Thursday, 19 February 2015

Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3

The big waterproof rival to Samsung's Galaxy S5

While Samsung dominates the Android phones market, there are alternatives worth considering. We’ve always been big fans of Sony’s previous Xperia phones, and the Z3 is the latest incarnation.

Previous Xperias have suffered from screens that lacked the radiance of rival phones. That’s no longer the case here - the Z3’s 5.2in screen is bright with impressive colour accuracy and contrast, wide viewing angles, and - thanks to the 1080p resolution - sharp text. Like its smaller-scale counterpart, the Z3 Compact, the Z3 uses a slightly modified version of Android 4.4 KitKat, with an upgrade to 5.0 Lollipop promised in the near future.

The Z3 has essentially the same casing as its predecessor, the Z2. It’s waterproof at depths of up to 1.5 metres for as long as 30 minutes, providing the protective port flaps are tight shut. While these claims don’t extend to seawater, it’s still useful if you read in the bath, like to be creative with photography, or are just a bit accident prone. The glass back combined with the screen’s expansive width makes it something of a slippery customer though. It slipped from our grasp frequently, but at least the casing remained unscathed.

Both battery life and performance are an improvement on the (already excellent) Z2. The battery lasted 31 hours 45 minutes on Vodafone’s 4G network and just over 27 hours on 3G. In both cases, we used it for calls, GPS, photography and web browsing. It also fared well playing videos on a loop, lasting 13 hours 12 minutes.

The speedy quad-core processor paired with 3GB of memory made short work of our demanding benchmark tests, while the touchscreen was almost flawlessly responsive. Call quality was a mixed bag, though - while we sounded loud and clear to callers, they sounded distant and fuzzy to us.

The Z3’s 20.7-megapixel camera isn’t quite up to the standard of rival phones. Shots taken in dimly lit interiors were pretty good, with minimal noise and reasonably sharp details. However, shots taken outside (for example, of clouds and buildings bathed in particularly strong sunlight) featured some details that looked washed out.

The Sony Xperia Z3 is a great Android phone, but its imperfect camera and slippery, unwieldy casing counts against it. Although the Galaxy S5 isn’t perfect either, it just edges ahead if you want a big-screen phone that’s also waterproof.

A great Android phone, let down by a couple of niggles.

5.2in 1920x1080-pixel touchscreen • 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor • 450MHz Adreno 330 graphics chip • 3GB memory • 16GB storage • 4G • Micro SIM • MicroSD slot • Android 4.4 KitKat • 163g • 147x73x8mm (Hx WxD) • One-year warranty