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Sony Xperia Z3 hands-on and first impressions

We go hands-on with the latest flagship smartphone from Sony, the Sony Xperia Z3!
September 4, 2014

Sony has taken the wraps off of its latest flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z3! Sony has followed a bi-annual release cycle for their flagships, since the Xperia Z, with every iteration bringing small, but needed, improvements across the board. So what does the latest Sony flagship have to offer? We find that out, and more, as we go hands-on with the Sony Xperia Z3!

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When it comes to the design language, the Xperia Z3 will definitely remind you of its predecessors with its overall angular design, but does come with a more refined look to it, with rounded sides and corners. The bezels have also been reduced, resulting in a device that is slightly smaller than the Xperia Z2, while also being thinner. Everything else largely remains the same, with the iconic large silver power button returning and a dedicated camera shutter button returning.

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When it comes to the display, you get a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a 1080p resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 424 ppi. On paper, it is the exact same display as what was on the Xperia Z2, but Sony has always addressed the issues with the previous iteration in their latest release. In the case of the Xperia Z3, the display features greater brightness capabilities, to help improve outdoor visibility. Of course, a jump to a 2K display would have been exciting, and maybe expected, but the display of the Xperia Z3 is still a great performer, and a wonderful screen for media consumption.

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While a lack of specifications bump can still be excused when it comes to the display, it is less so with regards to the hardware. Under the hood is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5 GHz, the Adreno 330 GPU, and 3 GB of RAM. It’s the same processing package that is found in all flagships that were released in the first half of the year, including the Xperia Z2, and that makes it a little difficult to justify an upgrade. While the difference in performance between this processing package and the Snapdragon 805 may not be as significant in day to day use, I’m sure most consumers would have appreciated a change.

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Other aspects of hardware remain the same, with the device offering 16 GB and 32 GB internal storage options, with microSD expansion up to 128 GB, the same set of connectivity options, and a battery that is in fact a smaller 3,100 mAh, compared to the 3,200 mAh unit of the Xperia Z2. Sony does promise a vastly improved battery performance though, so we’ll need to wait for the full review to see if there is a noticeable difference. The Xperia Z3 does come with a better IP68 rating for protection against dust and water, which means you don’t have to worry about the device at all when battling the elements.

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The camera also is a bit different here, even though the 20.7 MP count is the same. Sony says it is the first smartphone camera with ISO 12800 sensitivity, that should result in a marked improvement in low-light performance. The camera also offers a 25 mm wide-angle Sony G lens and a new and improved SteadyShot Stabilization technology that should allow for smoother videos. 

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The software experience once again, remains largely the same, but there are some optimizations under the hood that should contribute to a better battery life.

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So there you have it – a first look at the Sony Xperia Z3! The bi-annual release cycle that Sony has followed has worked for the company in the past, but it is getting harder and harder to justify. There are small improvements across the board, with a more refined look, a slightly faster processor, a brighter display, a better camera, and improved protection against the elements, but that may not be enough to compete in an over-crowded smartphone market where every device attempts to outdo the other.

What are your thoughts on the Sony Xperia Z3? Is it enough of an upgrade from the Xperia Z2? Let us know in the comments section below!