Sony Xperia Z3v Review
Sony makes some awesome Android phones, that’s certainly obvious looking at its portfolio of devices over the course of the last year. Starting with the Xperia Z1, they’ve been able to subsequently become even more relevant in the space with the eventual announcements and releases of the Z2 and Z3 respectively.
Here in the US, however, it’s a strange development with Sony – where they continue to have very little presence. Heck, the only notable Android powered smartphone from the company to come in recent memory was last year’s Sony Xperia Z1S for T-Mobile. Passing up on bringing the Xperia Z2 stateside, Sony has opted instead to deliver the Sony Xperia Z3v as a Verizon exclusive. One can assume it’s a variant of the newer Z3, seeing that it bears its name and whatnot, but is this Verizon bound smartphone capable enough to keep it in contention over other recently notable entrants?
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall charger
- Getting to know your phone guide
- Product safety and warranty information user manual
Unfortunately, the Xperia Z3v uses the older body style of the Z2, instead of the refined look of the Z3.
Well, this is certainly an odd revelation! You’d think that the Z3v would bear the newer and more refined body style of the Xperia Z3, but instead, it opts to employ the Z2’s design. Even more concerning is that the Z3v is thicker, longer, and heavier than both the Z2 and Z3 before it. In all fairness, we admit that it’s a premium made smartphone and solidly constructed, especially considering that it boasts an IP65/IP68 rating for protection against dust and water, but its design could’ve been more compelling if Sony favored to follow the newer design style of the Z3.
In differentiating the design, there are some minor changes that don’t technically make it identical to the design of the Z2. For starts, Verizon’s presence is absolutely made known, as logos are found below the earpiece and in the back of the phone. Just like its siblings, many of its ports are covered by flaps to protect them from being damaged when submerged under water – although, newer phones offer nano coating finishes that don’t require ports to be covered. Nevertheless, we do appreciate that the Z3v has a dedicated shutter button that allows us to snap photos under water a lot easier.
The specs put it in line to the Z3, but the display exhibit qualities that are more in line to the Z2.
In comparison to what’s been established, the 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 Triluminos IPS LCD display with Sony’s own X-Reality for mobile technology is a decent looker for a contemporary thing. Strangely, though, the screen here has a lot more qualities in common with the Z2’s display – as opposed to the Z3.
First and foremost, the Z3v’s panel achieves a maximum brightness output of 407 nits, which is a far cry from the 713 nits produced by the Z3’s panel. Indeed, it’s still a potent tally to make it visible outdoors, but it’s nowhere in the same scope and range we see with the Z3. In addition, its color temperature of 6886 K, and color reproduction, put it into the same category as the Z2’s display, which on the other hand, is better than the one of the Z3. Overall, what we’re looking at here is the Z2’s display once again – so at the very least, it’s still appealing to the eye.
Interface and Functionality
Sony’s Xperia interface continues to dazzle with its visuals, accompanied with a few notable useful features.
Typical to say the least, the Z3v is running the same familiar Xperia interface we’ve been exposed to of late with the company’s set of smartphones – albeit, it’s on top of Android 4.4.4 KitKat in this case. Certainly, it emphasizes a lot with its visualizations, which is remarkable for its clean and minimalistic look. The experience, as a whole, is unchanged from what we’ve seen already with the Z3. Therefore, it features things like its Small Apps suite for an enhanced multi-tasking experience, a built-in screen recording function, and it’s one of the first phones to offer support for PS4 Remote Play.
That single feature absolutely elevates it over other smartphones, since PS4 console owners will be able to continue playing their console-level games through the Xperia Z3v. And to even sweeten the deal, the Z3v will be able to pair with the DUALSHOCK 4 controller for that rich console experience. By itself, the Xperia Z3v has all the elements to make it an enjoyable mobile gaming device, but this added feature no doubt cements its stature of being uncompromising.
Processor and Memory
Using the same chipset as the Z3, the Z3v flies swimmingly with all sorts of tasks.
So far, we can attest that the Z3v seems to have a lot more in common to the Z2, but it’s powered by the same piece of silicon used by the Z3 – a formidable quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC coupled with a beefy 3GB of RAM and the Adreno 330 GPU. Not surprising at it, the performance is undeniably tight and responsive, so it isn’t burdened by intensive tasks.
The box clearly mentions the Z3v having 32GB of internal storage, but that amount actually translates to a real-world figure of 21.79GB. Still, that’s not bad at all, considering that there’s a microSD card slot to supplement it.
Internet and Connectivity
Once again, Chrome is the browser of choice for this Xperia smartphone. Taking into account that it carries along all the necessities for an excellent web browsing experience, like speedy 4G LTE connectivity, a sharp looking screen, and fluid navigational controls, it’s very tough to not like what it brings to the table.
Even though it’s meant to play nicely with Verizon’s CDMA network, the Z3v is a world phone because its radio supports the vast collection of GSM networks worldwide. Additionally, it’s outfitted with all of the essential set of connectivity features to make it a contemporary thing – such as aGPS with Glonass, Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and NFC.
Image quality is on par to what we’ve seen already, so there are no surprises here.
Packing a familiar camera, a number crunching 20.7-megapixel 1/2.3” Exmor RS sensor, there’s no arguing that that’s a central focus on snapping photos with this thing – more so when it’s complemented with a wide 25mm f/2.0 aperture lens, single LED flash, and up to 4K video recording. At the same time, we see that focus extended into the camera app, where it offers a significant amount of shooting modes, manual controls, and other fun augmented reality options to keep all sorts of shutterbugs entertained.
The results, however, aren’t all that shocking. In fact, it’s hard to even visualize the difference of its quality over its siblings. Outdoor shots where lighting is plentiful come out excellent, as it delivers enough detail and natural colors to give it a pleasant quality – albeit, it sometimes falls victim to over-exposure. Snapping photos under low light is another story, since we’re not surprised to find its photos being softer in tone, which means that it’s light on detail, but at least noise is kept to a minimum.
Switching gears and checking out its video recording quality, the results are clearly favorable, but we wouldn’t go far to say that it’s perfect. Details are decent, but like its still image quality, it sometimes exhibits an over-exposed composition. Thankfully, 4K video recording is in tow – giving it that future proof element.
Sony’s Walkman music player continues to bear one of the best looking interfaces.
Sony’s Walkman music player is something to behold, mainly because it’s one of the more visually pleasing interfaces out there – besting that of Google’s own Play Music app. And it even helps that the Z3v offers a plethora of equalizer settings, to fine tune its audio quality accordingly. Pumping audio through its dual-front firing speakers, it’s able to muster up a reasonable 73.3dB of audio, but it sounds rather thin in tone, which means that there’s not much robustness in its quality.
We really can’t complain about its video playback performance, mainly because it’s presentable with its large and high-resolution display. All sorts of videos play smoothly, of course, but unlike some of its direct rivals, the Z3v lacks a multi-tasking element where videos can be “minimized.”
Phone calls are problematic for this smartphone.Phone calls are still problematic for this smartphone.
The Z3v exhibits awkward and unrealistic voices through its earpiece. Essentially, voices have a suppressed tone, and despite jamming it very closely to our ear, voices come off somewhat weak in tone. And the same can be said about the speakerphone’s overall volume output.
It still pulls in better-than-average battery life, but fails to achieve the same long lasting marks of the Z2 and Z3.
In our battery benchmark test, the Xperia Z3v pulls out a time of 7 hours, 36 minutes from its fully charged 3200 mAh battery. Honestly, the mark is pretty darn good, but it fails to reach the same levels achieved by the Z2 and Z3 before it. Nevertheless, it’s able to power us through a solid one-day of normal usage. Exclusive to this, Verizon’s variant benefits from having built-in wireless charging, which uses the Qi wireless charging standard. Naturally, this amenity causes the phone to sport a slightly larger profile than its siblings.
The idea of recycling phones isn’t a new concept in the business, as many companies have seemingly come out with newer phones that look, feel, and even have similar specs to previous phones. The Sony Xperia Z3v is absolutely one of those phones, since its name implies that it’s a variant of the Z3. However, after checking out the phone in great detail, we can certainly agree that it also has a lot in common with the Xperia Z2. It sports the same design as the Z2, but that's not a bad thing, as it is still a premium glass phone with a waterproof body, although it definitely isn't the most compact one out there. Its screen is also similar to the one of the Z2 instead of the Z3, but that's not necessary a bad thing, as it is more accurate, although not as bright. The processor and the camera are the updated ones that the Z3 offers, so it really is a mix between the Z2 and the Z3. Needless to say, Verizon customers should be pleased to know that a high-end Sony phone is going to be a part of the carrier's lineup – where it’ll sport a 2-year on-contract price of $199.99.
Software version of the review unit:
Android Version: 4.4.4
Baseband Version: 8974-AAAAANAZQ-00074-00
Kernel Version: 3.4.0-perf-g285fd61