The premium phone market is definitely turning around an interesting bend. There are new companies coming and old companies working in new ways. But, it is not just the market that is changing – the premium consumer himself is becoming more assertive and making good choices. He does not want to compromise on anything and neither is he buoyed by any particular company, with the exception of Apple. It is therefore an even playing field between all major companies, made evident by the demise of Samsung’s appeal, when it came to the Galaxy S5.
Sony, after posting losses in succession, is now trying to recreate its vibe for the premium consumer. The defining effort in this direction is its flagship Xperia Z3 devices. We have already reviewed the Xperia Z3 and now, we have its smaller sibling, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact up for a detailed review.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact continues the same customs set up by its predecessors in the Sony Xperia Z series, but it is closest to the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, rather than the Xperia Z3, with which it shares its nomenclature. I would call it a mix of the elements of the Sony Xperia Z3 and the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – which is definitely an interesting mix.
While all major flagships have moved on to gargantuan sizes, including the iPhone and even the Sony Xperia Z3 which has been upgraded to a massive 5.2-inches, Sony has held on to the idea of the ‘mini’ phones that took off in a big way last year. It has continued this vision with the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and kind of tried to create a Z3 experience in a smaller size. It is also a recognition of the fact that not everyone wants huge phones currently, despite the market trying to create that alternative reality.
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact specs:
- 4.6 inch display
- 1280 x 720 pixels resolution
- 2.5 GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
- 2 GB RAM
- 16 GB internal memory
- 20.7 MP primary camera
- 2.2 MP front facing camera
- Google Android v4.4 KitKat
- 2600 mAh battery
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact keeps up the same design philosophy that pours down, basically from the original Sony Xperia Z. But, unlike the Sony Xperia Z3, the Sony Xperia Z3 does not have the metallic edges. Rather, it has an astonishingly suave rectangular block form factor. The Z3 compact has a different design statement than the Sony Xperia Z3, but I would say that Sony definitely has got the design philosophy correct.
I would take a risk and club it with the LG G3 and HTC One M8 in 2013 design. The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is definitely what I would call a 2014 design. It is a boxy design that is suave, made to fit in your hand and most importantly, is something that you can flash around at parties, which is the cardinal need of premium phone consumers. That being said, this design will either appeal to you or not. You will definitely find it to be an astounding specimen of Sony’s boxy form factor that it insists on endowing all of its devices with.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is mostly a mix of glass and plastic with metallic finish here and there. The tempered glass and fluorescent colors lend a touch of sophistication and glamour to the device.
The back has been mostly left plain, except for the Sony logo in the middle. The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact flaunts exactly the same camera as its bigger sibling, the Sony Xperia X3.
The front, too looks pretty and simple with front-facing speakers a multi-color LED notification light. The buttons have been kept on the right hand side, while the left side is booked for slots and HDMI transmitter. The MicroSD slot and MicroUSB slot rest under one flap, while the other covers the NanoSIM tray. The slots are covered by the same Nylon material that encases the corners of the Sony Xperia Z3.
You will find the 3.5mm audio jack bathed in metal and look sleek at the top of the device. The bottom of the device has been left clean apart from a clasp that you can use to tag it with and a microphone, just like the one on top.
Even though the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is mostly glass, nylon and plastic, it is definitely embedded inside a solid shell. It has the same IP68 certification as the Sony Xperia Z3 and is dust and water-proof over 1 meter and can last 30 minutes. I had the vibrant turquoise color model, which really looked pretty cool.
As for the device, it feels good to hold. The front is outlined with a thin line of plastic. The phone is squarish with curved edges. The phone weighs 129g, which I wouldn’t classify as too heavy.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact feels just like a small phone. Anyone who gets his or her hands on this phone and can afford it, would definitely be impressed by it. It will definitely appeal to those who don’t like to work with 6-inch and 5-inch monsters.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comes with a 4.6-inch display, which is something different from the regular 5-inch display devices. I just do not understand the logic behind a 720p display in a 44K device. But, Sony more than makes up for it with a 391 PPI display density and optimized UI. But, given the size of the display, 720p is more than enough.
The display panel, too, has been updated, as Sony has moved on from a Bravia engine to a Bionz one. It is an IPS LCD, a Sony Triluminous one and X-reality display engine. Sony also claims to have a contrast sensitive display which will set the brightness according to the room environment. The display is vibrant, the colors are balanced. The viewing angles are pretty good, the sunlight visibility is mostly good, though it has slight problems, when it comes to extreme sunlight.
The tempered glass covering the display lends it protection against fingerprints.
As far as the display is concerned, I find the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact’s display a likeable and easily usable one.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact has the same skin as the Sony Xperia Z3, and Android 4.4 works pretty well. The handset will also be getting an Android Lollipop upgrade soon enough.
It is well, just a rehash of the software that has been retained from the Sony Xperia Z onwards. The UI works well, with due thanks to 2 GB RAM and the Snapdragon 801 chipset. Over time, it grows on you.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact runs amok with apps out-of-the-box, but you can decide which ones to keep and which ones to delete. There are third-party apps such as Garmin navigation, Kobo, Line, Evernote, Office Suite and AVG.
But, Sony’s own apps such as Xperia Lounge and Lifelog cannot be deleted. The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is PlayStation compatible and has a PS app on board. Google’s apps too are there, but that basically means there are two of everything including music players. This has been a major irritant in many phones and Sony, sadly, is no exception.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact boasts of the same camera as the Sony Xperia Z3. The 20.7-megapixel camera might just be the reason that lets you make the heavy investment you need to, in this phone.
I have had a similar experience with the Sony Xperia Z3 and have to say that the camera is worth it, but if you are a photo geek, you will find little glitches here and there hard to ignore such as daylight capture. The 25mm lens though performs well.
But the new camera tech is more about the software than the hardware.
AR FUN Mode
Live from YouTube mode
There are a range of custom modes that will woo any photo geek. There is a multi-camera mode that combines different shots. Live on YouTube and Background Defocus are cool too, but it is the AR Fun mode that made me gleam with happiness.
I have previously had a lot of fun with the AR mode, but AR Fun takes it a step further. Let me reiterate here, that these modes will only appeal to a photo geek and an average user will not use them most of the time.
You can also download modes such as Evernote and PDF scanner if you need although, in regular usage, the modes they provide are more than you will ever need or use. Despite so many modes, I think anyone would, generally revert to the stereotypical Auto, HDR and Manual modes.
As far as the quality of shots was concerned, I was more than satisfied with it. The senor worked amazingly well and I was able to take quick shots. The only competition for the Sony Xperia Z3 camera, in my opinion, is the Nokia Lumia 1020. Others will fall flat in front of it.
Performance and Battery Life
Thanks to a smaller display, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact better, even when compared to the flagship Z3. It scores more on benchmark tests and even performs better in terms of battery life.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is blessed with awesome performance and great battery life. The Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB RAM and Sony’s X-reality engine work in tandem to provide you enviable performance. It definitely brings out amazing results.
The music playback on the device also works pretty well. You can easily use headphones or play it in a room, though not too loud.
As far as the call quality is concerned, I would rate it as reasonably good, owing to the two microphones on top and bottom of the device. Mobile data connectivity fares well too. But, I did face a slight trouble when accessing the in-call menu. Some buttons such as the mute and the speaker one, kind of froze. The solution to make them work was to go back to the main menu and come back to in-call one. It’s a slight inconvenience, but nothing more.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact competes with phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, the Nexus 6 and the HTC One Mini 2. I would state that the Sony Xperia Z3 works well, but if you want to get real, the Nexus 6 will throw it out of the water. But amongst the Mini phones, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini and HTC One Mini 2 will fall behind, not come ahead of the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.
I would rate the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact as the best available ‘Mini’ phone in the market. Slight glitches when it came to daylight capture aside, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact does make one special, as every premium phone should. The rectangular design is either here or there.
It is the battery life and performance that would leave you truly more than surprised. The pricing is the only hassle then, in considering the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact. Otherwise, it is an amazing phone altogether.