The Galaxy S5. The One M8. The LG G3. All very good phones - all phones that I like, for various reasons, and dislike in certain respects for others! HTC, Samsung, and LG have generally been the de facto leaders of the high-end Android smartphone market here in the US. But what about Sony? I'll freely admit that I've never been much of a Sony smartphone fan. I didn't like the Xperia ZL as well as its competitors.
Chromecast's screen casting feature works on a limited number of devices, but that list is gradually growing. For now, Sony appears to have cut to the front of the line of handsets waiting to get support. At the beginning of this month, the Chromecast gods smiled favorably upon the Xperia Z3 and the Z3 Compact.
Now at the end of the month, that attention is being poured upon the Xperia Z3v, Z2, and Z2 Tablet.
If you live in a real-life version of the latest James Bond or Spider-man flicks, where absolutely every piece of electronics everywhere is made by Sony, then we've got good news: the PS4 Remote Play app is now available for download. This lets the Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, and Z3 Tablet Compact use a PlayStation 4 controller and super-fast streaming video to play PlayStation 4 games over a home Wi-Fi network.
Today is a good day if you like big, powerful phones, and if you want (or need) to use them on Verizon. The Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3v, the current flagships of Samsung and Sony, have both launched on Big Red. You can pick up a Galaxy Note 4 for $299.99 with a new contract or a whopping $699.99 without one. The Xperia Z3v is slightly cheaper at $199.99 and $599.99.
Sony's latest and greatest has been expected on T-Mobile for a few weeks, but now it's official. The Xperia Z3 will be available from T-Mobile on October 29th in stores. However, there's an online-only pre-sale kicking off on October 15th, meaning you can get the phone shipped before it's in stores.
The Xperia Z3 has the same 20.7MP camera most of Sony's recent phones have used, but the other specs are a bit improved with a 5.2-inch 1080p screen, 3100mAh battery, Snapdragon 801, and 3GB of RAM.
Sony releases a new flagship smartphone roughly every other month. That's a complete estimate. Sony isn't on my radar much because its phones often don't usually come to US carriers, and when they do, it's months late. Such is not the case with the new Xperia Z3, which is coming to Verizon as the Z3v later this month.
When Google first pulled the lever on Chromecast's screen casting, the functionality was limited to a select number of devices. Well, it still is, but the list is slowly growing, and we've noticed that the Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact have made their presence known towards the bottom. This puts them in the same exclusive club as a number of Nexus, Galaxy, One, and G devices (boy is it awkward to say these names without the manufacturer attached).
You know those scary warnings that show up whenever you unlock the bootloader on a phone? "We can't be held responsible... blah blah... reduced functionality... blah... fiery death... blah blah blah." Sometimes they aren't kidding. Users who have unlocked the new Xperia Z3 Compact have found that low-light camera performance drops considerably. It turns out to be because of DRM in Sony's image signal processing.
With a new Sony smartphone comes a new Sony ad campaign, and the Z3's has just been released in the form of (so far) eight videos published on the company's Xperia YouTube channel. While seven of the spots are actually one and the same product storyline edited differently to showcase various features, one of the ads really did strike me as genuinely good, which is pasted below.
It's 3 minutes or so long, so it's a bit of a lengthy video as an ad, but I think Sony really nails the "product as hero" thing here with just the right mix of emotion (eg, not going overboard) and real human interest story.
We had a chance to take a few minutes with Sony's latest and greatest in Berlin earlier today, and I have to say: we left impressed. While the company's smartphones have had basically zero market penetration in the US (aside from on T-Mobile), the Z1 and Z2 were both fine flagship devices when stacked up against their contemporary competitors.
The Z3 isn't a big upgrade over the Z2, for sure, but it does have a few noteworthy refinements.