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(Pocket-lint) - Sony has revised and updated its flagship smartphone more times than any rival in recent years, with the Xperia Z3 model arriving just six months after the previous Z2 hit the shelves.

The Sony Xperia Z3 sticks very much to the lines laid by its predecessors, so is a minor revision rather than a drastic rethinking of the flagship phone. In its sights, however, are some of the points we most criticised about the Z2, so it's a very welcome update.

So is this third time lucky for Sony? Has it finally got the Xperia Z perfect this time around?

Our quick take

Having criticised the earlier Xperia Z1 and the Z2 models, we feel like Sony has made the right moves in its latest handset. The Z3 gives you the design, the power, the display, the camera and importantly, the battery life. It's the flagship device where Sony has got everything right.

It's a subtle change from the previous Z2 device, granted, but one that makes a big difference. There are still some areas we would criticise, such as the tall design and occasional software excess, but overall Sony has done an excellent job. Just like its Z3 Compact sibling this handset sees Sony arrive in at the fore once again.

If you're looking for a big-screen device that's easy to manage then the Sony Xperia Z3 has it all. It's a compelling flagship set to rival any of the top handsets currently out there.

Sony Xperia Z3 review: Third time's a charm

Sony Xperia Z3

5 stars - Pocket-lint editors choice
  • Battery life
  • Great build
  • Waterproofing
  • Camera performance
  • Powerful
  • Sony bloatware
  • Still a little tall
  • Design could be a little more seamless


Slimmer design

The biggest complaint we had about the Z2 was the overall size. The Xperia Z3 makes some small tweaks to make it better. It measures 146 x 72 x 7.3mm, which is a touch wider, but also a touch slimmer, than the Z2. That's paired with curved edges making for a handset that settles better in the hand than before, and there's an 11g weight loss too.

Pocket-lint sony xperia z3 review image 3

That eliminates one of the things we disliked about the Xperia Z2 and the Z1. This shift in edge design, combined with being slightly slimmer makes things much more agreeable and much better to handle.

However, the Z3 is still a large handset, with a 5.2-inch display, and it doesn't come in as compact as the larger-screen LG G3. That's because Sony's OmniBalance design maintains the space above and below the display, which makes the Z3 taller than it perhaps needs to be, although there's been a revision to the front-facing speakers over the Z2.

Size irrelevant, the quality of the finish is great. The tempered glass front and back is held together by a metal waistband, now reinforced with nylon corners for added impact protection. That's nice, but it means there's now more sections to it - if only they were integrated for a more seamless design. Each gap will only attract dust and debris, after all.

Pocket-lint sony xperia z3 review image 9

There's also been a revision to the flaps that cover the charging and card slots. These look much higher quality now and we love Sony's use of colour: the copper finish to our review model has an elegance to it that draws comment. It's a standout finish that's a welcome relief from the normal and often tiresome smartphone colour palette.

The Z3 hangs on to its waterproofing too, so you don't have to worry about using this handset in the rain, in the bath or in a swimming pool. With an IP65/68 rating, you'll be able to take it down to depths of 1.5m, for up to 30 minutes. Although the headphone socket is waterproofed, you'll need to open the Micro-USB flap for charging. There is, however, a wireless charging dock (sold separately) that connects to the pins on the side, which we'd recommend to take the faff out of charging.