Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review

Time to step out of big brother's shadow?

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review
Does the Xperia Z3 Compact stand tall next to its bigger brother?

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Compared to other small variants of flagship smartphones, Sony has done an excellent job of making the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact a desirable smartphone in its own right. By keeping compromises to a minimum, and keeping some of the best tech intact from the larger and more expensive Xperia Z3, the Z3 Compact holds its own, and you won't be missing out on much by choosing the smaller handset.

We liked

The design of the Z3 Compact is excellent. It looks great and feels comfortable to hold. If you like the look of the Z3 but not sure about the dimensions of the larger phone, then you'll be very pleased with the Z3 Compact.

Performance is also excellent with some impressive specifications in a phone of this size. Though the screen resolution has been reduced from 1,080p of the Z3 to 720p, it still looks very good. The overall experience of the phone is great and it really feels desirable despite its size and price.

Battery life is also very good considering what you'll be using this phone for. I was impressed that I could often go two days before having to plug the Xperia Z3 Compact in. PlayStation 4 Remote Play works very well and could be a real selling point of the Xperia Z3 Compact – as long as you own a PS4, of course.

We disliked

The camera is fine by smartphone standards, but with all the bluster and big numbers that Sony throws around in regards to the camera, I was expecting to be blown away. I wasn't. The handset also has a worrying habit of getting warm when used for long periods of time, or when using certain camera modes.

It never feels dangerous but occasionally it would make the camera app crash, which can be annoying. Sony is obviously aware of the issue, as it includes a warning message when using certain camera modes, but acknowledging a problem with a brief pop up message hardly excuses it.

Final verdict

There's a lot to really like about the Xperia Z3 Compact. Though Sony seems to be putting out new Xperia Z models every six months, you get the feeling that with each iteration it is steadily improving the formula.

Sony has also avoided offering a severely cut down version of its flagship device. Where other manufacturers will cut the specifications of the mini variants, the Xperia Z3 Compact keeps a lot of the features of the bigger Z3, making the compact an excellent choice if you fancy the Z3, but are not too sure about the large size of the handset.

The integration of Sony's services and their appeal will depend on how invested you are in the Sony ecosystem. The PlayStation 4 remote play feature probably has the biggest mainstream appeal. Sony's recent Android 5.0 update has also improved the look and feel of the Z3 Compact's software considerably.

Heat issues are my biggest disappointment with the Xperia Z3 Compact. I don't mind a handset getting warm when being used from time to time, but when it starts to affect the performance of certain apps and features it spoils what usually is a very impressive experience.

However, if you are looking for a feature-packed phone that looks fantastic and performs brilliantly, then you'll be very pleased with the Xperia Z3 Compact. Just don't expect to shoot epic 4K movies with 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.