Sony certainly churns out its smartphones at a rate of knots. It feels like just the other day that it released the Xperia Z2, and now the new Z3 and Z3 Compact are already on sale.
The Compact is a smaller, 4,6-inch version of the flagship 5,2-inch Z3, designed for those who find large-screen smartphones unappealing. But in no way has Sony cut corners here.
The Xperia range has always offered impressive features along with gorgeous design. The strong design elements we loved on the original Z1 and then the Z2 continue with the Z3 and Z3 Compact.
The new Compact model features the range’s iconic tempered glass panels on the front and rear, while a translucent rounded frame protects the device if it gets dropped. In terms of hardware, the Z3 Compact is no slouch. This is a fully featured smartphone, with premium components, that just happens to ship in a small form factor.
It’s only slightly larger than an iPhone 5 or 5s and ever so slightly smaller than Apple’s latest flagship model, the 6. The Z3 Compact weighs in at 129g and is 8,6mm thick. The power button is comfortably situated on the right side of the phone, accompanying the volume rocker and the dedicated camera button.
The LCD has a resolution of 720×1 280 pixels for a pixel density of 319ppi. This is a step down from the Z3’s 1 920×1 080-pixel display, which delivers a pixel density of 424ppi, but the display is still crisp and clear.
Both Z3 models feature a 2,5GHz quad-core processor, but the Compact has 2GB of RAM compared to the bigger one’s 3GB. The Z3 Compact has 16GB of flash storage, which can be expanded by way of a microSD card up to a very generous 128GB. That could prove a strong selling point for photographers and videographers.
The phone runs the latest but one version of Android OS — 4.4, also known as KitKat — with a planned upgrade path to receive 5.0, or Lollipop. It’s not known yet, however, when South African versions of the Z3 Compact will get the Lollipop goodness.
Even though Sony has overlaid its skin on the Android operating system, it’s proved popular with consumers. Naturally, Sony has bundled a number of its own apps on the Z3 Compact, most notably the Walkman, PlayStation and Movies apps.
These function as before, but due to region restrictions, South African buyers will only be able to play certain content if it has been loaded onto the device manually. Specifically, there is no support for Sony’s music and movie streaming services. PlayStation 4 owners will appreciate the integration with their consoles.
One of the highlights of Sony’s Xperia smartphone range is the impressive 20,7-megapixel rear camera, capable of taking fantastic pictures, even in low-light conditions thanks to its 12 800 ISO rating.
There are also loads of picture modes and other software features users can choose from to improve their images. But the results are still a little short in the terms of their vibrancy when compared to images taken with a modern iPhone.
Videographers will rejoice at the news that the Z3 Compact can shoot 4K video. But the phone can get very hot when filming at this resolution for anything more than a few minutes.
When it comes to connectivity, the Z3 Compact features all the options one could want from a high-end smartphone, including dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, near-field communication, GPS and Bluetooth 4. It also supports just about all 3G and 4G/LTE bands, though not Telkom’s 4G band at 2,3GHz.
The most impressive feature for us, though, is the Z3 Compact’s surprisingly good battery life. Its 2 600mAh lithium-ion battery is capable of delivering a two-day charge, or slightly less for heavy use. The Z3 Compact also hosts a range of handy low-power modes that preserve battery life even further.
Also, the Compact has an IP65/68 rating, so it can be held up to 1,5m underwater for up to 30 minutes — though Sony specifies “fresh water” only. The Sim, charger and microSD card ports and slots are protected by sealed covers, while the 3,5mm headphone jack is sealed internally, so no cover is necessary.
Prospective buyers should take note, though, that the Z3 Compact is a smudge and fingerprint magnet. We hope Sony comes up with a better coating for its devices by the next iteration in the Z-series line-up.
In short, the Xperia Z3 Compact is an excellent Android smartphone that features a large array of impressive features. iPhone users wanting to migrate to Android will feel right at home with the Xperia Z3. And those wanting a phone that isn’t bordering into tablet territory will also find favour with it.
Expect to pay from about R6 700 for the Xperia Z3 Compact out of contract. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media