Sony Xperia Z3 Review
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"Oops, we did it again" should be Sony's slogan for the new Xperia Z3, as barely have six months passed since the Z2 introduction, and now we are getting a successor. The Xperia Z3 upgrades only slightly on the Z2, but exactly where it counts. Its screen brightness and processing power now rival or surpass those of the direct competitors, while its pretty unibody glass chassis is made even thinner, still keeping the high waterproof rating.
Granted, the phone is not as futureproof as, say, the Note 4, which has a Snapdragon 805 processor, and a QHD display, but it doesn't have to be. Its main rivals will still be the spring crop of flagships, like the Galaxy S5, or the HTC One (M8). Lets' see how it stacks up...
In the box:
- In-ear stereo headphones in select markets
- Wall charger and USB cable
- Warranty and information leaflets
Z3 is the most comfortable and premium Sony Xperia flagship so far.
The Z3's dimensions are actually the biggest change from the Z2, at least on the surface, as the phone is measures 5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29” (146 x 72 x 7.3 mm), making it slightly shorter, narrower, and much slimmer than the Z2. Thus, the Z3 remains rather tall for its 5.2” screen diagonal, but less wide, so the phone's one-handed operability is decent, unlike its pocket-friendliness. The OmniBalance design language of the Xperia series here is stuffed in a very sleek tempered metal-and-glass unibody. In fact, with its tapered edges and rounded corners, the Xperia Z3 is the most comfortable Xperia flagship we've held so far. The white version we have doesn't stain with any visible fingerprints, but we'd wager to say that the darker variations might have issues in that regard, considering the all-glass back. The only design gripe is that the metal power/lock is again with a bit shallow feedback, and feels wobbly under your finger. The volume rocker is also thinner than what's comfortable to feel and press without looking.
On top of all that chassis premiumness, the Xperia Z3 sports a higher – IP65/68 - waterproof rating than, say, the Galaxy S5, allowing it to last for more than an hour in up to five feet deep in water. Furthermore, Sony provides two stereo speakers at the front, something you don't see every day. To ensure the waterproofing of the microUSB port on the left, and the microSD and micro SIM slots on the right, Sony covered them with protective flaps, painted in the color of the metal rim surrounding the sides. Unlike the Z2 flaps, these are pretty easy to pry open, and then close again firmly.
Excellent outdoor visibility gets marred by cold, out-of-whack colors.
The Z3 screen remains a 5.2" 1080x1920 pixels Triluminos display, but Sony is now touting its ability to hit 600 nits of peak brightness. We can confirm that this is indeed the case, and even measured it to hit peak 713 nits, which ensures great outdoor visibility, as the screen reflection coating does a good job, too. The minimum brightness is also excellent, at just 4 nits, allowing for comfortable reading in bed..
When it comes to color representation, in the gallery and video player the colors could look as gaudy as with AMOLED panels, due to Sony's proprietary X-Reality engine, which boosts saturation and contrast over the top there automatically. In the Z3, however, those are now turned off by default, though you can bring them back from the display settings. Here we arrive to the Xperia Z3's screen biggest drawback. Our measurements showed the whopping 10324 Kelvins, which is very far from the reference 6500K white point, making the screen look very, very cold, with abundant blueish or greenish overcast. You can change the screen's white balance from the display settings menu, and Sony argues that the coldness is deliberate, throwing in some stats about people's perception of cold screens as brighter, but the fact is that the Xperia Z3 is off the reference white mark by default, and significantly at that. Moreover, the greens and reds are somewhat oversaturated, and all colors are widely off the reference marks for the standard RGB gamut, as you can see if you look at our color chart.It is really disappointing, especially when you know that the older Z2 offers much better color fidelity.
Viewing angles are decent, compared to some previous Xperias (looking at you, Z and Z1), though contrast and colors shift a bit more than what we've observed with the best IPS-LCD displays. The screen has a super-sensitive mode, that allows you to operate it with gloves on, should someone ring you while on the ski lift.