Alongside the new Xperia Z3, Sony has also introduced yet another little flagship: the Xperia Z3 Compact. In line with previous releases, the Z3 Compact boasts similarly powerful hardware as the larger Z3 in a body that’s comfortably usable with one hand.
Curiously, there isn’t a Z2 Compact, with Sony choosing to stick to a one-year cycle for the little flagship. This time around, Sony has slightly increased the display of the Z3 Compact, from 4.3-inches in the Z1 Compact to 4.6-inches, but retaining a 720p resolution. The Japanese company will make the Z3 Compact available in the usual Black and White, but also two exceptionally vibrant colours: Red and Green. Both these colours are not available in the Z3, and is similar to the approach Sony took with the Z1 Compact earlier this year. Nonetheless, the handsome OmniBalance design language remains here on the Z3 Compact.
Sony’s Z Compact series has always been a favourite among those who prefer their smartphones small. Almost every other phone maker today has a “mini” variant of their flagship smartphones, but choose to fit less powerful hardware. To date, Sony’s the only one that hasn’t taken that route. Internally, the Z3 Compact is pretty much the same as the Z3: same processor, same camera, same performance. Only the display (4.6″ 720p vs 5.2″ 1080p), RAM (2GB vs 3GB) and battery capacity (2600mAh vs 3100mAh) has been reduced – but that doesn’t mean a drop in performance: the 4.6-inch 720p display is as excellent as the 1080p Z3, and Sony also claims a 2-day battery life on the Z3 Compact.
The 129g Xperia Z3 Compact is refreshingly light, while the compact size makes it effortless to use with one hand. That being said, you can still hold it comfortably with two hands for typing. The sides of the Xperia Z3 Compact have a cool translucent strip, which hides the fact that the Z3 Compact does not have an aluminium frame as the Z3. A side-by-side comparison of the Z3 Compact also reveals that at 8.6mm, the smaller device is actually thicker than the 7.3mm Xperia Z3 – though this actually helps with the grip given the small form factor. However, the Z3 Compact retains the IP65/IP68 rating for dust and water resistance – the same level of protection as the Z3.
Running on Android 4.4.4 KitKat, the Z3 Compact sports the same software tricks as the Z3, and that includes the new Ultra Stamina Mode that lets you use the phone for at least seven days. This similarity also extends to the camera features found on the Z3, including the very promising SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode for videos, and an ISO sensitivity of up to 12800.
Sample images taken on the Xperia Z3 Compact – click to view full resolution:
On the whole, the Xperia Z3 Compact feels almost exactly like the flagship Z3 – just a little smaller and more comfortable in size. Beyond the differences in size, there is little to set them apart performance-wise from my very brief time with the two devices. The bold colours will appeal very much to the younger ones who wish to stand out; the red in particular dovetails nicely with the black bezels of the display.
If Sony retains the same pricing with the Z3 Compact as it did with the RM1699 Z1 Compact, the company may have yet another winner in its hands.