The Sony Xperia Z3 proved to be one of the best devices of 2014, as well as a favorite among many of us at Mobile Geeks. The Japanese manufacturer found the perfect balance between a good design, powerful performance, a strong build and capable features.
The only downside is it takes some time for Sony devices to reach the western markets (you can thank carriers for that mess). For Verizon customers, the phone is not even coming… at least not in its pure form. Instead, Big Red subscribers get another version dubbed the Sony Xperia Z3v.
I have been testing this bad boy and putting it through the paces. Is it as good as the Xperia Z3, which has been making people fall in love all over the world? Is it even the same phone? We can tell you it’s very similar, but not identical.
We have already put together a full Xperia Z3 review, so this specific review will be more focused on how the Xperia Z3v separates itself from the global version. Let’s jump right into the juicy details.
Sony Xperia Z3v specs
- 5.2-inch 1920x1080p TRILUMINOUS display
- 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
- Adreno 330 GPU
- 3 GB of RAM
- 32 GB of internal storage (microSD card slot supports up to 128 GB cards)
- 20.7 MP Sony EXMOR rear-facing camera (with LED flash)
- 2.2 MP front-facing camera
- 3200 mAh battery
- Qi wireless charging
Design and build quality
This is where most users will find problems, to be honest. The Sony Xperia Z3 was a great improvement, and not exactly because of the hardware. Yes, the Xperia Z3 did have better software, but it was nothing ground-breaking like what we saw back when the Z2 was announced. What really made a difference was the design.
Sadly, the Xperia Z3v doesn’t carry the same metal frame and rounded edges that make the Xperia Z3 such an enticing device. Also missing is the slimmer profile, as the Xperia Z3v carries a slightly larger, heavier and thicker body. To summarize: the Xperia Z3v is like an Xperia Z3 in the body of a Sony Xperia Z2.
The phone is larger, thicker and carries the square design the Xperia Z2 was recognized for. This makes it a bit less comfortable than the Xperia Z3. Quite a shame, if you ask us. But does this make the Xperia Z3v a bad phone? Not necessarily. The Xperia Z3v works great, looks good (even if not as good as the Z3) and still enjoys the benefits of Sony’s rugged capabilities.
The Xperia Z3v does also come with IP65/68 certification (for a detailed explanation on this, check out our post on what IP certifications mean). This means the device is dust proof and can survive a dunk underwater for 30 minutes under 4.9 feet of water. Just make sure all the ports are sealed and you can take it for a swim!
Performance and software
In terms of raw power and specs, the Sony Xperia Z3v is a strong contender. It carries the same processor, RAM and GPU as the Xperia Z3, and it doesn’t really need more or less resources (at least up to what one can notice).
The device is snappy and is not dragged down by a QHD display, a screen resolution that is becoming the norm lately. By focusing on quality and 1080p resolution, the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3v can stay powerful while keeping pristine battery performance.
In terms of software, it’s nearly identical to the Sony Xperia Z3. The Xperia Z3v comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat and a good set of cool features, while keeping the UI pretty light and close to vanilla Android.
The interface is pretty simple. You get clean home screen pages, a neat notification area and some cool app drawer tools. I specifically like that I can put the app drawer in uninstalling mode and just start deleting apps.
Of course, you also get double-tap to wake, a feature that has become a necessity for many of us. I also am a big fan of Sony’s new Ultra Stamina Mode. This kills all the battery-consuming features in your phone and leaves you with the basics. This includes calls, text messages and the like. The phone can last well over a week with a full charge.
By the way, you also get all the cool Sony features. Including PS4 remote play.
Not much to see here, but that is what makes this screen awesome. At some point you have to learn to recognize what is an actual upgrade and what is just a gimmick. Yes, the Sony Xperia Z3v may look small in a market surrounded by QHD screens, but at Mobile Geeks we are firm on our stand against QHD screens on small devices.
You simply don’t need them! And they happen to be huge battery and resource hogs. A good 1080p screen is always better, and Sony has one. Sony’s TRILUMINOUS screen is bright, vibrant and the 1080p resolution is good enough to keep text and images crisp. Viewing angles are also great, and I have never had a problem viewing the screen on a sunny day.
Those who have seen the results the Sony Xperia Z3’s camera brings will find no disappointment in the Sony Xperia Z3v. The cameras sport the same camera technology and the same software.
Sony’s 20.7 MP EXMOR camera is famous world-wide, and people expect nothing of it but the quality that emanates from Sony’s imaging branding. The Sony Xperia Z3v meets and surpasses all expectations. The phone has a great camera.
The Sony Xperia Z3 is said to have a much better battery life, with the manufacturer stating it lasts “up to two days”. With the Xperia Z3v, Sony states the phone lasts “over a day”. It seems there may be some differences here, and the devices do sport different batteries.
The Xperia Z3v carries a 3200 mAh battery, while the Xperia Z3’s battery has 100 less mAh. I found that the Xperia Z3v is just as good as the Z3. The phone could easily make it through a full day with heavy usage. And the times I was using it lightly I was able to squeeze well over 2 days of battery life. This thing is a battery life paradise.
Now, the thing here is that the Xperia Z3v is solely for Verizon users. It may come with some GSM-free capabilities for unlocked world-wide use, but ultimately it’s a Verizon phone. Only Verizon has it, and they will hold exclusive rights over it forever.
Needless to say the Xperia Z3 won’t make it to Verizon, either. Is the phone worth the $600 off-contract (or $200 on-contract) price point? While the Sony Xperia Z3v is not as awesome as the Sony Xperia Z3, it does come with the same power, strong specs, improved software and element-resistant construction. It is an awesome phone.
There is one thing the Sony Xperia Z3v does have over the Z3, though – Qi wireless charging. I can’t believe that we are struggling to find wireless charging-compatible phones at the end of 2014. This should be standard. Every phone out there needs to have wireless charging… period.
With that said, I have to say I would much rather have the Sony Xperia Z3 if I didn’t mind the lack of wireless charging. The Z3 comes with an improved design, lighter body, sleeker construction and overall better looks. Why did the Sony Xperia Z3v have to stick with a design more similar to the Xperia Z2? The answer to that question is beyond me, but I certainly wish such wasn’t the case.
At the end of the day, the Xperia Z3v is the Z3 with the looks of the Z2. There is no better way to summarize it. It’s an awesome phone, and I am sure it will make many of you happy. To be honest, I don’t really want to give it back to Verizon!