated camera capture button, which lets you quickly launch the camera even when the phone is locked.

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All these little touches show Sony has put some serious thought into the Z3+ and it’s one of the nicer-looking flagship phones. Views differ in the TrustedReviews office, but it holds its own against the HTC One M9 and LG G4, though the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 still stand out in their own little mini-league.

The glass rear is still rather slippery, though – it’s the kind of phone that can slide off uneven surfaces, sometimes to its doom. And, for such a pricey phone, the visual clutter of the ‘toughened corners’ and connecting trims is off-putting. Sony has evolved this basic design over several versions now, but it would be nice if it tried something fresh soon.

You get most of the features of other top-end phones, though, including NFC and quad-band 4G support. And the Z3+ adds Hi-Res Audio support, making it one of the few choices if you’re interested in Hi-Res Audio. You can even get the Z3+ with a free pair of “hi-res” headphones in the UK.

Related: Sony Xperia Z6 release date

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Sony Xperia Z3+ – Screen Quality

There’s nothing new to report here. Sony’s retained the same 5.2-inch IPS screen as in the Z3. That means the Z3+ has 424 pixels per inch. This is less than ‘Quad HD’ phones like the LG G4 (538ppi) or Galaxy S6 (577ppi), but the Z3+ simply serves to illustrate the dubious benefit of such resolutions on small phones. Text on the Z3+ looks perfectly sharp and nicely defined.

It’s also a bright, rich and colourful screen, so photos and video look just as good as on most of its rivals. The usual exception is the AMOLED screen on the Galaxy S6, which has an obvious edge with contrast that ensures it can generate near-perfect blacks. The Z3+ can’t claim the same, but processing tech borrowed from Sony’s TVs gives you pleasing results all the same.

Only the viewing angle slightly disappoints. There’s a greater loss of brightness and contrast when viewed off-centre than rivals, though it isn’t a critical problem – only someone stood next to you would notice.

The fact that outdoor visibility is very good is far more important, while the responsiveness of the touchscreen is as good as you’d expect from a top-of-the-range phone.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


May 26, 2015, 9:36 am

Is there going to be a compact version?


May 26, 2015, 11:08 am

VERY sad to see them chase the ridiculous "OMG thinner phone LOL" marketing line rather than keep the same thickness and include wireless charging. Quick-Charge support is an additional feature, NOT a replacement as some manufacturers seem to be claiming in a few places...

It's not necessarily a matter of convenience or laziness - sure it doesn't take long to plug a cable in - it's a physical wear-and-tear matter, given that the micro-b plug has teeth!

Besides, a fully waterproof external battery with wireless coil (they're starting to crop up, some with solar panels as well) could charge a fully waterproof phone in torrential rain, while this otherwise waterproof device cannot be charged unless it's completely dry...

...Because they wanted to make it slightly thinner.


May 26, 2015, 11:25 am

Totally agree with you on the annoyance of removing features to get this slim requirement, this line also seems crazy to me:

"The Z2 had a 3200mAh battery, the Z3 dropped to a 3100mAh one and now with the Z3+ it's down to 2900mAh"

They are adding in a more powerful CPU and they are DROPPING the battery size? Personally that would put the Z3 as a better option than the Z3+ in this case as really the specs on android phones are well ahead of what is actually required for even the most demanding apps, better therefore to get a lower powered phone with a bigger battery


May 26, 2015, 11:28 am

do remember than new generation CPUs are also more efficient...

(still agree with you of course)

Barry Heffron

May 28, 2015, 9:49 am

I've been waiting to upgrade my Xperia T for ages now and had hoped for the Z3 replacement sooner than now.

If i had known it was going to be an incremental upgrade I'd probably have went for the Z3 back when it came out.

If you were in my position, going from a "on its last legs" Xperia T what would you go for, the Z3, Z3 Compact or spend the extra money on the Z3+???

rugged toast

June 29, 2015, 3:15 pm

I for one am NOT happy that they have dropped the magnetic charging port. This worked exceptionally well in a dock with earlier iterations, and was the only dock I can think of that let you enjoy your phone on landscape mode. Its good they have 86'd a flap though.

Overall though, I looked at this in a shop the other day and it looks pretty bland next to the S6 Edge's, metallic HTCs, and leathery LG's so I doubt it will turn Sony's fortunes around, which is a pity.

Heres hoping that Sony's design department comes up with something a bit more special next time around.


July 2, 2015, 3:56 pm

Weird, the camera got very good reviews in professional camera review tests (dxomark) - and if it is overheating then jump in the pool with it and take pictures! Underwater pictures solve all overheating! So if you remove the "4/10" score for that and the subjective "value for money" suddenly this is a 8+/10 review. Just because with the Z1 they got a lot right and have just upgraded what people actually use and avoided silly gimmick functions it is not seen as "new" and thus a "6" - Trusted review? Or just a lazy mark it down because every phone since the Z1 has been marked down as they don't have the latest pointless gadget like the ability to cut your nostril hairs as you talk. HTC M9 & GS6 get high ratings yet no one is buying them in the numbers that suggests people actually want the gimmicks.


July 2, 2015, 9:23 pm

I think plenty of people are buying the GS6 – less so the HTC.

It's funny, I looked at the Dxomark report before my review. Dxo are great and they're not wholly wrong – in many technical ways, the camera is very good. It's fast to focus, captures excellent detail and renders colourful (mostly) faithfully.

But I think their approach and criteria doesn't translate as easily to real world use. The Z3+ can take great shots – as shown in the review – but it falters in situations where others don't. I think any top-end smartphone has to have a good HDR mode – it's just such a user friendly feature for getting great photos.

Obviously, I hope, the 4/10 mainly reflects the overheating issue. It really is totally unacceptable to launch a phone that can't stand a few minutes of camera use before overheating – can you imagine the stink if the iPhone shut down after a few minutes.

Without this I think the Z3+ would be a high 7 or a low 8.

Joshua Christensen

July 20, 2015, 12:11 pm

How come Sony does not have the best camera. They made the camera for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and many other phones. So how come? Is it the software?


August 20, 2015, 10:20 am

Why do you call it the "X3+"?

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