Upgrader’s Guide – Sony Xperia Z3 & Xperia Z3 Compact

Coming just months after the release of its previous flagship phone, Sony has announced the Xperia Z3 at IFA in Berlin. The Z3 is nearly identical to the Z2 on the outside, featuring the same gorgeous aluminum and glass build as its predecessor. No complaints there, but is an iterative device that’s come out so soon after the previous model worth your upgrade? Let’s find out.

The Xperia Z3 has nearly the same 5.2-inch, Triluminos 1920x1080p display as the Z2, boasting a pixel density of 424 per inch. But that display can be cranked up to 600 nits, half again as much as the Z2 could push out. That makes the Z3 one of the brightest devices on the market and easily capable of being visible in bright, even direct, sunlight.

The Xperia Z3 features a slightly faster 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor than the Z2, 16GB or 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM, microSD support, Bluetooth 4.0, and a slightly smaller 3,100mAh battery. The  Z3 is a touch more water and dust resistant than the Z2, sporting an IP65/68 rating. It also boasts a battery saving mode that Sony says can allow it to last two days on a single charge.

Sony’s smartphone cameras have a top-notch reputation and the Xperia Z3 has the same 20.7MP rear-facing camera and 2.1MP front camera as the Z2. But Sony has added some new features for photo-happy smartphone users. A wide-angle 25mm lens and extra-high ISO 12,800 light sensitivity are new. And so is Face In, which allows you to add your reaction to a shot as you take it. Sony has also added the ability to add drawings and sound to your photos, a new movie-editing feature and a way for you to shoot scenes from multiple angles and phones. Audiophiles should also enjoy the Z3’s DSEE HX audio upscaling technology that should improve the quality of compressed music as well as a digital noise cancelling that attempts to block out all background noise.

Lest its larger flagship cousin hog all the spotlight, Sony also introduced the Xperia Z3 Compact at IFA as well, continuing its strategy (well thought-out in my opinion) of launching a smaller but still highly capable version of its premier device. The Z3 Compact has a 4.6-inch 720p display, a 2600mAh battery and many of the same specs as the larger Z3: 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, 20.7MP rear camera, IP 65/68 rating, Bluetooth 4.0, microSD support and NFC.

Now that we’ve got all the spec and feature details out of the way, here’s the best part: The Z3 will be available on T-Mobile in the U.S.! Until now, the only way to pick up one of Sony’s beauties in the States was to order it straight off Sony’s website. No pricing details or release dates have been announced yet though. The Z3 Compact unfortunately won’t be available on any US carriers, for now. It’s possible T-Mobile could also pick up this device.

So should you upgrade? The answer varies depending on the device you’re coming from. If you’re a Z2 owner, unless you’ve got money to burn, stick with your device. They’re hardly old, slow or outdated. Sony’s aggressive six-month update cycle can create device envy in previous model owners, but its pace of iteration is really astounding and worth watching. But upgrading can wait if you’re already toting a Z2. If you’ve never owned a Sony smartphone, now’s the perfect time to give it a try. The company has a well-deserved lofty reputation for its impressive camera and photo features and designs some truly beautiful hardware with some very smart software to boot.

Now that we finally have a U.S. carrier offering Sony’s devices, the only remaining downside for upgraders eyeing a Z3 is that it’s exclusive to T-Mobile, which means you’re not going to pick up a subsidized Sony device; you’ll have to pay the full price to get one on the Uncarrier. Whether or not that’s a bad thing is up to you.

Now that I’ve laid out my upgrading suggestions for the Z3 and Z3 compact, will you be upgrading to one of Sony’s new devices? To help you with your decision between now and Sony’s release dates for the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact, keep checking iTechTriad for the latest details.