Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sony Xperia Z3 review: Hands-on

Sony Xperia Z3 review

Sony Xperia Z3 review

The Sony Xperia Z3 is the brand's latest flagship smartphone and as you'd expect, it replaces the Sony Xperia Z2.

As part of Sony Mobile's largest product launch to date, the Z3 is also joined by the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, the budget Sony Xperia E3, Sony Smartwatch 3 and Sony SmartBand Talk.

The Xperia Z3 has plenty of competition in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S5,HTC One M8 and the iPhone 5S  iPhone 6 but what does it bring to the table. We went hands-on to find out...

Sony Xperia Z3: Size and build

Sony is sticking to the familar design of the Z2, albeit with a few tweaks. The new handset has the same 'omnibalance' design, with the premium silver power button once again placed halfway down the edge.
It's very slightly slimmer than the Z2 and also slightly lighter. It certainly feels comfortably to hold and it's also more durable, too. Sony has added nylon caps to the corners of the phone, which means that if you drop it, it's less likely to break.

What's more, it's the has the highest waterproof rating available on a smartphone, Sony tells us, so it should survive any accidental submersion.

It'll be available in the usual black and white plus two new colours - copper and rather nice green (see the gallery above).

Sony Xperia Z3: Features

The Xperia Z3 is the world's first smartphone with PS4 Remote Play - a feature that will also be available on the Z3 Compact and Z3 Tablet Compact.
A gaming mount (sold separately, price TBC) uses a sat-nav-style sucker to attach your device onto your PS4 controller so that you can play over your home Wi-Fi network, using your phone or tablet's screen. That means that you can play on your phone or tablet in another room to free up the TV for someone else, or even partake in some seriously antisocial multiplayer.

In theory, you could use it on Wi-Fi networks outside the home, as long as your PS4 is left on, but Sony doesn't recommend it as it can't guarantee the quality. We haven't had a chance to try this out properly yet, but we did have a go attaching the phone to the controller using the mount, which worked a treat. The PS4 function won't actually work until November, Sony tells us.

The phone also features DSEE HX, which converts audio to near high-res quality. We had a demo and can report that the conversion was definitely noticeable when switching between modes, but then the original sounded pretty good to start with.

Sony Xperia Z3: Camera

The camera has the same basic spec as the previous model but with a few important refinements. The Z3 includes the world's first 12800 ISO rating, which should make it better for low light shooting.

It also includes an improved SteadyShot mode, ported over from the maker's camcorders. You'll also get a new wider angle 25mm lens, so you'll be able to pack even more into your shots. There are also several new software features including Face In - a mode that takes photos with the rear camera while including a selfie in a box in the same shot. We reeled off a few test shots - which all looked great - but we're looking forward to trying out the finished product in some more testing conditions.

Sony Xperia Z3: Screen

The 5.2-inch screen sports a full HD 1080p screen, with Sony making the deliberate decision not to go 2K as it doesn't think it's worth it on a screen this size. We have to agree.

Packing the brand's Triluminos and X-reality processing tech, along with IPS, the screen looks great and has really good viewing angles.

Sony Xperia Z3: Performance

Running on the latest version of Android, the Z3 has 3GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. While we haven't tried out a final version of the phone just yet, navigating around the OS in our hands-on time was slick with no lag at all. Obviously we'll be testing that out further as soon as we can get a full sample in for testing.

Sony Xperia Z3: Battery

Sony is making a bold claim of a two-day battery life - again, we haven't had time to test that yet, but we're certain intrigued. Along with the existing power-saving mode introduced on the Sony Xperia Z1, the Z3 also has a power-efficient screen.

Sony Xperia Z3: Verdict

While it may seem quite soon for Sony to be replacing the previous model, the Xperia Z3 looks set to be a very strong contender in the smartphone battle. The improvements are subtle but significant and the PS4 functionality is sure to be a massive selling point for gamers. Stay tuned for a full review.

Sony Xperia Z3 release date: October 2014

Sony Xperia Z3 price: TBC
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