The Sony Xperia Z3 was one of the big stars of the last Berlin IFA and some of you probably know that it has been with me on a daily basis for a few weeks now. What do you want, time flies when you're having fun. And precisely, after my focus on its design , its photo sensor , its speaker or even its screen , the time has come to get down to business and to tackle… the test.
First of all, know that the photos illustrating this article are not your humble servant. And no, they were taken by a real photographer who dislocates, Sylvain Leurent . So, if you too need a professional to support you in your various projects, do not hesitate to call on him.
And again a big big thank you in passing. For the photos, but also for the discussion.
If you pass around the area regularly, and if you've ever encountered one of my tests, then you should know that I always start with the technical specifications. This is not necessarily the most exciting step, but it is nonetheless essential and the Xperia Z3 is indeed no exception to the rule.
And here is what the new flagship of Sony offers:
- 5.2 inch IPS screen.
- Full HD 1080p type definition, resolution 1920 × 1080.
- Triluminos and X-Reality technologies.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5 GHz.
- Adreno 330 GPU, 3 GB of RAM.
- 16 GB of storage, micro SDXC card slot (128 GB max).
- 20.7 megapixel Exmor RS sensor.
- 8x digital zoom, maximum ISO 12,800.
- Front camera of 2.2 million pixels.
- SteadyShot system for stabilization.
- WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, aGPS, NFC, DLNA, GLONASS, 4G.
- 3100 mAh battery.
- Dimensions: 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm.
- Weight: 152 grams.
- Price: 679 €. Available in four colors: black, white, green and bronze.
Like an air of deja vu? This is perfectly normal. The technical sheet of the Z3 is very close to that of the Z2 ( tested here ), with a few details. Its processor is a little faster, but its battery loses its capacity a little. This last point is not a real problem, as we will see a little later in this test.
In addition, and this is a very important point, the Z3 inherits the treatment of its predecessors and is thus certified IP55 and IP58 . It will be able to resist dust, splash and even immersion. Be careful, however, because this only applies to fresh water, and not to salt water. All at a depth limited to a maximum of one meter, for a period which must not exceed 30 minutes.
Design & Ergonomics
Now that everyone knows what it's about, it's time to get down to business and discuss the design of the Z3.
And it is an important subject because the engineers of Sony did not stand by their achievements. Their new terminal thus goes a little further than its predecessors and it is entitled to magnificent rounded metal borders, but also to reinforcements at its corners. Plastic reinforcements. What are they for ? Quite simply to absorb shocks in the event of a fall.
For the rest, well we always find the same materials and the Z3 is thus composed of two tempered glass plates held by a metal hoop. Are they sensitive to scratches? Frankly, I didn't have the heart to try and scratch it. However, I strongly advise you to buy plastic films from a specialized box to avoid unpleasant surprises.
If you don't know where to look, you can go and see here . These protections will cost you only € 7.99 and they will allow you to protect both sides of the terminal. I had already supplied myself to this company for the Z2 and I did not encounter any particular problem. Note, however, that the shipping times are a bit long.
Allow a short week at best.
Another change, the two speakers of the device are no longer located against its edges, but a few centimeters. It doesn't sound like anything said like that but it apparently helps the sound spread. Here again, we will have the opportunity to talk about it again a little later in this test.
Few ergonomic surprises, however. Four buttons are located on the right side of the device. They provide access to powering on the latter, but also to volume control and the shutter release button. On the other side, and therefore on the left edge, the famous connector will always be there and we just have to put the Z3 on a compatible base to recharge it effortlessly.
The headphone jack is on the top edge, and there's nothing on the bottom edge. No grid, no holes, nothing at all. The Z3 is more streamlined than its predecessors and that's not a bad thing.
Otherwise, well there are also two access hatches. The left one houses the Micro USB port while the right one hides the Micro SD port and the port for the Nano SIM card. Yes, Sony has finally decided to ditch Micro SIM on its latest flagship and you might want to take the lead and apply for a new card from your carrier instead.
The other big news is the appearance of these two new variations, or rather these two new colors. The Xperia Z3 does indeed come in black , white , green, and copper . I had the opportunity to have them all in hand and they are truly magnificent. Especially the two newbies.
There is no doubt that Sony is at the height of its art. I know I'm going to put a lot of people on my back but Apple might do well to take inspiration from the Z3 for the iPhone 6s, or for the iPhone 7. And yes, it's entirely subjective but it is also assumed.
Screen, Power & Autonomy
Sony has some screen know-how and you only have to take a look at its latest televisions to realize it. The Xperia Z3 obviously inherits some of the manufacturer's technologies, in particular two: the Triluminos and the X-Reality .
These terms certainly mean something to you and it makes sense since the Z2 also played this card. However, not everyone knows what these terms mean, so a booster shot can't hurt.
The Triluminos brings together several improvements made to the LED backlighting of the panel. Improvements improving the rendering of colors, so that they are a little more vivid without saturating them. X-Reality is involved in the sharpness and contrast of images, animated or not. Best of all, it also reduces noise and all those unsightly artifacts that can affect the quality of a photo or video.
I talk about it in more detail in the following video, but the rendering offered by the Z3 screen is really very pleasant. I know there are a lot of supporters of AMOLED but I am not. I prefer less spicy colors, but more realistic.
As mentioned in this article , the terminal screen also has the annoying tendency to shoot blue. Fortunately, it will suffice to go and adjust the white balance through the terminal parameters to correct the problem.
What about its power?
As mentioned above, if Sony has kept the Snapdragon 801, the Z3 chip is a little faster than that of the Z2. Does this have a real impact on the raw performance of the machine? To find out, or rather to try to determine it, well I relied on the usual tools. Either on BenchmarkPi, Quadrant, Linpack, An3DBench, Geekbench and AnTuTu.
Here are the results obtained on each of these solutions:
- BenchmarkPi: 157 (194).
- Quadrant: 20808 (15,456).
- Linpack: 677,376 (453,405).
- An3DBench: 7,868 (7,671).
- Geekbench: 971/2 606 ( 916/2 544).
- AnTuTu: 41,271 (30,369 ).
I took the initiative to add in parentheses the results of the Z2 history so that you can easily compare.
Anyway, well these results speak for themselves. You should always be wary of this type of solution, it's true, but the Xperia Z3 does it with all the honors and it crushes its predecessor without any difficulty. It even does better than the LG G3 and this is ultimately not surprising because it does not have the same definition to manage.
This perhaps explains why Sony did not switch to QHD.
Finally for that, and perhaps also for autonomy.
Because in this area, the Z3 does better than most (all?) Terminals on the market.
Everything will obviously depend on the use you make of it but if you settle for the bare minimum (emails, social networks, searches, photos, music), then you will easily reach the two days without needing to connect the terminal to an outlet. sector. With a lot of video and games, the battery life will drop to a day and a half. Without Stamina mode.
If you activate it, then you will easily exceed the three days of battery life for normal use, or the two and a half days for intensive use.
Of all the phones that have passed through my hands lately, none come close to him.
On the sidelines, Sony had the good idea to interest an Ultra Stamina mode that disables all services except the phone, address book, calendar and camera. There, and the autonomy of the Z3 will easily exceed a week.
Very practical, especially if you go on vacation forgetting your charger, or if you forget to buy the adapter corresponding to the right plugs.
And for me, this is not a trivial detail. For that alone, the Z3 deserves our attention.
Photos, Video & Sound
The Xperia Z3, like the previous models, does not compromise on the photo part. Sensor of 20.7 million pixels, G-Lens optics equivalent to a 25 mm, BIONZ processing chip, it is obviously very difficult not to think of the Z2 or Z1 by looking at the technical characteristics of its photo module.
Especially since the terminal behaves exactly like its predecessors. Photos captured in automatic mode will not exceed 8 million pixels. The idea is obviously to facilitate sharing on social networks, and also that we can zoom in the image without (too much) losing quality.
To capture a photo in the native definition of the sensor, it will therefore be necessary to switch to manual mode and browse in the advanced settings.
The funny thing is that we find the same logic for the management of sensitivity. The ISO 12800 put forward by the manufacturer are only offered in automatic mode. In manual, it will be necessary to be satisfied with 800 ISO.
Well, all that is great but the theory remains … the theory. And the quality of a sensor, or a camera, is obviously not limited to its definition, or its sensitivity. In reality, in fact, there are many other parameters to take into account such as the precision and speed of the autofocus, the sharpness or the dynamics of the images captured through it.
On this side, the Z3 is doing quite well. It will obviously do less well than your SLR or even your luxury digital compact, but it will still be able to take pretty pictures. Images are both sharper and less dull than on the Z2 and Z1. The colors have more pep and the device seems to be quite comfortable in high and low lights.
The same goes for photos taken in the evening, or in a difficult light atmosphere. The sensitivity of its sensor will allow the Z3 to get a little more light than its competitors, but it still struggles in terms of noise management, with some really unsightly artifacts.
So what about videos? The Z3 has the same strengths, and the same weaknesses, but it also has a little extra: its stabilizer . It is frankly stunning, and it is thus perfectly possible to capture videos freehand without fear of the slightest shaking.
To see more, I refer you to this video:
I rarely mention the issue of sound in my articles. This is not a very important criterion in my eyes and this probably explains it. However, many of you have asked me questions and this is precisely what prompted me to delve into the subject (a little).
In phone conversation, there is nothing to say, the Z3 is doing very well and I have not noticed any particular problem on this side. Note also that the Sony overlay offers a lot of interesting options, such as an ambient noise cancellation function and an option to slow down the speech rate of his interlocutor.
I also had the opportunity to test the latter and it works really well. I even think it must really be a treat to use when suffering from hearing problems.
And then there is the speaker. I mentioned them at the start of this article, but Sony made the decision to move them away from the edge of the device and place them close to the terminal screen. In addition, the firm has also integrated several specific technologies, and in particular VPT , ClearAudio + and Xloud .
Result of the races, the Z3 is doing like a conductor (of an orchestra) and it is able to restore a clearer and more powerful sound than on the Z2 or Z1. No crackling, no excessive saturation, we have a sound that is both clear and clean.
To go further, it will obviously be possible to rely on a battery of specific options, and in particular on an equalizer. No surprise here since it is similar in every way to what the brand's old flagships offered. The user can therefore go and find the pre-settings offered by default, or get their hands dirty if they wish.
Anyway, one thing is certain: when you put all three side by side, the Z3 really stands out from its two predecessors and that is precisely what this other video shot by me illustrates.
Ecosystem & Applications
The Xperia Z3 comes with the latest version of the overlay from Sony.
It is in line with the previous ones, with some interesting adjustments affecting in particular its interface , the camera application and … the game . With a big novelty on this side, moreover. A novelty that should delight those who have a PlayStation 4 at home.
The following list is not exhaustive, of course, but it will give you a more precise idea of the strengths of the terminal in terms of software.
No big changes here. Users will still have the option to distribute their application shortcuts and widgets across multiple home screens. They can also group certain elements together in thematic files. To edit everything, all they need to do is click a well-felt “pinch to zoom” . The routine, in short.
Yes, but Sony also took the opportunity to enlarge the icons of our shortcuts on the theme activated by default. It's rather light, but it deserved to be highlighted.
The notification center is always structured in two separate tabs. The one on the left groups together the alerts generated by the applications. To access the quick settings, you will have to tap on the one on the right.
There, we will see buttons appear on a grid to enable or disable WiFi, Bluetooth, 4G, NFC and so on. If needed, we can also change the screen brightness on the fly, without having to go through the device settings.
Small novelty by the way, when you hit the “Modify” button, the Z3 will not send you back to the associated options screen. It will simply display a banner at the very bottom of the screen, and you will then only have to take the shortcuts of your choice to place them on the grid, at your convenience. Simple and fast.
List of applications
Like all manufacturers, Sony displays all the applications installed on the terminal on a special page, with navigation similar to that of the home screens. Navigation based on the use of horizontal sweeps, therefore.
However, the Japanese giant had the good idea to integrate a special screen located completely on the left, a screen grouping together several well thought out filters. Through it, it will be possible to search for a particular application, or to switch to edit mode to uninstall the tools of our choice.
Further on, we can intervene in the sorting of applications and bring up the most used tools or those that have been installed by the user. Finally, at the very bottom we will find two more options to open the Play Store or Sony Select.
Multitasking gets straight to the point. After pressing the dedicated button, the Z3 will show us the list of all open applications and we will only have to slide them sideways to close them. Want to do a big cleaning job? No problem, just hit the “Close All” button.
It's not bad, but it's not over. A small bar grouping together several icons is placed at the bottom of the screen. It gives access to micro-applications, that is to say the tools that we will be able to open in windowed mode. Exactly like LG's QSlide Apps, with one thing: they don't just work with Sony apps.
Chrome can also be opened in windowed mode, and it will be the same for all the widgets delivered with our favorite applications.
The Z3 does quite well in capturing photos and videos, but its best asset is the associated application. Completely modular, the latter effectively brings together several distinct and original shooting modes.
If the automatic mode and the manual mode are necessarily part of the game, it is also necessary to count with other modules allowing for example to film in 4K or even to broadcast an event live on Facebook or YouTube. Behind, we also have another mode allowing to create nice background blur, or even to make slow motion. The best part about this story is that third-party editors also have the possibility of offering their own modules.
With the Z3, Sony has incorporated new shooting modes. Like the photo with sound, ideal for taking voice notes, or the “Front Face” mode to simultaneously use the main sensor and the front camera. Yes, and there is also a third one worth seeing. The multiple camera will effectively allow you to record a scene from several Z3s, or from a Z3 and a Z2, or even from a Z3 and a QX10 / 100.
Weird? Certainly, but the most creative among you will be able to give it to their heart's content.
The time has come to talk about the ultimate function of the Z3, the one that is bound to make you want to check out: Remote Play.
It's not really a secret, but the PlayStation 4 includes a specific tool to send the video stream from the console to another device. Like on a PS Vita, for example, or even a PlayStation TV. Thanks to this system, you can continue playing when the whole family is gathered in front of Kho Lanta. Awesome.
And in fact, just imagine that all terminals in the Xperia Z3 range also support this function. What does it mean ? Quite simply that you will be able to play Destiny or Watch_Dogs on your Z3, your Z3 Compact or your Z3 Tablet Compact. The delirium, and the best is yet to come because Sony will even market a special accessory that will allow you to hook your phone or tablet to a DualShock 4 controller.
No need to search, Sony is the only one to offer it. Only downside, we will have to wait until next November to take advantage of it.
Menus & Options
The Z3 offers several very useful options. Some were present on the Z2, but not all.
Among the essentials, there are smart gestures that allow you to pick up your phone or refuse calls without having to put your fingers on its screen. The themes are always there, of course, which will not surprise anyone. The same goes for the equalizer and the associated functions, which will allow you to boost the sound reproduction offered by your headphones, or by the speakers of the terminal.
If not, well there is also the smart backlight control, which will keep your Z3 screen on when you use it. Very practical on a daily basis. The same goes for the function allowing to “wake up” the terminal with a double tap. And what about the Ultra Stamina mode that will save your life when you are away from home, without electricity and without a charger?
The time has come to conclude, and to give you my verdict.
Aesthetically speaking, there is nothing to say and the Xperia Z3 is frankly successful. It is at the same time beautiful, fine and light. Its new colors are simply magnificent. I cling a little less to the plastic reinforcements located on the corners of the terminal, but they are quickly forgotten over time.
It must also be said that Sony had the intelligence to dye them the same color as the border.
Not much to say ergonomically. The buttons fall naturally under the fingers when the terminal is held in hand. Well except the trigger, but that's quite logical. Regarding the hatches, well we must admit that the installation of a new SIM card is not easy. Especially for those with short fingernails, in fact.
No problem, however, for the micro SD card.
So what about the power of the device? And for its autonomy? There, it's very simple, the Z3 performs like a boss. It doesn't include a Snapdragon 805, that's true, but it's capable of running the most demanding games without batting an eyelid. No problem for videos either, even for high definition ones.
During all these weeks of testing, I did not notice the slightest latency.
But where it hits really hard is in terms of its autonomy. Two days in current use, and without having activated the Stamina mode, it is simply enormous. Especially when you know that other high-end terminals can not last a full day without going through the charger box.
The photo / video part did not disappoint me either. Admittedly, the Z3 quickly shows its limits when the ambient light starts to dim, but its sensor does significantly better than that of its predecessor. Especially in terms of sharpness and dynamics.
And then there is the software part of course. There, unsurprisingly, the biggest novelty is obviously the arrival of Remote Play . What a stroke of genius! No manufacturer can offer the same experience. Samsung? They don't have a console. Apple? Same thing. HTC? LG? All the same.
The only company that would have a say is Microsoft, but we will probably have to wait until next year, or the one after, before the publisher offers a function of this type. In the meantime, if you want to transform your mobile terminal into a real portable console, it's not complicated, you will have to buy a Z3, a Z3 Compact or a Z3 Tablet Compact.
In short, you will no doubt understand, the Z3 enchanted me. And if you have any additional questions, the comments are there for you.