We managed to get our hands on a pre-production model of the Sony Xperia Z3+, Sony’s latest addition to its flagship Xperia range. The model we played around with wasn’t running the final software that Sony will stick on the finished handset, but the design will remain largely unchanged.
It’ll be known as the Sony Xperia Z4 in Japanese markets and the Z3+ in other markets. The latter is a more suitable name as the Z3+ doesn’t have any major upgrades that set it apart from the Z3. Whilst this may disappoint those who were excited about a brand new Sony flagship, the minor tweaks will help Sony compete in a market crammed with the already excellent Samsung Galaxy S6, iPhone 6, HTC One M9 and LG G4.
The device has a June launch date and outlets like Clove Technology are taking pre-orders from £549.
Sony Xperia Z3+ design
The Z3+’s design doesn’t stray too far from last year’s Z3. Sporting a rectangular shape, smooth curves and a glass body, the Xperia Z3+ feels like an upmarket and sturdy device.
There’s not much difference between the Z3 and the Z3+’s front. Its front-facing speakers have been placed at the bottom of the phone. This makes them quite discreet and we had no problem muffling the speaker with our hands.
Look round the back of the phone and it has a similarly minimalist design. The 20.7mP camera and LED flash have been placed on the top left, whilst the Xperia and Sony logos are easily visible.
Move to the left and there’s only one slot for both your MicroSD and nanoSIM. Head to the bottom and the microUSB slot is now fully exposed, which allows you to easily plug in your microUSB cable without having to faff around with any annoying flaps. The phone is also dust and waterproof.
With a 5.2-inch screen, we had no problem holding the phone in our hands or reaching any of the side buttons. Weight 144g and measuring just 6.9mm, it’s also lighter and thinner than the Z3. This slimmer size hasn’t come without compromises, however. The battery has been cut down from 3,100mAh to 2,900mAh, which means it doesn’t take as much juice as the Z3.
It is quick charge compatible, however, and Sony claims you can get two days usage from a single charge. We played around with the phone intensively for around the hour and the battery only dropped by four per cent.
Sony Xperia Z3+ camera
The 20.7MP rear shooter has been used on plenty of Sony handsets before, but it boasts the unique Superior Auto+, which Sony claims can improve shots in all conditions. Whilst the images it took looked perfectly decent, they were quite dull when we compared it to similar shots taken with the Honor 6+.
Despite all that, the camera’s shutter is noticeably faster than the Honor’s and there are plenty of modes for you to shoot in. There’s also a handy physical shutter button which makes taking photographs easier.
The 5MP front-facing camera combined with SteadyShot took some decent selfies with little blur. The phone was worryingly prone to overheating when we used the camera app and we received continuous warning messages telling us the camera app would shut down if the device heated up any further.
Sony Xperia Z3+ software
The Xperia Z3+ combines Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sony’s own user interface. A ‘Clear all’ button on the multitasking screen was a welcome addition that helped us close all apps in one go. Another neat addition is the option to organise all the apps in your app tray – the area you place all your apps when you don’t want them cluttering your home screen – in alphabetical order, most used or any other preference you may have.
The Weather widget did glitch on us, but it’s worth remembering that the model we played with isn’t a finished version.
There’s also a lot of bloatware on the phone, but Playstation owners and fitness addicts should respectively find the PSN and Lifelog apps useful.
Sony Xperia Z3+ performance
With 32GB of internal storage, the Sony Xperia Z3+ has double the internal storage of the Z3. That’s on par with the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6, and should provide the average user with plenty of download space.
A Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB of RAM beneath the Z3+’s shell meant apps opened and ran without any sluggishness, whilst moving between apps was very fluid.
The speakers are decent, but there wasn’t really much balance between bass and treble at the highest volume.
The Sony Xperia Z3+ isn’t really a game changer. Minor tweaks might make it hard for some to justify picking it over the much cheaper Z3, a phone that’s very similar in design, software and hardware.
But despite being minor, these tweaks have resulted in a phone with up-to-date high-end specs, design, software and cameras. This shows that Sony is perfectly capable of updating its flagship range to keep up with Samsung, Apple and HTC. We can only look forward to the finished version.