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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Available in Black, Orange and White
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Sony's Z3 Compact been dubbed the best compact smartphone out there. Let's find out why.
Excellent 4.6 inch HD 720p screen
Stunning 20.7 megapixel camera
Forward facing stereo speakers
Water and dust resistant
Android, v4.4.4. KitKat
Read our full review here >>>
It has long been a bugbear of ours that if you want a premium handset you have to have a large screen, which of course not everybody wants.
The problem is phones like the HTC One Mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini downgraded the specs as well as the screen size, but the Z3 Compact attempts to retain as many top-end specs as possible, not least the superb 20.7 megapixel camera.
We have often questioned the Compact/Mini moniker of this class of smartphone. The Z3 Compact's screen measures 4.6 inches, just a tenth of an inch smaller than the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 and a tenth larger than the Galaxy S5 Mini.
These are not small handsets then. Notably all three phones have a 720p HD resolution and although it is sufficient, we would like to have seen a 1080p Full HD screen.
The Sony has a 326 pixel per inch resolution which is exactly the same as the iPhone 6, and the 129g weight is exactly the same too. It actually feels lighter but is solidly built.
Sony have done a good job of making a large screen phone without adding too much to the size by keeping the overall size of the casing down.
The screen stretches almost edge to edge and there is a slim bezel top and bottom. It's a nice size to hold and the curved sides and 8.9mm thickness feels just about right, making it comfortable to hold for long periods.
The casing is IP68 certified waterproof and dustproof over 1 meter and 30 minutes too, in fact you can even take photos and shoot video underwater.
Premium 20.7 megapixel camera
That brings us nicely on to the the star of this particular show, which is the 20.7 megapixel camera, the same as seen on the original Z3.
Featuring a 1/2.3" Exmor RS sensor for superior performance in low light as well as an LED flash and HDR, you will be able to produce fantastic results in all lighting conditions.
In fact you can snap away at right up to ISO 12800. You also get a huge array of Sony exclusive camera apps.
A host of enhancements are built in too, including face and smile detection, panorama, touch to focus and geo-tagging. Video excels too, with Quad HD (3840 x 2160) video recording using Sony's Handycam technology and including stereo sound.
Recording rates are at 30 frames per second as well as Full HD at 60 frames a second, and super smooth 720p at an incredible 120 fps.
In this respect it's a shame that the screen "only" displays 720p which means you can't take full advantage of those High Definition video recordings, but the front facing stereo speakers ensure excellent sound quality. A forward facing 2.2 megapixel camera also produces Full HD video at 30 fps.
Stunning screen quality
The 4.6 inch screen includes shatter proof glass, and is powered by the same technology that helps produce those amazing results on Sony's television sets.
This includes their superb Triluminous display and X-Reality Engine for beautifully clear pictures with deep, accurate colours, while text is also beautifully clear and sharp.
It's an IPS screen too which is much clearer in bright sunlight and at wider viewing angles. It's difficult to put into a few lines just how good Sony's screens are. 'Truly exceptional' would not be an overstatement.
The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact runs the latest version of Android version 4.4.4 'KitKat' and is run by a powerful quad-core 2.5 GHz processor coupled with 2GB of RAM memory
This means operation is slick and smooth no matter what you throw at it.
Expandable storage and a wealth of features
You will want to fill this smartphone up with plenty of apps from the Google Play store so 16GB of storage is onboard which is expandable via the MicroSD card slot. This accepts memory cards right up to 128GB.
Every conceivable extra is on board from the stereo FM radio to assisted GPS with support for the Russian GLONASS system, perfect for fast acting satellite navigation and location based services such as geo-tagging.
An array of sensors includes a barometer, compass and gyro while a proximity sensor prevents you from accidentally activating buttons while holding the phone to your ear, and an accelerometer automatically switches the phone from portrait to landscape mode when turned on it's side.
Truly outstanding battery life, and more features
The built-in 2600mAh battery is good for up to 2 days use too, with a huge 920 hours of standby quoted in optimum conditions, and up to 100 hours music playback - that's over 4 days non-stop!
No other premium smartphone comes close, and using Sony's energy-saving Stamina mode increases potential battery life to up to an incredible two weeks.
Stereo Bluetooth with Low Energy (LE) enhancement is here too, which uses a fraction of the power of previous versions of Bluetooth, and apt-X for improved sound quality.
You also get dual-band Wi-Fi for faster downloads, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Hotspot to ensure you can connect anywhere, 6 band 4G for 4G use worldwide and DLNA to transfer your music, photos and video direct to your Smart TV.
Perhaps the most impressive feature though is that you can play your PS4 games on your phone.
In fact on both the Z3 and the Z3 Compact as well as the 8-inch Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Tablet, by using your phone's display as a wireless connection to your games console instead of your TV screen or monitor.
With only the lower screen resolution a possible point of contention for purists, there is absolutely nothing else missing here.
While most other manufacturers opt for cut-down Mini versions of their top-end handsets the Japanese giants have indeed produced a compact version of their outstanding flagship Z3 smartphone - if you can accept the fact that a 4.6 inch screen handset is hardly what you would describe in any other circumstance as "compact".
But we applaud Sony for producing a smaller version of what in our opinion is probably the best flagship smartphone you can buy.
It's what many of us have been waiting for, and if you are looking for an Android option to the new iPhone 6 then the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact should be at the top of your list.