‘Bigger Is Better’ Isn’t True For Sony Xperia Z3

Recently I reviewed Sony’s compact flagship Xperia Z3 Compact. That piece of tech left me highly impressed because it is the only mini flagship with real flagship class specs. So when Sony sent its full sized Xperia Z3, I was more than eager to try out the device. Since Xperia Z3 Compact had set expectations higher, I was expecting Xperia Z3 to take it to a whole new level. You must be curious to know what happened next,ain’t you?

Design:

Before this review unit, I had a chance to check it out during its launch in India. Yeah, benefits of being a reviewer. I liked the design instantly and so did many other people. Nowadays, I hardly fall in love with designs. I just liked this one. It’s sleek. Compared to its predecessos, Z1 and Z2, it’s thinner. It’d make Z1 look like a fatty couch potato. And this one too uses glass back panel which suits the overall design perfectly. Sony has used aluminum strips on edges. Instead of one single aluminum strip running around the phone, there are four pieces on four edges. Corners use matte plastic instead. While it may not be a problem on a black handset, on my white unit it was totally lackluster. It snatched away otherwise classy looks of a white handset. Since Xperia Z3 uses glass for its construction, there’s no fear of its shine fading over the period of time.

But how could anything be flawless? Xperia Z3 isn’t an exception as well. Precisely, it’s slippery. If you’ve dry palms, you should be more careful or just get a case for it. Another thing I noticed on my review is that there was a paper thin gap between the back panel and top and left edges. I checked on some couple of retail units and thankfully this issue wasn’t present on them.

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The 5 inch display occupies the front of the phone with loudspeakers placed above and below it. Z3 still has thick bezel but not as bad as what we had on its predecessors. Top loudspeaker housing also accommodates earpiece of the phone. On white unit all the sensors and front camera were clearly visible whereas on black one they go unnoticed.

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Super smooth back hosts a 20MP camera with accompanying LED flash. Like I told you in my Z3 Compact review, camera placement is wrong because of which your fingers might end up blocking while taking photos.

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On its right side, Z3 has a microSD plus nanoSIM slot protected by a flap. It is followed by a volume rocker, power key and finally, camera key. On the left side has microUSB port which is also protected by a flap. Sony still has retained lanyard socket on Z3, which is a must thing for a handset like this. Top side has 3.5mm audio jack.

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Hardware, performance and battery:

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core, 2.5GHz processor and 3GB RAM, that’s where Xperia Z3 gets its processing powers from. That’s a pretty solid configuration. And it has to drive merely a FullHD (1080p) display which it does without breaking a sweat. You want to know synthetic benchmarks? Well, those are not as impressive as I expected. Although, it could touch the top-five list, I was expecting better performance there. But nonetheless, it’s a smooth performer as a daily driver.

Battery was a bliss on Xperia Z3. That’s one department which Sony has mastered. Actually, it’s little less than Xperia Z2 which had 3300 mAh one while Z3’s battery is rated at 3100 mAh. With moderate use such as email sync, checking out social networks and regular calls and texts, the 3100 mAh battery can easily last for 1.5-2 days. That is, without any power saving trick enabled. You can extend it further with STAMINA mode. If you’re a heavy user who also uses camera and other multimedia functions extensively, expect it to last not more than a day and you’d still have some charge left.

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OS and UI:

Xperia Z3 ships with the recent Android KitKat (4.4.4) build customized with Sony’s UI. Android Lollipop update will arrive for it in early 2015. OS was smooth and its UI was less annoying. There’s nothing great to write home about the OS. But it’s worth noting that its smooth of all the custom UIs I’ve tried so far.

Here I’d like to remind Sony that we are reaching 2015 soon. So please don’t annoy your users by making them hook their phones to PCs to perform a simple software update. Thanks.

Camera:

When I reviewed Xperia Z3 Compact, its camera impressed me a lot with the amount of details in the images. And since Xperia Z3 also uses same sensor, I was expecting anything different. But boy, Z3 proved me wrong. Although Sony has managed to pack the advance sensor in its phone, it has failed to deliver on imaging algorithms. Images I clicked from Z3 lacked details. Sony has a long way to go in the camera department. You can only hope that it gets its imaging algorithms right.

Technically, Xperia Z3 has a 20.7 MP ExmorRS sensor with Sony’s G Lens and BIONZ engine. It can take images in various resolutions, including full 20MP. Sony claims that it has tweaked the camera for low light photography as it can achieve ISO levels up to 12,800. That’s probably the highest in smartphones. And yeah, it can also shoot in 4K UltraHD resolution.

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Connectivity:

Like any other flagship Xperia Z3 too has a wide portfolio of connectivity features including LTE. For Indian readers, you don’t need to worry as it supports Indian brands so you should be able to use it when LTE goes mainstream in India. Network reception was decent and I’d no problems with calling either. If you’ve got DLNA enabled TV, you would be able to stream all the content from Z3 to it.

Conclusion:

Bigger is better, whoever said that but that is not the case with Xperia Z3. Why? Because, Xperia Z3 claims to be a flagship and fails in the camera department which is one of the USPs of any flagship. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to other flaws such as design but underperforming camera? Hell no. Actually, Sony can fix much of it with just an update but they don’t seem to be doing that. If it’s a flagship, I expect great performance out of the box. That’s where Xperia Z3 exactly fails. Since the original Xperia Z, Sony had a lot of time to improve its camera tech. Z3 is technically a fourth flagship and Sony should have done everything this time around. And it wonders why its sales are falling. Well Sony, time to wake up your engineers.