Sony Xperia Z3+ review: Far from a revolutionary overhaul

After a long wait, Sony finally announced the launch of its latest flagship Xperia smartphone last week, following in the footsteps of the Z2 and Z3. It’s name? The Z3+. Or, the Z4, if you live in Japan.

In this case “Z3+” is a more accurate moniker than “Z4”, as the new handset is less revolutionary overhaul than a minor update of what went before. Given that the Z3 was on the whole a well received package, that may not be a bad thing.

The Z3+’s dimensions are virtually unchanged compared with those of its predecessor; Sony has shaved a bit here and there, making it 8 grams lighter and 0.4mm thinner than its predecessor, but side by side, there’s virtually no difference.

Curiously, however, the new handset’s finish is not quite as smooth as the Z3’s, with a small but noticeable join between the Z3+’s outer rim and its main body.

The Z3+’s 5.2-inch IPS LCD display is identical though. Colours are still deep and crisp, with the fast moving trailer for Mad Max Fury Road displaying perfectly acceptably, but there are better looking displays on the market from the likes of LG, Samsung and Apple.

The main upgrade has happened at the processor level, with a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 taking the place of its predecessor’s quad-core Snapdragon 801. Navigating around the Z3+ is certainly smooth and nippy, but to my eyes not noticeably more so than the Z3.

Elsewhere, the handset’s micro-USB port is happily no longer hidden behind a fiddly cap, while retaining the Xperia range’s water and dust proof credentials.

And while the Z3’s rear facing 20.7MP wide-angle lensed camera remains in place, Sony has beefed up the pixel count of the front facing camera to 5.1MP from the Z3’s 2.2MP for that better quality selfie.

All in all, the Z3+ is a solid high-end smartphone for Sony enthusiasts, but one that doesn’t really offer enough incentive for Z3 owners to upgrade just yet. But for those still nursing their Z2s and looking to remain with the Sony fold, it’s a decent option.


Let me get this straight: 3+ equals 4?

In this instance, yes. Sony unveiled the Xperia Z4 in April, saying that it would be available in Japan around the middle of the year. The company last week announced the launch of the Z3+ in the Middle East and Europe. It turns out that the two handsets are one and the same.

Interesting strategy, why would they do that?

The different naming strategy is a little odd, but the “3+” naming strategy makes a lot of sense, given that the changes are incremental rather than all-encompassing.

A bit like the difference between an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 5S?

Exactly. Let’s not forget, a lot of Samsung fans felt that there wasn’t much that differentiated the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S5, with a similar thing happening with this year’s HTC One M9.

Makes sense. Back to the Z3+, what are its other main selling features?

Battery life has been one of the main selling points for Sony smartphones in recent years, with the company claiming up to two days of usage from the Z3+ off a single charge. We put this to the test and at the time of going to press, it had lasted over 24 hours.

Final question: how much does it cost?

Sony said it would be available in the UAE this month at Dh2,699.

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