Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

Small yet perfectly formed

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Our Verdict

It doesn't offer staggering value, but a very slim, very light waterproof frame and good performance keep this riding high among the most attractive choices for on-the-go tablet fondlers.

For

  • Great battery life
  • Very thin and light
  • Vivid screen
  • Offers PS4 Share Play

Against

  • Screen sharpness beaten by others
  • Not incredible value
Ratings in depth

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

Tablets are changing. Where once Android tablets could be separated into 7-inch and 10-inch varieties, the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is part of a relatively new tab type.

As body and screen technologies have improved, we've started seeing ultra-slim 8-inch tablets like this one appear, offering fantastic portability matched with a display that is still a good deal larger than the biggest phones.

Of course, Apple has offered something like this for ages: the iPad mini.

With the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact selling at £329 (US$598, about AU$600) the smaller Apple tablet offers a pretty attractive alternative - the still-current iPad mini 2 is available for just £239 (US$300, about AU$436). The competition is really being squeezed this year, and Sony's Android rivals are strong too.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review
Are the specs good enough to compete with other 2014 tablets?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 gets you a better screen and more features for the same price. On very close inspection, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact reads a bit like a 2013 tablet rather than a 2014 one.

However, it has a few aces in its hand: you can't argue with its impressively slim and light frame and the 4G version can be used as a phone. Portability is key with this tablet.

Key features

The Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact relies fairly heavily on its design, because some core features are not quite on-par with the best tablets out there. Most important of the lot is screen resolution.

You get a 1200p screen here, which offers far fewer pixels than you get with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4, iPad mini 2 or mini 3. The display is the most important part of any tablet and the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact's is fairly good, but it is beaten by several others.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review
The design is one of the more attractive features of the Xperia Z3

Other areas fare better. The Snapdragon 801 CPU used here has been usurped by the Snapdragon 805, but with fairly modest improvements in the upgrade it's not a great loss.

The 8MP camera benefits from the usual Sony glut of software extras. However, without a flash or the abilities of the top Xperia phones, it's probably not a reason to pick this tablet over another.

What really matters here are the dimensions, the weight and the waterproofing: the basics of the outer hardware. It's the only area where the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact really sets itself apart from the competition.

For some, these are minor concerns. But if being able to watch How I Met Your Mother re-runs in the bath or being able to use the tablet's GPS on a hike while it's pouring with rain are priorities, the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact could be the perfect choice.