Sony Xperia Z3v Review – Sony’s Latest With A Big Red Twist

Sony is a household name for many reasons. From TVs to digital cameras to the PlayStation, everyone knows who they are. In the US however, not many know Sony for one of their largest product divisions, their smartphones. Why? Well Sony has never really been huge about the US market when it comes to getting their phones onto US carriers like AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. However with the Xperia Z3, Sony has made the leap onto not one, but two US carriers. T-Mobile jumped on first with the standard Xperia Z3, but then Verizon followed with the slightly modified Xperia Z3v. I’ve been using the Z3v for the past couple weeks and today I’ll give be giving you my thoughts on the first Sony phone on the Big Red.



Specs

  • 5.2”  Inch 1080p LCD Triluminos Display

  • Snapdragon 801 Processor – 2.5GHz

  • 3GB of RAM

  • 32GB of storage – expandable via microSD

  • IP68 Water & Dust resistant

  • 20.7MP rear camera

  • 2.2MP front camera

  • Built-in Qi wireless charging

  • 3,200 mAh battery – non-removable

Hardware

The Xperia Z3v is different from other variants of the Z3 not in it’s software or specs, but in it’s hardware. It still brings the same 5.2” inch 1080p display and IP68 waterproof rating as the standard Z3, but in a body that’s much more similar to the design of the Xperia Z2. There were times when I absolutely loved the hardware, and other times that I didin’t. Don’t get me wrong, the glass on glass design feels and looks great, it’s just the width and weight that I don’t like about this phone. I honestly wish that Sony had made it just a tad thinner and a bit lighter, but of course, beggars can’t be choosers.

One area of the hardware Sony did nail on this phone though, is how you can charge it. Most phones use the microUSB port we’re used to, and that’s still an option on this phone. However since the port is covered by a flap to attain that IP68 rating. However Verizon made the adjustment to add Qi wireless charging right out of the box on the Xperia Z3v rather than using an optional accessory. This was a very smart move.

One last thing I really enjoyed about the hardware was the speakers. The quality wasn’t mind-blowing, but the fact that they are on the front is appreciated. That definitely makes it a pleasure for using when watching video or listening to music. Sound is loud and pretty decent. What’s really great is how Sony implemented them. If you picked up the phone, you probably wouldn’t even know they were there.

Software

One thing Sony absolutely nailed on the Z3v was the software. Their skin on top of Android 4.4.4 is light, quick, and a pleasure to use. There’s nothing overly complex about it and it makes sense. Performance was also great on the skin with very few hiccups. While I didn’t find myself using Sony’s pre-installed app all that much, I did enjoy that there weren’t all that many of them. Sony didn’t really try to overwhelm you with a million apps you’ll never use, but instead a select few that Sony fans will likely use. One that I really wanted to try out but unfortunately didn’t get the chance was Sony’s Remote Play app for the PS4. The ability to play everything you can on your PS4 right from your phone seems like something amazing, you know, if PSN is actually up for once.

Overall Sony’s take on Android can be put together in one sentence, it’s simple, to the point, and it’s how I think every skin should perform on Android.

Camera

I’m actually really surprised with what I have to say about the camera on the Z3v. The camera on the device didn’t come close to what I wasn’t expecting from the 20.7 MP shooter. Thanks to those megapixels, there was definitely plenty of detail in shots, but colors often looked washed out and very inaccurate. With Sony’s background in camera technology, I expected a lot more from this camera. Personally I think that the problems with this camera have a lot more to do with the image processing rather than the actual camera itself. Hopefully images will improve with further software updates including Android Lollipop which brings Android’s new camera API. Below is a small gallery of shots I took with the Z3v.

Battery Life

Another area Sony absolutely nailed on the Z3v was the battery. With a 3,200 mAh cell, I expected great battery life and that’s exactly what I got. With normal usage, I always got through a day. On time when I didn’t use the phone, I found that standby was pretty impressive too. This is one phone you definitely won’t need to worry about dying on your in the middle of the day, unless you check Instagram like every two minutes.

Final Thoughts – Should You Buy It?

So the Xperia Z3v, it’s got a decent camera, great software, incredible speakers, the ability to play PS4 games anywhere, and a simple design. If that’s what you’re looking for in a phone, this is certainly a good one to pick up. If not, you might want to keep looking through the sea of other phones out on the market.

For $199 on a two year contract on Verizon Wireless, this phone certainly lives up to it’s asking price and to the right user, I’d have no problem recommending it.