Sony Xperia Z3 Review: Finding the sweet spot between design, performance and battery life

By Scorpus · 20 replies
Nov 14, 2014
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  1. sony xperia z3 review

    It seems like just yesterday I was typing out my review of the Xperia Z2. It was Sony’s flagship that many of us thought would take the company through to the end of 2014, yet here I am, not even six months later, reviewing its successor. Either Sony has a ridiculously fast release schedule, or the market is moving at an ever increasing pace. I’m thinking the former…

    Compared to the Z2, Sony has made some minute changes in the Xperia Z3. We’re looking at a very slightly upgraded Snapdragon 801 SoC, a marginally smaller 3,100 mAh battery, a thinner design, and a few tweaks to the software. You’d be forgiven if you thought the Z3 was in fact the Z2, considering the camera and display are essentially the same as well.

    But the Z3 isn’t designed as a direct upgrade for those people rocking the Xperia Z2, or even last year’s Xperia Z1. Instead it’s clear that Sony has been tinkering with the perfect smartphone formula, crafting something that can provide a balance of design, performance, camera quality, and battery life. Sony wants this to be the ideal upgrade from the Xperia Z, and also something that makes users of competing products consider a switch.

    Read the complete review.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2015
  2. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Great review. Agree with all of it. Loving the battery life. Used to sit with my Nexus 5 plugged in at my desk at work. Had become habit as I knew the battery wasn't going to last the day.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  3. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,285   +242

    Sony Xperia Z3 is really a very fine product: nice form, nice features (micro-sd slot, full hd display, longer battery life, etc). Too bad it is out of my league as it is priced as with any other flagship smartphone. :(
  4. "However, I do have to wonder about Sony’s strategy of releasing a new phone every six months or so."

    Psst, it seems Samsung would use the same strategy as Sony for their flagship :D hahaha..

    Overall, nice review you got there
  5. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,963   +231

    cliffordcooley, Arris and misor like this.
  6. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Yay! Someone who spells it the proper way ;)
  7. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Great review @Scorpus , I see someone is good with a camera :p

    Nice phone honestly, I like the water resistance part the best because its more oops proof. But I always question when they have a design like that and then include the covers for the battery plug and stuff how water resistant it really can be in the end.

    Still an awesome phone though at the end of the day especially with that battery life.
  8. gobbybobby

    gobbybobby TS Guru Posts: 555   +9

    Cracked my nexus 5 screen been quoted £170 to repair very tempting to just shell out on this dunno if I can wait 6 months for my mobile contract to come up for renewal!
  9. EEatGDL

    EEatGDL TS Evangelist Posts: 568   +241

    Even if you have a Z2 you're not outdated. I just received an update during this week to my Z2 adding the Z3 features while updating the UI and Android version (4.4.2 to 4.4.4); I have compared all those new features to my sister's Z3C.
  10. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,671   +988

    I'm not a fan of the flaps either though I haven't seen other phones doing any differently. The cool thing about the Z3 though is that you have that magnetic charging option on the side. Just drop it into the $30 cradle and no more flaps for charging on a daily basis.
    Jos, EEatGDL and GhostRyder like this.
  11. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    Indeed, apple seems to just leave it open as do some others and the rest stick with flaps. I like the magnetic charging option built in because its something that probably would need to start becoming more of a standard for water resistant phones mostly to keep the reliability up as I would expect that to wear out over time (then again phones generally are designed with 2 year life spans mostly now). I would love to see this become just the only option for charging and just have a normal magnetic charger that comes with it or something similar.
  12. Railman

    Railman TS Booster Posts: 708   +101

    There does seem to be a degree of criticism of the stock camera app. Would using different camera apps overcome these limitations? Would the smart phone allow greater flexibility without having to root it?
  13. Great phone hardware but Sony seem to be crazy when it comes to software. The Sony supplied ‘Gallery' app for photos is nice and fluid but it insists on choosing random photos from your gallery and displaying them above thumbnail images for everyone to see when browsing your gallery - you can't switch it off.

    The latest Android 4.4.4 update (Sony issued) has caused no end of problems and the support forum is overloaded with calls for help: Headphones recognised as loud speakers, large icons on the home screen, sms message reliability, battery performance, and camera lag. 4 days since the software update and nothing has been acknowledged by Sony Support.

    The Z2 and no doubt the Z3 are beautiful handsets with lovely cameras and hardware but the software is a huge let down and for anyone with any tech knowledge, it's just irritating to the point of wanting to throw it out the window.

    I am a Sony Z2 owner
    Julio Franco likes this.
  14. I am a Sony Z1 owner and I like Z1 but I do have to agree with you on the software note. I am trying to remove the software and it would not be removed. It would just re-install itself. I completely remove the useless software and then just to find out it re-install itself through the update process. Other than the software thing, I love the phone.
  15. Railman

    Railman TS Booster Posts: 708   +101

    Looks like you need to root the phone
  16. I don't think there is a Camera lag. This is Sony, they are using a Camera Sensor from their DSLRs. So there is a bigger tendency that after pressing the Shutter Button, the processing of the Photo will take 2-3 seconds before it shows the product especially when in Low Light. Been using their products without problems. Sensor-less Smartphones are what you need if you want a no-lag camera on smartphone.
  17. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,963   +231

    No they're not. A DSLR sensor is roughly 12 times larger.

    Not always. Some camera features, like HDR, are best controlled by firmware and so can't be enabled through software. Most third-party camera apps don't tap too far into the camera firmware itself, and don't produce results that are significantly different from the stock app. If they do have any extra features, it's usually taking an image and enhancing it in post, rather than during the capture process.
    Arris and Julio Franco like this.
  18. sygys

    sygys TS Rookie

    There are a lot of things wrong with the Z3. First of all the case isn't as stable as stated, maybe it wont bend easily but it will twist very easy. When twisted too far the glue on the back cracks and the unit isn't water resistant anymore. Bending while the Z3 is in your pants can cause that. Second the keyboard of the Z3 has a tremendous lag in chrome. Typing this and using backspace is really showing how bad it is. I have had 3 units and all 3 had at least 3 dead pixels. Also the screen suffers from backlight bleeding.

    Most of the Z3s have bluetooth and wifi issues especially when get at the edge of range of wifi the bluetooth gets unstable. The back panel cracks very easily. And the phone can heat up like hell. The Z3 and every other Xperia device suffers from audio lag in Netflix. Sony blames its Netflix but this is an audio driver issue and is present for over a year now.

    I would not recommend buying this phone at all. When I could choose again I'm sure as hell wouldn't go for a Sony again.

    Its too bad. The battery is awesome and the design is beautiful. But everything in the Z3 sucks big time. I dont understand that reviewers never get into details like these... They are very important for customers
  19. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,963   +231

    I don't go into details like these because I don't experience the issues. If I don't have problems with the areas you've listed then I'm not going to comment on it.
    1. I wasn't going to deliberately destroy a handset by twisting it. Yes, putting too much force into torsional movement will break it. But it will also break every other phone available. I used the Z3 as my daily driver for a few weeks and didn't run into any issues like this, including when the Z3 was in my pants. Although I'm not surprised I didn't run into issues because I've used the 6.4-inch Z Ultra before and even that massive slab didn't break.
    2. My review unit didn't have backlight bleed or dead pixel issues. I can only comment on the unit I got, as I don't receive hundreds to test.
    3. I didn't have issues with keyboard lag or audio lag. That said, I didn't test Netflix because it's not available here. If it's app specific I would suggest that Sony is correct in that it's an issue with the app and not with the phone, especially if every other app works correctly.
    4. All devices, not just phones, have issues with connectivity at the edge of their range. This isn't unusual.
    5. I've heard of a few cases of the back panel cracking, but it's hard to distinguish a widespread problem from a few vocal users. I've used a lot of Xperias over the years and none of them have cracked, and no one that I know has had one crack (except perhaps for when they dropped it). If it happens randomly, Sony will most likely replace your phone under warranty.
    Arris likes this.
  20. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 781   +235

    My next phone will surely be a Sony. While they aren't popular, they clearly have the perfect combination of build quality, camera, battery life, the whole shabang.
  21. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    I use Netflix on my Z3 and had not experienced audio lag. Also no dead pixels or light bleed (unlike the bottom edge of my Nexus 5 that always had a brown tinge to it). I find it amazing that people buy cases and screen protectors and then are happy to throw the phone in a back pocket and sit on it and complain that it broke.

    Smartphones are not indestructible and anyone that spends hundreds of pounds/dollars on something and then treats it like crap is the only one to blame for it breaking. By the number of users of Iphones with smashed screens I see I can tell that there are many people that don't look after their devices.

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