Sony explains why the Z4 was rebranded to the Xperia Z3+

by: Nirave GondhiaMay 27, 2015

sony xperia z3 + plus press renders (2)

Prior to the launch of the Xperia Z4 last month, there were many rumors that Sony’s next flagship would feature a redesign with new build, better display and a lot more. Then Sony revealed the Xperia Z4 for Japan and essentially, the handset was the Xperia Z3 with a few updated internals yet it came with a name that suggested it was a major upgrade over the past version.

Today, Sony has launched the handset in the UK but with the Xperia Z3+ moniker, which it revealed a couple of days ago. Speaking to TheInquirer, the company released the following statement explaining the decision to give the handset a different name to its Japanese sibling:

“The main reason for the name difference here (UK) is down to Sony being such a dominant force in the Japanese market [where] consumers crave flagship devices with the latest features as soon as they can be delivered. Xperia Z3 continues to perform well as our flagship device across the rest of the world. To address those customers that would like to have the very latest features and refinements, we have introduced Xperia Z3+ as a premium addition to our existing flagship Z3 series.”

As identified by XperiaBlog, the Xperia Z4 moniker works in Japan as that market believes the upgrades offered by the Xperia Z4 as worthy of a flagship upgrade but in other markets, these modest upgrades would not be considered enough to be worthy of an entirely new flagship model. As a result, the Xperia Z3+ was born but, of course, this will pose an interesting naming problem when Sony does eventually release its new flagship, which may or may not be later this year.

The Xperia Z3+ brings a few modest upgrades that include a new Snapdragon 810 chipset, capless USB port and fast LTE Cat 6 support in a package that is smaller and lighter than the Xperia Z3. The initial rumors before the Z4 was announced suggested that the handset would have a metal build, Quad HD display and improved camera but the rumors turned out to be false for the Xperia Z4/Z3+. Maybe the true Sony flagship will be announced at its Hong Kong event tomorrow?

  • Weird since there is more difference between Z3 and Z3+ than between Z2 and Z3 or even Z1 and Z2

    • Simon Setyadarma

      Not so much, I mean when Z3 release, it brings a different look(s) than Z2 and Z1, more colors choices, Z2 only have dual speakers as a difference with Z1.

      • For design differences I agree. I was thinking about hardware changes

        • Simon Setyadarma

          Almost the same with Z1 to Z2, Z2 sports 801, more RAM, IPS Triluminous.. not so much but yeaahhh.. okaaayy

          • Z1, Z2 and Z3 both features a quad core 32 bit snap dragon CPU (S800 and S801) and between the Z3 and the Z3+ we switched to 64bits and to octocore. The front camera was ths same on Z1, Z2 and Z3 and now changed to a 5.1MP on the Z3+. Internal memory also doubled

          • jpswain

            Yes, just the Snapdragon 810 chip alone justifies a Z4 designation.

          • Simon Setyadarma

            Well can’t more agree with you then.
            In 2015 most smartphones have much better specs, since Lollipop.

  • Vesta12

    SO in a nutshell, he’s saying that you can slap a few new items and call it an all new device, and the Japanese market will rush to buy it thinking it’s a new generation device? Interesting.

    • apple

      this is not new ever heard of a copany called apple and a lot of people scream its a brand new device and very innovative?

      • blanco112

        Everyone knows that when Apple uses S (just like Z3+) it’s just an incremental upgrade and when the phone gets a new number it’s different than the previous version.

        • You would be surprised by the number of users who don’t know that. People in general, no matter the brand, have no clue about what’s different other than the software.

  • I don’t understand where this narrative that the Z3+/Z4 isn’t a decent upgrade comes from. I agree that the visual design hasn’t really changed, but there’s another very successful smartphone maker that uses this tick/tock strategy to great effect (retain external design, tweak internals). Sony has done the same here and the hardware changes in this + upgrade are along the lines of what Apple offers in an S upgrade.

    • blanco112

      Right but when Apple does incremental updates they don’t call it a new iPhone X+1 they call it an iPhone Xs until they change the externals then it gets a new number. That’s really the crux here and why they chose to acknowledge that for international markets.

    • aseuss

      Exactly. As Kevin Tofel at ZDNET notes: “Strangely, Apple seems to be able to take a prior year’s phone model, make a few tweaks and that’s OK. When Sony does the same, it’s a let down. Go figure.”

      • I agree with you, it’s definitely okay. But not if you do this the third time! Fortunately, Sonys flagship smartphones are great so they don’t really have to change them…

  • Great Dude

    I think the SX Z3+ is a good phone overall, however I hope that the next one makes more changes especially in design and camera without downgrading any other good features they have (like the great battery or good software)
    About the name I think it is either going to be another letter like Xperia Y or maybe they will just make it Xperia Z5

  • Jay

    The main advantage of Sony’s strategy is that if you’re not a current Sony owner, you can jump in twice a year to the latest smartphone, as opposed to all the other manufacturers who have a yearly cycle. And if you do already own a Sony, you should be pretty happy with their releases from the last year (in theory).

  • mi

    But that waterproof charger port though, thats an improvement… Btw, you don’t need to expect much changes on smartphone nowadays… Just spec bump…

  • I was waiting for this but then they ditched the magnetic charging port. I already have some docks that I use with my Z3 Tablet Compact so I was hoping to use them with a phone as well. Sigh.

    • neonix

      Yeah, it’s really sad to see the magnetic port go, but I can I understand the logic in removing it with the capless USB port present. It’s just not as necessary now, but it is indeed too bad that there won’t be any landscape-oriented docks now though. I love propping my Z2 on my dock at night. Makes a very nice alarm clock. And I like the ease of clipping a magnetic charger on while driving over having to look away from the road and scratching up the edge of the phone with the USB cable by missing the port.

      • True. I also think that the USB port has contributed to its demise. They haven’t shown any docks yet if I’m not mistaken but I can see them releasing one for it in the near future. The next flagship will probably be the same too, I guess.

        • neonix

          Yeah, that’s what I meant about the magnetic port being less necessary now. It used to solve the issue of having to open up the flap all the time to charge, but the capless USB port solves that. So now, the magnetic port would only really be good for slight convenience and the sideways docks that many of us have become accustomed to.

          It’s definitely tough to say goodbye to nifty extra features like these though, no matter how insignificant they seem. I know I’m going to hang onto my Z2 for as long as I can. I still can’t even get over Sony ditching the purple color since the Z3, lol. :(

  • fredphoesh

    Thank god no QHD display! My wife’s Z3 compact is faster than my Note 4 – I mean IN USE, not benchmarks. It is more fluid, snappier all round. I put that down to the much lower resolution screen. QHD is a boy-racer bit of flash which really does not make a perceptible improvement to a phone. I wish my note 4 was 1080.

    • Syukri Lajin

      Give us 120hz 1080p screen instead of QHD! 1080p is much more than sufficient, manufacturers should start pushing other factors for improvement too.

      • FYLegend21

        120Hz is even more of a gimmick than having QHD, even though I personally don’t need either feature. Only your UI and apps will run at 120 fps while videos may be interpolated – this takes up more battery. With proper power management, QHD doesn’t have to use up so much battery life.

        • Syukri Lajin

          “Only your UI and apps will run at 120 fps ”

          that’s kind of the point.

  • aseuss

    As Kevin Tofel at ZDNET notes: “Strangely, Apple seems to be able to
    take a prior year’s phone model, make a few tweaks and that’s OK. When
    Sony does the same, it’s a let down. Go figure.”

    And quite frankly, these are significant updates: (1) From a quadcore SD 801 to a faster Octa-core SD 810. (2) Thinner profile from 7.3 mm to 6.9 mm, with little effect on battery life. (3) From 2-MP front-facing cam to 5-MP cam. (4) New capless USB port, addressing complaints about the fiddly rubber cap, without affecting waterproofing. (5) 52-mode camera to optimize photo capture in wide variety of settings. (5) Steady Shot software to eliminate blurring.

  • aseuss

    Thanks for that update, Android Authority. Fill us in on the Z3+ Compact when info is available. Yeah, I know that the Z3 Compact isn’t officially supported in the US but a Phone Dog expert reviewer recently switched to a Z3 Compact on T-Mobile and it works great according to her recent review.

  • ratacit

    No announcement here in HK.

    I visited the shop yesterday and the staff could not provide any details. I personally think is a good update. I own a Z3 for a month and I am tempted to switch to the Z3+ if only for the USB port. As an avid outdoor enthusiast that would be great to be able to charge from a battery pack without opening the flap. Faster and more convenient PC and OTG cable connection as well. If the design is fine I do not care much about changes if the guts are upgraded.


  • KenanSadhu

    Please make a battery comparison with the Z3, so we can truly, finally, know if there is any problem with the S810 and/or Lollipop.