Sony Xperia Z3
The Xperia Z3, Sony's latest phone, made its debut a couple of weeks ago at the IFA trade show in Berlin. The timeliness of the launch, not to mention the quality of the product, places the Z3 as Apple's chief competitor for their eagerly-awaited iPhone 6.
But wait, the Z2 only came out earlier this year, and the Z1 only a year ago - what improvements could have been made?
Little ones, mostly. The Xperia selection is top-tier, with each new phone incrementally improving upon the last.
Xperia Z3: Design
Now with rounded edges, Sony's signature OmniBalance design is more comfortable to hold than previous models.
This Xperia is lighter and thinner than the Z2 that debuted earlier this year, and also has nifty transparent plastic sides that apparently absorb shock with the best of them.
It's a pretty durable phone; resistant to dust and water, and also has nylon caps on the corners to protect it from the inevitable drops and fumbles.
The closure of Phones4u, however, has me wondering what will happen to the white model that was supposed to be exclusive to their stores.
Xperia Z3: Screen
The latest Xperia screen is largely unchanged from Z2, which was widely agreed to be one of the best screens out there. The Z3 screen has the same 424 pixels per inch (ppi) pixel density, the same screen resolution, and even the same protective Gorila Glass 3.
It is, however, about 20% brighter which makes it more effective against glare, so there's that.
Xperia Z3: Software
The Z3 has the latest Android 4.4 KitKat software, but there's not much else fancier than that.
As you'd expect, what with smartphone manufacturers enamoured with fitness, there's a plethora of health related apps, such as borderline invasive, super-tracking LifeLog.
It stands to reason that Sony is banking on users buying a smart band, watch, or whatever wearable tech is next.
I desperately wanted to try the PS4 application, but it appears you have to own one to appreciate that particular function.
Xperia Z3: Hardware
The 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 on which the Z3 runs is pretty similar to the Snapdragon 800 from the phone from before, but it does improve on the device's power-saving capabilities.
The 801 does, however, provide a better image signal processor for the camera.
Xperia Z3: Camera
With up to 20.7MP, the Xperia Z2 was already blessed with one of the best cameras on the market - and now it's gotten better.
There's a new 25mm G lens for wide angle shots, improved SteadyShot for video, and, best of all, high quality low-light photography.
The Z3 camera's light sensitivity reaches IS0 12800, a full 12000 notches higher than your usual smartphone.
And if the numbers don't impress you, I can attest that the camera-in-the-dark is pretty incredible.
It's a pretty manual camera, and users should take their time getting to know it because once you do, yours will be the best pictures and videos on Instagram.
Xperia Z3: Battery
The Xperias have always lasted long, but the Z3 can now officially stay charged for two whole days under normal usage. I didn't need to charge it any of the three days that I had it.
Xperia Z3: Price and conclusion
It's been just over six months since the Z2 was launched, so Sony's latest Xperia doesn't represent a major upgrade.
The phone is enhanced by the tweaks made to its predecessor, especially the battery and the camera.
It's a fantastic phone, one of the best on the market, even if its only slight improvement on that which came before.
It costs just under £500, which is £100 more than its compact little brother. Perhaps that would be better value for money, as the only difference is size.
But, if like Tim Cook you're a new convert to the Samsung line of 'bigger is better' then opt for the Z3. It's very good.
- Screen: 8/10 - Pretty good ppi but could've done with upgrade in this dept
- Design: 10/10 - Slick and durable design
- Software: 8/10 - I may have all-the-rage fitness functions, but lacking customisable Android apps
- Camera: 10/10 - The best smartphone camera is even better
- Value: 9/10 - Affordable, but not a bargain lie compact edition
- Overall: 9/10 - The phablet done right
- Sharp design
- Top-tier camera
- Long lasting battery
- Hard to break
- Lack of third-party Android apps
- Not a dramatic step up from the Z2