To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Sony Xperia Z3 review: Fantastic in 2014, outclassed in 2018

Our Rating :
£49.99 from
Price when reviewed : 498
inc VAT

A beautiful design, good performance and a very long battery life make the Sony Xperia Z3 a fantastic phone

We reviewed the Sony Xperia Z3 back in 2014, and at the time, it was an excellent phone. Since its release, its dropped in price. The phone can be found for just £265, making it seem like a great deal from its original price.

However, in 2018, there are far better phones for the money – we’d suggest getting the Honor 9 Lite instead, which at the time of updating this article costs just £120, and yet, offers a larger screen and a better set of cameras.

If you’re still curious about the Xperia Z3, continue reading our review.

READ NEXT: Honor 9 Lite review: This budget phone is now cheaper

Sony Xperia Z3 review: What you need to know

In the past, buying one of Sony’s flagship smartphones has been a gamble, as a new Sony smartphone is often only six months away. The Z3 isn’t far off its predecessor, the Xperia Z2 – it keeps the same 5.2in Full HD display, has the same waterproofing design that protects it to a depth of 1.5m.

However, in terms of design, it feels like a completely different handset with its rounded nylon corners, making it easier to hold. Its rear plate is made out of a slippery glass, resulting in a less sturdy phone to grip as phones with a textured design.

Sony Xperia Z3 review: Display

Sony has also improved the Z3’s screen. It’s now much, much brighter, and Sony claims it’s the world’s first phone to deliver a brightness level of 600cd/m2. My own tests weren’t far off, as our colour calibrator measured a white level of 592.12cd/m2, making it by far one of the brightest screens I’ve ever tested.

This is great news when summer rolls around (or if you’re lucky enough to be going skiing come winter), and it really makes colours pop out of the screen. This is partly thanks to Sony’s X-Reality technology, which helps make images appear noticeably richer and more vibrant onscreen, but the screen itself has fantastic colour accuracy regardless of whether X-Reality is enabled or not. Our colour calibrator showed it was displaying an impressive 97 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, which is just what I’d expect from an IPS panel.

A higher brightness does have its downside, though, as it means the screen’s black levels aren’t as deep as phones with dimmer displays. I measured a black level of 0.52cd/m2, which is a little higher than I would have liked for a high-end phone, and it meant that blacks appeared slightly grey compared to the phone’s black bezels. Still, contrast was excellent, measuring 1,139:1, providing plenty of detail in darker areas and crisp, easy to read text; it also has superb viewing angles.

Sony Xperia Z3 face on

^ As well as white, the Xperia Z3 is also available in black, copper and light green

Sony Xperia Z3 review: Performance

Inside, the Xperia Z3 is once again very similar to the Z2. It uses the same quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor as its predecessor and comes with 3GB of RAM. The main difference lies in an increase in the processor’s clock speed from 2.3GHz to 2.5GHz, matching the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3. It’s a small change, but one that makes the phone feel that much more responsive compared to the competition.

Sony’s version of Android 4.4.4 zipped along at a blistering pace, with menu screens and the app tray feeling much quicker and snappier than the G3. I’m also a big fan of Sony’s dynamic ribbon background, which twists and turns and gradually changes colour with every swipe of the home screen.

The Z3 produced great scores in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks as well. It sped to an impressive 815ms in Chrome, putting it just in front of the Z2’s score of 862ms and the G3’s score of 977ms. The Galaxy S5 still has the edge, both in Chrome where it scored 731ms and in Samsung’s proprietary browser which scored a super fast 391ms, but you’re unlikely to notice the difference in day-to-day use.

The Xperia Z3’s web performance was beautifully smooth. Desktop web pages loaded quickly with hardly any signs of stutter or hesitation and I was able to zoom in and pan round the screen with very little trouble. Not that you’ll need to zoom in that often, as the Z3’s Full HD resolution meant that text was clear and legible even on desktop sites.

The Z3’s Adreno 330 GPU is also one of the most powerful graphics chips I’ve seen on a flagship phone. It maxed out both our 3DMark Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests and scored an impressive 18,228 (or 75.3fps) in Ice Storm Unlimited. This is more than enough power to run any type of game or app in the Google Play Store, and its average frame rate of 54.2fps in Epic Citadel on Ultra High Quality settings means that even the most demanding games should still look spectacular.

Sony Xperia Z3 PS4 mount^ The GCM10 Game Control Mount will be available separately, turning your Xperia Z3 into a portable gaming screen for your PS4

It’s a very similar set of scores to the Galaxy S5, but I think the Z3 will be a much more enticing option for gamers as it supports PS4 Remote Play. It’s an ingenious trick, as it essentially lets you use the phone as a remote screen for your PS4 over your home network, turning your PS4 into a portable games console. Check out Remote Play on the PS Vita if you want to know more.

Pages: 1 2

ProcessorQuad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
Screen size5.2in
Screen resolution1,920×1,080
Screen typeIPS
Front camera2.2-megapixel
Rear camera20.7-megapixel
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 4.4.4
Battery size3,100mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£498
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
Part codeSony D6603

Read more