Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review IBTimes UK

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: Hands-On Review

Sony launched a smaller version of its flagship smartphone earlier this year with the Xperia Z1 Compact promising the same experience as its bigger brother but in a more manageable size.

Six months on and Sony is ready to launch the next version with the Xperia Z3 Compact joining the flagship Z3 smartphone and the new 8in Z3 Tablet Compact.

The new range promises to build on the success of previous devices with better battery life, superior low light photography and the ability to play PlayStation 4 games on mobile devices for the first time.

The Xperia Z3 Compact was launched officially at the IFA trade show in Germany this week but ahead of the launch IBTimes UK managed to get a look at the new phone from Sony.

Xperia Z3 Compact: Design

The Xperia Z3 Compact is not hugely different to look at than the Xperia Z1 Compact. It features the same fully-flat OmniBalance design language but Sony has made a couple of significant changes.

One mirrors a change made in the Z3, and sees the addition of nylon/rubber corners which are designed to prevent the phone's glass covering from shattering if it is dropped.

At 8.7mm the Z3 Compact is slightly thinner (0.8mm) than the Z1 Compact and at 127g is also 10g lighter. This could be down to the increased use of plastic along the sides of the new phone, which also take away from its premium feel somewhat.

As with the Z1 Compact, the new device will be available in a range of 'fun' colours, with this season's choices being orange (more red really) and green - along of course with the traditional black and white.

Maybe it's is just a wild coincidence, but orange and green are the same colours Nokia chose as the colours of choice for its 2014 smartphones.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review IBTimes UK

Just as with pretty much all Sony smartphones these days, the Z3 Compact is also fully dust and water proof - a feature many competitors are now copying.

Sony has tweaked the design of the Z3 Compact a bit, and I'm not sure it's entirely a good thing. The orange and green versions will certainly appeal to younger users, but the added use of plastic is not a complete success.

Xperia Z3 Compact: Screen

Sony may have boosted the screen size of the Z3 Compact - from 4.3in to 4.6in - but didn't feel the need to upgrade the resolution, so you get the same 1280 x 720 resolution giving you a pixel density of 319 pixels per inch.

Sony's reason for not boosting the screen resolution is likely down to its big battery life increase claims for the Z3 Compact.

The screen on the Z3 Compact may not be the sharpest out there, but it looks bright and clear with Sony's in-house TV technology shining through.

Xperia Z3 Compact: Hardware

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review IBTimes UK

Sony has put an updated Snapdragon 801 processor running at 2.5GHz in the Xperia Z3 Compact along with a 2GB of RAM. As with the Z1 Compact, the phone comes with just 16GB of internal storage, but features a microSD card slot which allows up to 128GB of extra storage.

One of the big claims Sony is making about its new smartphones is the battery in both the Z3 and Z3 Compact will be able to last for a full two days of typical use, though I found the battery on the Z1 Compact to last me almost two days as it was, especially with Sony's Stamina Mode enabled.

Clearly this is not something we have been able to test, but Sony says that new screen memory technology along with a tweaked processor has allowed them improve power efficiency.

Xperia Z3 Compact: Camera

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact features the same 20.7 megapixel sensor as seen on the Xperia Z1 Compact, but Sony has made a number of changes elsewhere to improve low light performance.

The Z3 compact features an ISO level of 12,800 which is what you might expect to find in one of Sony mid-to-high range Cybershot standalone candles.

The camera also features a new 25mm lens which will allow for wider shots to be taken and video capture has also been improved to allow for more steady shots even when on the move.

All these features worked with relative success in the brief testing I carried out, but will need to be tested fully before their real value is decided.

Addressing the over-heating issue the Z2 suffered from when shooting 4K video (something also available on the Z3 Compact) Sony said that it recommended only shooting such footage for no more than two minutes at a time.

Xperia Z3 Compact: Software

Sony will launch the Xperia Z3 Compact with Android 4.4 (KitKat) which will be overlaid by the company's own software UI, which promotes Sony's content stores.

It would have been nice to see Android L coming to the Xperia Z3 range but we'll have to wait a few more months for that.

The big update here is the ability to play PS4 games - something which will be exclusive to the Z3 range of devices for a while at least.

Something which is already available on the PS Vita handheld console, the system will allow you stream PS4 games to your Xperia Z3 Compact and play them away from your console.

While playing games remotely is theoretically possible, Sony is suggesting that the system is only used when on the same Wi-Fi network as your PS4.

Games can be controlled by a new PS4 controller which includes an expandable lever into which you clamp your phone/tablet.

While all the processing power is done in your console, the system will significantly drain your phone's battery life Sony warned.

Xperia Z3 Compact: Price and Release Date

The Xperia Z3 Compact will go on sale in early October in the UK Sony said, but it wouldn't give a specific price for the phone.

However it will likely go on sale at around the same level as the Xperia Z1 Compact, which means you will be looking at an outlay of about £400 if you want to buy the phone outright.

Xperia Z3 Comact: Verdict

The Xperia Z1 Compact was a great phone, offering a premium smartphone experience in a more compact form. The Xperia Z3 Compact promises the same thing, with the addition of PS4 gaming, even better battery life and improved imaging technology.

While it may not be enough to get Xperia Z1 Compact owners to upgrade just months after buying their phones, it will no doubt appeal to those looking to upgrade from older devices.

I'm not entirely sure about the use of plastic, but the green and orange/red models are attractive and will certainly appeal to those looking for something different from a smartphone.