Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact rumor round-up: price, release date, specs, and features

Note: Image above is of the Sony Xperia Z2

No, you got that one right. We're, indeed, about to discuss the upcoming Xperia Z3, and, alongside it, the Xperia Z3 Compact. And no, it's not too early, as notable information about the two has already found cracks within Sony's hopelessly insecure internal world, not to mention that, as fans of the company will know, it has officially transitioned towards a 6-month flagship release cycle.

Sony has its reasons for that, though it would be misleading to say that consumers are necessarily happy about this type of arrangement. That's not surprising, especially given what now feels characteristic of Sony devices -- their global roll-outs are a snooze fest, and it usually takes months for certain regions to get the latest. Case in point: the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact just became available exclusively through Sony's US store -- and it was announced over 7 months ago. Worse yet, Sony typically struggles getting carriers on board, so buyers who prefer subsidies at the cost of a 2-year commitment are sometimes out of luck. Let's hope that this ceases to be the case sooner rather than later.

In any case, Sony considers a 6-month release cycle crucial to maintaining a flagship. And this more than likely means that the Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact (yes, even though a Z2 Compact is yet to appear) are now well into development. After all, August will mark 6 months since the announcement of the Xperia Z2, and that means Sony's new crop is just a few short months away from release.

Design and display


Much alike to the Samsung Galaxy series, Sony's OmniBalance design language that characterizes each and every of its modern devices is said to also be the inspiration for the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact's looks, with a few changes.

Xperia Z3


Looking at the Xperia Z3 first, the combination of leaks and rumors suggest that the upcoming flagship will try to improve in several key design areas: thickness and size of bezels. Indeed, both according to tipsters, a CAD drawing, and from the few alleged images of the Z3 that have already cropped up, it would appear that Sony is finally making progress in terms of bezels, and we're also told to expect a much thinner device. Currently, we're told to expect dimensions of 146.46 x 72.09 x 7.3 mm, though the a Sony teaser from August 28th suggests a thickness of 7mm. That would be a pretty impressive engineering achievement, especially if we take it for granted that the Z3 will be dust- and water-resistant like the flagships before it. Another image leak also suggests that the Z3 will be encased within a more-rounded-than-before metal frame, coated with PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition). This will apparently make it more resistant to scratches and upon impact. Lastly, said images seem to confirm that Sony will, again, adopt dual front-facing speakers.

As for the display panel that Sony is planning on using with the Z3, we have considerably less information. That said, some may be relieved to hear that, at this point, multiple sources refute the possibility of a super pixel-dense, Quad HD (1440 x 2560) resolution display. Instead, a more standard, 1080p screen (likely the IPS type) is what's currently expected, though we don't yet know of the kind of diagonal those pixels will be stretched over.


Xperia Z3 Compact


The mini version of the Z3, likely to be commercially known as the Z3 Compact, will mimic the design (from what we've seen) of its bigger sibling, and also sport smaller bezels, a relatively thin form factor, and perhaps even a duo of front-facing speakers. If the Z1 Compact is any indication, then we'd also expect the Z3 Compact to also come with dust- and water-resistant body (IP68). And the physical footprint? 129 x 64.9 x 8.8 mm, according to a leaked CAD drawing of the Z3 Compact, though a more recent leak suggests dimensions of 127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm (5 x 2.55 x 0.33 in), and a weight of 129 g (4.55 oz).

Unlike the Xperia Z3, we already have some indication as to the size of the Z3 Compact's screen -- 4.6 inches, and a 720 x 1280 resolution, or a pixel density of 326 ppi. Seeing as how the Z1 Compact was the first Sony device to arrive with an IPS panel, we'd expect no less from the Z3 Compact.


Processor and memory



Six months isn't a whole lot when talking about processors, and that means that Sony will perhaps run into consecutive flagship releases that see no major changes in terms of the chipsets powering the devices. The Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact could very well be on that path.

Xperia Z3


From what we know so far, Sony may well be in for some criticism from fans, as certain sources (including an alleged AnTuTu benchmark pass) suggest that the chip powering the Xperia Z3 is none other than the Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8974AC. That's the highest bin of the SD801, and it makes use of four Krait 400 cores, clocked at 2.5GHz, and an Adreno 330 GPU, flying at 578MHz. As some of you will probably know, that's the exact same chip powering the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3.

Obviously, such a development would be hard for fans to stomach, though it should be pointed out that the performance of such a high tier chip leaves absolutely nothing to desire. In terms of RAM, we're currently expecting a 3GB unit, though you never know. And that last part is applicable to the processor, too -- after all, the Snapdragon 805 has already seen its official debut with the Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A.

Internal memory is said to be 16GB, with an option for expansion through a microSD card (up to 128GB more).

Xperia Z3 Compact


As for the Xperia Z3's smaller brother, XDA developer DooMLoRD claims the Z3 Compact will also pack the very same, 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 chip, but will keep the RAM locked at 2GB. As for built-in storage, we're told to expect 16GB and a slot for a microSD card (up to 128GB more).

Such a small upgrade, however, definitely begs the question: will we even see a Z2 Compact? Or is Sony about to skip ahead? We just don't know yet.

Camera


Soon after Sony released the Xperia Z1, the 20.7-megapixel Exmor RS sensor found within quickly turned into its most stand-out feature. Indeed, the sheer number of available pixels is usually enough to get most sold on the Z line's cameras, even though advanced users know that these do not necessarily translate into an awesome snap. To avoid confusion, this is not to say that the images that the Z1 -- and even more so, the Z2 -- produce are disappointing at all. In fact, in our experience they're just shy of costing the Galaxy S5's crown in the camera department.

All this talk about the 20.7MP snapper on current Sony devices probably was clue enough for some of you, but here goes: right now, we're led to believe that Sony will stick with it for another generation, and both the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact will sport one. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially considering how important camera software has become, so there's probably room for improvement anyway.

On an equally speculative note, Sony has revealed that it's making good progress on a new kind of CMOS sensors that are curved, much alike to the human eye. The company says that the new piece will introduce minimal vignetting and aberrations at the corners of images, which is usually a problem with flat sensors. Even better, Sony is apparently ready to produce a full-frame curved sensor, along with a 1/2.3''-sized one for smartphones. Said otherwise, Sony may have a surprise up its sleeve, so we may end up seeing this new tech in action sooner rather than later.

Price and release date


Considering that Sony has officially confirmed that it's going after a 6-month flagship release cycle, it's not too hard to imagine that the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact will be announced in the August-September span. As we now know, Sony has set an event for September 3rd at IFA 2014 in Berlin, and will, indeed, unveil both the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact.

As for pricing, Sony has been fairly uniform as of late. To be completely fair, the price Sony charged for the Z1 and the one it set for the Z2 is pretty much identical. This gives us reason to believe that the Xperia Z3 will go on sale commanding a price tag of about $699 unlocked in the US (apparently with T-Mobile), and anywhere between €599 and €699 in Europe. 


Last update: 09/01/2014. Added tons of new images and specs; numerous minor fixes and additions.

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