Sony Xperia Z3 is a thinner and lighter flagship, but one short on new features

Key stats:

  • 5.2-inch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 7.3mm thick; weighs 152g
  • 20.7-megapixel camera
  • Waterproof to two metres for 30 minutes
  • 2.5GHz, quad-core processor with 3GB RAM
  • 16GB storage with microSD card slot

Coming just seven months after the Z2 and featuring a thinner, lighter and more waterproof aluminium body, the Sony Xperia Z3 is the company’s latest flagship - and you can play PlayStation 4 games on it.

Revealed at the IFA technology trade show in Berlin, the Xperia Z3 has the same Omnibalance design as the Z2 it replaces (and the Z1 before that, which arrived just a year ago), and the same 5.2-inch, Full-HD display as its predecessor.

There’s little to tell the Z3 apart from the Z2, which Sony announced in February (full review here), although waterproofing has been doubled to two metres for 30 minutes, the rear camera (20.7 megapixels, as before) has improved low-light performance, and nylon corners protect the phone from when you inevitably drop it.

Read More - Sony Xperia Z2 Review

We have spent some time with the Z3 and found it to be almost identical to the Z2 which it replaces; at 7.3mm and 152g the new handset is thinner and lighter, but there’s not much here to tempt Z2 (or even Z1) owners into upgrading.

A major update is with the phone’s claimed battery life - Sony boasts the Z3 will give a full two days of life “under normal operating circumstances”. Given the Z2 struggled to reach a second morning, let alone a second night, we’re keen to see how Sony has managed this - especially when the 3,100mAh battery is 100mAh smaller than the Z2’s and it uses the same 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor.

RAM remains the same as before at 3GB, as does storage at 16GB, with the option to increase this via a microSD card slot.

PlayStation in your pocket

New for the Z3 - but a feature we suspect will also work its way onto the Z2 - is being able to play PlayStation 4 games on the phone and control them with a DualShock 4. Say you have the PS4 plugged in downstairs but someone else wants to use the television - simply leave the console on, go to another room and continue playing using your Z3 as a screen. Dual front-facing speakers and a 5.2-inch, Full-HD screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution mean your games will look and sound the business.

Sony has created an accessory (the GCM10 Game Control Mount) to fit the Z3 onto a DualShock 4 controller, although you could always just prop the phone up wherever is convenient.

The company stressed that this function is only advised when using the same Wi-Fi network as your PS4 to prevent lag.

Sharp shooter

The Xperia Z3’s rear camera is the same 20.7-megapixel sensor as on the Z2, but its sensitivity has been cranked up to offer a maximum ISO of 12,800 to reduce noise and grainy images in low light; there are several new camera apps, including the ability to control several cameras at once, such as the phone and Sony’s QX10 lens.

Sony continues to offer 4K Ultra HD video recording with the Z3, but after overheating issues with the Z2 the company suggests you use the feature sparingly - “smaller bursts... a minute or two at a time,” it advised. During our time with the Z3 we saw the phone display an overheating warning when using the camera intensively.

Overall, the Xperia Z3 is a handsome smartphone with a good quality screen, camera and design - but we can't help wonder why Sony has released three flagships in just a year. Unless their contract is up for renewal, owners of the Z1 and Z2 need not consider the Z3 - our first impression is that it simply doesn't bring enough to the party beyond being slightly more refined.

The Sony Xperia Z3 will be available in black, white, copper and a silver/green colour; prices will be “similar to the Z2” - read £500 SIM free - and the release date will be sometime in October.

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