Sony Xperia Z3 review

Has Sony added enough to warrant a Z2 sequel already?

Sony Xperia Z3
A much better phone - but needs some tweaking

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Remote Play is one of the key selling points of Sony's Xperia range of smartphones. The feature allows you to connect the Xperia Z3 up to a PlayStation 4 that's on the same Wi-Fi network and stream games to the smartphone.

Remote Play is an impressive sounding feature that could help Sony differentiate its struggling smartphones against its competitors. However my enthusiasm for the feature was tempered somewhat by it not being available when the Xperia Z3 and the Xperia Z3 Compact launched at the end of September.

Sony Xperia Z3 review

Thankfully Xperia Z3 owners haven't had to wait too long for the feature to be implemented with Sony making it available at the beginning of November. This means I was able to fire up my PS4 and see if Remote Play delivers on its lofty promises and was worth the (relatively short) wait.

Although there is already a PlayStation app installed on the Xperia Z3 to use the Remote Play feature you need to install the free Remote Play app from the Google Play store.

Sony Xperia Z3 review

No use if you can't use it

The initial set up was pretty straightforward, with the app finding the PS4 (which was turned on and logged in) on the network without any trouble. Once connected the PlayStation 4 displayed a code that I needed to enter in the Xperia Z3 app to securely connect. Once this is done the first time I wasn't asked to do it again.

If you want to use the PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 controller you'll also need to pair it via Bluetooth with the Xperia Z3, which is a simple enough process, and works much the same way that you would pair any Bluetooth device to a smartphone.

While the pairing of the DualShock 4 to the Xperia Z3 was easy, it did cause a few frustrations later on. With the DualShock 4 paired to the Xperia Z3 it means the controller is no longer paired to the PlayStation 4, so if you want to play the PS4 normally then you need to re-pair the DualShock 4 with the console.

If you then try to use Remote Play with the DualShock 4 still paired to the PlayStation 4, then things get a bit confusing if the PS4 is still in range. The Xperia Z3 connects to the PlayStation 4 fine, but when the controller is switched on it logs you out of the PlayStation 4 and Remote Play loses connection.

This makes Remote Play a rather more fiddly affair, especially if you're going to be switching from PS4 to Remote Play often, which is what many people will be doing.

If you don't want to connect a Dual Shock 4 controller to the Z3 you can use the touchscreen in a similar fashion to many mobile games. A translucent overlay appears on screen, displaying the various buttons to control the game.

Xperia Z3

This works fine, and the Z3's large 5.2-inch screen is a real benefit here. However, for the best Remote Play experience you'll want to use a physical controller.

When Remote Play is up and running it works incredibly well, and the Z3's full 1080p screen really shines with games such as GTA V and Assassin's Creed: Unity looking fantastic. The game's sound is streamed as well, and the built-in speaker of the Xperia Z3 does a decent job, though the experience with headphones is better.

Crucially lag is kept to a minimum, which means there is very little delay between pressing a button on the controller and the action appearing in-game.

The fact that I was able to play Shadow Of Mordor, a game where perfectly timed button presses are essential, without any trouble is a testament to just how well Remote Play works.

Other people's experiences may vary depending on their situation, but as long as you have a capable, reasonably new, router then you should get a reasonably smooth experience.

Xperia Z3

Overall Remote Play works extremely well and could be a real selling point for the Xperia Z3, especially for PlayStation 4 owners.

It currently only works on Wi-Fi networks with the PS4 and the Z3 on the same network, but I'd like to see it go truly remote at some point, and allow Remote Play over 4G when away from home, although I appreciate that you can theoretically do this the latency issue would render the experience far from satisfactory.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.