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Xperia Z3 Review: The Best of Sony in a Smartphone

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The Xperia Z3 is Sony’s flagship device for the second half of 2014. While most manufacturers follow a yearly update cycle, Sony upgrades it smartphones every 6 months. The short upgrade cycle means that there are not a lot of things that distinguish one flagship from the other. The Z3 is the successor of the similarly designed Z2 that Sony launched early this year.

Sony has stuck with the easily identifiable Omni balance design for the Xperia Z3. The phone is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It has a rounded Aluminum band — a welcome change from the boxy slab that was the Z2. The flaps on it are now pill shaped and are easy to access while maintaining waterproofing.  The band is sandwiched between tempered glass on the front and back. The rounded edges make the phone comfortable to hold. But the combination of the glass back and the smooth aluminum edges make the Z3 slippery to hold. This wasn’t a problem on the Z3 Compact because it had a rubberized frame.

Xperia Z3 WaterproofSony’s newest flagship also houses the stereo speakers on the front positioned above and below a big 5.2-inch display. The phone rocks a 20.7 megapixel camera with a physical two-stage camera shutter button, something that most phones miss out on now a day. We’ll get to the camera in a bit. On the side there’s a microUSB port, the MicroSD card slot and the Nano SIM slot, all protected by waterproofing flaps. Charging the phone can be a problem at times because of the waterproofing flaps. It would’ve been better if it had wireless charging.

Display

Xperia Z3 FrontThe Xperia Z3 has a 5.2-inch Triluminos display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The display is dense and has a pixel density of 424PPI. The phone has brilliant viewing angles. There are a few display modes to choose from, in case you don’t like a vivid output. Competitors have started switching over to Quad HD displays but Sony is still using Full HD panels. That aside, the colors look vibrant and the text look crisp. It is definitely among the best displays out there. Surprisingly the display wasn’t as pop as the one on the Xperia Z3 Compact. But the good thing is that the screen is readable even under direct sunlight.

Software

Sony has kept its UI minimalistic and classy. The software customizations on top of Android 4.4 Kitkat are useful. For example, you’ve got mini floating apps for the calculator, timer and others that can be accessed from any screen. The phone has a range of multimedia apps like the Sony Music and Sony LIV, in case you want to watch daily soaps on your phone. The minimal design approach has enabled Sony to deliver a lag free experience on the smartphone.

Camera

Xperia Z3 CameraThe Xperia Z3 has a 20.7 megapixel camera though it sounds familiar; Sony has upgraded the lens to 25mm, which can now take wide-angle shots.  The camera quality is impressive and the Superior Auto mode takes care of most scenarios, giving the best possible output. Though photos shot with this mode are restricted to 8 megapixels.

One of the highlights of the camera is 4K Video. It allows you to record in the highest video recording resolution out there. This does put some strain on the phone, heating it up quickly. There are lots of other camera modes like Slow-mo., which captures videos at 120 frames per second. Time shift burst which clicks 30 images before the button press and 30 right after ensuring that you get the perfect shot.

The Multi-Camera mode is a recent introduction that allows you to pair compatible Xperia Smartphones and record from all of them simultaneously. We didn’t have multiple phones to try this one out.

Sound

The Z3 has front facing stereo speakers, though they aren’t the loudest but are loud enough. More importantly they sound a bit muffled, possibly because of the waterproofing used. Having a set of speakers firing at you is a nice experience when listening to content. They are no where near to the Boom sound speakers on HTC Smartphones.

The phone supports High Res Audio. Although the older Xperia Z2 had the ability to play high res songs by connecting to a Digital to Analog Converter (or DAC). But for the Z3, Sony put in all the required components right inside the phone. The sound quality is amazing & there are lots of modes to play with. You can also select from a range of Sony headphones in the settings menu, to get the best experience out of them.

Battery

The battery on the Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 compact has got praises everywhere. It’s a 3100-mAh unit, which seems downgraded from the 3200mAh on the older Z2. But surprisingly Sony has also managed to tweak the software to reduce the impact on battery life. The phone had significant charge left even at the end of a day with heavy use. In case that kind of battery backup isn’t enough there is a ‘Stamina Mode’ that switches off data when the screen is turned off, only allowing the apps on the whitelist to access the net. This is a good method of saving precious battery life.

That’s not all, there is an ‘Ultra Stamina mode’ that locks down the phone entirely only to be used for basic usage including the camera. But in return, the phone will run for days. The Z3 isn’t the only flagship to have this, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8 do boast of a similar feature.

Conclusion

The Z3 has been a modest improvement over the phone it replaced. Sony’s DNA shines through, the display, camera and the design are really good. While many of the features are useful, some feel like they have been loaded up only to justify the price. Also due to some superb deals we’ve seen recently, it’s hard to tell people to pay around 50 thousand rupees for this phone.

If you are among the ones who like the Xperia Z3 and willing to pay the asking price, go right ahead its a brilliant phone. But if you are value conscious, then you might wanna look at other phones that do almost the same for a lot less.

About The Author

Aditya Shenoy likes to get his hands on the latest phones in the market. In his spare time he ogles at cars and reads all about them. He prefers talking to his watch as much as other people (He’s not crazy). After all this if he has time, he fulfills his duties as an Associate Editor at PriceBaba.


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