It has been a tradition for years: once every six months, Sony releases new high-end Xperia phones. First at the MWC in Barcelona, then at the IFA in Berlin. Usually there is a large smartphone and a Compact variant and we usually get the most out of the latter. The reason is that there are so few relatively small smartphones in the high-end segment. Sony has introduced the Xperia XZ3 at the IFA, but unfortunately no XZ3 Compact has been introduced. That is why we are secretly a bit sad. Whether that will come later, or that we will only see a Compact variant again at the MWC, or that … we hardly dare to think: there is no Compact anymore, we do not know. Maybe the XZ3 for Sony enthusiasts does have a compact patch on the wound, because that device has an OLED screen and if that is a nice copy, the device makes us more interesting. That is not all, of course, so let’s start at the beginning.
Since the beginning of 2018, Sony has chosen a new design called Ambient Flow. The Omnibalance design finally went into the trash. Finally, not because it was necessarily ugly, but because a product series can sometimes use some innovation. We have to admit to Sony that the phones of the manufacturer were always recognizable and that was probably the idea, but the expiration date of the design had, in our opinion, just passed. We are reasonably satisfied with the new design of the XZ2 family, only they were the devices on the heavy and thick side. That has been addressed with the XZ3 and that is good news in our opinion, especially because the battery capacity has only improved and the battery life of the XZ2 was already good .
In reality the XZ3 at the thickest point 9.9mm and that is secretly still not very thin for a smartphone. Because of the bulging at the back and the rounded screen with the thin metal frame in the middle, the device feels absolutely not as thick as it is, compared to other devices. That frame is now made of the strong 7000-series aluminum, perhaps because otherwise it would be too flexible due to the thin frame. The phone feels very strong and that will also come through the two-sided Gorilla Glass 5. The buttons that are in the frame are also very thin. You might say that it might be a little fiddling with those narrow buttons, but it is in no way annoying. The buttons feel equally sturdy, have a good travel and give good feedback.
If you look at the front of the phone and compare it with the XZ2, it is noticeable that the space above the screen has become bigger and the space under the screen is somewhat smaller. There are still stereo loudspeakers that are facing forward and that would have improved in terms of quality and volume compared to the XZ2. That would be nice, because we were not very happy of the stereo speakers of the XZ2. The relative screen size of the XZ3 is also a bit more on the level of high-end competition and that is of course nice with an already large phone like this.
|Screen size||6 “, 18: 9|
|5.7″, 18: 9|
|5,2 “, 16: 9|
|Width (mm)||] 73||72||73.4|
|Weight||193g||198g  156g|
|Relative screen size||80.6%||76.1%||70.6%|
All in all, the XZ3 feels comfortable, feels solid and has a very personal style, it may seem like a Galaxy S9, but that does not really mean the comparison: the XZ3 is still quite heavy, just like the XZ2. t you can find a disadvantage, but personally we do not find it very disturbing. However, a clear disadvantage to the design of the XZ3 is still the very low placement of the fingerprint scanner. We press the camera lens when we stretch our fingers normally and that is not so convenient. It can also be a drawback that the gap between the glass and the metal is quite large at some points, especially when the metal frame on the back is slightly bulging. Dirt could be collected here and that is difficult to get back out of, is our experience.
Touch sensitive OLED curvature
We mentioned it briefly: the XZ3 has a 6 “-oledscherm.Although Sony boasted in the past on the benefits of LCDs, the manufacturer turns the rudder and we’re glad Sony has been given oled, the XZ3 has hdr10 support and that’s why it’s just a step forward, since we had a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 with us, we decided to put it next to the XZ3 and view the same image on both phones, although the maximum brightness of the Note 9 seems to be a little higher, the screens are pretty dense and that is positive, because the screens Samsung in its own devices is very nice, even if you look at the XZ3 screen at an angle, the color and brightness remain largely the same, and the resolution has improved compared to the XZ2, 1080×2160 after ar 1440×2880 pixels. The pixel density therefore comes down to a very sharp 537ppi.
A new function introduced by Sony at the XZ3 is side sense. By that term we initially thought you should be able to tap on the metal side of the device, but this is the side of the screen. If you swip along the edge, it does the same as the back button. That’s pretty handy, because you do not have to stretch your thumb to the bottom left of the screen for this frequently used action. When you tap twice, a menu that is reminiscent of the edge menu of Samsung phones opens.
With Sony, the menu is simpler. It consists of frequently used apps based on your location and time for example. You can also put apps of your choice yourself. Below that are quick toggles and you can switch directly to the mode for one hand and you can conjure up your notifications. It is a nice idea from Sony and can certainly come in handy, but in the short time we managed the XZ3 we did not always succeed in getting the menu out. Maybe it comes exactly, or is something else going on, but we have the hope that it is a matter of getting used to, or tweaking from Sony’s side.
Same camera, new tricks
A disadvantage of the Xperia XZ3 is that it does not have a dual camera on the back. That is quite remarkable for a 800 euro phone, because almost all devices in this price category have a dual camera. You do not have a lens with extra-large viewing angle or ‘optical zoom’ on the XZ3. There is a portrait mode, but we have not yet been able to test it well in the time we had.Furthermore, it is a pity that Sony does not have optical image stabilization in the XZ3 has put. Stabilization is therefore done electronically and in photography it is normally less fine in moderate light conditions than the optical variant, because the shutter speed can be longer. Of course, we can not properly judge the camera quality on the basis of a few photos in an exhibition hall, so we save that for the review. Here you can see a picture that we made with the XZ3.
Although the camera hardware on the back has been the same since the XZ Premium, Sony is naturally working on the software. Although we have to wait for a review sample to test it, Sony has improved two things in the algorithm. Firstly, there should be more detail in moderate lighting conditions and that is certainly something that Sony has something to improve in our experience. Second, the camera software should recognize certain scenes. That does not work like the Note 9, where you see that a scene is recognized in a certain way and the settings are adjusted. Sony has identified certain situations that are often not well recorded. One of the examples is that objects in the frame are not illuminated enough for photos with a lot of air on them. The software then adapts, so that this is no longer the case.
The hardware of the camera on the back is still the same as with the XZ2. It has an IMX400 sensor with a size of 1 / 2.3 “with 1.22μm large pixels and an f / 2.0 lens, so you can still record 960fps slow motion and you can shoot 4k videos in hdr and back again predictive capture and the camera prevents the rolling shutter effect The front camera has improved since it is now a thirteen-mile pixel camera with a f / 1.9 aperture, where the XZ2 is a rather simple five-minute pixel sensor first
The XZ3 has a new feature, where the camera app is automatically opened when you take it out of your pocket or pick it up and keep it in landscape mode, which works well in practice and is a handy find from Sony. If you do not need to do a second action to open the camera, that is the case, because you first have to tap the circle on the screen to actually use the app. We have not found an option to use it. to set, but are be new or coming and especially how convenient this is in daily practice.
The camera interface itself has also been updated. The first thing you notice is that it no longer looks so dated. For example, the icons of the modes are simpler and the whole looks more organized. You can also create shortcuts on the home screen to for example the professional photo mode, which is quite handy.
Sony has put the latest version of Android on the XZ3 and with that it is one of the first devices running on Android 9 Pie that we in your hands. The manufacturer does that quickly and that is in line with the reputation that Sony has in the field of fast Android upgrades. The mobile operating system runs smoothly on the XZ3 in combination with the smooth and fairly clean Sony skin, which just looks a little fresher.
The Xperia XZ3 has a lot of functions and features. Sometimes we as editors have the idea that there is little change per device, but if you add all the functions that were previously in predecessors to the novelties, there are sometimes a lot of them. The Xperia line is a good example of this. The elements introduced in the past are actually all on the new models. That makes this XZ3 a very complete phone. For example, the smartphone is IP65 / 68 waterproof again, it has the 960fps slow motion function and for example Sony’s dynamic vibration system. Furthermore, he has the same Snapdragon 845-soc and the same storage and working memory as the XZ2.
Nevertheless, the XZ3 is more attractive to us. The design is distinctive, the beautiful OLED screen is an important factor in this and the device is quite complete, including wireless charging and stereo speakers. Still, some choices from Sony still amaze us. There is no dual camera and there is no optical image stabilization on the camera.
We are more impressed by the XZ3 than we expected in advance and since the price has remained the same at 800 euros, we look forward to it test the device extensively and see how the battery life and camera quality in particular go wrong. It does not always say something about our final judgment, but the first impression is positive in any case.