The Sony Xperia Z3+ is the Japanese flagship we've all been anticipating, but is it really the one we've been hoping for? Or are the predictable chipset update and minor design touches simply a prelude to a proper upgrade later this year?
Starting with the original Xperia Z in February 2013, Sony's condensed update cycle for the high-end Z-series has meant a spring release was followed by another in the fall, enabling the company to adequately combat competition on either side of the Pacific. Inevitably, each new model carried few improvements over the predecessor, failing to truly wow customers.
Those are considerations for the marketing teams though, and there's obviously no way we could know Sony's precise reasoning. We can, however, work with what we've got, and at this point that's the Xperia Z3+.
A few months behind the obvious major competitors and Sony's own established schedule, the Xperia Z3+ doesn't surprise with hardware. The one major change is the Snapdragon 810 SoC, which brings a performance boost, alongside faster Cat.6 LTE.
Gone is the 16GB base storage option of the current model and the Xperia Z3+ only comes in 32GB flavor. The outdated 2MP front camera couldn't fly on a 2015 high-end smartphone, and it has made way for a new 5.1MP snapper.
A less welcome move has seen the battery capacity taken a notch down from 3,100mAh to 2,930mAh - enabling designers to achieve the highlight 6.9mm thickness and the weight has also been reduced. Points are due for the capless microUSB port too, which made the charging pogo pins redundant, while keeping the IP68 certification intact.
All by itself, the spec sheet is impressive, and you'd have to look hard to find glaring omissions other than the screen resolution. It's just that we've seen most of it a number of times already and we're no longer as impressed.
Still, the Sony Xperia Z3+ is the company's answer to this season's flagships. But if even Sony doesn't think it's worthy of the Z4 badge, can we really call it a true flagship?
We set out to determine just that, and we kick off with a look at the hardware.
Update: We obtained a retail Sony Xperia Z3+ unit and updated the review with its tests.