Sony Shows How Perfect ‘Mini’ Flagships Are Made With Xperia Z3 CompactNovember 13, 2014
Sony released its newest flagship, Xperia Z3, in around six months after the launch of Xperia Z2. This is a result of shortened life cycle of its flagships. Along with it, Sony launched its mini sized sibling, Z3 Compact. But unlike full sized Z3, the mini version has arrived almost after a year after its predecessor Z1 Compact, skipping the mini version of Z2.
Therefore, the Z3 Compact looks like a proper upgrade for Z1 Compact users. But looking at recent Sony pattern, its flagships have been getting incremental features instead of significant ones. Keeping this in mind, it’ll be interesting to see if this handset is actually a worth upgrade for existing users and a worthwhile purchase for new users.
Sony has tweaked the design of Xperia Z3 Compact compared to Z1 Compact. Although, its derived from Z3, the mini version has few design cues different from its elder sibling.
On the full sized Z3 and previous Z1 Compact, there is a metal strip which runs around the display, which has been replaced with the plastic one on Z3 Compact. But it uses translucent plastic which gives it a decent look. It also mixes up quite well with rest of the design as it uses the same color as the phone. And since it’s curved too, it feels nice in hands.
This same strip also accommodates couple of flaps on the left side of the phone and a docking connector. Sony has improved the quality of flaps too. On previous Z series handsets, flaps used to pop out and open suddenly. And since Z series phones are usually waterproof phones, such a behavior would cause damage to those phones. On Z3 Compact, however, these flaps fit in their places firmly and don’t pop-out.
Both the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact have completely different faces. Xperia Z3 seems more gentle, thanks to its curved edges. On the other hand, Xperiz Z3 Compact carries forward the same boxy design from Z1 Compact. Compared to Z1 Compact, Sony has worked a lot on the bezels on Z3 Compact as the ones on the later are thin and match the handset very well.
Increasing the display size over that of its predecessor, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact now has a 4.6 inch display, albeit with same 720p HD resolution as its predecessor. As a part of the upgrade, we would have expected a FullHD display instead. At this price point, it would have made sense too to offer it.
On the left side, from top-to-bottom, Z3 Compact has microUSB port and microSD slot under the same flap followed by an open docking connector, next to which is the nano SIM slot, protected by a flap. On the right side, there are all buttons. First in the order is the power key then is the closely placed volume rocker and little far from it is the dedicated shutter key.
On its top, Z3 Compact hosts a 3.5mm audio jack along with a mic. On the bottom, we have a lanyard socket and another mic. Lanyard socket is the best thing about Sony’s design and in today’s time.
The back of the Z3 Compact uses tempered glass, a significant change from Z1 Compact which used plastic back instead. Sony has placed the 20.7MP camera on almost the same location as other Z series phones. I dislike this particular placement as camera often gets partly blocked by fingers while taking photos. This can be credited to the natural styling of holding any camera. Right next to the camera is the LED flash. The recessed lens helps in preventing scratches on it.
The design of the Xperia Z3 Compact maintains ergonomics and aesthetics very well.
Specifications, Performance and Battery:
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact uses the identical hardware as its elder sibling, yet with a slight difference. It uses the same Snapdragon 801 SoC which has a quad-core processor with Krait 300 cores and Adreno 330 GPU. The striking difference between both the phones is the amount of RAM. While Xperia Z3 has 3GB of RAM, Z3 Compact has only 2GB. But 2GB RAM isn’t small by any standards.
The 4.6 inch display has 319 ppi of pixel density. Over the time, Sony has really improved its display technology. From the poor display on original Z to a highly improved display on Z3 (and Z3 Compact), Sony has come a long way. What we’ve noticed is that Sony has improved the display with literally each of its flagship. From my experience, I can safely say that, both Z3s have LCD displays comparable to others. Xperia Z3 Compact has superb viewing angles, I dare say 180 degrees. Color saturation is excellent. Sony has managed to achieve great contrast ratio too here with blacks being rendered quite well.
Xperia Z3 Compact has 2600 mAh battery, 300 mAh up from the 2300 mAh on Z1 Compact. And 500 mAh down compared to 3100 mAh on full sized Z3. Yet, Sony’s superior optimization literally squeezes the life out of every bit of it. In my experience, I could easily get full two days of battery life, just as promised by Sony. Maybe that’s the first time any OEM has managed to achieve its claims in real life. If you ask about my usage pattern, it included keeping my phone hooked up to WiFi or 3G for about 18 hours a day, using little bit of camera, surfing internet on the move, using couple of email accounts with Push sync and usual SNS services. My estimate is with still 10% of battery remaining in Z3 Compact. During the trial period, not even once I’d to enable Sony’s STAMINA mode or ultra power saving mode which would have pushed battery life further. And as I joked once, although Z3 Compact has awesome battery life, don’t wait for it to die completely or you may get yourself trapped in a tricky situation.
Now talking about the sheer performance of the Z3 Compact, it has everything to stand proudly in the class full of flagships. Snapdragon 801 plus 2GB of RAM is a great combo. On day to day usage, I didn’t face any lag on my unit. It works damn smooth. Credits definitely also go to the software which is fine tuned by Sony’s engineers. However, throughout the trial period, Z3 Compact crashed and rebooted all by itself but that happened only once. So I’d not take it seriously.
For those who believe in numbers, here are the screenies.
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