So is the Xperia Z3 that phone? It does come in attractive colours (white, black, copper gold and ‘silver green’) and has a shrunken frame, improved camera and that all important Sony PS4 Remote Play compatibility.
Those things alone would be good enough for most, and the IP68 rating (which might not really change the way 99% of people use their phone) is at least a good ‘peace of mind’ marketing tool.
But there’s a sense of the Z2 owners being left out in the cold. Why can’t they have PS4 compatibility? After all, it’s only a matter of the chipset being up to the task, and with both phones running the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 option (albeit with slightly different models and clockspeeds) that shouldn’t be an issue.
And what about in six months time when the new Xperia Z4 lands on shelves? Surely this model will be seen as clumsy and outdated too, although at a lower price point?
The design of the Sony Xperia Z3 is something that surprised me from the word go – we didn’t expect to be as impressed as we are.
This is a phone that has dimensions of 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm, which compared to the Sony Xperia Z2 (146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm) doesn’t seem all that different.
But the slightly shrunken nature of the chassis is very nice indeed (especially the millimetre thickness shaved off the phone), and something that we really want to laud the brand for.
In terms of aesthetics, it somehow impresses us every time we look at it. Yes, the bezels above and below the display aren’t anything to get excited about (they’re just too large to look nice, but presumably pack some important components) the overall package looks premium.
The copper colour we had on test is also something we didn’t expect to like – after all, this is really a brown phone – but it again seems to exude a quality that belies the slightly lower price tag.
On top of that, the edges have been rounded to make holding the phone an altogether more pleasant experience. We weren’t expecting to feel much difference between this and the Z2 given the similarity in dimensions, so this was a nice surprise.
The rest of the phone is largely as expected: the Omnibalance key at the side is pretty easy to strike, and although the volume key is positioned just below and theoretically too close, the larger size of the phone makes it easy enough to differentiate in the hand.
We do hate that Sony keeps putting a dock connector on the left-hand side of the device – this confuses in the hand, feeling a bit like the volume key, and we can’t see that it’s something many people would actually use given the smaller sales of such aftermarket accessories.
Then there are the port covers. We clearly need these to make sure the phone is fully waterproof of course, but the problem here is that they ever so slightly stick out, even when pressed in as hard as possible.
The main culprit is the cover for the microSD and SIM card (which is now a nano option, showing Sony is starting to fall in line with the rest of the industry) which just protrudes slightly and therefore ruins the sleek, premium air the Sony Xperia Z3 has.
The other change to the design is the nylon covers in the corners of the phone – apparently these are cleverly added to stop the phone looking so damaged. According to Sony, most phones land on these corners when dropped, so putting the covers on helps stop the tarnished metal.
Except, well, it doesn’t. The corners on our review device are fine, but even before dropping the phone later in the test, there were already two small nicks in the metal band in just over a week.
This is the same thing we saw with the iPhone 5, and anyone that’s owned one of those and kept it out of a case will see the scratched up monstrosities that some people are walking around with.
We don’t think the Xperia Z3 will suffer to quite that degree, but it’s interesting to see the effect happening so quickly.
The front facing speakers are worth a mention here too. Not only do they help to justify the oversized bezels, they also provide some pretty good and rich sound.
While not in the same league as the HTC One M8, the smaller and more discreet design will appeal to those that want good quality audio without the compromise in aesthetics.
And Sony, of course, continues with the dedicated camera button. I mention it last as its presence is always something to be celebrated: an easier way to fire up one of the most-used applications on the phone and a more stable method of snapping away.