Sony's affinity for attaching a "Best" tag on its smartphones has a track record that now spans several generations. Indeed, whenever a new Sony device hits the market, there's at least one category in which the company sees it as best on the market, and it makes sure that you're well aware of that -- usually through PRs and its own website. Almost exactly a year ago, we detailed why it considered the Xperia Z1 to be the best cameraphone in the whole wide world, and now it's time to take a look at the new and hot Xperia Z3.
As in the past, Sony is again using the services of Strategy Analytics, so that the latter can back-up its claims in a transparent fashion. While documentation related to the tests is usually very well defined as to what exactly the scope of the various claims is, that very scope is very much worth pointing out. After all, how many of you went to Sony's dedicated Tests page to see what all those asterisks really mean? Exactly.
One of the first claims is that the Xperia Z3 has the highest ISO (at 12,800) available with any smartphone. From what we can tell, that's actually a legit claim, and we've seen examples of that high a sensitivity at work already (see pictures). Regardless, do keep in mind that scenarios that would require such a high ISO are very rare (you'll have to be shooting in the darkest of the dark environments), not to mention that simply because the Z3 can crank it up that high isn't necessarily a guarantee for great low light shots. The second claim is also true -- at 1/2.3'', the Exmor RS sensor inside the Z3 is one of the very largest among smartphones, though it's still smaller than the gigantic 1/1.5'' sensor of the Nokia Lumia 1020.
Moving forward, things get a little less clear, not least because the pages on Sony's site haven't been proofread. For example, the Xperia Z3 is apparently the "World's best camera and camcorder (+/- Waterproof / Android) in a smartphone3" [sic]. Obviously, this statement is more than a little bit foggy, but considering the devices the Xperia Z3 was compared with (Nexus 5, iPhone 5s, LG G3, Galaxy S5, and One M8), we'd venture a guess that Sony means the best camera and camcorder of any Android with or without waterproofing, though that still doesn't explain why the iPhone 5s is on the list. In any case, Sony cites the Z3's 4K UHD video capture capabilities that are actually nothing new at this point. The difference here is that the company claims that because its camera sensor has 20.7 million pixels (more than any of the others on the list), this makes it a better camcorder. That's obviously completely misleading, as the two have nothing to do with each other.
The same distinction isn't provided for stills, but the scope of the test makes it a little more obvious -- 201 UK consumers were surveyed on the "imaging and video experiences" delivered by the above-mentioned devices, and apparently enough of them agreed that the Z3 is the best for it to land on top (blind assessments, by the way). Further down, Sony says that the Z3 "gives you the Best Image Quality of the Leading Smartphones" [sic], as 59% of those very same 201 UK consumers preferred the quality of images captured by the Xperia Z3 to those of the listed devices above.
That's not all, though, for Sony specifically points at that the Z3's camcorder produces the best quality video of "Leading Smartphones" (top selling smartphones globally). Our UK team of consumers again (blindly) assessed video of the various leading devices, and found that, overall, the Z3 is the best. They also found that the Xperia Z3 gives you "the Most Stable Video Capture of the Leading Smartphones" [sic].
So what are you to make out of all this, and are we suggesting that the Xperia Z3 is not as good as described? Well, first and foremost, let us get this out of the way right now -- the Z3's 20.7-megapixel camera is awesome on the whole, just read the review and check out a few samples from it below. That said, and while we do obviously prefer flagship releases with less asterisks attached to their features, we do have to point out that these results are based on what consumers think, not a panel of experts or similar -- the reality of the matter may well be different, and, sure enough, you can count on us to investigate and pit the Xperia Z3 against its competitors. So do make sure that you keep all of that in mind the next time you come across one of those claims.