Sony’s latest flagship is one of late 2014’s most hotly anticipated smartphones.
The Xperia Z3 is the latest in a growing line of impressive Android phones from the Big S, as it looks to steal a march on Samsung, LG and HTC to become top dog in the market for Google phones.
So, how does this new handset measure up to its predecessor?
Is it worth upgrading to? And should you opt for this larger version of the svelte Xperia Z3 Compact?
Read on and we’ll reveal all in our comprehensive review.
First impressions and design
Sony’s design smarts have always been legendary. And since severing ties with Ericsson, its phones have taken on a far sharper, less plasticky look.
The Xperia Z3 continues the trend, offering the same sharp edges as its predecessors without feeling dated compared to its rivals.
Sit it next to any Samsung smartphone and it’s easy to tell which one wins out when it comes to looks.
As with all previous Xperia Z models, the Z3 is both dust and waterproof, but belies it tough-phone status thanks to a beautifully crafted metal frame that puts it right alongside the Apple iPhone 6 and HTC One M8.
Its 5.2–inch screen is undeniably rather on the large side, but doesn’t feel so big that you can’t use the device one–handed.
We do advise getting a case though, as it easily slip slides around if you don’t grip it tightly.
It may be able to withstand bumps and scrapes thanks to a shatterproof screen, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.
The Xperia Z3 runs on Android 4.4.4 KitKat.
And like its pared down Xperia Z3 Compact stablemate, it comes with a slew of Sony specific software slathered on top.
That means as well as access to Google’s Play services for apps, movies and music, you can access Sony’s own entertainment platforms.
Some will see this as a blessing, but we still feel that Android is an experience best left to its own devices.
Sony’s customisation isn’t invasive, but it does feel cluttered compared to stock Android.
That said, there is one key piece of software that promises much: PS4 Remote Play.
At the time of writing, this had yet to be launched on the Xperia Z3, with a mooted release date of October 23rd.
The ability to play PS4 games on your phone over Wi–Fi (Sony recommends you use the same network as your console for now), is massively alluring and promises to finally make ‘PlayStation phones’ a reality after a series of failed attempts.
If it matches the experience on Sony’s handheld PS Vita console, then it will make the Xperia Z3 the ultimate gaming phone.
Sony has hardly added any new features to the Z3 compared to the Z2, released earlier this year.
The 20.7-megapixel camera remains the same and is still capable of firing off crisp and detailed images in low light and besting the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S5 at every turn.
There’s still the same 3GB of RAM, while the screen matches the 1920x1080 HD smarts of the Z2.
However, Sony has loaded up a slightly faster version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5GHz compared to 2.3GHz.
Sony says that doesn’t impact on battery life (the battery here is slightly smaller than in the Z2) and we found that differences are hard to tell in day-to-day situations.
The phone feels lightning fast and we squeezed a day and half’s use out of the device before needing to charge.
Set-up is as easy as agreeing to some terms and conditions and tapping in your Google account details.
From there you’re away.
Android, as ever, is a doddle to play with, even if Sony’s ever changing home screens can feel a bit cluttered and overly thought out.
In terms of accessing apps and tinkering with settings, though, the Z3 is a breeze to handle. Even smartphone first timers won’t struggle with it.
The Z3 is a truly stunning looking smartphone, unquestionably one of the best Android flagships available.
If you’re a Z2 (or even Z1) owner, there’s little need to upgrade and you do wonder why Sony insists in updating its top of the line phone every six months.
But if you’re looking to get a new high end Android device, it’s hard to argue against this.
Solid battery life, super quick performance and PS4 Remote Play in a slick package make the Z3 a very easy phone to love.
- Screen: 5.2–inch, 1920 x 1080 HD
- Dimensions: 146mm x 72mm x 7.3mm
- Battery: 3100 mAh
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, quad–core 2.5GHz
- Cameras: 20.7 megapixel rear, 2.2 megapixel front
- Video: 4K rear–facing at 30fps, 1080p front facing at 30fps
- Connectivity: 4G LTE, HSDPA, Wi–Fi