Performance

Inside the Xperia Z3 Compact is hardware that’s largely the same as the Xperia Z1 Compact, and essentially identical to the Xperia Z3. This means we’re looking at a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Krait 400 CPU, Adreno 330 GPU clock at 578 MHz, and a dual-channel LPDDR3 memory controller that’s good for 14.9 GB/s of bandwidth. There’s only 2 GB of RAM in this device, down from 3 GB in the Xperia Z3.

Connectivity wise you get all the high-end stuff you’re used to, including Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Category 4 LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and A-GPS+GLONASS. I had no trouble getting any of these wireless features to work during my testing, which is always a good sign.

As the Xperia Z3 Compact packs the very same SoC as the Xperia Z3 – the MSM8974AC – it was no surprise to me to find identical performance in everyday usage. The Compact is a seriously fast device that opens apps promptly, multi-tasks with ease and runs intense applications and games without stressing itself out too much.

The one difference between the Z3 and the Z3 Compact is the display resolution. The GPU in the Z3 has to render to a 1080p display, while the Compact gets the much less intensive 720p. As both GPUs are identical, there’s a performance boost associated with only having to render to 720p. That’s why, as you’ll see in the benchmarks below, the Z3 Compact performs better in on-screen GPU-bound applications.

In the real world playing games available on the Play Store, there isn’t really anything available that is much more playable on the Z3 Compact than the regular Z3. The GPU is simply too fast for Android games, which is a good thing because on either device performance shouldn’t be a concern. However, in a year or so things might be different, which is where we could see the Compact edge out its larger brother.

In our suite of benchmarks listed above, there’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The Snapdragon 801 is a powerful SoC that sits towards the top of the performance charts (edged out by cutting edge silicon like the Snapdragon 805), and everything points to the Compact being just as fast as the Z3 and other flagship handsets.

We’re also seeing very similar performance to the Xperia Z1 Compact, which launched at the start of the year. The predecessor to this handset features a Snapdragon 800 chipset, so it’s not surprising to see just minor performance gains in the Z3 Compact. In real world use I’d expect both devices to perform as fast as each other; if you’re on the Z1 Compact, this is certainly not a major upgrade.

Internally the Xperia Z3 Compact comes with 16 GB of storage, of which around 11.57 GB is available to the user out of the box: not a huge amount but certainly suitable for a few camera shots and apps. The device does come with the ever-useful microSD card slot though, giving you a cheap way to upgrade the storage capacity of the device.

Again just like the Xperia Z3, the Z3 Compact supports the full range of Sony’s high-end audio features. This includes active noise cancellation when paired with Sony’s specially-made earphones, which should be included in the box (but weren’t provided with my review unit). There’s also “high-res” 24bit/96kHz audio playback support through either USB or the 3.5mm headphone jack, handy if your library is in a lossless format like FLAC.

Sony actually has an extremely robust audio feature set, making this (or the Z3) the premier choice if you’re an audiophile. On top of the aforementioned features you also have access to dynamic normalization, a graphic equalizer, and microphone sensitivity options if you like recording concerts. I’d stay away from the rubbish audio enhancement and virtual surround features, but other than that I’m impressed.