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Sony Xperia Z3+ first impressions

  • Published in Technology
NEW DELHI: Almost nine months after launching the Xperia Z3 in India, Sony is back with a new high-end smartphone. Christened as the Xperia Z3+, the company has priced its new flagship phone at a steep Rs 55,990. The smartphone essentially retains the same design, look and feel as that of the Xperia Z3 and brings in some under-the-hood changes.

Unlike the rest of the pack, Sony's refresh cycle for its flagship phones is six to seven months, which is also one of the reasons why successive updates are incremental and not very radical. We spent some time with the new Xperia Z3+ and here are our first impressions of the phone...

At first glance, the Xperia Z3 and Z3+ are hard to tell apart as the two sport identical design and almost the same chasis, employing the use of similar materials. However, the Z3+ is slightly thinner (6.9mm vs 7.3mm) and lighter (144grams vs 152grams). The front and back panels are made of glass, while the frame is made from aluminium. The corners as well as edges are rounded and there are no dock connectors at the left edge.

The micro-USB port is no longer hidden under a flap (and is now at the bottom edge) though the Z3+ is also a water- and dust-resistant phone, and the microSD+nano-sim card slot has been moved to the left edge under a water-resistant flap. The 3.5mm headset jack is placed at the top while the typical watch crown-shaped, metallic power button is at the right edge along with the volume rocker key and a hardware button for the camera. The keys offer decent tactile feedback and the camera key offers two-stage press similar to camera shutter keys to allow users to focus with soft press and shoot by pressing the key further.

The glass back feels soft and nice to hold but we're not sure if it would offer a good grip. The 20.7MP camera lens and LED flash are at the top left edge at the back, flush with the panel. The panel is made from tempered glass so we're assuming it won't break easily.

The front panel is dominated by a 5.2-inch full-HD (1920x1080p) IPS display with Sony's TRILUMINOS technology and X-Reality for mobile. It also comes with adaptive brightness to increase the intensity of backlight depending on ambient light. The panel is also protected by tempered glass. We found the display to be bright and vivid, offering wide viewing angles and excellent touch response. However, it's not as crisp and sharp as the LG G4's 2K panel. We're disappointed that Sony did not use a QHD display with the Xperia Z3+.

Among the major improvements of Xperia Z3+ over its predecessor is the 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor (four 1.5GHz cores + four 2GHz cores). It retains the 3GB RAM but unlike Xperia Z3, which came with 16 and 32GB storage options, the new Sony smartphone comes in only 32GB capacity.

According a number of reviews and reports, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810-based phones have been plagued by some issues including over-heating.

Though Sony has reduced the battery capacity of Xperia Z3+ compared to Xperia Z3 (2,930mAh vs 3,100mAh), it claims that the new smartphone offers up to two days of battery life.

While we did not experience any lag, stutter or heating issues in our brief use, we'll have a detailed review of the phone's performance very soon.

Sony Xperia Z3+ comes with the same 20.7MP rear camera that we've seen on the Xperia Z3. However, the phone has a 25mm wide-angle 5.1MP front camera for better selfies, compared to the 2.2MP front camera of Xperia Z3. The front facing snapper now comes with superior auto mode for selfies. We'll have a detailed look at the camera capabilities in our full review.

In terms of software experience, the Xperia Z3+ comes with Android 5.0 (Lollipop) out of the box with Sony's own UI and apps for music, videos and gallery. Sony's UI skin is not very heavy and doesn't hog on system resources. The experience of navigating across the UI was very smooth.

At Rs 55,990, the Sony Xperia Z3+ is at best an incremental update to the Xperia Z3 and one of the most expensive flagship smartphones available in the market. While the phone's optics are one of its most differentiating propositions, the fact that it doesn't sport a new design and retains the same full-HD panel might go against it, especially when other flagships are offering better features at lower price points.

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