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IFA: Sony Xperia Z3 hands-on review

We take a closer look at Sony's latest flagship Android phone
Wed Sep 03 2014, 17:00

BERLIN: SONY UNVEILED yet another iteration of its flagship Z smartphone, the Xperia Z3, at IFA on Wednesday.

We got some hands-on time with the Sony Xperia Z3 before launch, where we managed to get a feel of the device's updated, slimmer design, which boasts a glass encased solid aluminium frame with more rounded edges compared to its predecessor, the Xperia Z2.

Sony Xperia Z3  smartphone hands-on at IFA - side view

The first noticeable thing about the Xperia Z3 is that it is now thinner and lighter than its predecessor, the Xperia Z2. From our time with it, it was clear that Sony has managed to squeeze in a number of updates, such as a slimmer and more comfortable to hold chassis.

IFA - Sony unveils Xperia Z3 smartphone

The Xperia Z3 is very similar to the Xperia Z2, which in terms of design is no bad thing as we're fans of the boxy look. Even better, with this release Sony has rounded the edges even further, meaning it's easier to hold, while still managing to pack the same sized 5.2in screen into the bezel.

The firm has made it slimmer by 0.9mm. It now measures just 7.3mm, compared to the Xperia Z2's 8.2mm. Picking up the phone for the first time, we were surprised at how comfortable it felt, even with such a large display size.

Sony Xperia Z3  smartphone hands-on at IFA - side

Another great feature of the Xperia Z3's design is that, like the Xperia Z2, Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z before that, the Xperia Z3 can be dunked in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5m, Sony claims, due to its dust-resistant and waterproof IP65 and IP68 certification, the highest possible waterproof rating. However, we didn't have a chance to test that in our brief testing time.

The display on the Sony Xperia Z3 is its most impressive feature. With the same pixel count as its predecessor of 1080x1920 resolution, the Xperia Z3's 5.2in display blew us away. Images are crystal clear and it is truly stunning to use, with both text and images looking sharp and touch operations being smooth between pages and apps.

Sony Xperia Z3  smartphone hands-on at IFA - apps

Performance and software
The Sony Xperia Z3 is powered by a quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM, making it quite a powerhouse. The chip is just as impressive in the real world as it is on paper, and we found the device very nippy, with no lag whatsoever, even when playing and recording 4K video, and even though during the latter it does still get a little hot.

As for software, the Xperia Z3 runs Google's Android 4.4 Kitkat mobile operating system right out of the box. However, Sony has skinned Android with its own custom user interface (UI). While we've never been huge fans of Sony's custom UI, finding it overbearing compared to a vanilla Android user interface, some of the firm's apps are a bonus.

The Xperia Z3 also arrives loaded with Sony's Walkman and Playstation companion apps as seen on the Xperia Z2, as well as many new augmented reality camera features and built-in noise cancellation technology to help block out background sounds while listening to music.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Xperia Z3 is its rear-facing camera, which not only features the same 20.7MP sensor as seen in its predecessor and the same 4K video recording, but it also boasts an 'Exmor RS for mobile' image sensor, with a new 25mm G Lens, making it what Sony claims "the world's first smartphone with ISO 12800 sensitivity for superior photos, even in low light".

Sony Xperia Z3  smartphone hands-on at IFA - back cam

Still images taken with the 20.7MP camera were just as impressive as on the Xperia Z2, appearing crisp, clear and full of natural colour.

The Sony Xperia Z3 also features a 2.2MP camera on its front that's capable of shooting HD 1080p video for all your selfie needs.

Though we were very impressed with our first hands-on with the Sony Xperia Z3 overall, the handset's success likely will depend partly on its price, which Sony has yet to reveal. Sony will launch the Xperia Z3 globally sometime this autumn.

Check back with The INQUIRER soon for our full Sony Xperia Z3 review. µ  


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