The Z3 is the latest phone from Sony, boasting:
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Hi, I've got two big questions about the Xperia Z3...
Firstly, how does the camera perform in practice? Much was made of the camera in the Xperia Z1 (my current phone), but I was honestly underwhelmed by it. Despite all the megapixels and apparently high quality lens, it was easily outperformed by other flagship phones at the time.
Secondly, how long does the battery last with normal use?
We recently had the pleasure of testing the Z3 in the office here at Telstra Digital so I thought I would start of the discussion by sharing my impression of the phone.
I must admit I've always been an Apple girl and never had an Android. I love the aesthetic appeal of Apple products and considered myself too used to their features and system to ever switch to an Android.
Enter Sony Z3. I was surprised at how much I liked it
All in all, it's a great phone and I was very impressed. Maybe enough to nudge me over the edge of converting from my iPhone. Now I'm keen to trail the other Androids out there - any suggestions for me for comparisons sake?
Hi Guys, I'm also interested in the photo abilities of this unit.
I'm always taking selfies and of course want to look at my best for my fans, don't want any pink spots or anything like that, so let's see your selfies and how they shape up against mine on my Samsung Galaxy Note 1.
copy and paste fail - thanks for pointing out, thats been fixed
Yes I agree, define reasonable?
For example, if someone was to ask how it performs when at the peak of Everest, or how it fairs after a 300ft drop onto concrete, then I would not answer those.
Common sense. However this is the internet, so if I was to have put any and all questions, then there would be someone (likely you Jeff) who would take it too far
Now I would never do that, BUT, I am looking forward to the underwater shots or the selfies in the shower when you test the waterproofing of the phone....
So its been almost 24hrs since I first recieved the device... Its only early days and im still getting my head around the Android world, but im slowely getting there.
I thought I would just quickly jot down some initial thoughts of the device.. Once I have a few days I will then start making detailed comparisons of Camera etc..
Here is my disclaimer... I am an Apple Fanboy.. No doubt.. Its not just a follow the leader thing.. I spent a good 15 years as a Microsoft person.. I got to a point where I was fed up with the constant repairs, and support for those computers.. So I switched to Mac and it all went from there.. So this is my first Non iPhone since the first one was released here. In saying all of that however, I am open minded.. I do appreciate a good quality product regardless of brand. So for these future discussions, lets look at it that Im an apple fan looking for a reason to change to something new.
This may be a bit of a timeline of my thoughts but probably the best way at this point to give my opinion.
- Packaging: Yes we throw it away in the end, and yes, Kat had already played with it before I got my hands on it, but you really see from the outset how far behind these other manufacturers are against Apple. With an iPhone, the packaging is firm, its solid, the box is nearly always in a perfect shape. The Sony.. It just felt cheap.. The box was starting to stretch, there was no excitement about opening the box. And when I got inside it was packaging.. nothing clever..
Hardware: There is no doubting that this phone is pretty sexy. It feels solid. Its nice to hold. Coming from an iPhone 5 its very different to hold naturally.. trying to find the centre point of weight is different.. That place where you can rest your phone and type without needing to actually hold it. Im constantly concerned im going to drop it but thats life with a bigger phone I guess.
Inserting the Sim Card was dissapointing. Once you find out where the tray is on an iPhone, its pretty simple.. But on the Sony i was concerned I was about to break it.. Sticking something into the phone to then try and hook the tray to pull it out was all a bit concerning for me.
The Software: There is no doubting with the Android software, there are so many potentials for greatness. You can do a lot more background activity work and still have a good idea of whats going on. And there is also no doubting this phone comes stacked with Software for you to achieve your goals. But this is I believe Androids biggest fall down. There is SO MUCH software on it. And multiple things to do the same thing. Why?? This is what I believe really sets iOS aside from the start.. It comes with the basics, and then as your knowledge and needs expand, then you can expand through the app store. But with Android... its basically here is everything.. now go learn it.. For me, who without blowing my own trumpet, generally knows whats going on, even this blew my mind and gave me a headache. Giving this to someone who wasnt all that Savy, I think would make them hate their phone, and make them question there own intelligence. Its way too much too soon! Just to note I switched to the Google now Launcher over Sony's. It just made things a bit simpler to start with and also gave me "Ok Google" features.
Water Proofing: No doubting its a cool and sometimes handy feature. I took it n the shower last night.. I will admit to that.. thinking it would be handy to skip songs.. How quickly i learnt this wasnt as easy as I had thought.. You see the phone sees water droplets as finger presses. So all hell broke loose when the water starting hitting the screen! Turning teh screen off fixed that issue, so I could still have the music playing.. but yeah.. my suggestion is probably not attempt to text people in the shower! In the pool will hopefully be a different situation as Im expecting the full body of water to have a different effect.. Just waiting on a warm day to try that out but!
I still have a lot to play with and discuss.. I did try out the PS4 remote play.. I will hold judgement on that for a bit.. I was struggling with WIfi last night so Im going to try and tinker that before I comment again.
If yo have any questions or requests let me know and I will give them a crack for you.
Thanks for the great start @Annirowe !
Interesting that you weren't too impressed with all the software that came with the phone - I actually really liked that aspect as I felt like it took the thinking out of setting up. I guess it depends how lazy/skilled you are in personalising your apps.
Looking forward to seeing some snaps - have you played with the camera yet?
How doors it feel in the hand? NIce... Like I said getting used to a bigger device, but the weight is about right.
How does it take action shots (eg sorts)? Havent really got into the camera yet.. The tests i did last night were low light and werent the best.. but I willcome back to later.
What is the battery life like in real world use? Fully charged at 6am, now at 72%
How is the signal quality cbd vs country? Im in the suburbs of Melbourne.. My house sits in a weird pocket.. My iphone only has 1 - 2 bars.. Same for this phone.
What bloat ware is pre installed and how much of the internal memory is leftover for the user?I think I saw about 9GB yesterday before I started playing around... There is Sony's Launcher.. Then their walkman app, Navigon Navigator, AVG, Kobo, Officesuite, plus a few other sony software packages..
Well I hope Telstra wasn't hoping for a positive review when they gave you the phone haha.
I have a challenge for your next review: try starting a paragraph without the words "No doubting". No doubting you will struggle
I only received my device this morning, so these are my first impressions and over the next few weeks I'll be back with more in-depth answers to questions.
I should also start by saying that for a number of year I've been in the iOS ecosystem. I have been using a Windows Phone 8 device for the past couple of weeks to get an idea of the other major OS as well.
As has already been stated, the box does feel a little bit flimsy, but in the end you want to get the device out and start playing with it more than admiring the packaging it comes in.
The Z3 includes more pamhplets than any other phone I've ever owned:
It comes with a charger, cable, headphones and a USB to Micro-USB adaptor, the pamphlets and a postage paid bag to recycle your old phone.
The charging port is on the left hand side behind a flap, the same side as the magnetic charging connector. It's easy to get to but personally I find side-mounted charging ports to be less comfortable if you happen to be using the phone while it's on charge.
I put the phone on charge and headed down to my local Telstra store to perform a SIM swap onto a Nano SIM. The plastic SIM tray doesn't hold the SIM tightly and you have to turn the phone upside down to orientate it correctly to insert the tray. This took me a few goes because the SIM kept popping out as I tried to insert the tray and jamming. Make sure you have someone with nails nearby to help.
I have read people on the internet complaining that the water/dust covers over the various ports stick out of the side of the handset. I can say that this isn't the case with mine. The power/wake button, volume rocker and hardware camera button (needed for underwater shooting) do, by necessity, stick out a small amount though on the right-hand side.
The phone comes with 16GB of overall storage, and out of the box you have around 10GB of that free.
As for bloatware, it does come with over 60 apps already installed on the device! A lot of these appear to be Sony specific apps, such as their own Walkman music app. Some are Google apps, others are Sony apps. The downside to this being you have to use both Google Play and the Experia Update Centre to keep your apps up-to-date.
Some of the pre-loaded app highlights for me are:
I had no issues transferring my contacts onto the phone. I was able to back them up from my iPhone to Google/GMAIL and download them to my phone with minimal fuss, and with the link to Facebook it can also download all your Facebook contacts.
I then cleared out the various homescreens and began downloading apps that are important to me: Clash of Clans, Facebook/Messenger, Viber, Spotify, Telstra 24x7, Skype, Banking and Government apps, and various games. The Telstra billing option (as a prepaid customer) is a great boon as I am now able to get double value from my recharge. As a mobile service, and also to purchase content via the Z3, though this isn't specific to this device.
I think it's safe to say that I'm addicted to widgets! I have Hangouts, Facebook, TrackID, Spotify, Telstra 24x7, and Weather already and I am loving it. I never really understood what I was missing until now. Having access to information and app controls without even having to change into an app is fantastic and something that iOS is lacking even to this day.
So far all the apps have been snappy in their responsiveness and there doesn't appear to be any lag when changing between screens in the OS itself. I am enjoying how things are made simple, for example when a message comes through on Viber it pops up over what I was doing, where I am able to type and send a response without ever changing away from what I was doing.
I live in central QLD, and even though my iPhone would have no issues obtaining 3 bars+ of signal, the Z3 has been sitting at 1 bar all day. I am lucky enough that we have access to 4G at home, however I think the overall signal strength may be impacting the data throughput.
I'll perform some more tests during the review period in various locations.
I know there are a lot of questions surrounding battery life and the camera. I'm going to give it a few cycles before I really comment on the battery life, especially as day one has a lot more usage than normal. With regards to the camera, I am going to be heading out tomorrow and I'll take a variety of shots with both this and my old iPhone 5 to compare.
Hi there Aegnor...
In response to the camera, The dedicated Camera button is a really handy feature.. Having kids myself we know there is only a split second before you miss the opportunity. As long as you know the orientation of the phone in your pocket (which can be hard as the front and back feel almost exactly the same), then you can already be holding the button down as you whip the phone out of your pocket, and it will be ready to shoot. It takes about 1 - 2 seconds from the moment you hold the button to teh time the phone is awake and ready to capture.
As for the water proofing, As I said earlier, Yes its waterproof, and I will try it in the pool hopefully over the weekend, but in the shower I had issues as the screen associated water droplets as finger presses.
That's to be expected from a capacitive touchscreen, because without special treatment, it cannot tell the difference between water and your finger as both conducts electricty. That is why sony includes a physical shutter button that allows you to capture footage under water. What I'd like to see is some night time shots, because the Z3 has such a high megapixel count, which means the pixels are very dense, thus limiting the size of each indivudual pixel. With good lighting during the day it works a charm, but the smaller pixels may result bad night time shots.
@bill0014 here you go... Just one shot I took.. It was of the Xmas Tree last night.. So it was probably a bit of a struggle (low light, bright lights) but you can definately see the noise in the darker areas.
As for the screen in water.. A physical button is fine, but the water still activates onscreen functions when the water touches.. You cant turn off the screen as you have no physical viewfinder. So the shutter button gets activated.. it switches apps etc etc..
Again let me try it fully submerged.. maybe then the screen will disable because it senses full water contact.
thats right. If the screen is completely submerged then the touchscreen will not respond at all, no "ghost touches" if you will. So if you leave the phone in the viewfinder then it should stay there and you can use the physical shutter button and shoot under water. btw, what is the ISO setting and the shutter speed for the shot? maybe 1600 at 1/4 of a second?
As it turns out the only way to completely lock the screen under water is to hold the shutter button down half way as if focussing, before submerging.. If your not doing that then the moment the water touches the screen it potentially starts taking photos, changing settings, even opening Notifications.
Also @bill0014 the image details were as follows: ISO: 1600, f/2.0 Exposure 1/8
Here is one pic from my crazy son underwater
ah, I see. It seems underwater photography still isn't quite there yet. this is a more broad and i guess subjective question, what is your opinion/thoughts on Sony's strategy of releasing flagship phones? Their current cycle is 6 months, meaning that every 6 month a new flagship is announced. The Z3 is marginally better than the Z2 released earlier this year,, would you recommend others to look at a z2 to save money or spend a bit more and get the z3?
I can certainly confirm that the screen goes a little bit haywire with the smallest droplets of water. One thing that would be great would be a 'water' mode where it disabled the touch screen for a set period of time, allowing only shutter control via the dedicated button.
On the screen. Quite frankly it's beautiful. There have been some comments regarding it having a lower resolution than other phones being released at the moment, however you don't notice. I feel the screen is just as good to look at as my iPhone5 Retina display. Colours are bright and vivid and it really is a pleasure to look at and use in this regard. It also works reasonably well outdoors without any brightness adjustment for me, though I've yet to find a phone which seems to respond to light changes as well as the iPhone.
Now onto how it feels in the hand. For me, it is a little big and certainly not a one hand device. You do lose a small amount of the quoted screen size to the Android virtual buttons in some cases, however with apps and games that go fullscreen it has a 'drag from the top' to overlay the buttons so you don't always lose that screen real-estate.
The biggest downside is that the glass appears to be coated with some magically enhanced version of teflon. I am forever catching this thing as it slides of seemingly flat surfaces. It turns any surface into an air hockey table! I'm wondering if the video that Tony Hawk did that had a fake hoverboard in fact had Z3's strapped to the underside! If you are going to buy this phone, get a cover of some sort or it will end in tears!
I've found multi-tasking on the Z3 to be fantastic. The dedicated button makes it quick and easy to switch between open apps, close them one at a time with a simple swipe, or close them all with a single push. I haven't found that it has to reload a lot when switching between apps like an iPhone will do if you go between more than 2 or 3 different apps, which can be a boon.
On it's bluetooth performance, it seems to be a little weird. My iPhone 5 paired quickly and easily with my Pioneer car stereo. The songs names etc and control work with an issue. With the Z3 it took me almost 15 minutes of mucking around just to get it to pair and the track details etc are never correct. There are times when I get in the car and it simply won't play through bluetooth, even though it assures me it's paired properly. I have to use the 'throw' feature of the phone to get it to send the music output to the head unit rather than through the built-in speakers.
Now onto the in-built speakers. During normal use they are quite good, especially when you consider they have to go through a waterproof membrane. Having them spaced apart at either end of the device, and front facing, is great. It gives a slightly wider soundscape and directs the sound to you rather than out of the bottom of the device. If however you are planning on listening to music in the shower, be aware that the tiniest amount of water causes the speakers to instantly drop in volume and you'll be there trying to blow out the water droplets from the speaker ports.
@bill0014- with regards to whether someone should just get a Z2 instead, unfortunately I have never used a Z2, nor really an Android device before the Z3. That being said I will be putting my iPhone5 on eBay shortly. With the Z3 being able to be picked up on a plan, or for around $660 outright I think it's a great purchase and people wouldn't be disappointed.
Onto battery life. After a full day of use which would see my iPhone throwing up 10% battery warnings, I'm seeing around 50% on the Z3. So it's certainly a significant increase in battery life, however I think it would be dangerous to try and get two full days use out of it. I think it's still a charge every night at home situation, however you can know that if you are at work during the day and heading for a long night out after, that the Z3 won't have you hunting for apower socket.
I have to laugh at @Kalak in reference to his teflon coated screen comment!
There is seriously no kidding when he talks about the hoverboard.. It really has you thinking that the phone is elevated microns above the desk surface!
My mouse has more friction than this phone does!
On my Z2 there is a "water" mode of sorts.
When you press the soft button that opens the current open applications there is what Sony calls "Small Apps" below the close all button. You can pre-configure these to be different apps such as timers, calculator etc. There is also one called "Touch Block", I would assume this would be on the Z3 as well as the Z2.
This gives you the option to lock the screen from being touched whilst still being on, the warning it gives you the following warning before the first use it even refers to using it in instances when the screen may get wet:-
don’t you find it a bit too big to be practical?
Putting my 10cents in, I did find it big as I'm used to a smaller phone. I would opt for the compact if I was going to commit to buying a Z3.
@Aegnor With regards to the music player, I tried the walkman app but I wasnt a fan.. I switched to Google Play and have been using that since. I liked the fact I could easily upload my itunes library to Google to stream on the phone (something that I do with iTunes in the cloud). Its not as efficent in my view as the Music app on the iPhone but its probably just something im used to. As for Sony bringing "World Class Features".. My opinion is I need an app that can play music... As quickly and efficently as possible.. The more overheads the more messy it gets.
I still find it hard to accept the Android interface.. I want to.. I honestly am trying to stay non judgemental .. But im finding it extremely difficult.. There may be a lot of features, and some which are pretty cool and handy.. But trying to get to them easily or intuitivly.. I would say no.. And its Android greatest failure.. Trying to pack too many features into it..
Maybe Android 5.0 will be a lot cleaner, but right now its not working for me..
Im actually finding myself using the phone less than I did with my iPhone... Partly because not quite all my apps are on this, but mainly because its more effort on Android..
In my opinion of course!
In response to the Twitter question.. Its definately different.. If you thought you stressed about dropping your phone before.. get ready for a whole new level of Drop Stress.... The issue with this phone is not only finding the right spot to balance the phone, but also trying to deal with how slippery this phone is! If your going to buy this phone.. grab yourself a rubber backed cover to create some friction.
Will I switch back to iPhone? Definately.. This isnt to say Sony has made a bad handset... Quite the opposite actually.. Apart for how slippery it is, I feel its quite good quality.. Its nice to look at.. Its a nice size.. But that software just isnt the quality I expect and that Im used to.
Over the next couple of days I will test the Sony off against the iPhone 6+ including camera quality. We will see how they stack up!
Hey @beetle84 I chose them for their community contribution and enthusiasm. Are you an android or apple man?
If you scroll up you'll see some quite in-depth posts by myself. As I am heading away for a family holiday tomorrow the past few days have been filled with finishing up work tasks, packing and confirming bookings. Unfortunately I haven't really had a spare moment to myself. Once I arrive tomorrow though I'll put up more thoughts, and pictures.
If you have a specific question, then please feel free to ask it and I'll do my best to answer it.
Some posts that may interest you:
With regards to comments by @Annirowe I do have to agree with some of them. Android isn't as intuitive as iOS. Settings for apps, and the OS itself can be difficult to track down. It's also more difficult to uninstall apps for example, coming from Long-Press, X in iOS.
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