BERLIN: Sony lifted the lid on its Xperia Z3 smartphone, at IFA on Wednesday, with its updated slimmer design, solid aluminium frame and rounder edges than its predecessor the Xperia Z2. We were lucky enough to have some hands-on time with the device before its launch.
The first noticeable thing about the Xperia Z3 is that it is thinner and lighter than the Xperia Z2. It was clear that Sony has managed to squeeze in a number of updates, such as a slimmer chassis that feels more comfortable to hold.
The Xperia Z3 is very similar to the Xperia Z2, which in terms of design is no bad thing as we're fans of the boxy look. Even better, with this release Sony has rounded the edges even further, making the Z3 easier to hold, while still managing to pack the same sized 5.2in screen into the bezel.
The firm has made it slimmer by 0.9mm, so it now measures just 7.3mm, compared with the Xperia Z2's 8.2mm. Picking up the phone for the first time, we were surprised at how comfortable it felt, even with such a large display.
Another great feature of the Xperia Z3's design is that – like the Xperia Z2, Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z before that – the Xperia Z3 can be dunked in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5m, Sony claims. This is thanks to its dust-resistant and waterproof IP65 and IP68 certification, the highest possible waterproof rating. However, we didn't have a chance to test that in our brief time with the device.
The display on the Sony Xperia Z3 is its most impressive feature. With the same pixel count as its 1080x1920 resolution predecessor, the Xperia Z3's 5.2in display blew us away. Images are crystal clear and it is truly stunning to use: both text and images look sharp and touch operations are smooth between pages and apps.
Performance and software
The Sony Xperia Z3 is powered by a quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM, making it quite a powerhouse. The chip is just as impressive in the real world as it is on paper, and we found the device very nippy, with no lag whatsoever, even when playing and recording 4K video, though during the latter it does still get a little hot.
As for software, the Xperia Z3 runs Google's Android 4.4 Kitkat mobile operating system right out of the box. However, Sony has skinned Android with its own custom user interface (UI). While we've never been huge fans of Sony's custom UI, finding it overbearing compared with a vanilla Android user interface, some of the firm's apps are a bonus.
The Xperia Z3 also arrives loaded with Sony's Walkman and PlayStation companion apps as seen on the Xperia Z2, as well as many new augmented-reality camera features and built-in noise cancellation technology to help block out background sounds while listening to music.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Xperia Z3 is its rear-facing camera, which not only features the same 20.7MP sensor as seen in its predecessor and the same 4K video recording, but it also boasts an 'Exmor RS for mobile' image sensor, with a new 25mm G Lens, making it what Sony claims "the world's first smartphone with ISO 12800 sensitivity for superior photos, even in low light."
Still images taken with the 20.7MP camera were just as impressive as on the Xperia Z2, appearing crisp, clear and full of natural colour.
The Sony Xperia Z3 also features a 2.2MP camera on its front that's capable of shooting HD 1080p video for all your video-calling needs.
Our first impressions of the Sony Xperia Z3 were good, but the handset's success will likely depend in part on its cost, which has not yet been announced.
Sony will release the Xperia Z3 around the world this autumn. Check back with V3 then for our full review.
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