You shouldn’t have to buy a phone the size of a paperback novel to get top-tier specs, but with smartphone manufacturers increasingly pushing the boundaries of what’s an acceptably-sized gadget to slam against the sides of our heads, it’s normally the larger devices that get the most impressive guts. Sony bucked that trend with its Z series Compact range and continues that tradition with the Xperia Z3 Compact: it’s holding its own when it comes to specs against the flagship Xperia Z3.
Down from the standard Z3’s 5.2-inch 1080p display to a 4.6-inch 720p screen, and featuring just 2GB of RAM compared to the Z3’s 3GB memory offering, the Android 4.4.4 Xperia Z3 Compact still manages to squeeze in Qualcomm’s speedy 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor. With a smaller battery pack than the Z3’s (2600mAh compared to 3100mAh in the Z3) Sony promises it’ll still manage a full two days of use from a single charge thanks to the efficiency of the processor and the screen’s ability to adapt its refresh rate based on your usage -- another feature that it shares with the Xperia Z3 full-fat version.
Thinner than the Z2 Compact, the only notable aesthetic difference against the Xperia Z3 (aside from the size, of course), is the different materials used in each handset’s frame, being one of the few points the belies its more budget-conscious standing. Rather than using aluminium in the frame, it uses a mixture of plastics that have a silvery transparent feel. Sony calls this Liquid Reflection, but in laymans terms its more like “a strip of transparent plastic laid of a strip of silver plastic”. It’s attractive nonetheless though, otherwise using the same minimalist “Omnibalance” angular design language that’s characterised the line. Four colour options will be available when it launches later this Autumn -- black, mint green, white, and orange.
Just like the larger Xperia Z3, the Xperia Z3 Compact will make use of a 20.7MP ½.3 camera with an ISO 12800 sensitivity range, capable of capturing subjects in incredibly low lighting conditions. A swathe of augmented reality apps will be included just for kicks, alongside a reaction-capturing Face In selfie option that uses both rear and 2MP front-facing cameras at once. Livestreaming video to YouTube can also be carried out using the Live on YouTube app, while two Xperia Z3 generation handsets (or with Sony’s detachable QX100 lenses) to capture video from two different angles to export in a single split-screen clip.
As with the Xperia Z3, the Xperia Z3 Compact can also stream PlayStation 4 games from Sony’s latest console over a locally-shared Wi-Fi connection using the PlayStation App. You’ll need a decent broadband speed and a DualShock 4 controller for it to work, but it effectively puts what’s arguably the PS Vita handheld console’s best feature onto a smartphone.
So there’s not a hell of a lot separating the Xperia Z3 Compact from its bigger brother. If you haven’t got Reed Richards’ fingers and want top-notch specs in a smaller handset, it could be well worth a look. Though pricing is yet to be revealed, expect it to scale appropriate to the handset’s size when compared to the full-fat Z3. It, like the rest of the Xperia Z3 line-up, will be in stores some time ahead of November.