Unlocking the bootloader of the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact decreases low-light camera performance, developers warn

Unlocking the bootloader of the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact decreases low-light camera performance, developers warn
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact might be one of the best overall smartphones money can buy you now, but you might want to think twice and trice before unlocking its bootloader and subsequently flashing a custom ROM on it. According to an Android developer, Magnus Sandin, toying with the bootloader of the compact powerhouse might result in degraded low-light performance of the device's camera, which will lead to unsatisfactory image results. And considering how much Sony emphasized on the low light capabilities of its newest devices (by implementing an ISO 12800 light sensitivity setting and an improved Low Light mode), you might be basically diminishing the advantages that the latter provide.

According to Magnus Sandin, the reasons for this reported behavior are the missing DRM security keys in devices with an unlocked bootloader, which leads to the malfunctioning of the “proprietary image processing”. Usually, DRM keys usually have nothing to do with the camera performance and image-processing algorithms, but it looks like this is the case with the Xperia Z3 Compact in particular.

While the manufacturer warns that unlocking the bootloader of its devices might cause unexpected issues, such as non-functioning preloaded content, inaccessible secure user data partition, no more official software updates, and in the worst-case scenario, malfunctioning hardware and overheating. No mention about an under-performing camera performance of sorts.

At this point , the issue seems to be irreversible, so you should really think twice before rooting and treating your Xperia Z3 Compact to a custom Android firmware. Hopefully, that is not the case with its bigger brother, the Sony Xperia Z3.

You can check out some Sony Xperia Z3 Compact camera samples in our review of the power-laden device.

source: @MagnusSandin via XDA

Related phones

Xperia Z3 Compact
  • Display 4.6" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 20.7 MP / 2.2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh(14h 3G talk time)



1. maherk

Posts: 7007; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I hope that it won't be the case with the Z3.

2. der_damo

Posts: 213; Member since: Sep 16, 2014

because software is so present in every tech-device, it would be rather surprising, if the Z3 keeps the "great" performance after a Custom ROM

11. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Doesn't matter, Sony will probably fix this with software since that is all this is a problem about.

12. der_damo

Posts: 213; Member since: Sep 16, 2014

Sony will fix a Custom-ROM issue?

4. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

It probably will be. The software, from what I understand, is basically the same between the 2 phones.

3. Charlie_boy

Posts: 71; Member since: Jan 04, 2013

How about "Xperia Z3 Compact Google Play Edition"? That would make it even better, and maybe make some of us root it a little later...

5. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

Reminds me of the time when unlocking the bootloader of the Xperia Z1 (or was it the Z2?) makes the camera unusable

6. roobs

Posts: 96; Member since: Mar 18, 2013

Thought they could backup the DRM keys :/

7. John.v2

Posts: 45; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

one month later..... dev will make low light performance even better then stock .....as usual

8. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

There's a difference between rooting and unlocking the bootloader.

9. ManusImperceptus

Posts: 724; Member since: Jun 10, 2014

Saw Steve Litchfield do a head-to-head between the Z3 and the Lumia 930/Icon/1520, in which the Z3 completely screws up the exposure, making an almost pitch black scene look like it's taken in the middle of the day... Not to impressed with the Z3 results overall!

10. ManusImperceptus

Posts: 724; Member since: Jun 10, 2014


13. mixedfish

Posts: 1565; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

You're comparing two bricks of a phone with large sensors with a slim/compact phone with a standard sensor. Steve's comparison is fair, but he misses the point that people don't want to compromise a phone for a camera, they want a good phone with a slightly better than average camera, this is what the Z3 is.

15. sharshari

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 02, 2014

noooo! I was gonna get the z3 and rooting is a must (I don't care about custom roms), and there is no rooting without bootloader unlocked in the horizon for z3. I guess I won't be getting z3 then.

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