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Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Which is best for me?

We compare the mighty 5.2-inch Sony Xperia Z3 with its stunted brother, the 4.6-inch Xperia Z3 Compact, to see which is best for you.

When you’re faced with two gorgeous and feature-packed five-star phones, it can be a real bugger deciding which one to stump up for – yeah, it’s a proper first world problem, right? Well, blame Sony for releasing two exceptional new mobiles, the Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact, at the same bloody time.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Which is best for me comparison review

So which of these premium phones is best for you? Let’s do a lovely little comparison review to see…

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Design, look and feel

Phone Sony Xperia Z3 Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Screen size 5.2-inches 4.6-inches
Dimensions 146 x 72 x 7.3mm 127 x 65 x 9mm
Weight 152g 129g
Water resistant? Yes Yes

One of the biggest deciding factors between these phones, and the most obvious difference, is the design. Sony’s Xperia Z3 is a full-on 5.2-inch premium phone and like other plus-5 flagships, such as the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5, it’s best handled with two mitts rather than one. Take away that second hand and you’ll really struggle to reach the top of the screen with your thumb (unless you’re rocking the godawful Asian ‘thumb extender’ accessory, of course. Yes, it’s really a thing).

That’s not really an issue most of the time, but as daily users of rammed public transport, we find ourselves regularly using one hand to cling onto poles or other commuters. In these cases, or when we’re lugging around shopping bags, it’s great to have a compact phone that you can use one-handed.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Which is best for me comparison review

The Xperia Z3 Compact is perfect for single-handed operation, thanks to that reduced 4.6-inch screen. It’s significantly smaller in width and height, although it is a little chunkier than the full-sized Xperia Z3. However, the lighter design also means it’s less noticeable in your pocket.

Both phones are water and dust-resistant, so they’ll put up with a dunking in shallow water and come away unharmed.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Which is best for me comparison review

However, the look of the two phones is very different. Sony’s Xperia Z3 is its most gorgeous creation to date, at least to our eyeballs, with its sleek new silver curved edges which feel comfortable to grip as well. The Xperia Z3 Compact boasts the same glossy front and back, but those edges have morphed into funky transparent plastic bands with a unique inverted design.

We prefer the full-sized Xperia Z3’s edging, but the Xperia Z3 Compact has one more serious advantage, and that’s its colour selection. While the Xperia Z3 comes in a washed-out greeny and browny colour (as well as standard white and black), the mini Xperia boasts some vibrant red and green models that really stand out. Of course, as ever, it’s all down to personal preference.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Which is best for me comparison review

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Screen life

Both the Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact pack an IPS LCD screen, and at first glance there isn’t much between them, besides the 0.6-inch size difference. Both panels are bright enough for comfortable viewing, even under harsh glare. Colours bleed off the screen thanks to Sony’s latest display tech, while viewing angles are pleasingly wide – you can tilt the phone to almost 90 degrees with little degradation in quality.

If you really want to make the most of your HD movies, the 5.2-inch model might seem like the obvious choice. Not just for its more spacious panel, but also its Full HD 1080p resolution, which produces beautifully crisp images.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Which is best for me comparison review

The Sony Xperia Z3 (left/top) versus the Xperia Z3 Compact (right/bottom)

The Xperia Z3 Compact drops the Full HD resolution, making do with a 720p screen instead. There’s a big drop in pixels-per-inch, from 424 ppi to 319 ppi, but how much difference does that actually make?

Well, we streamed high def movies on both phones side-by-side and compared HD photos too, and we honestly couldn’t see any difference in quality. In fact, the Compact probably has the best 720p phone screen ever made.

In other words, you shouldn’t feel the need to go for the bigger blower if you’re obsessed with video. Either phone is a great choice, especially as they both pack a micro SD memory card slot for carrying a huge collection around.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Performance and battery life

Sony is pretty much the only manufacturer who doesn’t compromise when it comes to slimming down its phones, packing the same quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm SnapDragon 800 processor into the Z3 Compact as well as the Z3 – although the memory has been scaled back from 3GB to 2GB.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: which is best for me comparison review

In our real-world tests, we noticed no difference at all between the performance of these two phones. The whole experience is beautifully slick, even when running apps side-by-side using Sony’s ‘small apps’ feature or playing the latest shooty action games. Not once in our days with each handset did we notice any lag or stutters.

Sony reckons you’ll get two whole days of use with the Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact before the battery needs recharging. That’s no doubt true if you dim down the screen and keep from fiddling with the phones too often, as battery drain when they’re hibernating is very low.

However, we couldn’t stop playing with both handsets and had the brightness cranked right up, so that two-day target was sadly beyond our reach. All the same, we managed to wring out over a day of use between each charge and occasionally even lasted a day and a half. Both phones also pack the same Stamina mode, which helps to extend life by trimming down the number of features that are running in the background.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Cameras

When it comes to the cameras, Sony once again hasn’t fobbed off Compact fans with cut-down specs. You’ll find the same 20.7-megapixel rear camera on both phones, complete with autofocus and flash, plus the exact same features. That makes the Xperia Z3 Compact one of the smallest phones around that can record 4K video.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: which is best for me comparison review

Around the front, you’ll find the same 2.2-megapixel camera too, for those all-important selfie shots. The Compact even rocks the same physical shutter button on the edge of the phone, to make taking selfies easier.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact: Verdict

With the Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony has really excelled. This mini mobile packs in almost all of the same great features of its bigger brother, but in a shrunken shell that’s easier to grip and fondle with one hand.

As a result, there’s very little difference between these phones, besides that change in design. We personally lean more towards the Xperia Z3 Compact, as it’s simply more user-friendly. However, there’s a lot to be said for the full-sized Xperia Z3’s sleek silver edging and more spacious screen, making this a truly difficult decision. Like we said, first world problems…

Check out our full Sony Xperia Z3 review and Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review.

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