Welcome to the next round of the smart phone wars. The Sony Xperia XZ3 is its latest bet against  the Samsung Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 and Pixel 3. Here we look at its design, specs, performance and battery life to help you decide if it’s the best phone for your budget and needs.  

Sony Xperia XZ3 Design

Many people feel that the Sony phones look a bit dated. It hasn’t veered away from its boxy design in the last 10 years, but the new Xperia XZ3 is definitely a step in the right direction. The bezels and thick top can still look clunky, but for some reason (is it the bigger screen?) it looks much sleeker than its earlier counterparts. And why on earth did they put the fingerprint scanner in that weird centre position? That’s just awkward and almost random.

But while it won’t win awards for aesthetic or ergonomic design, the Sony Xperia X23 does use high quality materials, and you can feel it right away. This is not a fragile phone that will shatter if you accidentally drop it, thanks to the Gorilla glass and sturdy rim.   

 Sony Xperia XZ3 Screen 

Hurrah, the phone uses OLED technology that renders vibrant colours and vivid images and videos. Sony supposedly uses the same tech that it uses for its Bravia TVs, and if you try viewing from different lighting conditions, you’ll see a consistently and clarity that does make you feel you’ve got your own portable TV system. 

Sony Xperia XZ3 Performance  

You won’t be disappointed in the way the phone works: it has a powerful chip, and though it ships with a low 4GB of RAM you can easily upgrade with a microSD.  But even without that, you won’t have trouble playing different apps or multimedia. Even games run with nary any blip or buffering.

The phone also comes with Android 9 Pie, some pre-installed apps, and a nifty function called Glove Mode so you can swipe even when you’re wearing thick mitts during cold weather. 

 Sony Xperia XZ3 Camera 

The camera is functional but not impressive, considering what its competitors are offering. Somehow the photos don’t look natural when they’re taken in imperfect light conditions, and the bokeh effect that blurs backgrounds is unreliable. Many users also complain that the camera is sluggish and takes seconds to take a pic or autofocus. 

 Sony Xperia XZ3 Battery Life 

If you use it for a lot of media – streaming videos and music, apps, and social media – you’ll have enough charge for the whole day with about 20% left. However, you have fast charging options with the Qualcomm quick charge and Qi wireless charging. So even if it’s not the most powerful battery, it is easy and convenient to get it back to 100%. 

I experimented with having the ambient display mode turned on permanently, with photo playback enabled. I found that under generally the same conditions, I’d end up with around 15% battery by 10pm.

Watch HDR content on Netflix at around half brightness and you’ll see a drop of around 10-12% an hour, which isn’t too bad.

The good news is that the Xperia XZ3 supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 for fast charging, and that glass back panel also means that Qi wireless charging capability is included, too.

Why buy the Sony Xperia XZ3?

Sony Xperia XZ3

Ultimately, the Sony Xperia XZ3 is a competent flagship phone. It’s just a little difficult to feel particularly excited by it.

It certainly gets plenty right, helping to bring Sony in line with its rivals. Plus, the move to OLED is a positive one.

However, the device feels dated already. Ultimately, the Xperia XZ3 does little to really stand out from the crowd. On one side you have the likes of the OnePlus 6, which delivers similar performance and an arguably more attractive design for less. On the other is the Huawei P20/P20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S9, phones that innovate more around their cameras.

 

Verdict

A big step in the right direction for Sony flagships.