Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sony has three new Xperia Z3 phones and tablets

01_Xperia_Z3_family_smartwearThe Xperia Zx lineup of devices have always received positive rating from both reviewers and consumers. It's industrial boxed up design and round aluminum power button has since then become a hallmark design of Sony's flagship devices. At IFA last week, Sony has did it again, by announcing yet another flagship smartphone this year. Unlike Samsung which does announce flagship device every 6 months, Samsung's flagship actually is catered for two markets but sony is beginning to act silly. with the Xperia Z3, they officially have 3 incremental versions of the same phone with near identical hardware and slight tweaks to the software.

Xperia Z3, the new flagship

02_Xperia_Z3_White_AngleAnyways, the new Xperia Z3 is probably the most refined Xperia device to date, I can already imagine saying this again next year when sony announces the Xperia Z4 at MWC. Sony is keeping their boxed up design with the Z3 and this time around they have made the device more curvier on the sides and thus creating a device which is thinner than ever. In fact it is actually 0.6mm thinner than the original Xperia Z which is probably the pioneer of this entire lineup of Sony devices for the past two years. With the new form factor, the Xperia Z3 still has the signature feature of the lineup which is the IP68 rating which enables the Z3 to be immersed in 1m of water for 30 minutes. In fact, the Z3 compared to the previous Z2 actually has a higher IP rating; IP58 vs IP68, the difference is that the Z3 is now fully sealed against dust.
23_Xperia_Z3As expected nothing much has changed under the hood but one notable change to the Z3 is that the battery capacity is 3,100mAh which is 100mAh lesser than the Z2. However, Sony did say that the lower battery capacity doesn't mean poor battery life, we'll just have to turn to battery tests to see how that goes. Sony's 20.7MP G Lens camera introduced with the Xperia Z1 during IFA 2013 is still present on the Xperia Z3 and since last year, Sony has introduced support for 4K video recording with this sensor and the handycam stabilization has also been introduced for more smoother videos. This year, the camera module can now reach up to an ISO of 12,800 and that is truly amazing for a smartphone. Unlike the likes of both Nokia and Samsung, Sony has yet to overhaul the 2.2MP front facing camera on the Xperia Z3, maybe in the next iteration they'll integrate the 5MP camera and front facing flash from their selfie phone (Xperia C3).

Xperia Z3 Compact

39_Xperia_Z3_CompactAfter all that about the Xperia Z3, Sony didn't only announce a new flagship phone, they also announced a miniaturized and a supersized version of it. Similarly named, the Xperia Z3 compact like it’s name relation has near identical specifications to it's bigger brother. What's changed is the screen size which has gone down to 4.6 inches and the resolution has been toned down to the standard 720P. That's where the differences end, it's quite marvelous what Sony has done with this device. It's basically the full sized Xperia Z3 with a smaller screen. Like the Xperia Z1 compact last year (wonder what happened to the Xperia Z2 compact?), this new miniaturized version also come IP certified which means you can take it for a dip in the pool.

Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

05_Xperia_Z3_Tablet_Compact_WaterBesides that, there is yet another Xperia Z3 variant being announced, that is the 8" version. Although it's not a phone but if you squint while looking at the press images, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (yeah that's what it's called) the device actually resembles the Xperia Z Ultra which has a screen size not too far away from this new tablet. The story here is same, this tablet not only has the same design implemented but the internal specifications are just too darn similar to the point that I suspect they might all just be using the same motherboard. One interesting point to note is that although this wasn't officially announced nor confirmed but there is speculation that this device can make calls, why do I say that you ask? Just look at the image above, right on the top of the dock you can see a phone icon which might very well mean that like Samsung's various 8" slates, this Sony branded on might be able to take and make phone calls.

Remote Play for Xperia Devices

12_Xperia_Z3_Tablet_Compact_PS4_RemoteThere is one pretty cool feature present on all the Xperia Z3 variants including the original one, Xperia Z3 tablet compact and Xperia Z3 compact and that is the ability to play PS4 games right from your device via this new service called Remote Play for Sony Xperia devices. The restrain however is that you'll need to be connected to the same WiFi networks and like the Nvidia Shield at first, the service might not be as smooth as playing it straight from the console. Again this is a pretty neat feature and somehow this is how they're trying to lock you down to their Sony network. This service will be rolling out later this month and there's no word on when other Xperia devices will be receiving this feature
26_Xperia_Z3This lineup of devices is pretty solid and there is a Xperia Z3 for everyone, whether you want a small screen or a gigantic one, Sony's got you covered this time. From this we can clearly see that Sony is standing by what they think is the major selling point and differentiator of their flagship devices compared to the likes of HTC and Samsung. Since the start of the series, providing users with the flexibility of washing their phone has become a trademark of their flagships. Another point is that as time progresses, they are advancing their aluminum and glass design forward.

Wrap-up

32_Xperia_Z3_Compact_SmartWatchFor now, it’s still unclear whether Sony plans to continue this 6 month refresh cycle but one thing's for sure and it's that for every iteration it just gets better and better. One thing to add before I end this article is that during this event Sony also announced two new wearables and one of them is powered by Android Wear. The reason why I didn't touch on it here is that I'm currently working on a series all about the growing market of wearable devices, expect to see that by the holiday season. I know I've been doing a lot of delays lately with articles but rest assured I'll deliver and it'll be worth the wait. As usual follow us at the usual places (Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram) for up to date tech news and stay tuned for my impressions article about the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch.