Never mind what Sony tries to tell you about the premium nature of the 5.2-inch Xperia Z3. That phone's supposed understudy, the Z3 Compact, is the real star of Sony's IFA 2014 lineup. It's the same size as the excellent Xperia Z1 Compact, but fits a bigger 4.6-inch screen into a body that's 9 percent thinner and 6 percent lighter. Those sound like small improvements, and the phone itself doesn't look dramatically different, however the sum of Sony's changes makes the Xperia Z3 Compact feel like a much more refined smartphone.
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The color scheme of the new Compact has been switched up with a pair of bold and inviting shades of red and green to go with the standard black and white. It has earned an even higher waterproof rating of IP68 and its new translucent plastic frame is claimed to make the phone even tougher when dealing with unexpected drops and bumps. I like it because of the attractive way it catches the light — it just makes the phone feel more organic and less like a machine. The most important quality of the Z3 Compact, however, is the same one that made the Z1 Compact great: its size is just about perfect for the vast majority of people. Now with an upgraded set of internal components, including a Snapdragon 801 processor and an even bigger 2,600mAh battery, it represents a unique and highly attractive Android alternative to the anticipated 4.7-inch iPhone.
Relative to the Z3, the Compact lacks the 1080p screen resolution — making do with a perfectly adequate 720p — and the premium aluminum edging, but those are intangible losses. The quality of the screen is identically high, the camera is the same 20-megapixel unit on both, and both support Sony's PS4 Remote Play feature. The Z3 is nice, but the Z3 Compact is that little bit nicer.