Given that it’s barely six months since Sony unveiled the Xperia Z2, it could be argued that the Z3 has been rushed out with rather undue haste. But while the Z3 initially looks and feels very similar to its predecessor – and, at first glance, the specs are similar to – you gradually become aware of the nips and tucks that Sony has made. To begin with, the Z3 is lighter and slimmer than the Z2, weighing in at 152g.
As per the Z2, it runs a Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, although here a 2.5Hz model rather than 2.3GHz. Impressively, despite a smaller battery than the Z2, it boasts both a brighter screen and a markedly improved battery life. The device is also more water resistant than its predecessor, and can apparently sit quite happily in 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes before feeling unwell. (Richard Ayoade tested this capability out recently on Channel Four’s Gadget Man, but – despite the fact that Ayoade’s phone survived the experience – I just couldn’t bring myself to submerge over five hundred pounds’ worth of kit to repeat the experiment.)
The phone retains a dedicated camera button, together with the 3GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage from the Z2. The camera itself, while remaining at 20.7MP, is even better than previous Xperia offerings, including a wider (25mm) lens for wide-angle shots, light sensitivity up to IS0 12800 (making it vastly superior to most other high-end smartphones in low light conditions) and improved SteadyShot for video. You can also stream live video to YouTube, or imaging that you have a top-of-the-range SLR with Background Defocus. Meanwhile, multicamera capability Multi Camera allows you to combine video rfom up to three Xperia devices to pull together different angles.
The accompanying software bundle is entertaining as well, the “AR fun” mode allowing you to decorate photographs and videos of your cat (or whatever you test it on; with me, it was the cat) with stars, small explosions or impromptu sketches.
On the audio front, the X3 has gone hi-res, with crystal clear sound from the front-facing speakers. For gaming, the device also includes remote play support for the PS4, allowing owners to stream their PS4 games over their phones via home Wi-Fi.
Finally, there are a host of pre-installed apps, enabling you – should you so wish – to buy films (Movies Unlimited) or subscribe to streamed music (Music Unlimited). You also get free cloud storage for photos and videos in PlayMemories.
All in all, it’s a great addition to the Xperia range.