Sony Xperia Z3 Review

Call quality



The earpiece of the Xperia Z3 exhibits an average call quality, as it is powerful enough to hear in noisy environments, but the voices coming through sound a tad muffled, and slightly distorted at the highest volumes. The noise-canceling microphones, on the other hand, do a great job at weeding out the ambient noises, and relaying are voice loud and clear to the other end.

Battery



Sony's latest flagship smartphone has a pretty thin profile, but the company has still managed to fit in a large, 3100 mAh battery. With such a good capacity, the Xperia Z3 is officially said to remain operational for 16 hours of 3G talk time, or 37 days of stand-by time. Additionally, the handset should be able to deliver up to 130 hours of continuous music listening, or up to 10 hours of video playback, according to the company's specs sheet. These are respectable battery times, which should make it possible even for users heavily relying on their phone to have a no-compromise experience for a full day or two, depending on the user's activities and screen-on time. In fact, Sony advertises the Z3 as the “two-day battery” phone, and we can attest for this to be true. 


The phone lasted for nearly nine and a half hours of screen-on time when we ran our grueling battery benchmark, putting it comfortably ahead of any other flagship big-screen phone or phablet we've tested at the moment, even beating handsets with huge batteries like the Ascend Mate7. The Z3 battery endurance is also better than the one of the Z2, which already has a great battery life, so kudos to Sony here - it managed to squeeze much more life out of a tad smaller battery, compared to the Z2, and make a truly "two-day battery". The charging time, on the other hand, is much longer than the average, at close to four hours with the paltry stock 850 mA charger.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage. All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.

hours Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z3
9h 29 min (Good)
Samsung Galaxy S5
7h 38 min (Average)
LG G3
6h 14 min (Poor)


minutes Lower is better
Sony Xperia Z3
235
Samsung Galaxy S5
122
LG G3
120


Conclusion



At first read, one might scoff at the seemingly modest Xperia Z3 upgrades against its Z2 predecessor. We are kind of liking Sony's approach, though, as it allows the company to stay on top of the bi-annual Android cycle of spring-fall flagships, while experimenting and improving with greater frequency. The Z3 has a thinner chassis, faster processor, brighter display and better photo and audio quality than the Z2, while keeping everything else great intact. These might not seem significant upgrades each on its own, but the cumulative effect is pretty powerful. The only gripe we have with the phone has to do with Sony's signature thick top and bottom bezels, which makes it largish for the screen size, yet we are willing to let those slide for the waterproof certification, and the front stereo speakers you are getting.

If you are coming from the Z1, the Z3 is a worthy upgrade, as it will upscale your Sony phone in all directions. For the Z2 owners, the situation is a tad murkier, as you might not want to shell out two Benjamins more for a tad slimmer handset with a bit better outdoor visibility, and a more balanced camera. Looking at the chief Z3 competitors, these boil down to the usual suspects. The plasticky Galaxy S5 offers a 5.1” 1080p display, whose colors are every bit as inaccurate as the Z3's out of the box, and a camera of similar quality, with waterproof chassis as well. The HTC One (M8) has a very premium build, and flaunts stereo speakers as well, but its Duo Camera is the weakest in the flagship pack. LG's G3 brags with a high-end QHD display and optically-stabilized camera in a chassis only a tad wider than the Z3, but its battery life is shorter than the rest. This competitor trio, however, sports one important advantage before Sony's newest Xperia – it is now about a hundred or more cheaper, and the category is pretty crowded for the new Z3 to dent a lasting impression there.

Alternatively, you can eschew Android altogether, and take a dive in the iOS pool, as the new iPhone 6 now comes with a much larger display than before, thinner body, improved camera, Apple Pay, and is a better value-keeper, for roughly the same price as the Z3, though you'd have to wave goodbye to the waterproof wrapper, record battery life, and the stereo speakers of the Z3.

Software version: 23.0.A.2.93




Pros

  • Thin and stylish waterproof body
  • Bright display with excellent outdoor visibility
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good pictures and video quality
  • Fantastic battery life

Cons

  • Comparatively large for the display size
  • Very inaccurate screen colors in default mode
  • Hollow-sounding earpiece

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

User Rating:

9.0
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