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Sony Xperia Z3v

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: Verizon
Manufacturer: Sony Mobile

What's Hot: Unique design with glass front and back, great camera, PS4 RemotePlay.

What's Not: This is the Xperia Z3 on the inside but the Z2 on the outside-- bulkier design.


Reviewed December 7, 2014 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Sony Xperia Z3v

It's rare to see a Sony phone on Verizon Wireless. In fact, though popular in Europe, relatively few Sony Android smartphones make their way to US carriers. So we're thrilled that Verizon is offering the Xperia Z3v, their take on the well-received Xperia Z3 that's available overseas and on T-Mobile in the US. Verizon however did an odd thing: they commissioned a phone that has the body of the Xperia Z2 with (mostly) the innards of the Z3. In fact, Sony made only minor tweaks when they released the Z3 6 just months after the Z2, but the body's design was one of the important changes. While the Z2 and Z3v use Sony's older, blocky design language, the Z3 is slimmer with curved metal edges that feel better in hand. Oh well.

Inside it's generally good news, with the Xperia Z3v running on the same updated CPU as the Z3: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core with Adreno 330 graphics, 3 gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of storage. The 5.2" full HD Triluminos IPS display has good viewing angles and rich colors, with brightness somewhere between the Z2 and Z3 (yes you can see it fine outdoors). If you like eye-popping colors but want something more realistic than AMOLED, Sony's Triluminos displays on the Z2, Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact are perfect. There's a microSD card slot, front 2.2MP camera with f/2.2 lens and a very capable 20.7 megapixel rear camera with Sony's Exmor RS sensor. Throw in dual band WiFi 802.11ac, NFC, GPS and Bluetooth, and you've got a capable flagship smartphone.

Sony Xperia Z3v

The Xperia Z3v runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat with Sony's moderate customization of Android that we like overall, though it's changed little in years-- we expect a design update with Android 5.0 Lollipop. The phone should get Lollipop, but Verizon is typically the last to release OS updates, so don't expect it until some time in 2015. It's a responsive and quick phone thanks to the capable hardware inside and Sony's restraint in the UI and apps.

Sony's Walkman, Video and PlayStation apps are on board, and PlayStation 4 owners will no doubt be attracted to the RemotePlay feature that lets you play your PS4 games using the phone and their game controller with phone mount (sold separately). If your family is hogging the TV, you can still play Destiny until your fingers are numb.

Design and Ergonomics

In terms of design and ergonomics, we like the look of the phone, but it feels and looks larger than a 5.2" phone should, especially if you use the popular Samsung Galaxy S5 as a yardstick. The GS5 is of course particularly slim and light, while the Xperia Z3v is a bit thick by today's standards, and the boxy sides tend to dig into the palm and fingers. At 6.02 ounces, it's not a light phone either since it's clad front and back in glass. That makes for a very pretty look, even if the ever-conservative Verizon offers it only in white or black. The nylon sides absorb impact, and silver insets provide visual contrast. It's a pretty piece and we like to look at it more than hold it. The Xperia Z3 looks much more sleek and modern in contrast and is more comfy to handle. Perhaps Verizon went with the older design because it afforded the Qi wireless charging feature? That certainly is a nice bonus. Plumbers and clean freaks rejoice: the phone is water and dust resistant, and can withstand immersion up to 3 feet for 30 minutes. As per usual, that means fiddly doors over all ports except the headphone jack.

Sony Xperia Z3v

The Sony Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact.

The Xperia has front facing stereo speakers under the top and bottom slits. They're not wildly loud or full, and can't compare to the HTC One M8's BoomSound speakers or the Nexus 6's front facing stereo speakers. Headphone audio is very good, and the phone supports high-res audio and Sony 3D Surround.

Calling and Data

The Xperia supports Verizon's 4G LTE network, but it doesn't yet support VoLTE (Voice over LTE, aka simultaneous 4G data and calling or Advanced Calling). Verizon has said most current LTE phones will get that upgrade in 2015, and we'd expect the Z3v to be included. Data speeds were par for the course on Verizon in the Dallas area, and didn't vary from other LTE flagships. Sony does a good job with voice quality and both incoming and outgoing voice sounded clear and full with average volume. We noticed that in poor coverage areas the Xperia Z3v got a weaker LTE signal than stronger Verizon phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Motorola Droid Turbo. If you're in a fringe coverage area, keep this in mind, but in moderate to strong coverage areas there's nothing to worry about.

Sony Xperia Z3v

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Sony Xperia Z3v Video Review



  Quadrant 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited AnTuTu Sunspider JavaScript Test (lower is better)
Sony Xperia Z3v 20,642 18,682 41,900 808
Sony Xperia Z3 21589 16,135 35,008 837
Motorola Droid Turbo 22,709 20,735 48,332 795
Samsung Galaxy S5 23,643 18,329 35,357 398
Moto X (2nd gen) 22,170 19,924 44,340 776
Moto X (first gen) 8357 6800 (extreme) 21,377 1097
LG G3 24,385 18,708 36,525 425
HTC One M8 24,527 20,896 36,087 776
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 24,327 19,667 46,912 425
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge 24,532 19,841 46,271 353
Nexus 6 13,595(??) 23,520 49,961 795
Moto X (2nd gen) 22,170 19,924 44,340 776
Sony Xperia Z1S 21589 16,135 35,008 837
Nexus 5 8808 17,828 (unlimited) 27,017 718
Moto G 8485 2778 (extreme) 17,396 1311
LG G2 19,762 9803 (extreme) 32,990 823
Samsung Galaxy S4 12,276 11,601 (unlimited) 24,776 826

Geekbench 3: 956/2634


The Z3v uses the same camera hardware as the Z3, with a significantly larger than average 20.7MP 1:2/3 sensor and a good quality Sony G lens. I've seen some mixed opinions on the Z3 family camera, and I have to say this is a photographer's camera. Yes, you can use Superior Auto mode (the same setting available on several Sony standalone cameras) and use it as a point and shoot with 8MP resolution photos that generally look pretty good as your reward. But it really shines when you use the many manual settings that will look familiar to prior Xperia Z owners and Sony camera owners, but might seem daunting to first time users. The images overall have a more "real" and dimensional camera look rather than that flat camera phone look, but they aren't perfect every time. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus take great photos nearly every time and they have superb automatic modes (in fact, they have no manual mode). This is not the iPhone 6, but you do get excellent control over the image taking process that can result in some really super shots.

Images have very natural contrast with good handling of high contrast settings that tend to cause white out on many camera phones. Colors are also natural and attractive. Reds do tend to bloom more than I'd like--that's a common digital camera problem, but I'd like to see Sony control it better. The camera doesn't artificially increase contrast and go to town with sharpening like some Samsung and LG smartphone cameras. You can do that yourself in post processing if you like. Focus times are excellent and generally spot-on. Low light results are very good and the phone captures more detail with less noise and reasonable color saturation than many camera phones on the market thanks to the big sensor. It's much better than the admittedly darkness-challenged Samsung Galaxy S5 and holds its own against the iPhone 6.

The phone can shoot 1080p video and 4K video and it has HDR and software image stabilization. When enabling 4K video recording the camera app warns you that this generates a lot of heat and the app may eventually shut down. It's not kidding. 4K is great for a 3 minute video, but don't count on it for a 20 minute video unless it's very chilly outside. This problem isn't unique to Sony phones; others will eventually end recording when the image processor gets too hot. The dedicated camera button is your friend: use it as the shutter button to avoid camera shake.

Battery Life

Sony's been doing impressive things with battery life recently, and their Z3 family phones have excellent runtimes. The 3200 mAh battery (sealed inside) is the same capacity as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Nexus 6. Since those phones have significantly larger and higher resolution displays, we'd expect better battery life from the Z3v, and it delivers.

Sony offers good power management tools including Stamina mode that turns of wireless radios during long sleep periods, but even without enabling these, the phone easily lasted us two days on a charge with moderate use. If you play a lot of demanding 3D games, use the GPS for long trips or record lots of 4K video footage, you'll get less, but it's hard to get the phone to die before bedtime.

There's no magnetic charging connector here as with the Z3 and Z3 Compact, but we don't think anyone will mind since we have Qi wireless charging instead.


We're thrilled to see a Sony Xperia flagship phone on Verizon Wireless, and the Xperia Z3v is worth a look if you want something that doesn't look like every other Android phone on the market. The 1080p IPS 5.2" display resolution is fine with us, and performance is quite good. Battery life is particularly impressive and the camera is a photo buff's best friend. The phone has a microSD card slot for storage expansion and PS4 owners will likely enjoy the RemotePlay feature. We only wish that Verizon had gone with the updated Z3 casing.

Price: $199 with 2 year contract, $599 full retail


Related Reviews:

Motorola Droid Turbo

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review

LG G3 Review

2014 Moto X Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

iPhone 6 Review

iPhone 6 Plus Review


Sony Xperia Z3v


Sony Xperia Z3v

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Display: 5.2" Triluminos IPS display. Resolution: 1920 x 1080. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor. 500cd brightness.

Battery: 3200 mAh Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core CPU with Adreno 330 graphics. 3 gigs RAM and 32 gigs storage.

Size: 5.85 x 2.89 x 0.35 inches. Weight: 6.02 ounces.

Phone: CDMA dual band digital with 3G EV-DO Rev A and 4G LTE. GSM quad band world phone with EDGE 2G and 3G on the 850/900/1900/2100 bands.

Camera: 2.2MP front camera and 20.7MP rear camera with flash, Sony G lens and 4K video recording.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac, NFC, GPS with GLONASS and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Android OS 4.4 KitKat.

Expansion: 1 microSD card slot. MHL support via micro USB port (requires MHL adapter).


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