With its incredible battery life and performance, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact brings flagship features to a smaller handset at a great price. In fact, we still highly rate the Z3 Compact - a smaller version of Sony's Z3 with a much 80% Sony Xperia Z3 Review: A Great Phone With INSANE Battery Performance If the XPERIA Z3 shipped closer to its launch date, its success would have been much . See also: The UK's 40 best Android smartphones of
Comment Finding a compact phone with flagship specs is something of a rarity these days, with many manufacturers delivering smaller-screen devices in the mid-range instead. Not so the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, a device powerful enough to stand up to its larger-screen rivals.
Unlike most other Android smartphones with screens typically 5-inches or larger, the Z3 Compact fits neatly into hand and pocket thanks to its 4. That will make this portable powerhouse desirable for many seeking something smaller. But is it worth your cash? Xperia Z design, refined Sony has been refreshing and releasing phones with unparalleled frequency.
The Xperia Z OmniBalance design of the Z3 Compact is the latest evolution, a squat and almost muscular looking phone that avoids the vast expanse of its Z3 big brother.
The Z3 Compact measures x The frame holding these glass panels together Sony calls "liquid reflection" - it's plastic with nylon corners to try and reduce damage should you drop it - that offers a sort-of frosted appearance.
It feels like a well-built phone in the hand and is easy to handle with plenty of grip thanks to that compact size. No phablet scale monster that can so easily slip from the hand to be found here.
But if we have one criticism it's that the frame, with its nylon corners and all, isn't as seamlessly integrated as we'd like and dust gathers in the small trough around the display. You'll need these flaps sealed tight to keep the water out, and as the charging port is under one you'll need to make sure it's closed tight after each charge. Although you're probably not going to buy this phone just for underwater photography, the added reassurance of that a spilled pint, drop in the toilet or when playing Dumb Ways to Die in the bath isn't going to do any damage.
It might be small in size, but there's no denying that the Z3 Compact delivers a whole lot of phone for the money. Display The Xperia Z3 Compact has a 4. The display makes great use of the available footprint, without excessive bezel to any side. There's some space top and bottom, which houses the front-facing speakers, but we like how Sony has struck a happy balance here - it doesn't look too out of proportion, which is something we've said of previous Z devices.
The resolution means a ppi pixel density, putting it in the same sort of territory as the iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. Smartphone fans will know that this isn't the highest resolution around at this size - the 4.
The display is somewhat prone to fingerprints, but look beyond those and you'll see ample details and lots of punch to colours. As we've said before now, sometimes those enhancements can push things a little too far, but there's always the option to switch them off.
There's the option for super-vivid colour boost, for example, but we'd advise against that as it tends to boost to the detriment of detail. X-Reality does a good job and we'd say stick to that for phone use, as it adds saturation and contrast to images. Below is a comparison of the three settings on the same image.
Sony says the Z3 Compact has the brightest display it's ever used in a smartphone and we've had no problems viewing it in bright conditions, apart from those irksome fingerprints. It's also possible to adjust the screen's white balance, although the option to make your display have a red, green or blue hue really isn't of that much use.
By default the whites are white enough and the blacks are pretty good too. However, in some situations the viewing angles can be a problem, such as when wearing polarised sunglasses. Turn the display into landscape mode and it's entirely invisible in that orientation when wearing such glasses. Not that we wear sunglasses all the time but, you know, it's still a potential annoyance. Overall, at this size the Z3 Compact's display is decent, despite not being a resolution jump over its predecessor.
We like the colour and available detail, as well as the options for boosting and tweaking, but suspect in the resolution race that the next Compact model will gain a bump in resolution. Hardware and performance Under the hood is a 2.
As was the case with the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, there are few devices that offer this sort of power. The result is that this compact device responds with the deftness of flagship phones. Apps are fast to open, so those power hungry games will happily load quickly for your entertainment. It's not without some compromise however: We fired up Real Racing 3 , which is one of our favourite mobile games, and although it plays beautifully, it does make the phone a little warm.
The same can be said for other intensive tasks, such as 4K video capture. If we're being fussy then there are some areas where we think the Z3 Compact could be faster too.
For example, the camera is a little slow to open, previews can be slower to open than you might expect, but otherwise, we think this phone offers a great experience in a small package. Battery performance We've been critical of some of Sony's decisions with the Xperia Z line over the past few years, but its attention to battery life, particularly Stamina mode, has been universally impressive. The Xperia Z3 Compact also has impressive staying power, which is really to Sony's credit.
There's a mAh battery within the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is mAh by comparison and although it's not accessible, so you can't replace it, there's a good chance you'll never have needed to anyway. The Z3 Compact has been getting us through arduous days no problems - leave the house in the morning and it'll still alive when you crawl in at 3am, even if you're not. Of course that depends on what you do with it which is true of all phones as it won't withstand non-stop gaming.
The Stamina mode is partly to thank for this. It isn't just a screen dimmer and hardware throttle - which some competitors' modes are - but instead gives you granular control over what specific apps are doing. You can elect those apps that you want to have data access in standby, such as messaging apps, so you're only working the parts that need to be worked. Overall the Xperia Z3 Compact is far better than many competitors in terms of longevity.
All thanks to Sony's considered approach to battery life and one that we wish would be more seriously adopted by other manufacturers. Good job. Audio and calling Sony has made a lot of noise around sound quality on recent devices. But it also comes equipped with a range of sound profiles for other Sony headphones if you happen to have a pair. Then there is high-resolution audio support via USB, as well as the option to change the sensitivity of the mic input.
It's certainly commendable, but if you want the best from the Z3 Compact audio, you'll want to use headphones. The speakers may have moved to the front of the device for this model and they certainly offer plenty of volume, but they're not best in class. Turn up the volume and you'll feel the case vibrating and there isn't a huge amount of depth, even if you can get some nice stereo separation.
The speakers take up a lot less space than those of HTC's BoomSound, though, which makes for a more compact and friendly design. When it comes to call quality, we had no problems with the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact. It's a comfortable phone for making calls and no one reported any problems hearing what we had to say. There's a whole heap of options to get the results that you want. A dedicated camera button is something we've always loved about the Sony devices and it continues to be a strong feature in the Z3 Compact - although we wish it was a little faster.
A press-and-hold launches the camera app so you can take a shot without unlocking the phone, but when you want to view your shots it seems to take an age to offer you the unlock screen. That's something we alluded to in previous Z-series compacts, so this is an area where some software refinement would help. Pocket-lint There are all sorts of additional camera settings, but the main shooting mode is Superior Auto.
This will try and do everything for you, but does limit some of your choices, including the resolution. Superior Auto snaps at 8-megapixels; if you want the full 4: One oddity about Superior Auto is that it doesn't let you toggle HDR high dynamic range; to boost shadows and limit highlights. It will auto-detect the scene, but won't always give you a deliberate effect like HDR, meaning that in some high-contrast scenes you'll end up with blown highlights or excessive shadows, rather than a balance of both.
The rear camera is a lot of fun and we like that it can deliver results in pretty much any situation. It offers higher ISO shooting than ever before, aiming to get the shot no matter how little light is available.
As the ISO sensitivity rises - which is the camera's way of boosting the signal to combat low-light conditions - so does the image noise, that grainy or colour-specked appearance in images. However, we've had some passable shots at ISO and even at ISO , which is the highest manually selectable setting.
There is also a headline ISO 12, setting reserved for low-light mode in Auto shooting, but the results, as you might imagine, aren't so great. Face detection also works well, and having autofocus set to faces is worthwhile to ensure the people who matter are always looking sharp. You can set metering to faces too, but again, Manual mode offers up most of these essentials. Overall, the Z3 Compact delivers a great camera.
We'll be putting it alongside the likes of the LG G3 and iPhone 6 soon to see how they compare side-by-side, but we're impressed with the results we've got from this Sony. The front camera is a more average performer though, so if you're into selfies then they are a little lacking in detail.
But it's this camera that you'll probably use for face-to-face Skype calls and the like, for which it is fine. Talking of video, there are plenty of options here too, including 60 frames per second Full HD capture, again requiring Manual mode to be active.
There is also SteadyShot technology to smooth out handshake and the "jolt" that can be caught during capture. For example, if you're walking and filming, then SteadyShot counters that movement as a result of each footfall. It's definitely worth using. Then there is 4K capture, although this is a separate mode, accessed alongside some of the other fun stuff that Sony offers, such as Timeshift video, AR effects and so forth.
Do note that these two top resolutions far exceed the Z3 Compact's own screen resolution, so are really designed for presenting elsewhere to get the most out of them. Sony software Sony's take on Android 4.
There are heaps of things to choose from in the camera, audio, display and other departments, but despite so many options Sony seems to have organised things well. Head into the settings menu and it all just makes sense - so even first time users will get along with this phone swimmingly. There are still a lot of additional apps added by Sony and your take on that might be good, it might be bad. If you're already a user of Sony's services such as Music Unlimited then this might appeal, but if not, you can settle down and hide such things in a folder - probably one created and marked "bloatware" - in the apps tray.
Refinements include Sony's Album which is starting to ape some of the features of HTC's excellent Gallery app, including summary videos and a changing top photo display that pulls pictures from the past - a great way to reminisce. We also like the Walkman app. If you're a Music Unlimited customer it plugs right into the app, serving up things like the charts and a range of connected features.
You can turn it off if you'd rather just stick to local music, however. Sony's What's New sits as a shortcut next to Google Now, waiting to suggest a collection of Sony content for you to consume, but whether this will be useful for you comes down to how tied-in to Sony services you are already. We found it easy enough to ignore, so it isn't too invasive.
However while smaller versions of flagship phones have often sacrificed a number of features of their larger brethren, the Xperia Z3 Compact does a very good job of keeping up with the full size Xperia Z3. There are some inevitable compromises, but they have been kept to a minimum. What's more, with the Z3 Compact having received Android 5. The idea behind Sony's OmniBalance design is that the Xperia Z3 Compact should be comfortable to hold no matter what you're using the smartphone for, be it taking videos, making calls, playing games and more.
Another tenet of the OmniBalance ethos is that the phone should look great from any angle. From my time with the Xperia Z3 Compact I can certainly vouch for the comfort aspect of the OmniBalance design of the handset.
Rounded corners soften the stark design The Xperia Z3 Compact feels comfortable, no matter what the task. Though it has a rather stark look to it, the rounded corners certainly help make it feel nice to hold. This is helped by the dimensions of the Xperia Z3 Compact.
Though there's nothing particularly compact about its 4. The smaller size of the screen and body of the Xperia Z3 Compact is one of the areas in which the Compact may have an advantage over its bigger sibling, depending on your preferences for the size of your smartphone. While 5-inch and above smartphones are certainly growing in popularity, with Apple being particularly pleased with the reception its 5.
Although phablets have become the norm, but many will welcome a smaller frame By offering a very similar experience but with a smaller form factor, the Xperia Z3 Compact could find a receptive audience with those who haven't been swayed with the phablet craze. I certainly didn't have any trouble reaching each corner of the screen with the thumb of the hand I was holding the Xperia Z3 Compact in.
Helping with the comfort, the Xperia Z3 compact weighs just g with a thickness of 8. While the comfort of the Xperia Z3 Compact is pretty evident, aesthetics are far more subjective. To my eye, however, the Xperia Z3 Compact again impresses. It manages to be minimal without looking plain, with Gorilla Glass covering the front and back, giving it an attractive look.
Around the edge of the Xperia Z3 Compact is a translucent plastic surround. While it helps cushion impacts if you drop the Z3 Compact, it also gives the phone a frosted look that works very well. Ports are sealed to make the Z3 Compact waterproof As with previous entrants in the Xperia Z line, the Z3 Compact is dust and waterproof, with IP65 and IP68 ratings, which among other things means it can be submerged in up to 1. It's a refreshing take on the modern smartphone, but serves as a reminder that size, whether big or small, isn't everything.
Previously, Sony's smartphone offering was more ingrained in the carrier market, though it has quickly transitioned to the unlocked side of things. This has enabled the company to more swiftly enter new regions, but it has led to an unexpected downside for those living in the US.
Design Dazzling design impresses, but comes at the price of waterproofing For US readers, there's no fingerprint sensor The ceramic-mimicking plastic scratches easily under normal use The naming convention might lead you to believe that the X Compact is just a smaller version of the Sony Xperia X, but that's not totally the case.
Aside from some similarities with the rest of the line, the X Compact is unique with its flat front glass panel, rounded sides and a completely flat top and bottom. Sony sent along the Universe Black color that looks more like blue in the sunlight of the X Compact, which measures in at x 65 x 9.
One of the biggest design feats here is that it feels like a unibody design, though it's constructed with a mix of Gorilla Glass 4, glossy plastic on its sides, and an oleophobic oil resistant plastic on the back that's influenced by the look and feel of ceramic. While it does give off the high-end look it aims for, it collects small scratches and fingerprint smudges a little too easily. Under the right light, the ripple effect looks incredible.
That is Sony's Xperia X Compact rocks two front-facing speakers, a selfie camera and a slim bezel. Taking a tour around the phone, the top is where you'll find the 3. On its other flat end, Sony has opted for USB-C, which has resulted in a thicker chin bezel due to the longer internal section of the port. It also has the same lineup of buttons on its right side, including the power button, volume rocker and camera capture button.
Compared to other phones that usually place the most frequently used buttons near where the index finger rests, Sony has placed them awkwardly near the bottom. Even on a small phone like this one, you'll likely fumble to make what should be a simple adjustment. Quite the awkward button setup If you buy one of these outside of the US, the power button will double as a fingerprint sensor.
However, Sony has decided to, once again, strip this feature from the US release. If you're curious why the company made this choice, check out this piece and let us know if the fingerprint sensor or a lack thereof influences your purchase decision. It only makes sense.