- Sharp, vibrant display
- Massive battery life
- Slick overall performance
- Hi-Res Audio support
- Still some overheating issues
- No PS4 Remote Play yet
- Too much Sony bloatware
Review Price £525.00
Originally reviewed on 9 October 2014
What is the Sony Xperia Z3?
The Sony Xperia Z3 is the successor to the Xperia Z2, an Android phone that only launched six months previously. So, how much could Sony improve in such a short time? Not a great deal, it seems.
Power's been increased a little, some gains have been made in the camera department, and the body is svelter and lighter. The best news is that all of the things that made the Z2 so great, such as the superb screen, lengthy battery life and super-fast performance have all remained.
As you'd expect of a flagship, this is the best Sony phone yet and, despite the small improvements, it keeps pace with the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 and the iPhone 6. With an upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop, it should prove to be even slicker, too.
We sincerely hope the Xperia Z4 makes a more momentous leap, though.
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Watch our Sony Xperia Z3 video review
Sony Xperia Z3 – Design
For looks, the Xperia Z3 is not a radical departure from the Z2. There’s still the same combination of glass and aluminium with features like front-facing speakers and the camera sensor positioned at the back. At 7.3mm thick, it’s slimmer than the Z2 but not quite as svelte as the iPhone 6. It weighs 10g less than the Z2, not that you are really going to notice. What is more evident is the narrower frame, making it better suited for one-handed use.
It’s available in black, green, white and copper, the latter of which we had the pleasure of pulling out of our pocket. It’s actually not as garish or tacky as it first seems and is a colour that kind of grows on you.
The anodised aluminium finish has a very iPhone 6-look about it until you flip it over and see the glass rear. It might look nice, but it has irritating habit of slipping off sofa arms and pretty much any soft, not totally flat surface you leave it on. The S5’s dimpled back and even the all-metallic One M8 offers a more reassuring feel.
SEE ALSO: Best Smartphones Round-up
The corners are curvier, too, which ought to make it more comfortable to hold. It doesn't. Why? Because on every edge you your hand rests there's a button, a vanity seal or a charging dock. Buttons are at least well placed and thinner and while there’s nothing else out there like the Z3, we’d say the iPhone 6 and the One M8 have the more attractive, less fussy design.
One thing those two phones lack, however, is the Z3’s resistance to dust and water. Sony has moved up to a higher IP68 certification, which means as long as the latches covering the charging port and nano SIM card slot are closed, you can now dunk it into water for up to 1.5 metres for thirty minutes.
Those latches guarding the micro USB charging port, nano SIM and micro SD card slot feel more robust than the ones on previous Xperia Z handsets and should hopefully do a better job of keeping those vital internals protected.
SEE ALSO: Best Android Phones Round-up
Sony Xperia Z3 – Screen
Sony hasn’t budged from the 5.2-inch IPS LCD scren from the Z2. That means 424 pixels per inch (ppi) and it is still one of the sharpest, most pleasing phone screens around. It's also a bigger screen than the S5, the One M8 and the iPhone 6, although the G3 is still out in front with its 5.5-inch display. Some might be disappointed it’s not a 2K display like LG’s flagship, but this still a fantastic screen.
It’s not all entirely the same in terms of performance, either. One thing you instantly notice is how much brighter it is. Crank it up to the max and this is one of the brightest phones we’ve seen, especially compared to the S5 and the One M8. Coupled with the adaptive display mode where brightness is automatically adjusted depending on the environment, it’s well equipped for outdoor use.
The strategy to borrow screen technology from its Bravia TV range continues to pay off as well. Adopting Triluminous, X-Reality for Mobile and Live Colour LED display technology, images are still immensely sharp, with strong contrast and accurate colours. Unlike traditional LCD displays, Sony uses blue LED as opposed to white ones to produce the more colourful, vivid images. In the bright outdoors, you can actually see the blue LED array.
If there's a criticism it's that colours can look slightly oversaturated, but this can be addressed in the display settings. Adjust the white balance and turn on or off the X-Reality for mobile and Super-vivid modes the image enhancement menu and you get slightly less overcooked colours.
Running a Full HD version of the Interstellar trailer on the Z3, the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S5, the Z3 still holds up exceptionally well. Faces look natural, viewing angles are strong and whites are nice and bright. Where it lacks in comparison particularly to the S5’s AMOLED display is the deep blacks that make Samsung’s better suited for watching films. That minor gripe aside, this is still a top quality smartphone display.
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