Strong equipment, strong design: Sony’s flagship climbs right up to the top of the connect best list. But the price is not exactly low.
While Apple, Samsung and other smartphone manufacturers come out with new top models on an annual basis, Sony comes out with a revamped flagship every six months. This short product cycle does not appeal to everyone. Some buyers have the feeling that the gem they just bought is outdated after a few months. But you should look at the Sony strategy as an additional option that increases selection: if you want to have an upper class Sony product, you have the choice between several current models, which are hardly distinguishable regarding technology, but are much cheaper.
At first glance, the Xperia Z3 and Z2 are two peas in a pod. Only when you look more closely can you see that the successor is slimmer and has a lot of detail improvements. The frame is no longer angular, but slightly curved outward, and the openings for micro SD and nano SIM cards are more finely cut into the aluminum.
Another detail that is easy to overlook: the frame of the Z3 no longer consists of a piece of metal. Sony has replaced the corners with plastic, which act as shock absorbers for falls and also improve the radio characteristics, as shown in the lab tests: while the Xperia Z2 performs only moderately here, the successor achieves top grades across the board.
The display is also well worth a second look: both models come with a 5.2-inch LCD, which features the full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. With the Z3, however, Sony increased the luminosity by more than 150 candela – a difference you can quite clearly see in direct comparison.
Under the display, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 sets the pace. For the Z3, only the maximum clock rate of the four main cores was increased from 2.3 to 2.5 GHz, which is not really noticeable in daily use.
Not much was done with the camera either: in the Z3, only the light sensitivity was increased to ISO 12800 and the focal length was minimally extended – differences that have little impact. Positive: Sony has given its top models a separate shutter button, so you will always have quick access to the camera. All in all, both Z-models take very good photos and videos.
While the successors usually offer better battery life in general, it is the other way around for Sony: with a running time of 9:16 hours in connect mixed use, the Z2 is one of the most persistent smartphones ever. But instead of topping this, the Z3 falls significantly behind with only 6:46 hours. No wonder: first, the display is brighter, and on the other hand, Sony has reduced the battery capacity from 3200 mAh to 3100 mAh.
The predecessor has an edge in another area: the shipping carton does not contain just any headphones, but a high-quality in-ear model with active noise cancellation which would easily cost 50 euros on the open market. Despite this premium addition, the smartphone currently sells at just 350 euros, which is an extremely reasonable price considering what is offered.
The Xperia Z3 looks almost exactly the same and is technically only marginally better, but it costs 150 euros more. In conclusion: in this case, the predecessor is the better choice for price-conscious buyers.