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Sony Xperia Z3 has been my personal smartphone for the last 40 days now.
I am ready to give you my verdict of this beautiful flagship smartphone by Sony.
If you are in the middle of your research to buy this phone or you are just curious to know more about this beautiful and elegant handset, stick around and I will take you to the journey to explore the Z3 with my real-life experience and feedback.
I will be straight to the point.
Z3 is an excellent phone to own and use.
But everyone is different.
Something which is more important to me can be a non-issue for you. I am a strong believer that only you are the best judge of your circumstances, requirements and likeness of a smartphone. I can only educate you with my personal experience – for you to make a decision.
My Xperia Z3 verdict is split into 6 main headings, 4 strengths, 1 weakness and 1 Pass.
Table of Contents for Quick Navigation
Strength 1 – Design, Feel and Look
I must mention here that I have a strong likeness for curvier, metal and unibody smartphone design such as the HTC One M8.
I am not a huge fan of the squarish and slab like form factor of the Xperia series in general. I just think that they are slightly awkward to hold and use.
So why is the design still a strength for the Z3?
“It feels elegant, premium and quality build smartphone which is designed with care and love.”
Irrespective of the fact that I don’t prefer the Xperia’s traditional slab-like form factor, I believe that there are many who prefer this style over the more rounded options.
It is a great design which is thin (7.3mm) and feels sleek in hand. The metal strip around the edges combined with the glass front and back give this phone an overall polished and premium feel. All the buttons and ports are carefully placed around the edges and make it a convenient and practical handset to use and enjoy.
The more I used this phone, the more I fell in love with its design. Simple.
A word of caution for those who hold strong feelings around 3 particular aspects.
Size – It is a big phone for small hands.
Glass – It is a fragile machine for those who scratch and nick their smartphones easily – See my solution to this issue in a separate article here.
Squarish – As I said earlier, it is a traditional squarish form factor which Xperias are associated with. See my detailed design review of the Z3 in a separate article here.
Strength 2 – Performance and Speed
Xperia Z3 is a solid performer backed by a strong set of specifications for a late 2014 – early 2015 flagship model.
Head over to the GSM Arena page for full phone specifications if you are interested in any particular detail.
How does it translate in a daily life for an average consumer?
It has never let me down on the performance front with my daily use. Honestly speaking, I was not thinking of it to let me down anyway. With a smartphone of that level and price tag, I am not expecting it to poorly perform on any task relevant to normal day to day use. It is fast, responsive and feels quick.
Xperia Z3 comes with a 3100mAh battery which is non removable. I found the battery life to be extremely good as compared to my other phones in the second half of the 2014. It easily lasted more than a day with my normal use and sometimes a day and a half as well. I must praise Sony’s effort here for a decent battery life for a 5.2 inch full HD screen, a powerful quad-core processor and an Adreno 330 graphic handler.
I consider myself as an intermediate user who likes installing a lots of apps and mildly overloading my personal smartphone with third party add-ons, wallpapers and themes etc.
I have a regular habit of multi tasking with Sony’s small apps (working with two apps at a time such as Youtube video and reading a blog post at a time). With an exception of a very minor lag occasionally, I found the Z3 to be very responsive and an agile customer.
Couple of areas to look out for.
Battery drain can be higher under demanding games and screen dependent apps running for a significant period of time. I have yet to see an Android Smartphone which is exceptional in this matter. So I don’t blame the Xperia Z3 either.
I am not a heavy gamer but I have tried Subway Surfer and Angry Birds on this handset (both games are not very power hungry). While the games performed without any issues, I had a couple of occasional crashes presented to me in this experience. Nothing serious but if you are into serious gaming and hardware demanding tasks, I am not providing you with enough details here.
Strength 3 – Refined Audio Experience
Sony products are famous for their excellent multimedia offerings. Xperia Z3 improves on both external speakers and earphone sound as compared to the its previous models.
Talking about the earphones first (or half decent Denon headphones to be more precise), I found the Z3 to be excellent and well above average. If you are into music and using your smartphone as a music player often, you will be impressed with the sound quality coming out of this machine.
It is rich, crisp and clear.
I found my all time favourite “Poweramp Audio Player” to give me the best audio performance for quality as compared to the built in Sony’s Walkman app.
As far as the external speakers are concerned, it is hard to beat the standard set by the HTC One M8 so far for its BoomSound offering. However, the front facing speakers in Xperia Z3 still produce a loud and clear sound in most of the cases. I personally feel that the external speakers in the front are much better option than the sides or back options. I have frequently used the external speakers for watching YouTube videos and podcasts etc.
A minor niggle worth mentioning. At loud levels and with some sounds with a particular frequency, I found the body of the Z3 to be very slightly shaky. Perhaps it is the glass in the front and back which is causing that. Nothing big enough to cause a concern for me.
Strength 4 – Crisp and Clear Screen
Xperia Z3 has a 5.2 inch, full HD 1080P, 424ppi and an IPS LCD capacitive panel to impress us. Yes it is not 2K like an LG G3 but in real life, the colours and quality of the screen are amazing and impressive. I am not hesitant to say it looks better than the LG G3’s 2K screen.
You will not like me to keep repeating the HTC One M8 a few times in this article but I can not resist. I still believe that the true colour reproduction and the screen quality offered by the M8 is the best to date. However, it lacked the punch in outdoors.
This is an area where Z3 is miles ahead. Xperia Z3 is very workable and practical when used in outdoors and sunlight. It has learnt from the mistakes of previous Xperia models which had significant screen quality issues. Those days are gone now and the latest Z3 offers a brilliant, rich, crisp and sharp screen to us. Watching photographs and videos is a pleasure to experience on this 5.2 inch screen.
One Weakness – Camera for Stills and Video
I myself cannot believe this.
Sony’s Xperia Z3 verdict can not be completed without the mention of this major weakness. The 20.7 mega pixels shooter falls short of expectations.
Call it a hardware or the software issue, the end results (pictures and videos) leave a lot to be desired. One thing I was extra curious about when I bought this smartphone was to see how well the camera performs. I am slightly disappointed.
If you want to have a look at my detailed review of the camera performance, it will explain my point of view further.
However, for those who are interested in the summary only, I found the pictures and videos to be lacking in accurate and rich colour reproduction, washed out sides, improper focus, and lack of balanced exposure. Add on top of it the fact that the HDR (High Dynamic Range) function is not available for shots taken at more than 8 mega pixels (Superior Auto Mode) setting, Z3 was a disappointment for me.
Here are some sample shots taken with the Xperia Z3.
Don’t get me wrong. It is still an acceptable camera for many.
Yes the camera can take some good shots and yes the low light results are relatively better than its competitors but it is the sheer quality of consistent good images that is missing. For me, this is the most important factor for an average consumer who wants to take out the smartphone and capture an important moment straight away. No high tech and frills attached, just plain simple photography to get punching and quality photographs.
Xperia Z3 will not make you very happy in this department.
Pass – Overall User Experience
This brings us to my favourite topic. The user experience.
No matter how good the specifications are on paper, they don’t mean anything to me if they don’t create an overall pleasant and enjoyable user experience for the end user.
Overall, Xperia Z3 is a beautiful and premium feel handset to own and use as a personal smartphone.
It has the power to well satisfy the demands of its users on a day to day basis. It has some niche features such as underwater usability, IP ratings for dust and water, remote play and integration with PS4 environment and connectivity with Smartbands and Lifelog app etc. These will make it an excellent choice for someone who is looking for any of these special features in a smartphone.
For me personally, the software interface (Sony’s own overlay) has a room for improvement.
This is an area where the experience can be further refined and made more intuitive and bloat free. The minor glitches and niggles could have been further improved to make it an above-average user experience. In a nutshell, I liked the Z3 very much but will hesitate to call it a stunning user experience.
Xperia Z3 Verdict – Do You Agree?
I have given you my verdict on this flagship by Sony.
It is now your turn to give me a feedback about how you think.
If you already own this phone and have used it, your feedback on my point of view will help every single reader of this blog post to have a second opinion. Share your thoughts in the comments below and let everyone know how an average user rates this handset.
Someone in Sony might be reading this article. We have a power to change the future of our personal technology experience.