But the only stumbling block, and quite a dampener, would be the Rs 43,000 price tag, says Himanshu Juneja.
After Sony Xperia Z1 Compact made an appearance, hopes were raised that Sony will also try to revive the 'Mini' category of phones and people will finally be able to lay their hands on a regular sized phones. After skipping the idea of Xperia Z2 Compact, Sony released the Xperia Z3 Compact.
Going by the spec sheet, the Z3 Compact comes across as a killer phone. The real task for Sony was to not only lift the Z3 Compact a few notches higher than Z1 Compact, but also keep the features on par with the Xperia Z3 to not let the target customers feel let down.
Let us take a closer look at what seems to be one of the better phones to have been released in 2014.
- OS: Android v4.4.4 (KitKat)
- Display: 4.6" IPS LCD, @ 720 x 1280 pixels, ~319 ppi
- Processor: Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400
- RAM: 2 GB RAM
- Camera: Primary -- 20.7 MP, LED Flash; Secondary -- 2.2 MP
- Memory: 16 GB, expandable upto 128GB
- Battery: 2600 mAh Li-Ion (Non-removable)
- Built and Construction
Sony gave the metal frame from the days of Z1 Compact, entirely a miss, preferring to render the front and back of the phone in tempered glass, and the translucent parts along the sides, which gives it a distinct and classy looks.
Slight warning here though, the glass back has the tendency to make the phone slip away out, be it hands or even when placed on flat surfaces.
The phone has been given curved corners, which Sony claims to be beneficial especially in the times when the phone takes a tumble. The corners don't allow the shock to be transmitted to glass part of the body, thereby minimizing the chances of damage.
The right edge of the phone consists of the volume rocker, the dedicated camera button, and the Sony's distinct metallic power button. Sony could have placed the camera and volume buttons slightly higher for better and instant access.
The phone has been made water resistant with the highest rating in the business. In order to achieve that, the Nano SIM card slot, the MicroUSB and the memory card slot have been well covered with flaps which might need a little bit of effort to pry open, but that is the small price to pay for a relative huge relief. Having an IP68 rating means that the phone can be held under fresh water for 30 minutes, and upto 1.5 meters in depth.
The front part also feature the dual speaker system, and this is a good move as well. The speakers are bound to enhance the media experience.
The Xperia Z3 Compact carries a 4.6-inch IPS LCD @ 720 x 1280 pixels resolution, which brings the pixel density to about ~319 ppi, which is good enough to churn out a crisp display. Some purists will claim that it is a shade lesser than expected, as the penchant for full HD screen has increased, but having a 720p screen for the Z3 Compact doesn't seem like a disadvantage of any sorts, as one has to really strain the eyes to notice the individual pixels.
Sony's Triluminos and X-Reality technology makes the screen perform beautifully, as text and images comes out sharp and colours were vibrantly displayed as well. Web browsing experience was superlative, and there wasn't any issue in reading of text, or rendering of images either.
Sony has made the bezel as thin as possible, so the display occupies most of the phone front on, and this contributes in an immersive experience.
OS and features
The Z3 comes with Android 4.4.4 out of the box, and has pretty much identical stuff to what the Xperia Z3 is sporting.
It won't be an overstatement to claim that Sony basically scaled down the OS department from the Z3 and ported it to Z3 Compact. And this necessarily doesn't mean a bad thing.
As is the case normally, the Sony Android skin might be a hit or a miss with the users. The non-removable apps will continue to be an eyesore, more so if they are not useful for the owner. Sony's own apps include Sony Select, What's New, TrackID, Xperia Care Support, Sony Music, Liv Sports, etc.
The homescreen has a good chunk of Google and Sony related shortcuts instead of the frequently used apps.
The 'What's New' widget, again will prove to be cringe worthy, as it serves more like an advertising pitch for Sony related products.
All this basically constitutes for bloatware, which could have been avoided, or be made removable. There are some really useful apps and feature onboard like AVG Antivirus, Kingsoft Office, Google Drive, Evernote, LinkedIn, Facebook, Wisepilot Navigation etc.
PS4 remoteplay feature deserves a special mention. The PS4 remote play basically allows the user to remote play videos from ps4 and accomplishes this via the Wi-Fi connection.
As if this wasn't really enough, Sony went a step ahead and provided the option to turn the Z3 Compact into a PSP of sorts by using a dock attached to a PS4 controller.
The gamers will definitely enjoy this feature as the Z3 Compact is well equipped to churn out great graphics via a great screen, and the front facing speakers complete the list of required features.
This particular feature will not be available till the end of November 2014, but it is surely something to look forward to.
Other feature includes useful apps like The PartyShare, which allows broadcasting of photos, or even create playlist with Xperia devise-owner friends.
Sony's Lifelog may prove to be an intriguing piece of software for many. It's a fitness tracking apps, which also tracks activities like time spent browsing the internet, reading the ebooks, or time spent listening to music or watching movies etc.
Exact usage for logging every activity may best be left to individual user.
Sony's sketch app is fun, which lets users write captions on pictures. Remember the good old MSN Paint?
Overall, the Sony Z3 Compact is well populated with apps and features. It is just that the bloatware sits in there too, and users will just have to navigate past them. The powerful innards thankfully ensure that the phone doesn't lag or slows down due to the excess baggage.
Sporting the same camera module as its bigger cousin Xperia Z3, the Compact edition carries the 20.7MP. The camera performs fabulously as the pictures came out clear with colours well reproduced. The outdoor photography especially is fabulous.
The Superior auto mode is basically the standard mode. This mode automatically selects the best settings for the surroundings. There are other modes as well, such as Sound Photo and Face In, something which seems to have been heavily inspired by Samsung Galaxy S5.
There is also the Vine mode, which provides six second worth of looping videos. Needless to say, such videos are great for sharing via social networking sites.
The somewhat gimmicky Augmented Reality mode also makes an appearance, which kids will particularly enjoyable. That is not to say that adults cannot make some good use of it here and there. But it still remains less useful in regular usage.
The slight issue pops up when the light conditions are not favourable, more so during indoor photography sessions. With poor light conditions, the pics might get grainy and will exhibit less clarity which is in stark contrast to what was expected from a capable configuration.
The flash performance is good and low light photography isn't all horribly out of place. The results do bring up satisfactory results, but Sony really should have ironed out the obvious hiccups in this case. A phone with stellar hardware shouldn't be lacking in this all important aspect.
Users can shoot a Full HD video or the trendy 4k videos as well. This does provides a shot in the arm for Z3 Compact's overall resume. The phone does get hot while shooting 4k videos, and battery consumption also is significantly higher.
The 2.2 MP front facing camera is good enough to take selfies and for video chats.
Sony still being one of the few companies which are providing the dedicated camera button also adds to the advantages. The camera button makes things very easy, be it adjusting the focus on the subject, or taking snapshots. One cannot deny the ease of use when a dedicated camera button launches the app quickly.
The phone comes with a non-removable Li-Ion 2600 mAh battery and the performance simply blows competition out of the water in its segment.
The battery lasts for more than two and a half days on regular usage. Then there are the two battery saving modes which bring about similarly mind boggling results.
Stamina mode makes the phone chug along over 14 days at the least without the need of a charge, whereas the Ultra Stamina mode extends that time frame to 16 days.
These are some serious performance stats and Sony really hasn't left any room for complaints here.
Without a hint of a doubt, Sony has brought forward an absolute treat for the users who don't want a 5-inch phablet type phones.
A huge market still belongs to the segment where people would like to have a solid mobile phone and allows them single handed operation while they commute, walk or simply are going about doing their daily tasks.
With its astonishing battery life, brilliant screen, strong camera, and expandable memory, the Xperia Z3 Compact could have easily been launched without the Z3 tag and would have done magnificently then as well. One cannot help but believe that the phone will compete directly with the iPhone 6, and should win its fair share of fans as well. It is that capable and good.
The only stumbling block, and quite a dampener would be the Rs 43,000 price tag. To be fair, the phone does command that sort of pricing, and if interested buyers are ready to view the phone not as a beaten down version of its bigger cousin, they will be able to see the justification in the pricing.
A price cut should see a better response in the future, but even now one can tell, that Sony has delivered a knock out punch in the regular sized phone category.