Sony Xperia Z3 Phone Review

Sony Experia Z3

Sony’s Xperia Z3 truly stands by their tagline “Demand Great”

Overview

The Xperia Z3 went on sale on October 29th but I was actually able to get my hands on this Dual Sim Z3 model about 4 weeks before that thanks to the folks over at GSMNation.com. I paid about $740 after including the 2 year protection plan which I definitely recommend especially as this phone is so thin that you aren’t going to want to put a case on it. As you can see, the design of the phone is brilliant and it also features these nifty little silicon edges on each corner that help prevent the screen from cracking when it’s dropped. I can attest to these as well because I dropped it the other day right on the corner, and there is literally no damage whatsoever to the phone besides the screen protector coming up a little from the impact.

Display

Sony Xperia Z3's Brilliant Display

Sony Xperia Z3’s Brilliant Display

I did receive a free screen protector with the device, I don’t know if that will come with all the devices or if maybe GSM included it with the Dual Sim model, but the box was sealed so maybe Sony are providing it. The screen protector is a great anti-glare version that also prevents fingerprints from staying on the screen. The color is slightly affected by this but the sunlight readability has greatly improved. The touch screen is very receptive and can also be changed in settings to accept glove inputs for those colder days. Not many of those here in FL though so we haven’t had a chance to test this in our real world application. The display lets you select either X-Reality image enhancement, Super Vivid mode, or no image enhancement. I had the phone running super vivid for a day and it did affect the battery life quite a bit, but it was also the first day with the phone and therefore had never been completely discharged.

Battery life

Since the first discharge and subsequent full charge, the phone has easily lasted 2 days usage even while being paired to a Moto 360 throughout each day. I do sometimes disconnect these at night but even when I forget, it only affects the phone by maybe 0.5% per hour while they are paired. After a solid month of use, I have seen about 16 hours of battery life, which isn’t quite up to Sony’s estimated 2 days however, I have been using the phone quite a lot, for a light user just checking emails every now and again or taking a call 2-3 times a day this phone will definitely provide 2 days battery life. I also have never used the stamina mode or the ultra-stamina mode which would surely prolong the battery life further.

Sony’s version of KitKat is actually great as it looks very clean and the included widgets are useful as well. There was a specific app that I was driven to purchase because of the dismal battery life on Day 1, which is Battery Doctor. I actually will swear by this app now as it offers so much customization to get the most from the phone. You can periodically shut down background apps that don’t need to be running, while also exempting certain apps from ever being shut down. For instance, Android wear is an app that I would never want to be shut down as I need that connection throughout the day, so you can make an exception so Battery Doctor will never close this app. With these exceptions, it lets you use their widget to quickly shut down apps without needing to worry about accidentally shutting down ones that you are using. They do continue to advertise their cleaner app but I wouldn’t generally recommend this. It claims to delete junk files as well as free up RAM, but honestly, it doesn’t seem to really do anything. I supposedly cleaned up 1GB of junk files yet my phone storage went from 7GB to 7.5GB only after I manually deleted about 10 apps that I don’t use. So in regards to this cleaner app, I don’t think it really does anything. Makes you feel better but no good came of it. I also lost 10% of battery when it was supposedly freeing up some RAM and closing apps that cause my CPU to overheat. Once I closed the Cleaner Master app my battery life returned to normal and stopped discharging rapidly.

Update: 11/12/14

After another 2 weeks, I installed Go Launcher and noticed that the battery life drained over 30% in an hour, I promptly removed Go Launcher but still noticed a drain of about 15% per hour. After reading a few articles, I found that cleaner apps are actually detrimental to the health of the phone so I deleted Battery doctor to find that my battery was lasting much longer than before installation. My advice, is to be very careful about which apps you download and research launchers very carefully. That being said, downloading any launcher will have an effect on your battery life so be prepared to make that trade off. You should also continuously backup your phone so you can factory reset it if you ever need to do so.

Storage

Z3 is ultra slim

Z3 is ultra slim

The Dual Sim International model does only come with 16GB (Just my luck that my second off contract phone also had to be the version with the least storage) but it does accept up to a 128GB Micro SD card, so I’ve got the 64GB Samsung SD card from my old Lumia in here, and it does work great. My only complaint is that unlike windows phone 8.1, Android KitKat doesn’t let me store apps on the SD card. I’ve heard that rooted models can let you do this, but doing so on the Z3 does mean losing it’s great lowlight photo algorithms as these are stored in DRM’s that must be deleted to Root and Android phone. The US models are supposed to receive 32GB however they do suffer by only receiving 2GB of RAM whereas the Dual sim benefits from 3 GB. I would take that extra gig of RAM over 16 GB of storage any day considering I have the freedom to use SD cards.

Home screen Launchers

You can run the system using the Xperia launcher, which is great, but downloading the Google Now launcher actually seems to be a much better option as it’s much cleaner, and offers better integration of Google Now. Unfortunately, this was tested on my first day and so I thought it attributed to the bad battery life I had received and so I switched to permanently using the Xperia launcher. I would not recommend running both launchers at once though as this is a sure way to kill your battery life. I’ve only played around with the phone for 4 weeks, but personally, I feel it is better than the iPhone 6 Plus on the basis that I can do anything iPhone can, but I can also personalize almost everything. Plus, it helps that while my brother and mates are all running out of battery at the end of the night, I’m still good to go for at least another 9 hours. The only phone whose battery life could compare to the petite Sony Xperia Z3 is the Lumia 1520, which is a much bigger phone, much heavier, and has a battery that is also slightly bigger than the Z3. I would give the edge to the Xperia Z3 when compared to the 6 Plus on the basis that its battery is a whopping 3100mAh (iPhone 6 Plus is 2915mAh).

Sound

Dual front facing stereo speakers

Dual front facing stereo speakers

The Sony Xperia z3 benefits from dual front facing stereo speakers. A couple weeks ago, I would have told you that these are a big letdown for me, but after really using them, I can see the benefit of using two smaller speakers. First off, I never have to cup the phone to hear what’s going on. I also notice that the volume level really depends on what you’re watching. I watched an episode of Parks and Recreations and could barely hear a thing. I thought that was odd considering the speakers were on full volume and I was just sitting in the office. I turned on a video that I had uploaded to the SD card, and the volume was so loud I had to turn it all the way down to the first setting and it was still fairly noisy. I think volume from a video stored on the phone happens to be louder than when streaming from an app such as Netflix. It could also be based on how loud the recording originally was as well.

What it’s like to live with the Z3

Xperia Z3 Family

Sony Xperia Z3 Family

I moved over from a Lumia 1520, possibly the biggest phablet ever made, so the 5.2” screen felt like a toy in my hands, but after a month with the phone, I absolutely love it. I’ve missed using Android a lot more than I realized prior to getting the Z3 and the quality of the phone is second to none. I’ve already dropped it twice, and those silicone edges have prevented any damage to the screen and they’re also quite resilient themselves. There’s maybe one scratch on the edge but that’s about it. I haven’t had a chance to get my Steelie on it because I just love how thin this phone is and feel adding anything would just be insulting the amazing design.

It’s fast! Apps load quickly, animations are always smooth, and the general fluidity of the phone is just fantastic. I recently discovered that the phone can use facial recognition to unlock so I’ve been having fun with that and it actually works very well even in medium light environments. Unfortunately, in low light conditions, the camera just can’t see much of anything to be able to pick up your face so you will have to fall back on your secondary security lock. The call quality is very good on the phone and I just love having that magnetic charger. Did I mention it’s completely waterproof for up to 30 minutes submerged in 1.5M of water? How cool is that? I went to the beach last week and got some sand on the phone, usually I’d be worried about how to wipe it off so I don’t scratch the phone but not with the Z3. I just grabbed a bottle of water and washed it off to the amazement of my wife and bystanders who thought I’d gone insane.

xperia-z3-waterproof

Premium design and the highest waterproof rating

Summary

Overall I think if you choose not to go for the Z3, then you’re making a big mistake. This is the phone Sony was always meant to make. If you do have the Z2, I would say maybe wait another 6 months for the Z4 as the improvements are marginal over the Z2. That being said, anyone else really needs to take a look at the Z3 as a top choice for Android smartphone. I just wish the Z3 was receiving Android L faster. 6 months is too long considering I’ll probably be buying the Z4 at that time!

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think! Also if you want the dual sim model, or an unlocked Z3, then head on over to GSMnation.com and get your dual sim model today! As of right now, only copper is available but they’ve also have the Xperia Z3 compact too!

Xperia Z3 Dual Sim: http://www.gsmnation.com/phones/unlocked-sony-xperia-z3-dd6633.html

Xperia Z3 Compact: http://www.gsmnation.com/hot-phones/sony-xperia-z3-compact-unlocked.html