Sony Xperia Z3 Review

Interface and functionality


With function before form, the Xperia UI offers useful goodies like double-tap to wake, and Small Apps multitasking.

Running Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the Sony Xperia Z3 sports the Xperia user interface, which tends to be rather clean and minimalistic. It does change the look and feel of most of the stock UI and built-in apps, but does so in a stylish and uniform manner. Sony's homescreen is very easy to get used to. The manufacturer has done a good job at creating an intuitive experience that makes things like icon and widget placement (and resizing, too) easy as pie. Just like in Sony's other Android phones, the pinch-in gesture initiates homescreen editing, where you can easily add/discard pages, add widgets/apps, change the wallpaper, or the theme. A very welcome change that comes with the Z-series now, is the ability to use the double-tap-to-wake, so you don't have to constantly be looking for the smallish power key to unlock the display any more.

The otherwise standard-looking main menu has the ability to host folders, and an options panel that can be revealed at any time by doing a swipe gesture from the left edge of the screen. The panel lets you change the sorting or filtering of your app catalog, as well as to initiate the Uninstall mode. The execution of this options panel is not perfect, though, as you can accidentally reveal it while browsing through the menu. A very handy Google Apps folder in the homescreen dock debuts here, letting you have a quick access to all of Google's wonders in one place, without taking extra space. 

Furthermore, Sony supplies its Small Apps suite, evoked with the current apps button, which pins windowed calculator, browser, notes and other apps, on top of anything else you are running underneath, for some rudimentary multitasking on the big screen. You can now run five of those at a time, and can freely resize, or move their windows around for added convenience.

Last but not least, we have built-in screen recording functionality out of the box, chosen with a simple long-press of the power key. There you can pick from 1080p or 720p video recording, and the phone will make a video from whatever you are doing on the display. This ability was introduced with KitKat, but it's nice to see a manufacturer optimizing it for its own overlay, as third-party screen recording apps are usually paid, and often glitchy.

Processor and memory

With barely a hint of lag throughout the interface, and plenty of RAM, the Z3 is well-equipped to meet its silicon challenges.

The Xperia Z3 is yet another phone that's powered by Qualcomm's technology. In this case, it is the quad-core Snapdragon 801 MSM8974-AC processor, which is the fastest in the 801 family, and is clocked at 2.5 GHz. In fact, this is the same processor that is ticking on the Galaxy S5, so the Z3 is slightly more powerful than its predecessor. Overall, performance seems to be great, both around the interface, and within apps, including 3D games. There isn't any occasional choppiness like the one in the Galaxy S5, but there's always just a small amount of lag that prevents the experience from having that instantaneous response that comes with the iPhone line, or the MIUI Android overlay, for instance.

Memory-wise, there are the generous 3 GB of RAM, which is still the highest number Android hits at the moment, while the basic onboard storage is 16 GB, of which just about 12 GB are user-available. Thankfully, there's a microSD card slot, which allows you to greatly expand the phone's storage space by installing a memory card of up to 128 GB.

Quadrant Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z3 20756
Samsung Galaxy S5 25041
LG G3 23551
AnTuTu Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z3 40437
Samsung Galaxy S5 36603
LG G3 30634
Apple iPhone 6 50888
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z3 1571
Samsung Galaxy S5 1186
LG G3 1322
Sunspider Lower is better
Sony Xperia Z3 863.7
Samsung Galaxy S5 777.3
LG G3 947.2
Apple iPhone 6 353.4
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z3 12.5
Samsung Galaxy S5 11.7
LG G3 7.5
Apple iPhone 6 25.8
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z3 1099
Samsung Galaxy S5 1054
LG G3 951
Apple iPhone 6 1239

Internet and connectivity


Chrome is the browser of choice for the Sony Xperia Z3, and it tends to perform lovely. As always, loading is super-fast, while navigation around pages, including scrolling and zooming, is very fluid and trouble-free. The browser was recently updated with a new interface, and souped-up performance, and we're definitely pleased with the overall browsing experience when using Google's Chrome for Android. Still, there are some viable third-party alternatives in the Play Store, which can display Flash content, as long as you sideload the latest version of Adobe's now discontinued Flash Player for Android.

LTE is supported across numerous bands, so as long as your carrier of choice offers 4G, the Z3 should deliver blazing-fast cellular data speeds. Actually, it supports LTE Cat4 for download speeds of up to 150 Mbit/s, and upload speeds of up to 50 Mbit/s, provided the network conditions are optimal. In the unfortunate (but widespread) case of having no access to LTE, the Sony Xperia Z3 will default to HSPA+ (up to 42.2 Mbit/s down and 5.76 Mbit/s up).

Further completing its full set of connectivity options, the Sony Xperia Z3 is also the proud owner of support for all the latest Wi-Fi protocols (802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac), Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA, MHL, and NFC. Whether you want to mirror your phone's display on a bigger screen, beam content or quickly pair with a Bluetooth accessory, the Xperia Z3 has you covered.

FEATURED VIDEO

152 Comments

2. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Its good but kinds makes me feel like same old honestly. Come on sony. A new design is what i wish to see.

45. nohatenofanboy

Posts: 515; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

oh samsung does for 3 years and still gets 9 or above . this gets 8.5 ? not fair

70. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Samsung's reboots are hardcore as hell. For example, the Galaxy S5 LTE A has QHD, SD805, LTE A etc.Plus its Korea only. This uses the SD801 and that's about it and is being released worldwide. No one could get two shots at their flagship for the year. That's cheating, hence the 8.5.

126. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Ok... Where is the video review? STILL, STILL waiting on it... PhoneArena.com you guys are really dropping the ball here!!!

139. MySchizoBuddy

Posts: 159; Member since: Aug 23, 2011

totally. 0.5 points less. rubbish. lets burn phonearena. they are sony haters /s

48. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

This design is way better dude.....this design is just for their flagship. And for compact but little tweaks. They will give some changes in Z4 for sure.... But any way Z3 is freaking gorgeous ....cant move my eyes from Z3.

53. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

In my opinion , the last most stunning looking phone to me was Lenovo K900. I like this too...just wish that there were more vibrant colors and a NEW design.

54. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Love the design of that sharp edged phone.

134. Outdoorluvr

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 26, 2014

If the Z3 looks just like the Z2, I bet the waterproofing is just as bad. My Z2 died after less than a month following a 1/2 hr swim in a pool. IP58 my ***. And beware... Sony doesn't warranty ANYTHING!

153. zenun12

Posts: 205; Member since: Oct 31, 2016

The Z2 and Z3 are certified only for submersion in freshwater to 1.5 meters for 30 mins. not 1-2 hours.

4. lee480 unregistered

iPhone 6 have a better camera? when u have not reviewed him? what a fair statement. Clear Daniel have a (false) impression of iPhone that affected the integrity. of the score. anyways, Daniel P is know for watering down Sony scores. Look how pathetic his list the nay factors. 'Hollow-sounding earpiece'? lol

7. GuitarPlayer

Posts: 63; Member since: Nov 15, 2012

iPhone 6 now comes with a much larger display, thinner body, better camera THAN IPHONE 5S, correct this PA!!!

10. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

I've read many reviews on the 6 and all are praising the camera so far. We shall wait and see but apple has always done good if not great in this area.

9. TimePass

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

I feel its edges should me more curved then flat. my score 9 / 10.

11. RuiBacelar

Posts: 153; Member since: Feb 25, 2014

Just...How did the Z2 got 9.2 and Z3 8.5?

14. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Read the review rules my friend. The z2 came out 6 months ago and many phones since then so the rating will change. It's still a great score and shouldn't change anyone's opinion of this phone.

15. anleoflippy

Posts: 596; Member since: Jan 03, 2013

I think it's because of the screen of the Z3,

23. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

yeah you know how they are picky with the display. i don't understand what happened to sony. they suddenly want a display that behaves like amoled. if that's their goal they should have just shifted to amoled.

77. Ashoaib

Posts: 3309; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

display is not sony's strength... display of Z was behind the competition... then display of Z1 was behind the competition.... finally they fixed it in Z2... but now again they are screwing it... when its LCD, let it be LCD... why try to make it punchy like SAmoled?

87. pyradark

Posts: 895; Member since: Jun 10, 2012

Just wring calibration. Their is a setting where u can adjust that. White balance

98. Ashoaib

Posts: 3309; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

I know that, I have the same calibration in my huawei phone... but still this calibration is not enough to make the display accurate... when you make the color temperature warm then the colors become greenish and when you make the color temperature cold then the colors become bluesh... white is not a perfect white with any adjustment

147. mohsen1231

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 13, 2014

thats right why z2 got 9.2 and z3 8.5 ? why phonearena ?????

12. AppleJuice

Posts: 145; Member since: Sep 12, 2013

That display is a mess except the brightness.

13. anleoflippy

Posts: 596; Member since: Jan 03, 2013

Agreed. However, there is a dedicated setting to change the white balance.

16. RuiBacelar

Posts: 153; Member since: Feb 25, 2014

Upon carefull reading of the review I get it. The display colours and the somewhat lack of real big differences from the Z2 earned the Z3 the 8.5? That...makes sense actually. Some penalization for not being a worthy investment over the Z2. Btw, Z2 is my daily driver.

67. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

no, there are differences the close to accurate z2 display is now made to behave like a defective amoled in the z3 the inconscpicuous speaker slits near the sides are now made more prominent the marketing is now as childish as others could get (trolling apple whenever there's the chance)

17. alexvv

Posts: 165; Member since: Oct 16, 2013

And soon when they review the iphone 6 it will get almost 10/10. No logic at all. I have to admit though that the colour temperature is wayyy off. What were they thinking?

24. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

sony: look samsung's amoled display is being widely praised. let's make ours act like one and even brigther.

28. AppleJuice

Posts: 145; Member since: Sep 12, 2013

They wanted to make an Amoled but failed.

18. Classique

Posts: 73; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Wow I love this phone is compelling I've been using WP for the past 2 years and it's my favorite OS (I've owned and used phones with the most recent phones for the Android and iOS) and unless something really compelling comes out from Microsoft by November this is my next phone

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Xperia Z3
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 20.7 MP / 2.2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3100 mAh(14h talk time)

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