The Xperia Z series of smartphones have been the flagship devices for Sony since 2013. These phones were made with one simple mission, the best of Sony in a smartphone.
Due to the increasing screen size of high end models, many phone makers decided to make “mini” versions of their flagships. But they were riddled with compromises, trying to piggyback on the flagship’s hype. The Xperia Z1 Compact was the first mini smartphone that had almost the same components as its bigger variant. Sony never made a Z2 Compact, so after 9 months, Sony has made a true successor to the original Compact – Meet the Xperia Z3 Compact.
The phone is instantly recognizable, Sony has stuck with the Omnibalance design for the Xperia Z3 compact. The phone is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Unlike the Xperia Z3 which has an Aluminum band, the Compact has a plastic band which is sandwiched between tempered glass on the front and back. The design of the phone is made such that it reduces the risk of the glass shattering in case of a fall, as the protruding corners will take the impact.
The front houses the stereo speakers positioned on the top and the bottom. There are a host of sensors above the display along with a camera sensor that sits in one corner. The right side of the device has an Aluminum power button, volume rockers and a two stage camera shutter button, something that most phones miss out on now a days. The left side houses the microUSB port, the MicroSD card slot and the Nano SIM slot, all protected by flaps. These flaps are essential to make the device waterproof but are a hinderance when it comes to charging the device. To reduce the effort Sony has provided a magnetic charging port, but you’ve to buy an accessory separately to use it. It would’ve been better if it had wireless charging. The back is completely flat and has the 20.7 megapixel sensor, something rare in a phone of this size.
The thing we mostly look at on a smartphone is the display. The Xperia Z3 Compact sports a 4.6 inch Triluminos display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The phone has brilliant viewing angles. There are a few display modes to choose from, in case you don’t like a vivid output. For the given price you can get a phone with a Quad HD display but I’m not complaining. The colours look vibrant and the text look crisp, it is definitely among the best displays out there. The screen is readable even under sunlight something I wasn’t sure about until I used it.
Sony has kept its UI minimalistic and classy. It runs Sony’s software customizations on top of Android 4.4 Kitkat. Sony also provides floating small apps on the phone like the timer, calculator that can be accessed instantly when they are required. The phone has a range of multimedia apps like the Sony Music and Sony LIV which is only useful if you are gonna watch daily soaps on your phone. The minimal design approach has enabled Sony to deliver a lag free experience on the smartphone.
Sony supplies camera sensors to other manufacturers for their smartphones, so naturally this is the place for Sony to shine. The Z3 compact has a 20.7 megapixel camera sitting plushly on the back, no bulges here. The camera quality is impressive and the Superior Auto mode takes care of most scenarios, giving the best possible output. Though photos shot with Superior Auto mode are restricted to 8 megapixel. One of the highlights of the camera is 4K Video. There are other modes like Slow-mo which captures videos at 120 frames per second. There’s something called time shift burst which clicks 30 images before the button press and 30 right after ensuring that you get the perfect shot.
The Multi-Camera mode is a recent introduction that allows you to pair compatible Xperia Smartphones and record from all of them simultaneously.
Augmented Reality is fun, well at least thats what Sony thinks. Its impressive to put it in a phone but I have my doubts about the majority of buyers using this. Its cool to use for a while but the novelty wears out soon.
The Z3 compact has front facing stereo speakers, though they aren’t the loudest but are loud enough. More importantly they sound a bit muffled, possibly because of the waterproofing used. The speakers produce a lot of bass and as a result the whole phone vibrates when you play songs. It gets irritating especially when you are gaming.
The phone supports High Res Audio. The Xperia Z2 had the ability to play high res songs when connected to a DAC (that is Digital to Analog Converter), but for the Z3 and the Z3 Compact, Sony put in all the required components right inside the phone. The sound quality is amazing & there are lots of modes to play with. Sony also allows you to select from a range of Sony headphones in the settings menu, to get the best experience out of them.
Sony has increased the battery capacity on the Z3 compact. The battery is now a respectable 2600 mAh unit. That’s not all, Sony has also managed to tweak the software in such a way that it uses the battery frugally. The compact has juice left even at the end of a day with heavy use. In case that kind of battery backup isn’t enough there is a ‘Stamina Mode’ that switches off data when the screen is shut off, only allowing the apps on the whitelist to access the net. This is a good method of saving precious battery life.
That’s not all, there is an ‘Ultra Stamina mode’ that locks down the phone entirely only to be used for basic usage including the camera. But in return, the phone will run for days with 30% battery still left. These little features make the Z3 compact stand out from the competition.
Sony has made a phone that does all the things it advertises really well. It set the bar for today’s ideal smartphone — it’s really that good. And while many of the features are useful, some feel like they have been loaded up only to justify the price. Also due to some superb deals we’ve seen recently, its hard to tell people to pay 44 thousand rupees for this phone.
So, here’s our verdict. If money no bar, then pick up the Z3 compact, you will not be disappointed. But if you are value conscious, then you might wanna look at other phones that are more spec heavy for the given price.
Gallery Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: