Sony has just launched its latest flagship phone, the Sony Xperia Z3+, but what’s the difference compared with the Xperia Z3 and should you upgrade if you already own a Sony mobile?
The name of Sony’s latest launch handset, the Xperia Z3+, should clearly show how it compares with last year’s Xperia Z3 flagship phone (which was released September 2014). The Xperia Z3+ isn’t a massive upgrade over the Z3 – instead, it’s more of a gentle increment. A timely boost to the Z3’s specs and features, as well as a bit of design polish.
Let’s see how the two stack up side by side, from screen to camera to the rest of the specs.
Read next: Our full Sony Xperia Z3+ review
Sony Xperia Z3+: Look and feel
A quick fondle of the Xperia Z3+ proves that it handles much the same as the Xperia Z3. It’s a wee bit slimmer at 6.9mm (the Xperia Z3 was 7.2mm) and a tad lighter, but you’ll struggle to notice any real difference. The main thing is that the Xperia Z3+ can still be just about used one-handed, with a bit of thumb stretching to reach the distant corners.
Once again the phone is a sleek-looking beast with rounded, shinier edges, so it fits comfortably in the palm. However, there is one significant change that we’re quite excited about (and yes, we realise how sad this makes us), and that’s the new uncovered charging port. No longer do you have to prise open an irritating little flap every time you want to charge up your Xperia phone, but it’s still completetly water and dust resistant. Hooray!
Sure, that’s not exactly a reason to throw hundreds of pounds at Sony – and there’s still no support for wireless charging without bolting on extra accessories – but it’s a welcome change all the same.
Sony Xperia Z3+: Performance and battery life
Sony’s Xperia Z3 is still a strong performer thanks to the Snapdragon 801 processor, happily handling the latest games and apps. For the Xperia Z3+, Sony chose Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon processor, the 810, backed up by 3GB of RAM. Unfortunately this chipset has been blighted since birth with accusations of overheating, as well as unfavourable benchmarking scores compared with rival chips like Samsung’s 7420 Exynos processor (found in the Galaxy S6).
Sure enough, while the Xperia Z3+ offers a smooth and satisfying everyday performance and will start to show signs of ageing after the Xperia Z3, it can get rather toasty at times. In fact, when using the camera app it heats up so much that the app shuts itself down occasionally. Therefore, we can’t recommend the Z3+ over the Z3 for performance.
The Xperia Z3+ also can’t quite match the Xperia Z3 for battery life as it rocks a slightly smaller cell (2900mAh versus the Xperia Z3’s 3100mAh effort) to slim down the design. The Xperia Z3+ can still happily make it through a full day with regular use, but won’t quite stretch to a day and a half like the Z3. The new flagship phone also dies after just over four hours of non-stop video playback, compared with just over five on the Z3.
Sony Xperia Z3+: Cameras
Sony has slapped another 20.7-megapixel snapper onto the back of its latest handset, with the same 1/2.3 sensor for capturing decent low light shots. The main change is actually in the software. So for instance, the Superior Auto mode now includes a ‘gourmet’ setting for taking shots of your food, one of the biggest current annoyances of social media.
You also have a couple of bizarre new AR modes, including the terrifying ability to superimpose someone else’s face onto your own. Great news if you’ve always wondered what you’d look like as a member of the opposite sex. Be careful, though. The results may be so horrifying that you ruin a perfectly good pair of pants. Check out our full review for some eyeball-flaming examples.
We’re expecting the new software features to roll out to the Xperia Z3 in a future update and we’ve asked Sony when this is likely to happen.
The main upgrade in the Xperia Z3+ is the selfie cam, which has been boosted to a 5-megapixel shooter from the 2.2-megapixel camera found on the Xperia Z3. Complete with Superior Auto mode and boasting strong low-light performance, it’s one of the better front-facing cameras that we’ve played with, rivalling even the Galaxy S6’s awesome selfie cam.
Sony Xperia Z3+: Other specs
Aside from that, it’s pretty much business as usual. The Xperia Z3+ once again sports a 5.2-inch Full HD screen (no 4K visuals here to match the Galaxy S6 and LG G4), as well as 32GB of storage and a micro SD memory card slot for expansion. There’s full 4G, NFC and high-res audio support, all found in the Xperia Z3.
So, should I upgrade to the Xperia Z3+?
The Xperia Z3 wasn’t a massive leap over the Xperia Z2, and likewise the Xperia Z3+ doesn’t add many noteworthy features to last year’s Xperia Z3. If you already own the Xperia Z3, then you’re already enjoying Sony’s best smartphone screen as well as its 20.7-megapixel camera and dependable performance.
Toss in the overheating issues and we’d say hold off until the next Xperia to upgrade – or if you’re looking to own your first Sony handset, take advantage of any Xperia Z3 offers now that this phone is out.