Sony have carved themselves out a niche in the world of modern day smartphones. A niche for great looking, powerful, waterproof and damn good fun to own smartphones. The latest generation having only just been unveiled at IFA in Berlin a few weeks ago, when I saw the red Sony Xperia Z3 Compact I just knew I had to try it out. Recently for me my life is a battle between huge two handed devices like the OnePlus One or the Oppo Find 7a and smaller devices like the Motorola Moto G and the Xiaomi Mi2S.
- Feels great in the hand.
- Nice and lightweight.
- High spec.
- Great sound quality with speakers or headphones.
- Waterproof and dustproof.
- Micro SD slot.
- Decent camera.
- The plastic sides detract from the overall high quality feel.
- Volume and camera button feel a bit naff.
- Quite a bit of Sony bloat pre-installed.
- The camera app has far too many built in apps to be of use.
- The camera is basically the same old camera from the previous generation with a few tweaks.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact or Z3C as I’ll call it from now on, is a great looking piece of kit. It is a mix of nice soft touch plastic, some underlying metal and two panes of glass. I was quite surprised when I took the Z3C out of its box, mainly because small devices always surprise me and also that the edges were made of plastic. I had seen them on various hands on videos from IFA but seeing it in the flesh was quite a shock. Not that the translucent plastic doesn’t look nice, I just expected something a little bit more premium feeling.
The sides of the Z3C are made of a soft touch translucent plastic, which is convex so if you were to drop the phone it might protect the phone much like a bumper case would. I did say might though, you’d more than likely smash the glass if you dropped it.
The left hand side house two flaps and the magnetic charging point. The top flap houses the Micro SD slot and the Micro USB charging port. The bottom flap houses the Nano SIM slot. Both flaps are opened from the ends with this generation as opposed to the sides. This might help phantom opening, I don’t really know yet.
The right hand side of the phone is where you find the various buttons, arranged in the same order as before, the round power button at the top, volume rocker just below that, some may say almost too close to the power button and then the camera button at the bottom. The camera button still triggers the camera from sleep or within any app, which is quite handy. The volume and camera buttons are made of plastic this time round, in the same colour as the side panels, if anything these buttons add to the “Not as premium as I’d hoped for” feeling I have with the Z3C. If they were metal like the power button it’d be better.
The top and bottom of the phone don’t really hold many surprises; the top has a microphone and the headphone socket. The bottom has another microphone hole.
The front of the phone is pretty basic, the Z3C now has front facing stereo speakers, which are inset from the edge. The back of the phone is a sheet of coloured glass, which feels nicer than last years plastic back. The back bares branding for Sony, Xperia, NFC and also the camera and flash are in the top left.
Overall the Z3C looks nice, it feels nice and you can use the entire screen with one hand, which is always fun.
Spec wise the Z3C is pretty much perfect. With only really the screen lacking in any way.
- Display: 4.6″ display (1280×720 pixels),with TRILUMINOS and X-Reality tech built in.
- Processor: Qualcomm Quad-core Snapdragon 801 at 2.5 GHz.
- GPU: Adreno 330 GPU.
- Internal Memory: 16 GB (about 11 GB free out of the box).
- RAM: 2 GB.
- Rear Camera: 20.7 MP camera with auto focus, 8x digital zoom, IS0 12800 maximum, Sony Exmor RS.
- Front Camera: 2.2 MP, HD 1080p for video.
- Sound: Sony 3D Surround Sound technology (VPT), Clear Audio+, xLoud Experience, DSEE HX, High-res audio.
- Connectivity: GSM GPRS/EDGE (2G), UMTS HSPA (3G), LTE (4G) (not available in all markets), aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 3.5 mm audio jack with Digital Noise Cancelling (DNC), DLNA Certified, NFC, GLONASS, Native USB tethering, ANT+ wireless technology.
- Battery: 2600 mAh non removable, Talk time: up to 14 hours, Standby time: up to 920 hours, Music listening time: Up to 110 hours, Video playback time: Up to 10 hours.
- Dimensions: 127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm.
- Weight: 129 g.
- Extras: Micro SD slot up to 128 GB (inc SDXC), PlayStation(r) Certified for PS4 Remote Play, Waterproof and dust tight (IP65 and IP68).
The Z3C runs Android 4.4.4, with the usual Xperia skin on top. So if you’ve used a Sony Xperia device in the last year or so, you pretty much know what to expect. They have made a few tiny changes though with this generation.
The most obvious change is an increase in the icon size, the icons on the home screen and in the app drawer are more in keeping with the Google Now Launcher. It is actually quite nice having larger icons, not that my eyes are failing. I’ve spotted a few other bits and bobs dotted around that are new, such as some new camera apps built into the camera app. Also intriguingly the screenshot functionality now also includes a video function which I’ll try and include some of in the full review.
Overall I like the Sony skin and launcher, it’s quite refined. Nowhere as in your face as the Samsung or LG skins but not quite as nice as HTC Sense. I for one won’t be using a alternative launcher for a good while, the nice range of themes, wallpapers and widgets will keep me happy for a while.
I’ve had the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact for a day or so now, so far I really like it. It makes you want to pick it up and just play about with it; using one hand of course. Often with smaller devices the performance is a little lacking. So you just use it for what you need, i.e to send an SMS or take a blurry picture and then put it back where it came from. The Z3C is different you want to look at pictures, listen to music, play some games, take some pictures or anything else you would want to do with one hand. It’s all a pleasure.
The only downsides I’ve found so far are to do with the design, the plastic sides really let it down in the looks department. Some people didn’t like the original Xperia Z design so for them the new design direction will be gratefully accepted. I’m sure I’ll get used to it though, as the slight edge curve certainly makes it easier to hold.
As this is just my initial impressions, I’ll be bringing you the full review in a few weeks time once I’ve had a chance to really test it out. So if you’ve got any questions about the phone or if you want any specific apps testing please let us know in the comments below.