Sony has done a nice job of creating a little elbow-room for itself in the Smartphone market, aided initially by its key differentiator – waterproofing. Anyone who has inadvertently dropped a phone down a toilet or encountered some other aqua-based mishap will have considered the Xperia Z – the world’s first waterproof phone, and that powerful yet rather angular behemoth has spawned some impressive successors that are slowly smoothing out those edges.
Here we have the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact, a choice for those who are leaning towards the “phablet” market and those would prefer something that can be used comfortably with one hand.
Accordingly the larger model features a 5.2” (1920×1080) display compared to the Compact’s 4.6” (1280×720), but otherwise the devices are fairly similar. Both offer the headline waterproofing and dust tightening (IP65 and IP68 rated, if you want to find out exactly how secure this is), both feature a whopping 20.7MB camera and 2.2MP front-facer, both run KitKat 4.4 and both have a Snapdragon 2.5GHz Qualcomm quad-core to keep things ticking over.
Also of note is the PS4 Remote Play feature – these are the only smartphones with this built in, and it allows you to connect to and control games via your handheld or play them on the smaller screen by utilising a DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller in between. You can even watch friends play games remotely on the screen if you so wish.
Interesting – two phones that simply offer a choice of size without dumbing down the interiors or key features. Let’s take a look to see what else Sony has in store.
TechRadar is impressed by the compact, saying that it’s “more powerful, better built and with an improved screen over its predecessor, there’s a lot to attract consumers here.” Of particular appeal is the design, which has a premium feel and fits well in the hand, and the battery. Using an intelligent screen that “remembers” images, battery life can apparently be extended to three days without charge. Overall, TechRadar is highly pleased with the device:
an astonishingly capable device that takes over from the first Compact and shows the world how it should be done. There are very few flaws, the screen aside, and it could even rival its bigger brother as the top dog thanks to the lower price tag.
Stuff takes a look at the Z3 and is impressed by its design:
The aluminium and tempered glass OmniBalance design now has rounded sides and, while it’s still an angular body and won’t sit completely snug in the palm like a One (M8), it’s enough to make it much more comfortable.
It’s also lighter than the Z2 and slightly smaller and thinner, which helps it fit a tad better. The display is impressive – 20% brighter than the Z2 in fact, and the camera has undergone a range of tweaks and improvements. These include “a new 25mm G lens for wide angle shots and improved SteadyShot for video” and a sensor with “light sensitivity up to IS0 12800. By comparison most phones will go up to ISO 800 or so before giving up” to improve low-light shots. It concludes with an impressive statement that sums up Sony’s capabilities as a jack of all trades:
This is a smartphone that deserves attention. It’s supremely specced in all the right places and shows that Sony does care about how people use its gadgets. And it may just be the best all-rounder you can buy.
Despite the clear capabilities of both models, the Compact is getting more attention in the press at the moment, possibly because the market for larger displays is smaller. The Verge says that out of the two “the Z3 Compact is the real star of Sony’s IFA 2014 lineup.” It highlights the fact that while the same size as the Z1 Compact, it has a bigger 4.6” display, is 9% thinner and 6% lighter – in fact it calls the size and feel just about perfect for the vast majority of people. When you throw in the improved waterproofing and toughened exterior, which takes it a level above that of the S5, it seems like the Compact, at least, has all the potential to be a big success.