When rumors first emerged of Sony's Xperia XZ3, many of us wondered why. With the Xperia XZ2 just releasing in April of this year, why is Sony already releasing its successor? But now that it is officially announced, it makes a bit more sense, as what Sony is calling the XZ3 is actually more like the XZ2S.
The Sony Xperia XZ3 is what the XZ2 should have been earlier this year. This is a phone with fewer shortcomings than its predecessor that would have better competed against the likes of Samsung's Galaxy S9. While the XZ3 does share many components of its predecessor, there are four key areas of improvement: media consumption, the front camera, the operating system, and AI.
- OS: Android 9.0 Pie
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- GPU: Adreno 630
- RAM: 4 GB
- Display: 6.0" Quad HD+ OLED display (no display notch)
- Storage: 64 GB (expandable via microSD)
- Rear Camera: 19 MP f/2.0
- Front Camera: 13 MP wide-angle
- Audio: Dual front-facing stereo speakers, no headphone jack
- Water Resistance: IP65/68
- Battery: 3,300 mAh
- Biometrics: Fingerprint scanner (rear)
- Charging: Qi wireless charging, Quick Charge 3.0
With it being 2018, the flagship SoC of choice is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, which Sony elected to keep from the XZ2. Sony also opted to bring back the 4 GB RAM, an amount which Sony likely should've increased. The rear camera is the same as its predecessor, a 19 MP shooter capable of recording 4K HDR. Despite the hopes of some, it is still a single lens, but a more than capable shooter.
Finally, the battery is more or less the same as the XZ2's. Sony gave the XZ3 a slight upgrade from 3,180 mAh to 3,300 mAh. Battery life should be comparable to its predecessor. While the Sony Xperia XZ2 wasn't a bad phone for battery life, with phones packing 3,500 mAh (and more) at similar display sizes, it would have been nice for Sony to include a larger capacity.
These next four sections are all you really need to know about the XZ3 — these are the areas where Sony actually improved on the XZ2.
The first major difference you will notice is the new OLED display. This is the first time Sony has used OLED in a handset, so its inclusion is a very big deal. Leveraging the same technology from Sony BRAVIA TVs, the new display is a sight to behold. Both the resolution and screen size have been upgraded to 1440p and 6.0 inches, respectively. It supports HDR and should have no problem with content. Based on Sony's track record, the XZ3 should support HDR on Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube.
Sony is also bringing back the XZ2's feature, X-Reality, which upscales SD content to HDR. This will improve the quality of videos, enabling them to take advantage of the more significant contrast of colors available with HDR. Dynamic Vibration is also returning, which vibrates the phone based on the audio, including for video. It is a nice little touch to make movie watching more immersive. And protecting the screen is Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
As for audio, Sony returns the S-Force Front Surround speakers, the name of the stereo front-facing speakers. These speakers are now 20% louder than its predecessor. Unfortunately, there is still no headphone jack, so you are stuck using a dongle or wireless options.
The front camera has received a significant upgrade in resolution from 5 MP to 13 MP. The additional pixels should translate into much better selfies, even in a low light situation. Sony also includes a display flash for nighttime shots to give you the much needed light to capture your subject. A bokeh effect is available, despite its single lens, as well as beauty effects to enhance your looks.
Sony has beaten all other OEMs to the punch by releasing the first smartphone to launch with Android 9.0 Pie. With Android Pie, the XZ3 will be one of only three phones in the US with the latest version of Android.
Android Pie brought some new changes to the operating system, starting with the new gesture controls, which replace the traditional three buttons. There are also some security changes to make using your phone safer. Check out the link below for all the new changes in Android Pie.
AI is the name of the game in 2018, and Sony is leveraging the technology to improve the overall phone experience. Smart Launch is a new feature which automatically launches the camera app when it detects you are ready to take a picture (when you hold the phone horizontally).
Side Sense is similar to HTC Edge launcher, using machine learning to arrange a set of apps you are most likely you use. Side Sense will change based on location, time of day, and the day of the week, learning your habits as you go. Side Sense is launched by double tapping the side of the phone.
Sony also included a number of gestures, such as sliding down on the side of the phone to go back. While in the camera app, doubling tapping the side will also take a photo, preventing your fingers from covering up the viewfinder.
Sony will launch the Xperia XZ3 in October for $900. I am surprised that Sony felt it was smart to price the phone so high. It is $200 more than its predecessor and $99 cheaper than XZ2 Premium with its 4K display, bigger battery, and dual rear cameras. It is a weirdly high price tag, but when compared to the iPhone XS, it's somewhat justifiable.
What do you think about the new Sony Xperia XZ3? Do you like this mid-cycle upgrade Sony is trying? Is it worth the $900 price tag? Let us know in the comments below.