The Xperia XZ3 finally adopts the idea of minimizing bezels, even if Sony isn’t going as far as some companies in this endeavor just yet. Still, future owners of the high-end handset will get a 6-inch HDR OLED display with a resolution of 2880×1440 and an aspect ratio of 18:9. There’s no notch here.
Sony’s Xperia XZ3 features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage and it supports a microSD card up to 512GB. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and it’ll be running Android 9.0 Pie when it arrives later this year. The camera on the back is a 19MP Motion Eye sensor, while the front-facing camera is a 13MP sensor.
Finally, the Xperia XZ3 boasts a 3000mAh battery and a USB-C port for charging, but there is no 3.5mm headphone jack. The Xperia XZ3 will be available in Black White Silver, Forest Green, and Bordeaux Red. Sony says the flagship smartphone will launch in “selected markets” at the end of September.
Sony just announced the Sony Xperia XZ3 at IFA 2018 in Berlin. The announcement was preceded by a few leaks here and there, but overall it’s pretty surprising that Sony is releasing the follow-up to the Sony Xperia XZ2 so soon (that device only launched in February of this year). As one would expect with the launches being so close together, the Sony Xperia XZ3 specs aren’t all too different from those of the XZ2.
GPS + GLONASS
USB Type-C 3.1
Android 9.0 Pie
Dimensions and weight
158 x 73 x 9.9mm
black, white silver, forest green, bordeaux red
Not only are the specs very similar to the XZ2, but the Sony Xperia XZ3 looks a lot like that previous flagship. It seems that Sony’s square, blocky design language is permanently over, as the Xperia XZ3 is all curves. It also still looks a lot like the design languages of Samsung and HTC.
The Sony Xperia XZ3 runs on a Snapdragon 845 chipset, just like with the XZ2. The display is a 6-inch OLED screen with a Quad HD+ resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 in an 18:9 aspect ratio. The display is a little bigger than XZ2’s, but hardly noticeable.
The XZ3 only has one variant so far which comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The internal storage capacity can be expanded with the microSD card slot, which can handle another 512GB of space.
Just 4GB of RAM on a flagship this expensive will certainly raise some eyebrows.
Sony increased the battery capacity a bit with the XZ3 as compared with the XZ2. This new battery comes with a 3,330mAh capacity, a nominal increase of 150mAh over the XZ2’s 3,180mAh capacity. That battery can be wirelessly charged and also supports quick charging.
The Sony Xperia XZ3 sticks with a single camera lens on the rear, which is interesting considering the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium came with a dual-lens setup. The Google Pixel line has single rear cameras exclusively, and those smartphones are constantly praised for their photographic ability, so it’s likely Sony is banking on a similar response to its lack of multiple lenses.
Just like the XZ2, the Xperia XZ3 is water- and dust-resistant with an IP rating of 65/68. That should make users comfortable with getting the device wet — although we would still hesitate to go for a swim with any smartphone.
There’s a fingerprint scanner on the back of the device and a USB Type-C port on the bottom. There is no headphone jack on the Xperia XZ3, but Sony does include a 3.55mm adapter in the box.
Finally, the most significant spec of the Sony Xperia XZ3 is the software: the device will ship with Android 9.0 Pie, making it likely one of the first devices to hit shelves with the newest version of Android out-of-the-box.
Speaking of release, the Xperia XZ3 will go on sale on October 17 for the outrageous price of $899. However, that overly-expensive pricing strategy is par for the course when it comes to Sony.
When you think of Sony smartphones in the modern area, you mainly think of an angular design with excessively wide bezels around the display that, when compared to the competition, looks old-fashioned in the eyes of many. But the wise will pay more attention to Sony’s Xperia smartphones in the coming year, because there are many indications that substantial changes are coming to the Japanese company and its products.
If you use a Sony Xperia smartphone in 2017, people often laugh at you, call you old-fashioned and always ask why you chose a Sony smartphone in the first place. There are so many better smartphones on the market, especially ones with a higher screen-to-body ratio. These arguments are understandable, but you should also look at the hidden advantages. They might be somewhat niche, but Sony smartphones often come with added value that you (often) don’t recognize. I had already gone over some of the advantages in my final report after spending 100 days with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.
The long hard road to a new Sony Mobile
The historically chaotic state of Sony Mobile in the last few years is reflected in the confusing naming of Xperia smartphones and the equally confusing variety of products. Z, M and E-series with suffixes like Aqua, Plus, Premium and g transitionally became X, X Performance, XA, L plus Ultra, Premium and Compact until finally becoming the XZ, XZ1, XA1, and the L1 series. The nuances became much clearer in 2017. Anything that bears the XZ in its name represents the best that Sony Mobile can deliver in its Xperia smartphones. The XA is the mid-range series and Sony distinguishes the entry-level series below it with the L.
The Xperia XZ line in particular shows the direction that the Japanese company has in mind with its smartphone division. Sony wants to increasingly integrate the technologies of other divisions into its Xperia smartphones. When viewed from the outside, it may seem like a very easy thing to do, but the difficulties of integrating different company areas and their technologies in a smartphone is a challenging undertaking. In any case, the current Xperia XZ Premium sees the launch of a flagship smartphone project that was continued in the XZ1 and, to some extent, the XZ1 Compact as well.
The user will hardly notice any added value when considering the components such as the 4K display, Motion Eye camera, and audio, whether it’s wired or wireless. Rather, the Motion Eye camera is the best example of what Sony has become in 2017. Instead of selling the sensor to other smartphone manufacturers and running the risk of them getting more out of it thanks to better software, the Motion Eye camera has been reserved for its own products. The fact that the Sony camera currently cannot quite keep up with a Pixel 2 or even the Galaxy Note 8 is largely due to the software.
Speaking of software: Have you noticed that Sony’s Xperia smartphones are among the fastest to get updates while Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ or even the recently launched LG V30 are still stuck on Android Nougat? Sony Mobile launched the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, and the update has already been available for a few weeks on the XZ Premium. Admittedly, it probably hasn’t been implemented in a very optimized manner on the XZ1, because problems during testing resulted in annoying crashes here and there, but like I said, 2017 is a transitional year for Sony Mobile.
Sony Xperia 2018: Bigger display, smaller bezels, better software and camera optimization
All these changes in 2017 are hardly relevant for end customers that are looking for a new smartphone. What many end users want is a bigger display, smaller bezels and a smartphone camera that ultimately delivers beautiful pictures in day-to-day situations. There is no doubt, at least in my eyes, that all this and more is on Sony Mobile’s agenda for 2018. You can already see the first signs if you have been following the related rumors concerning Sony smartphones over the past few days. A datasheet has already been spotted that shows that an Xperia smartphone with a 5.7-inch display will be released with a more compact structure than the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.
Sony seems to be working on a new image stabilization feature called “Dynamic Vibration System” for better photos and even better videos. The brand patent application does not mention a word about it, although it is an optical image stabilizer. It would not be like Sony to submit a trademark application just for an optical image stabilizer that is integrated into the lens. Furthermore, I assume that this is a systematic development of the five-axis sensor stabilization controlled by the gyroscope. Since this system achieves a maximum of full HD recordings at 30 frames per second, “dynamic vibration system” could also mean that the upcoming XZ-class Sony Xperia smartphones will support higher resolutions and framerates. We will learn more about it by the time Mobile World Congress 2018 rolls around.
“It’s just the right size!” – the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact. Little did she know that behind its humble appearance was a tiny beast of a phone – one that had as much processing power as a top-of-the-line Android flagship. And there’s so much more to like about Sony’s latest pocket-friendly handset, but ultimately, is its price of $600 justified? Well, perhaps it is.
Uninspiring with its boxy look, but sturdy and practical.
So yes, as its name suggests, size is a key selling point for the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact. It easily fits into any pocket and single-handed use is never an issue – traits we can highlight in very few of today’s smartphones. Bonus points go to Sony for throwing in water resistance, and the dedicated camera button on the side acts as a wonderful camera shortcut.
Yet one thing we’d change if we could is the power button – as it is almost flush with the phone’s right side, I can hardly feel its presence underneath my thumb. And that’s important when an otherwise quick and reliable fingerprint scanner is embedded in the said button.
As is the case with recent Xperias, the Xperia XZ1 Compact sold in the US has its fingerprint scanner disabled. In our book, that counts as a major downside given the handset’s price point.
An “okay” screen with sufficient resolution and great outdoor visibility.
Whether you’re looking at it in real life or scrutinously inspecting its specifications, this isn’t a screen that will wow you. After all, a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels is far from impressive at this point in time. But for a screen measuring only 4.6-inches in diagonal, these are more than enough pixels to produce a sharp, detailed image. Plus, the screen delivers excellent outdoor visibility even on a sunny day.
Colors on the Xperia XZ1 Compact are nice and vibrant, but lean towards the cold side – whites appear more blueish than they should, and you don’t have to be an expert to notice. To compensate for this, I went to the Display Settings menu and manually tweaked the color reproduction until it looked fine to my eyes. There I found a nifty Glove Mode option, but didn’t see a double-tap-to-wake setting or a blue light filter.
Display measurements and quality
Interface and functionality
The latest Android 8.0 Oreo with Sony’s speedy UI on top of it.
Kudos toSony for launching the Xperia XZ1 Compact with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. This means that the phone runs the latest, safest, most up-to-date Android software that Google has to provide. Alas, the benefits to having Oreo at launch aren’t immediately obvious, as Android 8 itself isn’t very exciting of an update from a user perspective. But all those under-the-hood improvements, including the better handling of battery-draining apps, are more than welcome.
On the Xperia XZ1 Compact we find Sony’s own custom interface, which is very similar to what you’d see on other current and recent Xperia phones, only smaller. Personally, I didn’t find the default text size comfortable enough to read so increased it up a notch from the Display Settings menu. Speaking of size and text, the on-screen keyboard is physically smaller than those on most other phones, but I found it sufficiently accurate once my fingers got used to its layout. In fact, its size is ideal for single-thumb typing.
Probably the best thing about Sony’s software is that it is fast and responsive. Also, it comes with a number of perks. Sony’s “What’s New” app curator, for example, has an “App of the day” promo where we can download a paid app for free. But some features could have been executed better. For instance, there’s no easy, intuitive way of checking the time or any lock screen content as pressing the power button to wake the phone instantly makes a fingerprint reading and takes us to our home screen. Also, pulling down on the home screen displays a search bar for finding apps, which is redundant, as the Google widget can already do that. Pulling down the notifications shade would have been a much more practical use for this gesture.
Processor, memory, performance
Fast and responsive with any task.
As we mentioned in the beginning, processing power is one thing the Xperia XZ1 Compact has plenty of. Equipped with a Snapdragon 835 – the best chip Qualcomm currently has to offer – the phone runs even the most demanding games without issues. Having a 720p screen instead of a higher-res, Full HD one also helps with maintaining high framerates while engaging in tasks demanding lots of graphics computations. Switching between apps is quick, and side-by-side multitasking is a smooth experience (even though I doubt many would engage in side-by-side activities on such a small display). Overall, we have no complaints as far as performance goes.
The Xperia XZ1 Compact comes with 32GB of built-in storage, but since the operating system eats up a huge chunk of that, only about 22 gigs are available to the user. That is likely to run out before you know it, especially if you take lots of photos and video in 4K, so consider taking advantage of the microSD card slot that is available.
Internet and connectivity
Without going much into details here, you have Chrome set as default browser on the Xperia XZ1 Compact. It is an app most Android users should be familiar with, and a substitute isn’t necessary, in our opinion. Chrome is fast, covers the essentials, and syncs your browsing data across devices for easy access.
On the topic of connectivity, we should clarify that Sony is not launching the Xperia XZ1 Compact through any of the major US carriers. Instead, you may get one through Amazon (that’s where Sony’s official website links to). The Xperia XZ1 Compact being offered is unlocked and compatible with GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile. However, it won’t work on Verizon or Sprint.
A feature-packed shooter delivers good-looking images and high-res videos.
The 19MP Motion Eye camera we saw on the Xperia XZ1 is present on the Compact, along with all the cool tricks in its arsenal – 960fps slow-motion videos, Predictive Capture, autofocus bursts, and the list goes on. The design of the phone itself makes it a great point-and-shooter: the physical camera button makes for a quick camera shortcut, while the compact size and boxy shape let us pull off epic selfie angles with ease.
Hardly a surprise, image quality is on par with what we saw while reviewing the Xperia XZ1. Daytime photos are sharp and detailed, with pretty colors and lots of contrast. Low light images, however, are considerably noisier and less detailed, presumably because of the camera’s lack of OIS and its tendency to shoot at higher ISOs. Overall, images are perfectly usable and good-looking in general, though don’t expect this camera to outperform high-ends like the iPhone 8 or the Galaxy S8.
Sony made an unconventional choice when picking the XZ1 Compact’s front-facing camera. It is an 8MP wide-angle shooter, and when we say “wide-angle”, we mean a viewing angle of a whopping 120 degrees. This let’s you fit a lot of people in a single shot, but comes with a tradeoff – a considerable amount of distortion, mostly visible near the edges of the photo, which spoils the otherwise good image quality.
Videos are taken at up to 4K resolution. They look good in general and are complemented by clear, loud audio. While there’s no OIS on this camera, software image stabilization is available even in 4K mode, while shooting in 1080p lets you use Sony’s Intelligent Active software stabilization, which produces smoother, more cinematic-looking footage.
And before we move further, we must clarify that Sony’s new 3D Creator feature is present on the XZ1 Compact as well. We gave it a test while playing with the XZ1, and while we can’t deny that it is an impressive showcase of new 3D scanning technology, its practical use is very limited at this time.
Due to its smaller size, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact is less than ideal for the purposes of media consumption and digital entertainment. There are many larger, similarly priced devices that can deliver a superior experience, be it when watching video, playing games, or scrolling through your photo collection, simply because they offer more screen estate and greater screen resolution. But this didn’t stop me from watching as much YouTube video and playing as much Minecraft as I usually do. For casual gaming, for watching the occasional “Goats yelling like humans” video, and for other multimedia activities that don’t involve a VR headset, the XZ1 Compact gets the job done.
The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact comes with a set of front-firing stereo speakers, but their quality is a bit underwhelming. They sound just okay: with clear vocals and sufficient loudness, with audible stereo effect in videos and games, but there’s less highs and lows than what you’d get out of an iPhone 8, for example.
For those who still demand it, a 3.5mm headphone jack is present on the Xperia XZ1 Compact, allowing audiophiles to take advantage of its support for high-resolution audio formats. LDAC and AptX HD formats, both of which allow compatible Bluetooth audio devices to play back sound at a higher bitrate, are also supported.
As expected, we did not encounter any call quality issues during our testing of the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact. The earpiece gets sufficiently loud, and our voice arrives with sufficient clarity to the other side of the line.
It just keeps going and going.
Don’t let its small size fool you. Even though it holds “only” 2700mAh of charge, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact outlasted many high-end phones when subjected to our custom battery benchmark. In real life, I was easily getting between a day and a half and two days of normal usage, without limiting the phone’s performance or functionality in any way.
Charging times are less impressive, however. The stock charger needs over 2 and a half hours to recharge the Xperia XZ1 Compact completely. You may take advantage of the phone’s support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, as long as you have a compatible charger.
As with previous Xperia phones, you can make the XZ1 last longer by activating Stamina mode. This reduces performance, but saves a significant amount of power – handy for times when you know you’re low on charge and won’t be near a charger anytime soon.
Simply put, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact is a remarkable little phone. While it has its flaws and annoyances, while it is undoubtedly a device targeting a niche audience, having it as a daily driver for a week was a genuinely fun and refreshing experience. Indeed, bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially if practicality and convenience are your top priorities when picking a phone.
Should you pick the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, currently priced at $600? If you want a phone that’s truly small but uncompromisingly powerful, one that takes good photos and videos, one that lasts long between charges, then yes, this guy should be on your shortlist. Just keep in mind that for another $100 you can get the iPhone 8, which is of the same caliber, but packs a better screen, superior stereo speakers, and a functioning fingerprint scanner.