The Xperia Z3 Compact runs on the same chipset found in the flagship Xperia Z3: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 SoC, which comes with four Krait 400 cores running at 2.5 GHz. It also includes the Adreno 330 graphic processor. A minor difference compared to the larger model is that the Xperia Z3 Compact comes with 2, not 3 GB of RAM. However, the smaller screen resolution means that the power demands are lessened, so and any difference in performance isn’t apparent in practice.
The Z3 Compact also comes with 16 GB of memory storage by default, but unlike the larger Z3, it doesn’t have a 32 GB option alongside the standard model. This could be a problem for those who want to hold lots of photos, apps, music, and the like. The device does support microSD cards for further expansion, fortunately, but it would benefit from being a little more generous either way.
All of this plays well with Android OS 4.4.4 (KitKat) and Sony’s Xperia UI. Everything runs fluidly during basic or complex tasks, with nary a hint of lag or stuttering. This is the primary reason to jump on the Z3 Compact train; along with the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy Alpha, this is one of the only phones available that is comfortable to use with one hand, yet performs just as well as the larger flagships.
The aforementioned Xperia UI includes the same slight changes to Android that were seen on the Xperia Z3. They mostly boil down to a few added widgets on the home screens, some Sony-made services pushed front and center, and lock screens, as well as PlayStation 4 functionality through Sony’s “Remote Play” feature.
For the latter, it’s possible to stream the popular he console’s games straight to the phone — complete with a DualShock 4 controller — with the help of a PlayStation app, just like on every other device in the Xperia Z3 series.
All in all, it’s one of the better Android skins out there, not totally as hands-off as Motorola’s UI but far from the clutter of TouchWiz or even HTC’s Sense. Those familiar with Android will not have a hard time adjusting here.
The Z3 Compact’s battery life certainly deserves praise. Compared to the Xperia Z1 Compact, the pack’s capacity has increased from 2300 mAh to 2600 mAh; however, the device can be used almost twice as long without recharing, thanks to the more powerful chipset, still reasonable screen resolution, and the undemanding user interface.
As was the case with the Xperia Z3, the longevity here is superb, easily capable of getting through a full day on a single charge. If you end up in a pinch, though, the device also comes with Sony’s “STAMINA Power Saving Mode,” which cuts out non-essential functions and boosts the juice even further. The one downside here is that the battery isn’t removable, but its performance right out the gate suggests it won’t become a problem for a long while.
Sony’s cameras have long been one of the biggest selling points for the Xperia line, and the Xperia Z3 Compact’s main shooter is no exception. The device’s 20.7-megapixel shooter is entirely identical to what’s found in the Z3 proper. Not surprisingly, then, the Z3 Compact’s photo and video quality is virtually the same as what we’ve seen before. That is to say, it takes exceptionally sharp footage with lots of visible details and minimal noise that is only evident in poorly lit environments. It is one of the premier cameras on an Android device today, and among phones under five inches, it’s only rivaled by the camera of the iPhone 6.