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Thinner Lighter Better

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review – the little GIANT!

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on September 3, 2014

Hi everyone, Mike here and this is the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, imh the best mid-sized Android phone that you can buy right now.

Of course there are plenty of good top-tier Android devices out there, but pretty much all of the latest releases offer 5+ inch screens and I’m one of those people that just can’t use a handset that big. And here’s where this Z3 Compact comes in play, as it offers the hardware and features of a high-end device, without compromises, in a smaller body.

Keep in miodn that’s I’m testing a pre-production version of the Z3 Compact here, thus I cannot get in-depth with benchmarks and camera performance, but I can share with you the impressions gathered after using this little giant for a about a week.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review

Design and looks

As a result the Xperia Z3 Compact is one of the few premium smartphones that can be actually used comfortably enough with a single hand. It packs a 4.6 inch screen with a thin bezel around it, and the main navigation controls are also integrated within the Display, so you don’t have to stretch your finger beneath it, like on some other phones.

The Z3 Compact also sits nice is hand and it is fairly grippy, thanks to its rounded sides and a bit chunkier body. Some of you might complain about its the plastic edges, but I for one won’t. However, I’m not a big fan of the glass covered back that catches smudges and fingerprints easily, although its does add a fair amount to the Z3’s premium feel and aesthetics.

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is one of the few top-tier handsets that you can actually use with a single hand

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is one of the few top-tier handsets that you can actually use with a single hand

Like all the other smartphones in the Z line, the Z3 Compact is waterproof and dust-resistant, IP 68 Certified. As a result though, the ports and trays are hidden behind some plastic caps placed on the left edge of this handset, while all the buttons are lined on the right: the redesigned Power knob and the volume rocker and shutter key, which are a bit flimsy and just don’t match the overall solidness of this Z3.

I should also add a few things about the front-facing speakers on this Sony. There are two of them and they flank the screen, but their cuts in the front glass are rather narrow, and that on one side leads to overall low volume, although the sound quality is not bad at all, at least on this particular version that I’ve tested here, and on the other makes them easy to cover and muffle with your thumbs when using the phone in landscape mode.

Another aspect worth mentioning is the notification LED, which sits in the left-top corner of the front-face, but is actually really small and difficult to spot in bright environments.

Screen

Anyway, enough about these outer aspects. Let’s have a look beneath the hood. Unlike the Z1 compact that settled for a 4.3 inch 720P display, the Z3 gets a larger 4.6 inch 720p screen with an IPS Triluminos panel and there’s hardly anything you won’t like about it. It is very sharp, bright and can paint natural colors and clean whites.

The viewing angles aren’t great, but since I doubt you’ll watch your phone’s screen from the sides too often, this aspect shouldn’t bother you much.

There's a good screen on the Z3 Compact, but with only 720p resolution

There’s a good screen on the Z3 Compact, but with only 720p resolution

Hardware and everyday use

That aside, the Z3 Compact provides a really solid daily use experience. The final version will run Android 4.4.4 KitKat, with Sony’s UI tweaks and customizations, as well as their own proprietary apps preinstalled, including Walkman and Playstation, Music and Video Unlimited or Xperia Lounge.

And everything just works really fast on this thing, from launching apps to scrolling between home screens and performing all sorts of everyday activities, like making calls, texting, browsing, watching videos and running games.

So performance wise, the Z3 Compact is a match for any top-tier Android smartphone of the moment, and that’s no surprise, since it packs the same hardware combo we’ve also seen on the Galaxy S5, with a Qualcomm 801 processor, Andreno 330 graphics and 2 GB of RAM, plus 16 GB of storage space with support for microSD cards.

Battery

The battery size is perhaps the only aspect where the Z3 Compact falls a bit short, as there’s not enough room to pack a huge battery on it. But this phone still offers decent battery life and will easily get you through at least one day of average use, even two in most cases and there are ways to get the most out of the phone’s lungs, like using the Stamina mode.

If you need even more though or if you’re a really heavy user, you might want to look elsewhere, especially since the battery in encased on this Sony and cannot be swapped with another one on the go, like with other phones. Or you can get yourself an external power brick.

Camera

When it comes to taking pics and videos, the Z3 Compact puts a fair fight once again, as it gets the capable 20.7 MPx shooter we’ve seen on the previous Zs. I won’t be able to tell you much about its performance though for the time being, since we are testing an early pre-production version of the Z3 Compact here and the results might be misleading.

But I will have samples for you as soon as I’ll get my hands on a final retail unit, so stay close.

The Z3 Compact inherits the 20.7 MPx camera from the previous Zs

The Z3 Compact inherits the 20.7 MPx camera from the previous Zs

Wrap-up

Alright, now, towrap this up, if you want a mid-sized smartphone with top features and specs, the Xperia Z3 Compact should sit at the top of your list, right next to the Apple iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Alpha.

There’s really no other phone that offers as much as this one does in this size factor right now and I just couldn’t fight anything majorly wrong with it, perhaps except for the battery size, in comparison to what’s inside the larger Android heavyweights. But even so, the Z3 Compact does not disappoint with its battery life.

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is one of the best mid-sized handsets out there, right next to the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and the Apple iPhone 6

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is one of the best mid-sized handsets out there, right next to the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and the Apple iPhone 6

So yes, I like this one and I believe it’s also the go-to device if you plan on switching from an iPhone to Android and don’t mind paying for the best. But I’d really want to know what do you guys think about this Z3 Compact and whether you consider it a good buy or not. So make sure to leave your replies and opinions below, in the comments section, as well as your questions if you have any, I’ll be around to reply.

And do check all my other posts on the Z3 Compact you’ll find here on the site.

Andrei Girbea, aka "Mike", Editor-in-Chief at TLBHD.com. I absolutely hate carrying around heavy stuff, that's why I'm fond of mini-laptops and portable computers. I'm primarily using such devices and have been testing them for many years now. Get in touch in the comments section below.

3 Comments

  1. sun

    November 28, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Nice phone, but its price is too high.

  2. Silviu

    May 18, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    The battery is actually amazing on this thing. I’ve had it for 6 months and it’s great. It lasts me 2-3 days, using it as much as my previous HTC ONE M8, which only lasted for almost 1 day.

  3. xav

    June 23, 2015 at 5:30 am

    Can you please give a review of asus fonepad 8

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