Sony Xperia Z3+ review

It's sleek and speedy, but has Sony released something exciting?

Xperia Z3+ review
Sleek and slender

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Water and dust resistance

While other manufacturers have dabbled with (and then ditched) making their flagship phones waterproof, Sony has stuck to its guns by continuing to fit its smartphones in rugged casing, with the Z3+ boasting an IP68 rating. This means it can be submerged in water up to 5 feet deep for 30 minutes.

Being plunged in water for that long sounds like an extreme scenario, but like previous Sony handsets, I'm fond of the extra protection. It means I feel more confident taking the Z3+ out with me and won't have to worry too much if I get wet (I live in a particularly soggy part of the world, after all).

When you put a fair amount of dosh down on a new handset, you often worry about taking it out with you in case it gets damaged, so it's a relief to have a phone that feels pretty robust.

Xperia Z3+

Flaps protect some parts of the Z3+

Sony has demonstrated in the past that waterproof handsets don't have to compromise on design, and once again the Z3+ wears its splashproof features in style. It still feels slim and light, and nothing like some of the bulky, ruggerised monstrosities we've seen in the past, such as the Cat S50.

Another nice feature, which I touched on earlier, is the waterproof microUSB port and headphone. It's probably not a deal breaker, but it's an extra feature that will appeal to some people.

Spec-filled camera

One of the the Z3+'s biggest selling points is the 20.7 megapixel camera that's included. Considering that Sony makes the camera sensors for a number of its smartphone competitors, it's not much of a surprise to see it putting a headline-grabbing snapper in its latest flagship.

On paper the camera seems too good to be true, with a megapixel count that puts the iPhone 6 (8MP) and Samsung Galaxy S6 (16MP) seemingly to shame.

I say "seemingly" as there's more to camera quality than having the highest number of megapixels. The Xperia Z3+ has the same 1/2.3-inch 20.7 MP Exmor RS, ISO12800 sensor and lens as the Xperia Z3, and when the Z3's camera was pitted against the iPhone 6 by camera experts DxO, Apple's flagship came out on top.

When I used the Z3 and Z3 Compact, I felt that the camera didn't live up to expectations, so I was disappointed to find that the Z3+ comes with the same camera. Sony seems to think this snapper is good enough, but I – and others – would disagree.

Once again, Sony's camera app comes packed with features and settings that can help you compose your photographs, and the options go beyond what many other manufacturers offer (especially the default Android photo app). If you like to tweak your images, you may be happy with the Z3+, though the absence of RAW image file support means keen photographers might want to give it a miss.

Remote Play

As with other Sony handsets and tablets, the Xperia Z3+ comes with PS4 Remote Play, which allows you to stream games from the PlayStation 4 to the Z3+ and play them on the phone.

I spent a week playing with the feature on the Z3+ and the Z3 for TechRadar's Phone Week, and I can safely say that the feature works extremely well.

Games streamed from the PS4 to the Xperia Z3+'s 1080p screen look fantastic, and even when playing in other parts of my house, I felt gameplay was smooth and responsive – pretty essential if you're using the service to play competitive games.

Xperia Z3+

Remote Play works really well

Setting up Remote Play is straightforward. You just need to sign the Xperia Z3+ up to the same Wi-Fi network as the PS4 and download the Remote Play app – though I'm not sure why this isn't included with the PlayStation app that comes preinstalled.

The setup process doesn't take long at all, and you can pair a DualShock 4 controller to the Z3+ via Bluetooth, which I recommend doing as it makes playing games far more comfortable.

Xperia Z3+

You can connect a DualShock 4 controller to the Xperia Z3+ for more comfortable gaming

Although Remote Play is no substitute for playing games on the big screen – and some types of game just don't suit the Xperia Z3+'s small screen – it's great when the TV is being used by someone else.

If you don't have a PS4 and have no interest in playing console games on your smartphone, the Remote Play feature of the Z3+ will be of no interest to you. But if you do have a PS4, I really do recommend trying this feature out – and seeing as Remote Play is currently exclusive to Sony handsets, the Z3+ offers the best way to experience it.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.