Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+ comparison: What's the difference?

Sony has unveiled its Z3+, the UK version of the Sony Xperia Z4 that was last month announced in Japan and successor to the Sony Xperia Z3. We explain what's new in the Sony Xperia Z3+ in our Z3 vs Z3+ comparison review.

In this article we are focusing on the key specifications of each Sony phone. For more in-depth information see our full Sony Xperia Z3 review and our hands-on Sony Xperia Z3+ review. For more info on when you can buy the Z3+ see Sony Xperia Z3+ UK release date, price and specifications.

Note that the Sony Xperia Z4 is sold only in Japan. It's the same as the Z3+ mentioned here, but comes with DTV (Digital TV) and FeliCa (a contactless RFID smart card system)

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+: Price and UK availability

The Sony Xperia Z3 has a £549 RRP, but it'll cost you just £360 SIM-free at Amazon. At £549 it was £50 cheaper than the Sony Xperia Z2 that launched in March 2014, which kept it in line with its Samsung and HTC rivals and made sense given its minor improvements over its predecessor.

Sony was rumoured to be putting an end to its biannual smartphone refreshes and when no Z4 appeared at MWC 2015 that certainly appeared to be the case. However, it has today (26 May) unveiled its Z3+, which is another phone that features only minor improvements over its predecessor.

Sony has yet to reveal UK pricing for its Z3+, which will go on sale in the UK in June, but we wouldn't be surprised to see another £549 RRP, making it £30 cheaper than the HTC One M9 and £50 cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+ comparison: What's the difference between Z3 and Z3+ - new features in the Sony Xperia Z3+

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+: Design and build

The Sony Xperia Z3 has a very similar design to every other Xperia before it, with the same rectangular shape, boxy corners, rounded edges and front- and rear glass panels. And the new Sony Xperia Z3+ is almost identical - but not quite.

Forget the Plus in the new Xperia's model name - the Z3+ isn't a phablet version of the Z3, with both adorning a 5.2in full-HD (1920x1080) panel. In fact it's slimmer and lighter, slimming down from 7.3- to 6.9mm, and 152- to 144g.

It's also lost that fiddly little flap over the Micro-USB port, which can make charging a pain (don't worry - it's still IP65/IP68-certified for dust- and waterproof protection). And there's now just a single cover for the joint SIM and microSD card slot.

You'll find the same black, white and green colour options available for both Z3 and Z3+, although Sony says it has developed a new interpretation of its copper model.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+: Hardware and performance

A 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip, Adreno 330 graphics and 3GB of RAM allowed the Sony Xperia Z3 to fare very well in our benchmarks last September. We saw 2805 points in Geekbench 3.0, 29fps in GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex and 804ms in SunSpider. Also see: What's the fastest smartphone 2015? 

Things get a lot faster with the Sony Xperia Z3+, whose 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor runs Android Lollipop out of the box. As before there's 3GB of RAM, but you'll now find Adreno 430 graphics and 32- rather than 16GB of storage as standard, which can be boosted with a microSD card up to 128GB in capacity.

From the Xperia Z3+ you can expect performance on par with the HTC One M9, which recorded 3778 points in Geekbench 3.0, 867ms in SunSpider, 50fps in T-Rex and 24fps in Manhattan. However, we won't know which phone is faster until we've run the Z3+ through our benchmarks.

The battery capacity has been reduced from 3100mAh to 2900mAh, which likely explains the reduction in size and weight. Sony claims it will still last two days, although we need to get the Z3+ into our lab to check. A quick charger is available for the Z3+, but not supplied in the box. 

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+ comparison: What's the difference between Z3 and Z3+ - new features in the Sony Xperia Z3+

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+: Cameras

Sony's Xperia Z3 came with a 20.7Mp rear camera and a 2.2Mp front camera. Nothing has changed in the core hardware in this department, although one could argue that it didn't need to - the Z3 is a great camera phone. There are a few software tweaks, though, with a new Gourmet mode and Superior Auto's ability to recognise 52 scenarios. Superior Auto and SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode are now available for the front camera, too. Also see: Best camera phone 2015.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+: Audio

Audio quality is excellent from the Sony Xperia Z3, and it's improved further with the Z3+. Sony has added an LDAC (the ability to enjoy top quality tracks wirelessly) and AHC (Automatic Headset Compensation, providing personalised sound).

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+: Connectivity

Not much has changed on the connectivity front. You'll get the latest 4G and Bluetooth connectivity, plus support for NFC, DLNA, GPS, PS4 Remote Play and more, but the Xperia Z-series flagship still lacks high-end features seen in its rivals such as a fingerprint scanner and wireless charging.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+: Software

Whereas the Sony Xperia Z3 came preinstalled with Android KitKat, an update to Lollipop is now available, bringing it into line with the Z3+. Both reveal a fairly vanilla implementation of Lollipop, but allow you to customise the Quick Settings in the notification bar. We did notice a fair amount of preinstalled bloatware, however, including Spotify, Vine, AVG, Kobo Books, Office Suite.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+ comparison: What's the difference between Z3 and Z3+ - new features in the Sony Xperia Z3+

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Sony Xperia Z3+: Verdict

The Z3+ is a faster version of an already very fast smartphone, and few users would complain that the Z3 is slow. However, the processor change brings it up to speed with its 2015 smartphone rivals, and we appreciate the extra storage space as standard (and Sony has managed it without removing the microSD card slot). The other improvements are nice, but unless you're a Sony enthusiast there's little here to warrant the expense of an upgrade from the Xperia Z3. In fact, we still highly rate the Z3 Compact -  a smaller version of Sony's Z3 with a much more attractive price of £280 (Amazon), and that could well be half the asking price of the Z3+.

Also see: Best new phones coming in 2015.

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.

Sony Xperia Z3: Specs

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • 5.2in Triluminos Display (1080x1920, 424ppi)
  • 2.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD slot (up to 128GB)
  • 20.7Mp rear camera AF with LED Flash
  • 2.2Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 2160p
  • Wi-Fi up tp 11.ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 4
  • Nano-SIM
  • 3100mAh battery
  • Dust and waterproof (IP68)
  • 72x146x7.3mm
  • 152g
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • 5.2in Triluminos Display (1080x1920, 424ppi)
  • 2.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD slot (up to 128GB)
  • 20.7Mp rear camera AF with LED Flash
  • 2.2Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 2160p
  • Wi-Fi up tp 11.ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 4
  • Nano-SIM
  • 3100mAh battery
  • Dust and waterproof (IP68)
  • 72x146x7.3mm
  • 152g

OUR VERDICT

The Z3+ is a faster version of an already very fast smartphone, and few users would complain that the Z3 is slow. However, the processor change brings it up to speed with its 2015 smartphone rivals, and we appreciate the extra storage space as standard (and Sony has managed it without removing the microSD card slot). The other improvements are nice, but unless you're a Sony enthusiast there's little here to warrant the expense of an upgrade from the Xperia Z3. In fact, we still highly rate the Z3 Compact - a smaller version of Sony's Z3 with a much more attractive price of £280 (Amazon), and that could well be half the asking price of the Z3+.

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