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Sony Xperia XZ3 in hands-on: Japan’s answer to the Galaxy S9

The Japanese manufacturer has presented at the Berlin fair its new phone which allows it to compete in the high range.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 and its Compact offshoot began a journey into the future for Sony Mobile. This journey now reaches its next stop with the Xperia XZ3. The Ambient Flow design language has been refined and the necessary optimization of the software including the integration of new technologies has finally been implemented in the new Xperia XZ3. In our first hands-on test of the Sony Xperia XZ3, we’ll show you whether Sony is finally operating at eye level in all aspects with Samsung, Huawei, and Co.

Everything finally fits together

For a long time you have smiled at Sony, either because of the stubborn clinging to a somewhat dusty design, or even that one does not manage to get out of his image sensors the optimum in quality and so by his customers called Samsung, Apple, Google and Huawei is presented , But those who have used the Sony smartphones for years and lived with these peculiarities will notice that Sony Mobile has been on the way to transformation since at least the XZ Premium . The brand new Xperia XZ3 is just another proof that Sony is changing.

Design optimized

The radical shift in design from Omnibalance to Ambient Flow is the most visible sign that Sony has taken another hurdle on the path to a new future. Unfortunately, the Xperia XZ2, the first Sony Mobile smartphone in a modern dress, has a lot to criticize. The smartphone was heavy, the display bezel does not match the modern dress and the fingerprint sensor is an ergonomic hell that has been halfway internalized after several months of use. Unfortunately, just the last criticism of the Xperia XZ2 Xperia XZ3 was not addressed.

Xperia XZ3

For the Xperia XZ3, Sony has optimized the new ambient flow design while saving weight.

But after all, Sony spits out the Xperia XZ3 in terms of weight and missed the smartphone a less bulbous back, which leaves me personally with the impression that the XZ3 is better in the hand. If you turn on the Xperia XZ3, then another element catches your eye, which harmoniously blends into the ambient flow design of the Xperia smartphones of modern times: the display corners. These are now round like many other smartphones in 2018.

Xperia XZ3

Premiere for a Sony Xperia Smartphone: The XZ3 has a curved display with an OLED panel.

Sure, you rarely look at the corners, but it bothered me a bit with the Xperia XZ2. Much more exciting for the general public is the fact that Sony has installed an OLED display in an Xperia smartphone for the first time. The 6-inch panel is even bent sideways and you could already suspect that a Samsung panel was installed here.
In addition to these apparent major optical changes, minor accents that distinguish the Xperia XZ3 from the XZ2 are hidden. So there’s a little notch, but before the notch haters scream loudly leave the article here, I give the all clear. The notch is really small and sits on the back and forms a transition from the aluminum frame above the USB Type-C connector.

Xperia XZ3

And the Xperia XZ3 has a notch! Luckily on the back as a design element.

A display to fall in love with

Back to the display. Whether the new OLED panel now comes from Samsung, can not say at the current time. More important than the manufacturer of the panel, however, is that Sony Mobile finally pulls together with the TV division on the same strand. In addition, the Japanese group justifies the use of IPS with better visibility in bright environments, while OLEDs have their strengths more for dark scenes as well as the environment.

Xperia XZ3

Sony has the Xperia XZ3 meaningful technically, as well as visually improved.

And so really are the black values and the colors are shown alive. Of course, the display of the Xperia XZ3 according to Sony for HDR content is already designed.
Thanks to the laterally curved display, Sony also gives the Xperia XZ3 a new feature, unfortunately only with a confusing name: SideSense. Unlike Active Edge on Google or HTC Edge Sense, Sony’s SideSense is not integrated with the smartphone. Much more, you use the curved sides of the display to perform actions. Single or double tap on these display zones trigger actions such as the camera or voice assistant. Nice gimmick, which works quite well on the non-final devices, but if that really adds value, you have to look at it in a long-term test.

Old camera with new software

Finally, Sony has heard my calls and the camera app finally not only revised but designed from scratch. However, the hardware continues to be the Xperia XZ2, a 19 MP Exmor R sensor capable of recording Super Slow Motion video at 960 FPS. Gone are the days with confusing apps in the camera app and illogical settings.
When you start the app, it feels a bit like Sony was inspired to develop the software from Samsung. But compared to the still in the XZ2 Premium used camera app that is a huge leap. Regarding features and features, there is nothing new in the app.

Xperia XZ3

Finally! The Xperia XZ3 has received a new and understandable camera app

Interesting is the new snapshot function. Even if the Xperia XZ3 still has a dedicated camera shutter button and you can start with the help of this, the camera synonymous from standby, so Sony has thought it is synonymous faster. By lifting the smartphone in a horizontal position, the camera starts automatically and, as at the beginning of a James Bond trailer, shows a round opening with the camera image. a simple tap is enough and the picture ends up in the picture folder of the Xperia XZ3.
If that’s not enough as a gimmick, you can already prepare yourself for the fact that 3D head scans on Sony smartphones will soon master even small animations such as winking and smiling. Although this feature will not be available until the launch, it will be redelivered later for the camera app.

Xperia XZ3

With SideSense you can trigger the one-handed mode.

Shortly after the IFA, it should start with the sale of the Xperia XZ3. In the delivery state, Sony will ship the Xperia XZ3 already with Android 9 Pie, so that one can assume that the camera app and including some model-independent features such as animated 3D scans via software and app update on older Xperia XZ models can be played. Price Sony targets a retail price of 799 euros. As long as Xperia XZ2 models are in demand, the model will continue to be sold, but the price will probably be realigned at just under 549 euros.

Sony Xperia XZ3: Specifications

DIMENSIONS: 158 x 80 x 11.9 mm
MASS: 236 g
BATTERY CAPACITY: 3540 mAh
DISPLAY SIZE: 5.8 inches
DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY: LCD
SCREEN: 3840 x 2160 pixels (760 ppi)
CAMERA FRONT: 13 megapixels
REAR CAMERA: 19 megapixels
LIGHTNING: LED
ANDROID: 8.0 – Oreo
USER INTERFACE: Xperia UI
R.A.M: 6 GB
INTERNAL MEMORY: 64 GB
REMOVABLE STORAGE: microSD
CHIPSET: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
NUMBER OF CORES: 8th
MAX. TIMING: 2.45 GHz
CONNECTIVITY: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0

Makes you want to more

Sony has received some criticisms of the XZ2 with the Xperia XZ3. After a few hours with the Xperia XZ3, even though the software was not yet the final version, the Xperia XZ3 made a much rounder impression than the XZ2. Thanks to the 6-inch OLED panel, the XZ3 will certainly be a very good smartphone for consuming high-resolution videos, and for gamers too, the XZ3 can certainly be a good tool thanks to its powerful hardware. But the biggest question marks are still in terms of battery life and the quality of the photos and videos. Did Sony possibly lose its endurance character by switching to the QHD resolution? And the new camera app may not only make the handling of the software less of a headache, but also the quality of the photos and videos get better? Unfortunately, we can not answer these questions here in the first hands-on, but as soon as the final test pattern has landed in the editorial office, we pay special attention to it. Until then, one can not deny the XZ3 its ambitions as an alternative to a Samsung Galaxy S9 +, Google Pixel 2 or Huawei P20 Pro.

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Kyle is the cheif editor of Today's Android. He's from Manchester, London. He's responsible for covering news from UK and around the globe.

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