Edward Swift - Hands On: Sony Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact

Publish Date
Friday, 31 October 2014, 12:00AM
Sony's Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact (supplied)

Sony's Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact (supplied)

Author
By Edward Swift

As I mentioned a fortnight ago, I’m not a big fan of big smartphones. They don’t fit well in the pocket of my jeans, they awkward to handle if you’re only using one hand, and they just feel too big. That being said, they are very powerful devices and these days are more than just a phone – they’re a mobile office. And these days if you want the power of a large smartphone but in a smaller size, you generally don’t have to wait too long for the manufacturer to come out with a compact version with most of the features.

That’s what Sony have done with the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact. But instead of waiting months for the compact version to hit the shelves, they’ve released both phones at the same time, which is great for the consumer. So which one is better?

Let’s start with the battery life. While trialling these phones over the last week, I found I didn’t need to charge them too often which is fantastic if the only place you charge your phone is at home by your bed. It’s never good if you’ve left home at 7am for work, had a late function and get home after 11pm only to find that your phone died halfway through the day. Sony boasts that both phones have a two-day battery life under their testing, and it’s true. I only needed to do a full charge once while I was away for the long weekend. What really surprised me is the test figures between the two phones. The full-size Z3 has a 3100 mAh battery while the compact model has a 2600mAh battery. But testing by PhoneArena.com suggests that the battery in the Z3 Compact actually lasts slightly longer – a whopping 10 hours and 2 minutes, compared to the Z3’s 9 hours 29 minutes. That’s nearly double the time of the iPhone 6.

Sony is known for making killer compact cameras, and the cameras in these phones are no exception. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S5 mini where the camera quality is halved, they’ve ensured that the cameras on both these models are exactly the same – a 20.7 megapixel camera, as well as a 2.2 megapixel front facing camera for snapping some selfies. And as you can see, the photos look just as good as any compact digital camera (except the fact it doesn’t have a full flash like standard cameras).

Sample photo taken on Xperia Z3 (click image to view larger size)

Sample photo taken on Xperia Z3 Compact (click image to view larger size)

The camera isn’t the only thing that’s the same about these two devices. They both run Android 4.4, they both have a Snapdragon 2.5GHz Qualcomm Quad-core processor, and they’re both waterproof and dust tight. The only differences are the size, weight, a slightly different screen resolution and price. The Z3’s size just a tad bigger than the palm of your hand, while the Compact is about 75% of the size of its bigger brother. However for this phone to have nearly the same specs as its full-size brother, it is an extra 1.3mm thicker.

The other neat function I liked is one that relates to gamers. If you have a PS4, you can attach to the top of a controller, allowing you to have a portable screen in case someone else wants to watch an episode of Shortland St when all you want to do is play FIFA 15. Now I know that not everyone reading this will be a gamer, but it’s a good feature to highlight and could be the way phones are moving towards - becoming a portable screen for your TV.

The thing I don't like is Sony's phone corners. A minor thing, I know, but the slightly rounded corners on the full-size Z3 really bugged me in this trial. Also while the full-size Z3 has an aluminium finish on the side and looks very slick, and tiny drop has the risk of nicking that nice metal finish. The Z3C doesn't have this problem as there is some sort of rubber around the side of the phone, giving it a bit of protection, and for some reason the corners of the phone didn't bug me so much, but it does feel like a bit of a brick but more sturdy and solid.

Overall, if I had to choose between these two amazing phones, I’d pick the Xperia Z3 Compact. It’s a bit lighter and is the perfect size for me without losing all the features that I like in the Xperia Z3. It’s also a tad cheaper ($999 for the Z3 and $749 for the Z3C, both exclusively through Spark). Overall, it’s fantastic that someone has finally come out with a compact version of their premium phone without having to compromise quality. Well done Sony.

Sony Xperia Z3

  • Weight: 152 g
  • Dimensions: 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm
  • Display: 5.2" HD (1920x1080 pixels)
  • Google Android 4.4 (KitKat)
  • Snapdragon 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Quad-core
  • Cameras: 20.7 MP camera with auto focus, 2.2 MP front-facing camera
  • Battery: 3100 mAh, talk time up to 16 hours, standby time up to 920 hours, music listening time up to 130 hours, video playback time up to 10 hours
  • Durability: Waterproof and dust tight (IP65 and IP68)

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

  • Weight: 129 g
  • Dimensions: 127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm
  • Display: 4.6" HD (1280x720 pixels)
  • Google Android 4.4 (KitKat)
  • Snapdragon 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Quad-core
  • Cameras: 20.7 MP camera with auto focus, 2.2 MP front-facing camera
  • Battery: 2600 mAh, talk time up to 14 hours, standby time up to 920 hours, music listening time up to 110 hours, video playback time up to 10 hours
  • Durability: Waterproof and dust tight (IP65 and IP68)