The Bottom Line

Almost as good as the original

Pros

Solid build quality
Front-facing speakers
Vivid display
Exceptional battery life
Wireless charging

Cons

Old design

Bottom Line

While with some differences, if you were hoping to get your hands on the Xperia Z3 in the US at a subsidized rate, the Sony Xperia Z3v, available exclusively from Verizon Wireless, may be your best bet.

8.5
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Unless you’re willing to pay full price for an unlocked model, it is otherwise quite difficult to get your hands on Sony smartphones in the US. A lack of network carrier partners is to be blame, but that is slowly changing, with Verizon Wireless having their latest flagship smartphone on offer, albeit with their own twist on it. So how much of a difference is there between the original Xperia Z3 and the Verizon version? We find out in the review of the Sony Xperia Z3v!

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As mentioned, the Verizon version of the Sony Xperia Z3 is slightly different from the original, with the biggest difference coming in terms of design. While you still get the glass on the back and front, the curved metal frame has been replaced with one that is plastic, with metal inserts, and is a lot more flat, actually reminiscent of the Xperia Z2. This choice in design certainly feels like a step back, considering how great the curved sides of the Xperia Z3 look, but if you prefer a flatter profile, you won’t have much to complain about with the Xperia Z3v. You still get the solid build quality that you’d expect from Sony though, and is still quite thin at 8.9 mm. Great features from the Xperia Z3, such as the front-facing stereo speakers and the IP68 rating for resistance against dust and water, also make their way to this Verizon exclusive.

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Other than the differences in design, the Xperia Z3v is largely identical to its namesake, boasting the same 5.2-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, and packing a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5 GHz, the Adreno 330 GPU, and 3 GB of RAM. This processing package, coupled with Sony’s minimalistic software experience, results in the smooth and seamless performance that you’d expect. Sony has also been improving its display tech with every iteration, and be it reading text, watching videos, or playing games, you will have a great time doing anything on the display of the Xperia Z3v.

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The battery gets a slight bump to 3,200 mAh, compared to the 3,100 mAh unit of the Xperia Z3. This may not be enough to create a noticeable difference, but as was the battery experience on the Xperia Z3, you can easily push the battery life to a day and a half, if not beyond, with the Xperia Z3v. The Xperia Z3v can also be charged wirelessly, with any Qi wireless charger, a feature that isn’t available with the original.

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There are also no surprises here when it comes to the camera.  The 20.7 megapixel sensor makes a return on the Xperia Z3v, along with an unchanged camera software experience, which is packed with a ton of features, some more useful than others. The only quirk with the camera, which we’ve noticed with previous flagship Sony smartphones as well, is the fact that the 20.7 megapixels can be taken advantage of only in manual mode, which lets you shoot in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Everything said and done, you can certainly get the same level of picture quality with the Xperia Z3v, with very sharp and detailed images, with a great amount of color.

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When it comes to the software, you get Android 4.4 Kitkat out of the box, with Sony’s minimalistic Xperia UI on top. As we’ve seen, the Xperia UI maintains a stock-like look and feel, keeping things relatively light, and therefore fast, apart from a few additions built in by Sony, such as Small Apps, Walkman, and Gallery. You also get PS4 integration with the Xperia Z3v. That said, this is a device available exclusively from Verizon, so there is no shortage of carrier bloatware on board, which does draw a little away from an otherwise clean Android experience.

And so, there you have it – the Sony Xperia Z3v! This device does feel a lot like a beefed up Xperia Z2, at least in terms of design, but with specifications and features identical to its namesake, it’s definitely almost as good as the original. The Sony Xperia Z3v is available from Verizon at a subsidized rate of $200 with a 2 year contract, or for the full retail price of $600. If you were looking forward to getting your hands on a Sony flagship, this may be your best bet.