Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review
|Review: November 2014|
In a nutshell: The Sony Z3 Compact is a superb Android phone in a manageable size. It's excellent value for money, and comes with plenty of high-end features and an iconic design.
Today's best buy: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UK SI ... from Amazon (£145.87)
Here at S21, we're currently in love with Sony's flagship Z3 superphone. We think it's the best phone of 2014. The Z3 Compact is a smaller version of the Z3, and we love it too.
Design & looks
The design of the Z3 Compact is exactly the same as the Z3 but Sony has used a shrink-ray on it. Not a very powerful shrink-ray - not the kind that would be very effective in the hands of an evil maniac - but one that's good enough to make the phone fit comfortably in your jeans pocket.
It shares the rounded aluminium frame of the Z3, along with its tempered glass panels, making the phone a true design icon. Aluminium detailing gives the phone a premium feel, and it's probably the most luscious of all compact smartphones. Put it next to an iPhone 6 and you might wonder if Apple is seriously over-rated.
The Z3 Compact isn't quite as slim as the Z3, but it's still what we'd classify as an ultraslim phone. It definitely lives up to its Compact name, and will be the perfect size for many people. It's lightweight too, at just 129g.
We also want to draw your attention to the twin stereo speakers and the fact that the phone is waterproof and dust-resistant.
The screen is smaller than on the Z3 itself, but at 4.6 inches, it's almost exactly the same as the screen on the iPhone 6. Not bad for a phone that costs so much less. It's a HD screen too, with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The display is good, but it's not the standout feature of the phone.
Top camera performance
Photography, on the other hand, is an area where the Z3 Compact truly over-delivers. It gives you all the features of the Z3's amazing camera:
- 20.7 megapixel autofocus camera
- 1/2.3" Sony Exmor RS sensor
- 25mm wide-ange Sony G Lens
- 4K UHD video recording
- HDR for photos and video
- 2.2 megapixel front camera with 1080p video recording
It's a truly impressive camera phone.
The Android operating system runs the latest KitKat 4.4.
Usually the formula for a compact phone is to cut the size and cut the specs. But with the Z3 Compact, Sony has cut the size only. The Z3 Compact uses the same super-fast quad-core 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and Adreno 330 GPU as the Z3, putting this in the superphone league. The built-in memory is 16GB, and a microSD card slot that will accept cards up to 128GB. RAM is 2GB.
These are impressive specs and give the phone monster performance.
The Z3 Compact doesn't make any cuts with regard to connectivity either. It's a 4G phone with Wi-Fi, USB, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA and ANT+.
The battery of the Z3 Compact is quite a bit smaller than the Z3, at 2600mAh, but that's not too shabby for a phone with a smaller screen. We haven't run any tests on battery life, but Sony's official figures claim up to 10 hours of video playback, which is the same as the Z3 and is very reasonable. Our recent experience with the battery life of Sony smartphones has been very good, and we have no reason to doubt the battery life of the Z3 Compact.
Sony's Stamina Mode gives very impressive standby times by disabling Wi-Fi and data traffic when the display is off, while keeping calls and text notifications active. As soon as you turn the screen back on, normal activity resumes. You can customise this setting, for example to keep Facebook notifications active when the screen is off.
Although it doesn't quite have superphone status, the Z3 Compact is a very impressive phone. It keeps the premium styling and features that made us fall in lover with the Z3, while shrinking the phone to a manageable pocket size and cutting the cost by a healthy amount. Screen size has been sacrificed, but that's inevitable if you want a smaller phone.
We'd rate the Z3 Compact as one of the best phones of 2014, and the best compact phone.
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact features include:
- Operating system: Android 4.4 (KitKat)
- 20.7 megapixel Exmor RS camera with 8x digital zoom, autofocus, HDR, face recognition, smile detection and pulsed LED flash
- 4K UHD video capture with HDR and video light
- 2.2 megapixel front-facing 1080p Exmor RS video camera, Google Talk with video chat
- Display: HD touchscreen, 1280 x720 pixels, (4.6 inches), X-Reality engine and Triluminos colour
- Media player with album art, shuffle, smart playlists, TrackID and PlayNow
- xLoud Experience, Clear audio+, Clear bass, Clear Phase and Clear stereo, 3D surround sound
- FM Radio with RDS
- aGPS & GLONASS with Google Maps
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, email, chat, conversations
- 3D and motion games - PlayStation Certified
- Vibration alert
- Internet: WebKit web browser, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Chrome, Google voice search
- Processor: 2.5 GHz Snapdragon quad core processor
- Memory: 16GB flash memory plus 2GB RAM plus 128GB memory card slot
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, HDMI, DLNA, NFC, WiFi hotspot support, ANT+, MHL
- LTE 4G, UMTS HSPA+ (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz), GSM GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
- Size: 127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm
- Weight: 129g
- Battery: 2600mAh
- Talktime: 14 hours
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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact user reviews
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Average rating from 7 reviews:
Reviewed by waz
on 9th Aug 2016
Update on phone. Its no longer classed as waterproof, went into pool with phone and hey guess what happened, water got in and killed my phone.
Got in touch with Sony and now they advise u not to take in water. They should have sent text out on all there phones explain this. Its only on there website. Will never get Sony PHONE AGAIN.
Reviewed by Andrew
on 10th May 2016
Doesn't matter how good the spec is, the tempered glass is actually that stuff they use for windows in films when they're going to throw somebody through it. Drop it on the carpet from 6 inches - it cracks. Keep the phone in your jeans pocket - it cracks. Look at it wrong - it cracks. Breathe in the same room - it cracks. Budget for a new screen a month, or better yet, save your money and your sanity and buy something designed to be used in the real world.
Reviewed by waz
on 20th Feb 2016
Have had this phone for 4 months now. Not impressed.
Camera average,(had nokia lumia 920 before much better pics).
Phone has crashed more time than any other phone. Headphone socket does not work,google it quite common prob. Have had issues with tex another common prob. Charging battery is rubbish,you either got to keep taking cover off to charge or use magnetic charger which is a pain.
Battery life is good and process is fast. Great to use in rain and you can use camera in rain water which is great.
Wish I went for different brand phone now. Don't buy. Gave it average due to waterproffing.
Reviewed by Lungile Zaca
from South Africa
on 22nd Oct 2015
I love this product. It's got all the features i need.
Reviewed by Robert Stewart
on 4th Jun 2015
I chose a Z3 Compact as my contract phone in Nov 2014.
It's been fine, although nothing to write home about.
I'm a bloke who is self employed in the construction industry and find it awkward to pick up in my fingers unless it is in a case, as it is so slim.
I'm not a demanding user, and found the battery lasted well.
I look after it, using a screen protector and a folding leather cover/wallet.
Randomly, a text message icin came up to say I had one text message, when in actual fact, I had none! Nothing could shift this message, so it stayed there, as I got fed up trying and just accepted it!
It took a turn for the worse after an "upgrade" installed by Sony around the 15th/16th April, after which I couldn't send picture messages or use Bluetooth.
I had been working up to a factory reset on the advice of my network provider, Vodafone, but then I found a crack on the bottom right of the screen had appeared out of the blue!
Vodafone and Sony sound corporately unhelpful, and I reckon it will be a fight to obtain a replacement, although I'll go through the motions....
It is nothing like my old HTC Desire Z, which took years of punishing use, was built like a tank and has been swung back into action after a few months in a drawer!
I'm a bit disappointed in the first and last Sony 'phone I shall own....
Reviewed by lee
from NW England
on 22nd Apr 2015
Came to this from the Moto G 4.5 (the curved back on that is really nice yet would go great with more RAM) hence the reason I got this. ITS a beautiful phone - took me a good while to get this. It is 1 hell of a phone in a size that's sensible and not stupid size that the top-enders are. This has it all in specs' - just get a good case ! Its soo great it's slippy! Looks very expensive, would've preferred green but noir had to suffice.
I think it's the best ive owned, end of..
I used my moto today and actually missed it even tho I'm having an issue getting used to the white & UI of LP/5.0...
This is an ultimate issue of a mobile phone.
Reviewed by Andy
on 10th Nov 2014
Same spec as Z3 just smaller. I got mine, is perfect in every way. Was going to get Z2 but heard Z3 was on its way so waited. Pleasantly surprised to find compact being released at the same time. Not a fan of big phones so happy all all round.
Reply by Peter
on 15th Jan 2015
Im interested in this phone, but hearing a lot about the screen (and back) cracking for no reason, is this still an issue or have Sony addressed this?
Reply by Andy
on 28th Jan 2015
Not heard anything about issues with phone cracking? Mine is finebut has a case on it anyway... Still a great phone no plans to change it anytime soon
Reply by Peter
on 30th Jan 2015
Cheers Andy for the reply. I decided to get rid of my Xperia z1 (full size) and got the z3 compact last week, its great! My wife is trading in her phone for one too. Full 5 stars *****