Sony Xperia Z3 Compact ReviewSony Xperia Z3 Compact 9
Compact in size, but not in performance: welcome to the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.
Nearly a year after Sony released its first Xperia Z1 Compact following a simple recipe for a non-compromise flagship-grade device in a compact size, it’s time for its successor: the Z3 Compact. While last year’s Z1 Compact was in a class of its own, as practically all other Android manufacturers were making only cut-down versions of flagships that were just not as powerful or alluring, this year, competition has just started to appear. The Z3 Compact, however, has time on its side: Sony has tried to keep what people liked about the original Z1 Compact, and improved on the things that needed some polish. Despite getting a larger, 4.6” screen, the Z3 Compact remains just as petite and single-hand-use-friendly as the original, and it’s got an even faster processor and longer-lasting battery.
Sony, however, admits that hardware innovation has plateaued recently, and in the Z3 Compact the bigger focus was on software. And software is where Sony starts to really bring all of its know-how together: the Z3 Compact can connect to a PlayStation 4 and basically mirror games: hook it up to a DualShock controller and you have the PS4 experience on your smartphone. It also leverages hi-res audio and image processing technologies from grand-parent Sony.
Interestingly, Sony also simply skipped a generation and went from the Z1 Compact straight to the Z3. Let’s see if the change is as big as this leap suggests.
In the box:
- 1.5A wall charger
- Sony MDR-NC31E Digital Noise Cancelling headset (only included in some markets)
- User manual
- microUSB Cable
With a mass exodus to larger screens and subsequently bigger devices all across the Android top-end, the spec-stuffed Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is a welcome change with its petite dimensions. In fact, it retains the same width and height as its 4.3” predecessor, while at the same time packing a more spacious, 4.6” display. This remarkable feat is achieved by reducing the screen bezel all-around, so that the screen can occupy 70% of the front side. Needless to say, such a compact 4.6” phone fits easily in pockets and is a pleasure to use with a single hand. Speaking of size, the Z3 Compact is also thinner than its predecessor - it clocks in at 8.6mm (0.34”) thickness, and it’s lighter as well.
While at first sight the handset looks similar to its predecessor, the devil is in the detail and little changes make a big difference: first, the bolder, more vivid and lively colors (the Z3 Compact comes in a choice of white, black, orange, or green) add character, but also gone are the metal sides of the original, and instead we have a special plastic material with a very captivating translucent finish (something that Sony calls a “rounded liquid reflection frame”). It’s unlike any other phone we’ve recently seen on the market, and - in combination with the bold color options - it definitely makes the Z3 Compact design stand out.
In terms of materials, the Z3 Compact features tempered glass panels on the back and the front, which don’t get scratched as easily as the plastic panels on the Z1 Compact. The front now also matches the color of the backside - another minute detail that Sony has worked out in the Z3 Compact. Interestingly, Sony has embedded separate pieces of polycarbonate on the four edges of the phone, which should theoretically take the hit if you drop your phone and help it resist impact better.
Up front, there are stereo speakers (more on sound quality later) and no buttons as it usesvirtual, on-screen Android navigation keys. Тhe rest of the keys are on the right hand side of the device. The signature round Sony power/lock key is in the middle, with slightly evolved looks, a bit larger size and a nice click. Тhere is the tiny volume rocker below it and also a dedicated camera shutter key. The left of the phone is where all the ports and slots are located, but all of them fit seamlessly in the design and you’d have to pry open the protective lids to actually see them. This is the place to note that apart from the standard microSD card slot, you have a slot for a nanoSIM card, and not microSIM here. And if you don’t want to open the lid every time to access the ports to charge up the device, there’s also a magnetic connector on the left of the phone that you can use with a Sony dock as an alternative charging method.
On top, there is a microphone and a new, 5-pin 3.5mm headset jack (don’t worry, it’s perfectly compatible with all headsets) that enables the neat noise-cancellation effect on the bundled-in earbuds. On the bottom, Sony includes a second microphone and something typical for smartphones out of Japan - a lanyard eyelet.
We’ve left one of the best design features last: the Z3 Compact is waterproof and carries an IP68 certification. What this means is that Sony’s compact gadget is protected against dust and can withstand immersion in fresh water up to 5 feet deep for as long as 30 minutes. Nice!
A 4.6” display in the same body as the 4.3” Xperia Z1 Compact is an impressive feat, but screen quality on the Z3 Compact is underwhelming.
The Z3 Compact comes with a 4.6-inch 720x1280 pixels IPS display featuring Sony’s TRILUMINOS technology. Some people would be disappointed with the fact that Sony has not gone for a 1080x1920 Full HD display (and yet others will point out that we already have Quad HD screens out there), and might be wondering whether a 720p resolution is not a critical flaw. The short answer is no - pixel density comes in at 319ppi, which translates into a fairly sharp picture. A little jagginess of pixels can be noticed when you read tiny fonts, but for common use and pretty much everything else, you won’t be bothered by pixelization. On the flip side, a 720p display consumes less energy, which in turn allows for a longer battery longevity.
Color accuracy is way off on the Xperia Z3 Compact. Sony has gone purposefully with a colder, noticeably bluish display with color temperature reaching the whopping 10000K (while 6500K is the reference value, and everything above it is cold). Color balance in greyscale is noticeably skewed towards the blue across all brightness levels. Color purists have the option to adjust color balance with separate controls for red, green, and blue. With some fiddling (you’d need to add in a lot more red, and a bit more green to get to more balanced colors, we tweaked it to the following values: red ~ 250, green ~ 190, blue ~ 0), you can get to the point where colors are not outrageously blue, but getting this right is no trivial task and requires either a trained eye, or a colorimeter.
Sony advertizes the TRILUMINOS technology in the Z3 Compact as delivering 30% wider coverage than the industry-standard sRGB color gamut. This, however, is a double-edged sword – as with older generation AMOLED screens, colors do look more eye-popping, but with this decision gone is any notion of color accuracy. More is not necessarily better when we speak about the color gamut. Not surprisingly, color targets are also way off. Disappointing.
Sony’s X-Reality is also on board and the feature boosts contrasts in the default picture and video apps, making for even more eye-popping colors. Naturally, this worsens rather than fixing color accuracy issues - colors are even less accurate in this mode.
Our measurements show that the Z3 Compact screen brightness reaches around 450 nits. There’s also ‘Adapt’ mode that would automatically adjust screen brightness. All in all, real-life experience shows that the screen is very readable even under direct sunlight, and that’s great. Viewing angles are also excellent with little distortion to colors and brightness when you tilt it.
It’s also worth mentioning that the screen features a ‘Glove-on’ mode that recognizes touch even when you operate it with your gloves on, but you first need to enable the feature in settings.
Display measurements and quality
|Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better||Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better||Contrast Higher is better||Color temperature (Kelvins)||Gamma||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|Sony Xperia Z3||713
|Samsung Galaxy S5||442
|Sony Xperia Z3 Compact||436
The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.
|Maximum brightness Lower is better||Minimum brightness Lower is better||Contrast Lower is better||Color temperature Lower is better||Gamma Lower is better||Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better||Delta E grayscale Lower is better|
|Samsung Galaxy S5||62.7%
|Sony Xperia Z3||81.8%
|Sony Xperia Z3 Compact||97.9%
The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.
This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.
1. kalloud (Posts: 148; Member since: 21 Jun 2012)
Honestly this Z3 COMPACT is a very impressive phone, especially battery life!
9. spin9 (Posts: 279; Member since: 31 May 2014)
Fortunately Z3/Z3c have the color temperature adjusting feature, unlike Galaxy S5 that has seemingly way-off colors
77. zetachaox (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Oct 2014)
I'd love to see color accuracy charts after the white balance has been tweaked. Are they still off the mark?
46. pwnarena (Posts: 1129; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)
z3 looks better in photos especially with the metallic frame and amazing thinness. however, the compact version is the practically better one.
41. cheetah2k (Posts: 1539; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)
I thought the same when the Z1C came out but it was seriously flawed. To many amateurish mistakes like the back plastic allowing nasty flash bleed in indoors/night photos, as well as the continual camera crashing/freezing/unresponsiveness Sony has yet to fix. Other issues like the cross feeding of sound to the microphone was another big issue.. Other than that the phone was a cracker. I just hope Sony have fixed all of the above and don't repeat the mistakes of the past :/
56. techguyone (Posts: 199; Member since: 18 May 2013)
Sony have changed the camera/flash placement, which will help, and the back is now glass, that's two changes
50. downphoenix (Posts: 3165; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
I like this a lot, what is the price?
90. robocopvn (Posts: 406; Member since: 10 Mar 2010)
just bought it for a week. the best fone ever
3. RuiBacelar (Posts: 153; Member since: 25 Feb 2014)
Nice, it is rightfully deserved!
iPhone 6 killer? or Great android option??
6. Wiencon (Posts: 1826; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)
iP6 is not compact anymore so I'll say that Z3C is better. With 5S it's king of its department.
7. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)
Definitely iPhone 6 killer, and of course, the iFanboys won't agree with me but who cares about them anyways? The iPhone 6 already lose miserably on the price.
Z3C >>>>>> iPhone 6
10. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10443; Member since: 14 May 2012)
iPhone 6 killer? Won't even reach 10% of the total sales. Idk what you fans are thinking...
12. RuiBacelar (Posts: 153; Member since: 25 Feb 2014)
Thinking about value for your money.
Z3 compact- 499€ ( battery life, IP68, expandable storage) IP6- 699€....now of course it'll sell 100x better.
But that's life :s
23. f35hunter (Posts: 233; Member since: 12 Dec 2013)
the Iphone 6 will sale more than sony or even samsung because ..........
(you know the reason) !!!!!!!!!!!!
17. akki20892 (Posts: 3900; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
High amount of selling volume is not important.....look at the phone dude... Not sales....sales doesn't have specs and features.
20. greathero1 (Posts: 563; Member since: 13 Jun 2008)
To kill something, you have to dethrone it. A nice spec sheet is cool but if nobody is paying attention to that and buying the other product then its not killing anything. I think Papa is right on this one. It's not a killer, it's an alternative. A mighty nice one at that!
22. akki20892 (Posts: 3900; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
think about iphone sales compare to Note 4. of course is higher but which one is great phone, of course Note 4.......!!!
54. Odiin (Posts: 340; Member since: 23 Apr 2013)
Completely agree with you akki20892. +1 Well said. Note 4 is a beast.
but you PapaSmurf , so do you agree with xperiaDROID? If not then how come you will justify your comment to akki20892?
58. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10443; Member since: 14 May 2012)
Avid supporter or Apple, HTC, LG, Samsung and Motorola so joke's on you.
57. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10443; Member since: 14 May 2012)
I think you need glasses because my comment was a response to comment #20 instead of #22.
If you read my original comment correctly, I disagreed with him.
Make sure you're not making a fool out of yourself before you comment. :)
59. Odiin (Posts: 340; Member since: 23 Apr 2013)
I just asked a question. No need to get hyper n use your personal vendetta over me n before advising someone better you look at yourself.
you are contradicting your own statements, one side your saying Z3C not able to reach 10% sale of iPhone n another side you agree with akki20892? Only because he mentioned Note 4? xperiaDROID said about feature wise not sales wise.
No need to fun at others when someone asking you something. You dont have a common sense how to reply n advising me? Great!
49. kwirin (Posts: 26; Member since: 16 Sep 2014)
Better sales doesn't mean better phones. iPhone consumers are gullible people, really. It's a lot easy to manage, share, transfer files with Android. Android is the way to go!
85. laxpro97 (Posts: 3; Member since: 14 Oct 2014)
how is it an iphone 6 killer? i still see more Motorola flip phones than sony phones.
62. almostdone (Posts: 231; Member since: 25 Sep 2012)
Z3 Compact >>>>> iPhone 6
Note 4 >>>>> iPhone 6+
26. raptor102888 (Posts: 18; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)
This is not a midranger. It is a flagship.
5. Wiencon (Posts: 1826; Member since: 06 Aug 2014)
This is best android phone on market! Definitely will get orange one.
34. bored_guy147 (Posts: 43; Member since: 11 Jun 2014)
It's orange on the Z3 compact but copper on the Z3
8. xperiaDROID (banned) (Posts: 5629; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)
This is an amazing mini flagship, Sony still rocks in this segment.
11. seanwhat (Posts: 280; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)
They could smash the market with this phone if they had better marketing. Could have said that about the z1 compact too though...
13. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)
Let down by 2gb Ram, instead of 3gb Ram. And no S805.
15. RuiBacelar (Posts: 153; Member since: 25 Feb 2014)
IPhone 6 is prof that specs dont mean s***
63. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Specs mean a lot, you wouldn't want a snapdragon 400 phone would you? And the iPhone 6 is hardly proof of that statement.
16. gazmatic (Posts: 794; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)
HOW THE HELL DID THIS GET A BETTER SCORE THAN THE OG Z3?
get your stuff togetherwww.phonearena.com
21. Adrian38 (Posts: 142; Member since: 05 Nov 2012)
And why would the Z3 be a better phone? Just because it's flagship, it automatically means it's better? Sorry, but no. I'll take the compact over the regular Z3 any day.
24. raptor102888 (Posts: 18; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)
It's an overall better phone than the full sized Z3. You may think a bigger screen automatically makes a phone better, but not everyone agrees with you.
18. greathero1 (Posts: 563; Member since: 13 Jun 2008)
Looks nice. Sony's problem is availability. They should learn from Samsung because their flagships and mini versions are available damn near everywhere. Sony needs to understand that if they want to change their current situation, then they have to get these phones in as many countries as possible.
25. raptor102888 (Posts: 18; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)
This. If they could get their phones into a broader market(notably the four big US carriers), they could be huge. Probably second only to Samsung in the Android world.
27. ryq24 (Posts: 706; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
At 499 euros, it's still a very expensive phone.
30. raptor102888 (Posts: 18; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)
You can order it for £350 from Clove or Handtec, so only about €445. £290 if you're ordering where you don't have to pay VAT.
28. Genza (Posts: 537; Member since: 12 Mar 2014)
Are you sure about this PA???
"it does not support Sony’s excellent digital stabilization, so every tremble of the hand is seen in video."
As far as i know the Sony SteadyShot also available in Z3 Compact.
You'll get 2 option in Full HD
2. SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode.
But in 4K you only get 1 option for Standard SteadyShot.
31. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)
Looking at the chart for brightness the xperia z3 seems to be really good in both max and minimum. Great job there sony
33. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
The iphone 6 is the same size as the Nexus 5 and GS4. Please don't judge phones by the screen size only. Some 4.7 inch phones, like the iphone 6 are huge and in a different league size wise.
44. raptor102888 (Posts: 18; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)
THIS. SO MUCH THIS. A phone with a 4.7" display has no business being any bigger than an OG Moto x. Even the Galaxy Alpha is a little too big, though still much better than the iPhone 6.
73. PsycheEyeMike (Posts: 2; Member since: 24 Sep 2014)
But instead, the Alpha is 6.7mm thin and weighs a tiny 115 grams! Fantastic for a phone with a 4.7" screen and awesome hardware. It's thinner and lighter than both the Z3C and iP6, and feels amazing in use.
84. raptor102888 (Posts: 18; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)
Yeah, the Alpha is a great phone too, but it costs $200 more than the Z3C, for similar size, specs, and build quality. :/
|Display||4.6 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (319 ppi) IPS LCD|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz, Krait 400 processor
2 GB RAM
|Size||5.00 x 2.56 x 0.34 inches|
(127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm)
4.55 oz (129 g)
|Battery||2600 mAh, 12 hours talk time|