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Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact – choose big, choose small!

By Andrei Girbea , updated on September 3, 2014

Hi guys, Mike here and in this post we’re pitching the Sony Xperia Z3 against its smaller version, the Xperia Z3 compact.

Keep in mind that we are looking at pre-production versions of both these handsets, as neither are actually available in stores just yet. Thus, some specs and features mentioned in the video might be inaccurate and might differ from what’s going to be offered on the final retail units.

I’ve addressed them here in the written comparison, so make sure to go through the entire text.

You should know that there are plenty of features these two share between them. They are both waterproof and dust-resistant, they both offer 1080p IPS Triluminos displays (scrap that, the final version of the Z3 Compact features a 720p screen), they are both motorized by Qualcomm 801 hardware platforms and both packs the same similar 20.7 Mpx main shooters. What sets them aside though? Well, the size of course, and a few other details.

The Z3 is larger than the Z3 Compact and heavier as well. But it is way thinner and Sony made no compromises when it came to the materials used for its case. Both devices feature glass covered front and back faces, but the Z3s rounded edges are metallic and specifically coated to preserve them against scratches and dents, while the Z3s Compact sides are made from a smooth plastic. To be frank though, the Compact Xperia does feel nicer in hand, because it is smaller, but also because it is not as thin and as slippery as its oversized kin.

Both handsets are waterproof, thus their ports and connectors are hidden behind protective caps, and both feature front facing stereo speakers, flanking the screen. It’s worth noting that these do sound richer and louder on the Z3, and are actually easier to muffle on the Compact version, due to their smaller cuts in the glass.

These aside, you’ll find IPS Triluminos screens on these two, bright, vibrant and capable of painting natural looking colors. The Z3 does of course pack a larger display, but that’s the only major difference between the two, as the panel quality is solid in both cases.

Hardware and daily use experience

And there’s really no way to set these two apart when it comes to the everyday use experience. The Z3 does get more RAM than the Z3 Compact, but that’s hardly visible in daily use or even in benchmarks.

Other than that, there’s the same hardware pushing them and the same software, a customized version of Android 4.4.4 Kitkat, bundled with a few preinstalled apps, like Walkman, Album, Playstation, Xperia Lounge and so on. I could add here that the larger Z3 tends to get a bit hotter than the Z3 Compact when pushed, when running games for a longer period of time, but that’s mainly because it is thinner and because heat spreads easily through the metal edges than through the plastic ones on the Compact version.

These two handsets are also on par when it comes to their camera performance, as they do pack similar 20.7 Mpx main shooters, with Flash and plenty of shooting modes. The Z3’s shooter does feature a few extra goodies, like a wider lens and increased ISO sensibility, but these won’t make a major difference in practice.

I can’t show you pics and videos for the time being though, since we’re dealing with pre-production samples and I don’t want to spread misleading images that could lead to the wrong idea on these phones’ camera performance. But I will update this section as soon as the final retail versions become available later this year.

Can't show you samples just yet, but I will update this section of the review as soon as the final retail units become available

Can’t show you samples just yet, but I will update this section of the review as soon as the final retail units become available

On the other hand, the larger Z3 does offer room for a bigger battery, that’s why it will slightly outlast the Z3 Compact in everyday use. However, with the later packing only a 720p screen, but will offer 2 days of average use without a major effort, and maybe even more if used lightly. And both offer ways to squeeze even more out of their batteries by activating the energy saving modes.


At the end of the day, choosing between these two handsets is mostly a matter of choosing between a larger phone with a larger screen, or a more compact device. The Z3 does have a few aces down its sleeve, including the sleeker body with metallic edges, the louder and punchier speakers, the higher resolution screen and the higher capacity battery. But at the same time the Z3 has rivals, like the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8 or the LG G3.

The Xperia Z3 does pack a few extras, btu the Z3 is smaller and makes relaly few compromises, that's it is my personal choice between the two

The Xperia Z3 does pack a few extras, btu the Z3 is smaller and makes relaly few compromises, that’s it is my personal choice between the two

The Z3 Compact has fewer, as it is the only mid-sized Android device that offers top-tier specs and makes no compromises. Yes, it is a bit chunkier and yes, it won’t last as long as the heavyweight models on a charge, but you’ll probably live with these just fine, knowing all the other things that you get. The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is one of them though, and I’ve compared the two in this other post.

Bottom point though, I personally lean towards the Z3 Compact here, as I’m a fan of smaller devices, although the Z3 is definitely a great device. it’s just not form me. However,  I’m looking forward to hearing which one do YOU like best, so make sure to leave your replies below, as well as your questions, if any, I’ll be around to reply and help you out.

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Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief at This project was born as part of my search for capable mini-laptops that I could easily lug around to work, and still provide the performance that I'd need on a daily basis. I'm primarily using such ultracompact devices and have been testing them since 2006.

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