It's only six month since the Sony Xperia XZ2 launched, but we already have the Sony Xperia XZ3. Despite that tight turnaround this looks to be a big upgrade in some ways, most notably in its new OLED screen.
However, in some other ways the Xperia XZ3 seems like business as usual for Sony and very similar to its predecessor.
- What's it like to use? Check out our hands on: Sony Xperia XZ3 review
So to help you get a handle on exactly what’s new and different about this model we’ve put the XZ3 head-to-head with the XZ2, comparing them across every key spec category.
Sony Xperia XZ3 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 design
You won’t be able to tell much difference between the Sony Xperia XZ3 and the Xperia XZ2 from a brief glance, but as Sony somewhat refreshed the design for the XZ2 we wouldn’t really expect much to change visually less than a year later.
Both phones have a metal frame and a curvy glass back protected by Gorilla Glass 5. Both also have a rear-facing fingerprint scanner (maddeningly) halfway down the back and come with IP68 certification, meaning they can survive being submerged up to 1.5 meters deep in water for up to 30 minutes.
Both phones also have sizable bezels above and below the screen, rather than a notch, but they are at least put to somewhat good use, as both handsets sport front-facing stereo speakers (though they’re apparently 20% louder on the XZ3), while one thing that neither handset has is a 3.5mm headphone port.
The Sony Xperia XZ3 is slightly slimmer than the Xperia XZ2, with the former coming in at 9.9mm while the latter is 11.1mm, but other than that the main design difference is the colors they’re available in
Even with that there’s a lot of overlap, as the XZ3 comes in white silver, forest green, Bordeaux red and black, while the XZ2 is available in black, silver, green and pink.
Sony Xperia XZ3 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 display
The display is the single biggest difference between the Sony Xperia XZ2 and the Sony Xperia XZ3, because while the Xperia XZ2 has a 5.7-inch 1080 x 2160 LCD screen, the Xperia XZ3 has a 6-inch QHD+ OLED one.
This is the first time Sony has stuck a QHD screen on a phone and the first time anything outside its Premium range has been more than Full HD+, so that’s a big change that’s been a long time coming. As is the move to OLED – another first for the company.
In all that means the Xperia XZ3 has a bigger, sharper screen that’s more vibrant than the XZ2’s. It’s also curved, which the Xperia XZ2's isn’t.
Those curved edges are more than just a stylish finish too, as they also give you a new way to interact with the XZ3, letting you for example quickly access favorite apps by double tapping on the edge.
However, both handsets have an 18:9 aspect ratio in line with most modern smartphones and both are also capable of displaying HDR content.
Sony Xperia XZ3 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 OS and power
The Sony Xperia XZ3 has a Snapdragon 845 chipset paired with 4GB of RAM, which, funnily enough, is exactly what the Sony Xperia XZ2 has, so don’t expect vast upgrades in performance, though those are high-end specs. Both phones also have 64GB of storage and a microSD card slot.
One difference between them though is the operating system, as while the Sony Xperia XZ2 currently runs Android 8 Oreo, the Xperia XZ3 ships with the brand-new Android 9 Pie.
The XZ2 will get upgraded to that at some point, but it doesn’t have it yet and probably won’t be supported with updates for as long as the XZ3 is.
Sony Xperia XZ3 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 camera and battery
Both the Sony Xperia XZ3 and Sony Xperia XZ2 have a 19MP f/2.0 single-lens rear camera with a similar assortment of features, including, notably, the ability to film in 4K HDR. So there’s not much to choose between them there, at least on paper.
That said, the camera software has been updated a bit for the Xperia XZ3, as lifting the phone horizontally can automatically launch the camera, so you don’t miss a snap.
Sony has also upgraded the front-facing camera for the XZ3, kitting it out with a 13MP f/1.9 snapper – a likely improvement on the basic 5MP f/2.2 camera on the front of the Xperia XZ2.
We’ll let you know whether the XZ3’s snapper is better in practice once we’ve put it through a full review.
As for the battery, the Sony Xperia XZ3 has a 3,330mAh one, which is just a tiny bit bigger than the 3,180mAh battery in the Sony Xperia XZ2.
In this case bigger should be better, but it remains to be seen whether the extra capacity is enough to compensate for the larger, sharper screen. That’s another thing we’ll be sure to tell you once we’ve put the XZ3 through a full review.
Sony Xperia XZ3 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 price and availability
The Sony Xperia XZ3 is hitting stores at the end of September, with pre-orders opening from August 31. We don’t know the price everywhere yet, but in the UK it costs £699, which is around $910 / AU$1,250.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 launched at the same price in the UK and was $799 in the US – so that’s probably around what US buyers will pay for the XZ3. The XZ2 has now dropped in price in many stores, but only by around $100 / £100.
The Sony Xperia XZ3 feels focused entirely on the screen, a screen which – on paper at least – is a huge upgrade from the display on the Sony Xperia XZ2.
There are other changes and upgrades, including a slightly larger battery, a slimmer build, a new front-facing camera and some new software elements, but it all sounds quite minor other than that display.
We’ll let you know how well all the XZ3’s components come together once we’ve put it through a full review, but looking just at the specs it’s really all about the screen.
If you want the best screen Sony has to offer (and aren’t fussed about the 4K Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium) then the Xperia XZ3 is likely the phone for you. But if you’re happy with a Full HD+ LCD screen then the Xperia XZ2 could be a cheaper choice.
- After something smaller? Check out the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.