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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review: Compact Not Mini

Just when all the manufacturers are making their flagship device with larger screen than previous generation and coming out a "mini" version with specs cut off, Sony has made the change. The Xperia Z1 Compact was announced last year with small size but same performing packaging as the Xperia Z1. And now, it's time for an upgrade. Here comes the Xperia Z3 Compact.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact official photos

- Dimensions: 127 x 64.9 x 8.6 mm
- Weight: 129 g
- Display: 4.6" HD (720 x 1280 pixels) IPS LCD
- Processor: 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
- RAM: 2 GB
- Memory: 16 GB, microSD card slot
- Camera: 20.7 MP Camera, 4K video recording, 2.2 MP front
- Battery: 2,600 mAh
- OS: Android 4.4.2 KitKat

Sony hasn't change the design much, the Xperia Z3 Compact still have double-glass OmniBalance design. Unlike the Z3, the compact version comes with more rounded frame but it is not a metal frame. The buttons are all at the right side and I find that it's easy to press.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact live photos and handling

IP68 rating means that there will be flaps covering the MicroUSB port, MicroSD and NanoSIM slots. The 3.5 mm headphones jack keeps uncovered because Sony has did a special coating on it. Looking at the front of it you'll notice the dual front-facing speakers, which is what the Xperia Z1 Compact lacks of. The size of the phone is same as the Xperia Z1 Compact but the screen has increased to 4.6", this is because the bezels are now slimmer.

Looking at the display of the Xperia Z3 Compact, you will feel like you're now looking at Sony Bravia TV. The Xperia Z3 Compact packs a 4.6" 720p Triluminos display with LiveColor technology and X-Reality mobile engine.

The 4.6" display

Viewing angle never be that good before on Sony smartphones thanks to the IPS panel. The LiveColor technology boosts the colors, as well as keeping the display sharp. It's good to see that Sony brings the success of Bravia TV to a smartphone. So the Xperia Z3 Compact is actually a mini Bravia TV. I find that it's enjoyful to watch movies or browsing web on it.

Mini version usually will be having a slower processor compared to its flagship brother, but not for the Xperia Z3 Compact. It has the same 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor as the Xperia Z3, but the RAM is slightly smaller at 2 GB.

Benchmark results

Performance is just simply amazing thanks to the Adreno 330 GPU. Multitasking on it is just smooth without any hiccup, but slow down will happen when you are switching to heavy app. It scored 21,203 on Quadrant Standard and 41,454 on AnTuTu benchmark, which is hardly to believe because the it is even slower than several Snapdragon 800 powered devices. However, you can't judging the phone performance by its benchmark results.

IP68 water and dust resistance

The dual front-facing speakers produce loud and clear audio quality, but you will feel the whole phone is vibrating. The IP68 water and dust resistance allow you to submerge the phone up to 1.5 m water level for 30 minutes, but remember to keep all the flaps close.

The Xperia UI running on top of Android 4.4.4 KitKat is buttery smooth. Sony has confirmed that it is upgradeable to Android 5.0 Lollipop in the future.

Android 4.4.4 KitKat

Sony keeps the user interface close to stock Android but with some software treatment, so that you won't be bored on the user interface easily.

Lockscreen | Homescreen | Apps drawer | Notification area | Quick settings | Themes selection

You can download themes from Play Store so that your phone will always look fresh.

What's New app

You can connect the phone to PS4 so that you can stream play PS4 games on it. Unfortunately, I do not have a PS4 so can't show you about it. What's New app shows all the apps recommendation including PlayStation games.

Small apps

Small apps are found in the task manager, you can open as much as you can but I believe you won't because the screen is a little bit small.

Screen record

One thing I really enjoy is the screen record feature, just hold the power button then it will show record screen selection, so now I can record the screen to show my friend for guideline.

The camera hasn't change at all, it is still a 20.7 MP Sony G lens camera with f/2.0 aperture. Superior Auto is the default mode but it is only capable for 8 MP photo shooting. Switching to Manual mode will allow you to shoot 20.7 MP photo but with 4:3 aspect ratio, you can shoot it in 16:9 aspect ratio with 15.5 MP.

Camera interface

Image quality has improved, it is able to shoot decent image but the noise level is very high. Low-light shoot is impressive with enough light for detail image. I find out that sometimes Superior Auto performs better despite the resolution is lower.

Camera samples (Manual mode)

Camera samples (Superior auto mode)

Just like the Xperia Z3, it is able to record 4K video. Video quality is very detail and it is very stable with steady shoot.

Video recording

Sony did a great job on it, but please be noted that the phone overheat quickly while recording video. If the device temperature rises, the app may close during use. Your recording will be saved automatically.

1080p video recording sample

 4K video recording sample

As the screen is bigger, Sony has increased the battery capacity to 2,600 mAh. The battery standby is decent especially with Stamina mode.

Battery life | Stamina mode | Ultra Stamina mode

I have fully charged the phone and put it in standby for around 17 hours and the battery level stays same. When your battery is getting low, just activate Ultra Stamina mode so that you can only use basic app and restrict data and Wi-Fi connectivity to save battery.

Final Words

This compact flagship smartphone is priced at RM 1,899, with that you are able to experience same power as Xperia Z3 but with compact size. If you think that the Z3 is too big and expensive, then the Z3 Compact is a right choice. But for Xperia Z1 Compact users, it is not a worth update unless you need a slightly bigger screen size, faster processor and better speaker.

- Compact size
- Same performing packaging as Xperia Z3
- Impressive display
- Loud and clear speakers

- Not a worth update from Z1 Compact
- Back panel is not pure glass
- Front and back are fingerprints magnet

Written by: Charles

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