With one of the shortest release cycles in the industry - just six months since the release of the Xperia Z2 - Sony is not able to make as many steps forward from one flagship generation to the next as other manufacturers. What it does do, is continue to refine its excellent omnibalance design strategy with each generation. Their latest Z3 is another step in that evolution.
The internals of the Xperia Z3 have remained largely the same - a Snapdragon 801 chipset, clocked higher at 2.5GHz and of the MSM8974AC variety. You'll also find the same 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, while the battery has been downgraded by 100mAh to 3,100mAh. Despite this, Sony claims that the Z3 will have better battery life than the previous Z flagships - up to two full days (although under what usage patterns is unclear).
Sony also claims that 4K displays at this size don't result in significant improvements in image quality, so you'll find the same 5.2-inch 1080p screen on the Xperia Z3. While the camera sensor remains the same at 20.7MP, Sony has added several improvements from their Cybershot line that the company hopes will result in better image quality.
The Xperia Z3 adds a stylish rounded metal frame to complement its dual glass design on the front and back. The corners are covered in special nylon corner caps which are designed to better protect the aluminum frame from dents in the event of drops. As before, the Xperia Z3 will be waterproof, and has an IP68 rating.
First, ISO sensitivity has been increased to 12800, which should result in better low-light shots. Second, Intelligent Active mode will help minimize movement blur during video recording, and finally the lens has been upgraded to 25mm for wider shots.
In a feature borrowed from the PS Vita, PS4 integration will be even more robust in the latest Sony lineup. Dubbed PS4 Remote Play, all three of the new Z3 series devices will be capable of streaming games from a PS4 system on the same wireless network. Attaching a dualshock controller to a Z3, Z3 Compact, or Z3 Tablet Compact means you'll be able to play PS4 games in full while using one of those devices as a display. This is a feature that's expected to become fully available in November, with Sony also having plans to make it available on older Xperia devices as well.
Alongside the Z3 Compact and Xperia E3, several slick color schemes are available apart from the usual black and white. The silver-green color exclusive to the Xperia Z3 is especially impressive.
The Sony Xperia Z3 is expected to become available globally this month. There will also be a dual-SIM version available, although without the silver-green color option.
With the Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony has revisited the true compact flagship concept; one that's set to have virtually identical specs to its large-screen counterpart. The Z3 Compact is almost every bit as impressive as the Xperia Z3, featuring the same processor, GPU, and internal storage, while sporting a 4.6-inch 720p display.
Compared to its Z1 Compact predecessor, the Z3 Compact is thinner and lighter, and features more "youthful" colors like orange and green. The battery has been upped to 2,600mAh, but it loses the metal frame of the new Z3 flagship.
The Z3 Compact takes a slightly different approach than the Z3 flagship, namely its dual-glass panels seem to grow out of the front and back of the device rather than sit flush with the sides. The pleasantly beveled edges sit very comfortably in the hand, and help provide a distinct look that the Z3 Compact has all to itself.
Otherwise, the Z3 Compact shares many of the features introduced with the Z3 - the 20.7MP sensor with increased ISO sensitivity and 25mm lens, the nylon corner caps to prevent damage, and extensive PS4 connectivity support. Of course, the IP68 dust and water resistance rating is here as well.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is slated for release alongside the Xperia Z3 this month.
We also have a Sony Z3 Compact video hands-on and camera samples in a separate article, which you might like to check out.