back to article Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?

The decisions that must be going on at Sony’s mobile R&D division are certainly intriguing, if not baffling. Six months after it was launched, the Xperia Z2 has been replaced by the Z3 and barely nine months after it was launched, the Z1 Compact has been replaced by the Z3 Compact (there wasn’t a Z2 Compact, so don’t panic). …

  1. Bassey

    Rear Glass

    Are you sure the back is glass this time? All the reviews of the Z1 & Z1 Compact informed us they had glass rear panels but they were, in fact, plastic-designed-to-feel-like-glass. This had the unfortunate result in them being as slippery as glass but as scratch-proof as plastic. I.E. not very. My Z1 Compact, used for 8 months without a case, has not one single mark on the gorilla-glass screen whilst the rear plastic plate looks like someone has used the pointy bit from a pair of compasses to produce an etching of the surface of Europa.

    Not that it matters in the least for day-to-day usage. My concern is sell-on value. I tend to look after my phones quite well and have always received a good return when I flog them on eBay come upgrade time.

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: Rear Glass

      This feels more like glass than whatever was on the back of the Z2 so yes, I'm (pretty) sure it is toughened glass rather than some sort of plastic.

      1. Rhyd

        Re: Rear Glass

        I can assure you that the back of the Z2 is glass - I got a piece stuck in my finger when it shattered.

        Luckily it's surprisingly cheap and easy to replace.

    2. Lionel Baden

      Re: Rear Glass

      It is glass but has a plastic covering

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pzxq-90NUIY

    3. larokus

      Re: Rear Glass

      @Bassey

      So you're worried about resale value, but failed to spend the 99cents on a front and rear protector set on ebay? I can assure you all of my Xperia Z1's are mint, front AND back.

      1. Lionel Baden

        Re: Rear Glass

        @Iarokus

        So you put a screen protector on your screen protector !?!?!

        The Z already has one out of the factory. (you can tell if it been replaced/missing if the Sony Logo is missing from the top of the phone)

  2. Simon Harris Silver badge

    It's all very well churning out new stuff...

    but I do wish they'd support better their products that are already out there and have another year or two of life left in them. Whatever happened to Android KitKat for the Xperia SP - let alone Lollipop? Looks like I'm stuck with Jelly Bean 4.3 until the end of my contract, and less inclined to replace it with another Sony when the time comes.

    1. Rhyd

      Re: It's all very well churning out new stuff...

      The entire Xperia Z range is being updated to Lollipop, no news on the SP though.

      http://blogs.sonymobile.com/2014/10/16/were-bringing-android-5-0-lollipop-to-the-entire-xperia-z-series/

      1. Malcolm 1

        Re: It's all very well churning out new stuff...

        It has been confirmed that the Xperia SP will not get anything past 4.3.1

        http://www.xperiablog.net/2014/09/10/sony-confirms-no-kitkat-release-for-xperia-sp/

    2. Paul 135

      Re: It's all very well churning out new stuff...

      http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Install_CM_for_huashan

  3. cs94njw

    *shrug* Good camera sure, but needs OEM layer means updates will be slow/non-existent.

    Not sure I need 20 megapixels for spur of the moment pictures.

    I'm wondering if the new Nexus is going to be good enough until there's a real revolution...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Actually Sony are not that bad, way better than Samsung. I have a Samsung, wifey had a Sony (until she drowned it). Both roughly same generation, her's was updated twice during it's life time and my Samsung.....still waiting.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Samsung has been getting better but I got fed up of the data grab and went CM anyway.

    2. GregC

      Re: Not sure I need 20 megapixels for spur of the moment pictures.

      That was my immediate thought too, but what it does do is allow for a certain amount of digital zoom before you end up with unusable mush.

      Looks a nice bit of kit overall actually, and while there is the inevitable OEM bloatware Sony are unusual in that some of what they bundle actually seems to come in for a bit of praise from reviewers. Put the stock Nexus launcher on there and I reckon I'd be pretty happy.

    3. Ian Watkinson

      Thats ok, you don't get 21 mega pixels for spur of the moment, it defaults to the idiot cam mode, which is 8 mega pixels only.

      You also don't get 4k video for longer than 2 minutes before the phone overheats and shuts down..

      Main issues with the Z series.

      Updates means that no one makes any decent cases for them, as they update every 6 months, so they wont sell enough cases to make it worthwhile.

      Backup, Sony's backup sucks.

      Take new phone, install facebook and g+ on it, set them to login.

      Put them in a folder called social.

      Backup phone using Sony's software.

      Wipe phone

      Restore phone.

      Backup has lost of the login details, and the folder.

      If the app was hangouts, it's lost all your SMS as well....

      Sony has crippled Android so that you can't move any app to the SD card, zero, none at all.

      Plus the inbuilt apps don't remember the store stuff on SD card settings.

      1. Bodhi

        Couple of slight issues with what you've said.

        1) A quick look on Amazon gives loads of case options for the Z3, including the Style Covers from Sony themselves. I picked up a Cruzerlite one for a tenner to tide me over until the Style Covers are available over here, seems t work pretty well.

        2) Google crippled Android as far as SD cards are concerned, not Sony. If anything Sony are currently trying to un-cripple it

        http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_xperia_phones_getting_move_to_sd_card_via_latest_update-news-9058.php

        3) Not sure on your backup issues, as I don't think I'd want a backup to contain log in information, y'know for security purposes.

        4) 4k video records for about 5 minutes on my Z3, which I am told is pretty much par for the course when recording 4k video on a phone.

        So you were correct that you don't get 20Mp in Superior Auto. Most of the rest of what you said however, was pish.

  4. IHateWearingATie

    Shiny......

    I wonder if our IT guys will mind getting me a Z3 as a replacement should my Galaxy S4 come to an unfortunate end on the train platform this week.

    Don't worry, I;m sure they don't read El Reg

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shiny......

      yes we do!

  5. calumg

    Great battery

    Kind of odd that the article didn't really review battery life, which is very much the USP of this device. I've had a Z3 compact for 2 weeks now, and no matter how much I mess about on it, it still has at least 25% charge left when I plug it in for the night. Frankly, not being tethered to USB is a complete revelation.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Great battery

      The review said the phone would get will into it's third day without a charge, and that it looped video for 12 hours.

      The Compact version performs similarly, by all accounts - it has a smaller battery because it has a smaller, lower res (but still more than sharp enough) screen.

      Apparently, the Z3 Compact is less slippery than it's bigger brother and more comfortable to hold. Many reviews consider it an even better device, and it'll be my next phone.

      1. PerlyKing
        Happy

        Wet soapy action?

        If the Z3 is more slippery than the Z3 Compact it must be like a wet bar of soap! ;-) I've had my Z3 Compact for a couple of weeks now and I haven't quite dropped it but it has been close a couple of times. I really should get a case....

        In case any marketing bods are reading this, I went for the Z3 Compact almost by default as it's the only top-class phone in a smaller form-factor.

        1. BenR

          Re: Wet soapy action?

          In case any marketing bods are reading this - or in fact anyone in advertising as well - take a tip from Bill Hicks.

          Kill yourselves now.

      2. Paul 135

        Re: Great battery

        The Z3 Compact really deserves its own separate review. For many, if not most people, it will be the better phone with more hand-friendly size, and much cheaper at £350.

        According to other reviews, the Z3 Compact's battery performance is also not merely "similar" but even better, essentially beating every other phone out there: http://www.gsmarena.com/battery-test.php3

  6. jzlondon

    Software

    Looks like a really good piece of kit. As soon as they release the iOS version, I'm in.

    1. Lionel Baden

      Re: Software

      Sorry I downvoted your comment, but felt i needed to explain why.

      Yes at first it was a kneejerk reaction, and then i thought well its nice to see an apple user appreciate good hardware, then i wondered why would you want to ruin it by putting on IOS ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Software

      I'm waiting for them to put Ubuntu on it personally.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    16GB

    Sorry but 16GB (12GB actually free) just doesn't cut it for a flagship phone in 2014. Most apps cannot be stored on an SD card, and since Kitkat 3rd party apps cannot store their own data on the SD. So SD card is more or less for music and videos only. My apps take up more than 16GB, so this phone is a non starter for me. Such a shame because otherwise it looks excellent.

    Let's hope the Z4 in April has 64/128GB options, I wouldn't mind giving up the SD slot for that since there is so little you can do with it anyway.

    1. Tony W

      Re: 16GB

      In Kitkat, 3rd party apps can indeed store their own data on SD - or at least the capability is there but not all developers take advantage of it. I have 4.7GB of maps stored on a physical SD card, using the Anquet app. But I also have the Maverick mapping app which (as far as I can see) stores its data only on the virtual "SD card" in the phone memory. This severely limits my offline use with this app. Hopefully developers will eventually catch up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 16GB

      @AC - "My apps take up more than 16GB".

      You have too many apps. Do you really need all 50 Flappy Bird clones?

      1. lotus49

        Re: 16GB

        I have > 100GB of music on my MacBook Pro. I'd really like to be able to sync the lot with my phone but I can't because it has 16GB of internal memory and a 64GB SD card. If I added in a few big apps, videos and photographs, it really wouldn't be hard to get to 128GB. 16GB is much much too small.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PS4 Remote Play

    is apparently coming to Z2 and Z2 tablet as well, according to some digging around a leaked 4.4.4 image. There's really no reason why it wouldn't - the just-a-bit slower CPU shouldn't be a bottleneck.

    (as a Z2 owner with no plan to upgrade just now this makes me very happy)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bought the Z3 Compact

    Easily the best phone on the market, bar none. The Camera is also best out there too. pictures destroyed my mates iPhone6, particularly in low light.

    He wasn't a happy chap, he begrudgingly agreed despite Apple telling him that the iPhone was the best phone out there. He felt even more of a clueless chump, when I pointed out that Sony sell the sensors for most of the big players out there (cameras and cameraphones), including Apple, and they never sell this years sensors, they have exclusive use of those in their own products, they sell last years tech.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Bought the Z3 Compact

      Would be interesting to compare that to the lumia range, in particular the 1020.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bought the Z3 Compact

        1/ nobody owns a Lumia.

        2/ The claims of 1020 image quality have long since been disregarded. Infact the moment they used a DSLR to take the example footage, it was clear Nokrosoft knew they needed to cheat to meet the lofty claims.

        1. Russell Hancock

          Re: Bought the Z3 Compact

          Have to bite - i own the 1020 and the photos are amazing (well quality wise anyway, they haven't made me any better at framing the shot)...

          Would be happy to compare to a Z3 as that was the other phone i was after (well the Z1 compact, but same camera)... probably be pretty close quality wise if you could be in the same spot at the same time with both in the same position!

        2. cambsukguy

          Re: Bought the Z3 Compact

          1/ Yes they do.

          2/ The company that made the ad used a DSLR because they didn't have a Lumia 1020.

          Since launch, the software improvements on the 1020 have made the pictures better so those used in many reviews, which slaughtered the fruity competition anyway, even better.

          The OIS system, in particular, is very impressive and the video is great.

          For a review of the 1020 against nothing less than a Nikon D800, go here:

          http://evan-theelectricalengineer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/nikon-d800e-vs-nokia-lumia-1020.html

          The reviewer (and my eyes) suggest the 1020 can exceed the capabilities of a very expensive DSLR under several circumstances.

          This review:

          http://connect.dpreview.com/post/5533410947/smartphones-versus-dslr-versus-film

          Compares several DSLRs from over a decade of items, each the best in its era, against the 1020 and (to make a point) the iPhone 5S.

          Obviously the 1020 crushes the iPhone but the author is amazed by how many of the DSLRs are defeated by the 1020. This includes the fact that the DSLRs were all using a $1700 lens to get the best out of them.

          The main point of the article is that the 1020 can compete and beat a DSLR combo costing over 2 grand in many cases.

          The DSLRs have superior capability in many ways (you can take pictures faster and more often for instance, although getting your 1020 out compared to getting DSLR is probably quicker). The iPhone is quicker than both but the use case is less useful to me.

          The author of this article seems to believe that Lumia 930 takes a better picture than the Sony flagship and the 1020 takes better pictures than a 930 in almost most cases.

          You obviously don't have and haven't used a 1020, those of us who have are constantly amazed by what it can do.

          Still, looks like a nice phone, especially the smaller one, shame about the lack of wireless charging.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bought the Z3 Compact

            Much as I would love this to be true, as a Nokia 1020 owner, in the real world, it isn't.

            I own 2 dSLRs, both aging Canons, a Sony A6000 and an Olympus XZ-2 and Panasonic LX3.

            All of them destroy the Nokia, in all situations.

            The Nokia has a tendency to overexpose, and especially when taking images in bright daylight, the sky becomes a mess without a lot of tweaking.

            It "can" produce lovely images, and overall is better than the iPhone 5 I had, or any of my HTC or Samsungs...it doesn't compete with any real cameras other than cheap point and shoots.

            What it does do, with all those pixels, is either give you a great amount of detail, or useable zoom

    2. Shakes
      Facepalm

      Re: Bought the Z3 Compact

      Comparing your phones' cameras.... you and your "clueless chump" of a mate sure know how to party!

  10. TheNeonSpirit

    I was seriously considering an upgrade until I noticed something missing from the specification, i.e. wireless charging. I would have thought the ability to recharge without opening the watertight flaps would be a given.

    It appears the function is available on the US Verizon carrier specific variant, but hasn't made it to the international version.

    1. PerlyKing
      Happy

      Watertight charging

      It's not wireless, but you can charge without opening any flaps: Sony has built in a non-standard wired charging port on the left hand side which works with their magnetic dock. It's visible in the picture at the top of page three, although Sony manage to hide it in most of their publicity shots. I'm not keen on the proprietary part, but it works well for me.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Watertight charging

        The official charging dock is around £20, but I've seen 3rd party versions for around £7. At least the headphone socket doesn't require any rubber bung.

        Hopefully waterproofing will become a standard feature, just as is on wristwatches.

        EDIT - Sony will sell you a Wireless Charging case, if you want one.

      2. Ian Watkinson

        Re: Watertight charging

        Until it burns out....which it has on quite a few, as the only cables for it are not sony ones...

    2. ACcc

      Wireless charging

      I got the Z3 compact - there's a magnetic charging dock for about £20 which I use, or there's a magnetic cable for about £15 I saw somewhere.

      It's the first dock I've bought for any phone, which is slightly ironic as it gets charged less often than the last phone, but I figured it might be useful with the charging cover.

  11. Czrly
    FAIL

    OEM Bloat not Decreased since Z1?

    "As you’d expect, there is a fair amount of questionable OEM bloat but you also get Sony’s excellent Album, Movies and Walkman apps and OfficeSuite 7, so it’s not all bad news."

    I currently own a Z1 and have been using it for some time and, whenever anyone asks me whether they should buy and Xperia phone, I tell them to avoid it at all costs because the Sony application are absolutely dire!

    Honestly, the Album, Movies and Walkman apps are among the worst apps I have ever used. The stock android ones are much better - even those from early Android versions. I wish Google would force OEMs to include the stock apps, at least. Even if they do foist rubbish OEM apps on us, even if they make them the default apps, having the stock ones on the phone would give the users a choice!

    1. Bodhi

      Re: OEM Bloat not Decreased since Z1?

      I would be interested to hear why you think the Walkman app is terrible, as I must admit, I haven't heard a bad word said about it as yet. Interface and file format support seems way ahead of the standard Android options. Only negative I can see is the Music Unlimited integration, but then that takes 2 seconds to turn off...

      1. Ian Watkinson

        Re: OEM Bloat not Decreased since Z1?

        The walkman app is terrible, because I can't choose to remove it.

        It doesn't connect to spotify, or my amazon music app, yet it takes over playing when I plug in headphones in, because the sony built in dosomething app, won't do anything that isn't walkman related until you disable it.

        So it doesn't do it for me, the interface is bad, the buttons aren't where I like them, but the main reason it's terrible, lack of choice to remove it!

    2. IsJustabloke

      Re: OEM Bloat not Decreased since Z1?

      horses for course.... I think the Walkman app is superb and the album app is being upgraded all the time, so I disagree with your view in its entirety

      As a side note.... you'd think that the company that *invented* personal music players might have a clue or two about mobile music and they do. .

      My one small gripe is that otherwise great ear buds have a tendency to work loose no matter what size bud I pick and the round the back of the head design is a pain...

      I would also disagree with the talk of OEM bloat because anyone who thinks the SONY has bloatware on it has obviously never owned an a handset supplied by Orange.

      1. Kris Akabusi

        Re: OEM Bloat not Decreased since Z1?

        Indeed, the chap above must never have used a Orange or Vodaphone branded handset in the early 2000's.

        I've had a Z1 since it came out, it is rather annoying that Sony release a new one every 6 months but then I remind myself I don't need to upgrade just because there is a new shiny out.

        The Walkman app is the best music app on Android! I've trailed most and nothing seems to be as nice to use as the Walkman app. The only one to come close was iTunes on the iPhone 3Gs (if it still the same on the 6 then include that one as well). Its just a shame that my other half who has a Note 3 can't get it.

        1. Marcelo Rodrigues

          Re: OEM Bloat not Decreased since Z1?

          "The Walkman app is the best music app on Android! I've trailed most and nothing seems to be as nice to use as the Walkman app"

          The Walkman is a good app, but I prefer the "PowerAmp". Walkman plays ok, supports playlists, and so on.

          But I like better the "PowerAmp" way. It just works better for me. To each its own? :)

  12. P0l0nium

    Five Hundred and Forty Nine???

    I guess there will always be a market for "boutique" phones but 800 Yankee Dollars for a phone.??.. You have GOT to be kidding !!

    Do people actually part with their own money for this stuff??

    1. Lionel Baden

      Re: Five Hundred and Forty Nine???

      Did you not read any of the iphone hype ?

      people are willing to pay more than that

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Five Hundred and Forty Nine???

        The Z3 Compact can be had for under £400, a fair saving on its RSP. No doubt the big Z3 can be had for less than its RSP too.

    2. GregC

      Re: Five Hundred and Forty Nine???

      Actually that's nearer 900 Yankee Dollars at current exchange rates - $886.50 to be precise.

      Don't worry though, remember that UK prices always include VAT (sales tax) at 20%. The US list price works out at just $738.75. Bargain ;)

      And yes, people pay these prices. As others have said, look no further than the iPhone....

    3. juice Bronze badge

      Re: Five Hundred and Forty Nine???

      A quick glance dug up a sim-free price for the iPhone 6 of 539 quid, or just a tenner less - and that's for the low-end 16gb model.

      Either way, there's not going to be many picking one up sim-free; most will pick one up on a contract. And interestingly, another quick glance at carphone warehouse shows that contracts for the iphone 6 are currently trending around a tenner (per month) higher than the equivalent contract for a Z3 (e.g. £43 vs £34.50 for a bare-bones 24-month contract with no up-front costs).

      Then too, give it a few months and the Z3'll have come down in price - I wouldn't be surprised if it could be picked up for under £400 after Christmas...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a glass back and yes it does crack & shatter

    It's definitely got a glass back, already shattered mine. :(

  14. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Return to the mean

    With the arrival of the Xperia Z3, it’s now becoming clearer what Sony’s philosophy is regarding its flagship update programme: incremental changes every six months and evolution rather than revolution.

    This is the traditional release cycle for consumer electronics, especially in Japan. Tells us a lot about how commodified the industry has become: caveat emptor, caveat vendor.

  15. juice Bronze badge

    Z3 and G3...

    I picked up the LG G3 a month or so back - as tempting as the previews of the Z3 were, my contract was up, the S5 didn't look particularly inspiring and I didn't feel like waiting for the Z3 to come out, partly because I'm never keen on buying expensive/high-end kit during the initial launch - I much prefer waiting for the inevitable hardware/software issues to be debugged and patched out.

    Speaking of which, the G3's now had 3 software patches, two of which specifically targeted performance and battery life (the third one doesn't seem to have done much other than tinker with the keyboard a wee bit). And even without enabling the "experimental" ART runtime, so far the battery life is pretty impressive; even with fairly heavy use (2-3 hours) a day as an ebook reader and the usual online timewasters such as Facebook, I'm comfortably getting 2-3 days usage on a single charge; it's easily triple what I was getting out of my (admittedly slightly aging) Galaxy S3.

    ... which is all a long-winded way of saying: were the comments in the article about the G3s battery life based on how well it performs now, or how badly it performed when first released? I know re-testing kit can eat up a huge amount of time, but it'd be nice to get a proper assessment of how the various flagship models compare to each other "now", rather than how things were several software revisions ago - especially since these days, software affects everything from battery life and call quality to camera performance and video quality!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it come with a root kit? Or, being Android, are you expected to install your own viruses?

    1. Bodhi

      No, it does expect you to come up with your own jokes however.

    2. Kris Akabusi

      Yes you must install your own virus's and also charge it by putting it in the microwave.............by the way have you heard of the new preventative medicine for Ebola, I think you cover yourself in bleach etc etc

  17. Stretch

    I have had this phone since release

    - In Copper. Lovely.

    - Battery life is insane. If the Duracell bunny had a phone it would be this. Uses 20% of a charge a day. When your old phone reaches 50%, its shit I need a charger. When I hit 40% I think, might need to charge at the weekend.

    - Its so light and thin you worry about dropping it and can barely tell its in your jeans.

    - Walkman app is not good, or any other Sony software in my experience.

    - If you buy a Shix over this you are in serious need of mental help.

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