When Sony released Sony Xperia Z3, a non-size phone with specs, we expected it to be the beginning of a new trend. The larger screen may be good, but consumers who prefer a slightly smoother handle are completely excluded from the flagship market. Unlike its “mini” counterparts, Sony Xperia Z3 prides itself on scaling the screen to suit the top-of-the-processor and camera as well as the smaller body.
Look and feel
The first thing that impressed us about the Z3 Compact is that it has colored a metal frame that stands out so clearly on Sony Xperia Z3. There is plastic all around, which makes it feel a little less, but the aesthetics have actually improved. Sony has reduced the colors – beyond the black and white standard, you can now choose dark orange or light green instead of bright pink and yellow.
A translucent middle band sandwiching the fuzzy front and back. The corners have the same shock absorbing properties as the new Xperia Z3 (review | photo), but you won’t get any metal from its shrewdness. The advantage is that the magnetic dock connector is much better hidden, and the flaps that cover the ports and slots are easier to open. Both siblings have one thing in common that their glass backs are very smooth, they both run on flat surfaces like air hockey pics.
Both are too low to be easy to use, and we wish Sony would have considered them more appropriate for how the phone would fit in general. There is also a dedicated two-step camera shutter button that doubles as a shortcut to launch the camera app, even when the phone is on standby.
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Specifications and software
It is very similar to the old Xperia Z3. Both use the same quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 at 2.5GHz with integrated Adreno 330 graphics and LTE modem. Although, the Z3 has 3GB of RAM, the Z3 Compact only has 2GB. Support for 168 internal storage and 128 GB microSD card is common, with a full complement of Wi-Fi AC, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS and environmental sensors.
The biggest difference, of course, is the screen. The Z3 Compact is below full HD at 720×1280. It is slightly less crisp as an inch (PPI) pixels absolute, but it still looks very crisp and should be more than enough for most people. Interestingly, without any significant increase in body size, the screen is twisted 6.6 inches diagonally from Sony Xperia Z3‘s 3.3 inches.
As a result of the physically smaller body and less power hungry screen, the Z3 Compact Z3 can get a 2,600mAh battery instead of the required 3,100mAh. We will be very interested to see if this compromises battery life in our tests and real world usage.
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The camera is the same 20.7-megapixel unit that includes the Z3, and is also capable of recording 4K video. High resolution audio support and PS4 remote play are also on the way. Nothing is specified or distinguished from more expensive models. Considering our great impressions of the Z3, these are all good reasons to buy the Z3 Compact, and we are more than happy to choose between the two.
Software Z3 – Android 4.4.4 is more like a domineering UI skin than Sony. Both phones behave the same and their software looks exactly the same. In our detailed review of the Z3 you can read all about the experience of using the software, including the unfortunate Bluetooth and new ways of the camera app.
If you were expecting less performance than the Xperia Z3, be prepared to be surprised. The Z3 Compact actually excels in many tests – the lower resolution screen is easier to advance, making smaller models a leader in tests that measure graphics performance. At GFXbench, the 41.2fps score is the highest we’ve ever experienced, and the Z3’s score is comfortable at 29.9fps (and a nice improvement over Sony Xperia Z3′s 34.9).
Similarly, the Three Mark Ice Storm Infinity Test gave us 19,465 marks against the Z3’s 16,995. The Anto 5, a mixed test, overtook the Z3 Compact 39,441 with a score of 42,493. The Quadrant’s overall score turned out to be in favor of the Z3 Compact, but the CPU and memory sub-scores indicated that the Z3 has a clear advantage.
All this means that the Z3 will be a great device for compact gaming. The experience may not be perfect, but the games will look softer and better. The HD video played fine, and the front stereo speaker sounded impressive, with a slight twist. It’s not just the most powerful compact phone on the market – it’s a very powerful, period.
We were not entirely sure how the battery life equation would work, with a smaller battery but a less demanding screen than the Z3. This means we don’t have to worry – the Z3 Compact posted one of our best results in battery life with 15 hours and 5 minutes of uninterrupted video playback. You should easily use two or three days for each full payment.
This disappoints us a bit, as Sony Xperia Z3 was very similar to its older siblings, but it initially cost very low, which makes it a very attractive proposition. In fact, Sony Xperia Z3 is 29,500, which not only makes it a great choice at this price, but also a big reason not to buy the Z3 Compact.