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Sony Xperia Z3+ review – not the Z4 we were hoping for

Sony Xperia Z3 Plus table
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £500
inc VAT SIM-free

Superb performance, but the otherwise identi-kit specs to previous Xperia Z phones mean the Xperia Z3+ fails to impress


Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Screen Size: 5.2in, Screen resolution: 1,920×1,080, Rear camera: 20.7 megapixels, Storage (free): 32GB (22.5GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 146x72x6.9mm, Weight: 144g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2


The Z3+ is an attractive prospect for PS4 owners, as it supports PS4 Remote Play. This lets you use your smartphone as a portable display for your console over your home network, allowing you to carry on gaming if another family member wants to watch TV. While you can use onscreen controls, they are fiddly to say the least; a controller mount that lets you bolt the phone onto a DualShock 4 controller is a much better option. Picture quality was excellent for the most part, although even on a fast Wi-Fi connection we could spot a fair number of compression artefacts.

The Z3+ also supports Hi-Res Audio and Sony’s LDAC wireless protocol, which allows users to listen to High-Res music wirelessly over Bluetooth while maintaining that all important 24-bit 96kHz frequency and 990kpbs bit rate – as long as you have a pair of Sony headphones that support the technology. DSEE HX digital signal processing (DSP) lets you upscale low-res music to near High-resolution quality – you’ll need a decent pair of headphones to spot any major difference, but tracks certainly sounded crisper after enabling the feature.


Sony seems confident in its 20.7-megapixel, 1/2.3in Exmor RS camera sensor; it first appeared in the Xperia Z1, and it returns here. The lens is now wider, at 25mm, to fit more into the frame, but otherwise Sony’s real additions are found in software. Superior Auto mode now supports up to 52 different scenarios, including a new ‘Gourmet’ mode which seems specifically aimed at Instagram foodie fans, and it’s available on the 5-megapixel front facing camera for the first time as well.

Sony Xperia Z3+ hands on rear

However, the results from Superior Auto shooting weren’t particularly impressive, with colours appearing very drained and washed out. While photos were well-lit, the orange brickwork in the shot below didn’t have anywhere near the punch you would expect given the lighting conditions. There wasn’t much cloud detail either, despite the overcast weather.

Switching to Manual mode to take advantage of HDR didn’t help, as the option remains greyed out until you drop down to an 8-megapixel resolution, which disables oversampling and Sony’s overly aggressive post-processing. The same goes for Manual mode’s ISO controls, which is disappointing.

Sony Xperia Z3+ camera test ^ Photos looked good, but detail was lacking and colours weren’t as vibrant as you might expect

HDR issues aside, the camera coped much better indoors, with colours looking much richer and showing few signs of compression or artefacts. Flower stems are a common spot where phone cameras tend struggle, but the Z3+ captured them perfectly. The flash was also a big help in lower lighting conditions, keeping photos looking bright and natural without resulting in any off-putting colour casts.

Sony Xperia Z3+ camera test indoors^ Indoor shots painted a better picture, showing only a minimal amount of noise with lots of fine texture detail

Battery Life

The Z3+’s biggest flaw, though, is battery life. The 2,900mAh battery was admittedly unlikely to last as long as the Xperia Z3’s 3,100mAh cell, which managed an incredible 18h 29m in our continuous video playback test last year, but the fact it could only muster 13h 19m under the same conditions is very disappointing. It’s still on par with the competition, though, most closely matching the Galaxy S6’s 13h 37m, and should be more than enough to last you through the day. You can always eke out a bit more battery life by switching to one of Sony’s Stamina energy saving modes too.

Sony Xperia Z3+ hands on corners


The Xperia Z3+ is a perfectly competent handset, but it lacks that special something to justify its premium ‘plus’ status. It wouldn’t be so bad if the Xperia Z3 was no longer on sale, but the fact you can now pick one up for £400 SIM-free or £33.50-per-month on contract makes the £500 or £39-per-month Xperia Z3+ seem a little redundant, despite the welcome increase in speed.

The Z3+’s display doesn’t measure up to Samsung’s Super AMOLED panel either, and the phone’s glossy chassis just isn’t quite as attractive as the semi-translucent Z3. It simply doesn’t do enough to make it stand out from the competition. It’s still a highly accomplished smartphone, but those after the very best that Android can offer will be much better off with the Samsung Galaxy S6

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ProcessorOcta-core 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Screen size5.2in
Screen resolution1,920×1,080
Screen typeIPS
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera20.7 megapixels
Storage (free)32GB (22.5GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 5.0.2
Battery size2,930mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£500
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £44-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)£640
Contract/prepay (contract), (prepay)
Part codeE6553

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