Fans of the Sony Xperia range might have been a tad disappointed at the latest announcement, the Xperia Z4. Despite holding off from an instant global launch, it looks to be another small iteration on the Xperia Z3, with no meaningful changes.
Not often do you ask the question whether the successor or predecessor is the best option, but in this case we might be able to give a good few reasons to look at the Xperia Z3, before dropping more money on the Xperia Z4.
The Xperia Z3 and Z4 are incredibly similar smartphones when it comes to design. Both feature the dual glass front and back, alongside an aluminium chassis. The Xperia Z4 is slightly slimmer, although the actual value of the eight grams is negligible.
What is valuable on the Xperia Z4 is the new waterproofing method, offering less flaps but better water protection. Most folks thought Sony went a bit overboard on the whole waterproofing feature, but this brings a nice compromise where flaps are a non-issue.
Sony opted out of upgrading the display this year, sticking with a 5.2-inch 1,080 x 1,920 IPS display from the Xperia Z3 with the exact dimensions and bezel to screen ratio from last year.
Even though the display isn’t terrible, it does show that Sony is playing the smartphone market more conservatively than Samsung or LG, both launching 2K UHD displays on their 2015 flagship devices.
The new upgraded internals might mean we see more battery life, since Sony decided not go with the 2K display, but it is a big compromise against competitors and means there is little reason to choose the Xperia Z4 over the older Xperia Z3.
Another disappointment awaits in the camera, with Sony deciding against upgrading or adding any new features to the rear camera. That means the same 20.7-megapixel Exmor sensor that was inside the Xperia Z3 will be present on the Xperia Z4.
There is still no optical image stablisation on the Xperia Z4, but at least we get a 5.1-megapixel front facing camera for better quality selfies.
Even though Sony’s camera is already decent, it needed OIS to compete with the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 camera. The larger front facing camera might interest some users, especially in Asia where selfies are more prominent, but it is not a large upgrade.
Under the Hood
The internals are a small upgrade on the side of the Xperia Z4, adding an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor compared to the quad-core Snapdragon 801 on the Xperia Z3. Both feature 3GB of RAM, and the Xperia Z4 finally offers a 64GB version.
Sony downgraded the Xperia Z4’s battery to a 2,930mAh, from the 3,100mAh battery on the Xperia Z3. This downgrade might not equal lower battery life, considering the Snapdragon 810’s battery saving technology, but we don't expect any major upgrades.
It seems like at every part of the comparison, we have found either no advantage or disadvantages to owning the Xperia Z4 over the Xperia Z3. There is no real reason to pay £50 or £100 more for the Xperia Z4 in any world, unless the Snapdragon 810 processor is somehow important enough to warrant an extra £100.
If you need an Xperia device and only want the best, we would still say go with the Xperia Z3 over the Xperia Z4, just to make sure Sony understands this kind of poor iterative update to smartphones every six months is pointless.
The full table of specs can be found below.
Sony Xperia Z4
|Sony Xperia Z3|
|Screen Size||5.2- inch||5.2- inch|
|Resolution||1,920 x 1,080 pixels||1,920 x 1,080 pixels|
Processor and Battery
|Family||Qualcomm Snapdragon 801||Qualcomm Snapdragon 801|
|CPU||Quad-core Cortex-A53 / Quad-core Cortex-A57||Krait 400|
|Clock Speed||2GHz / 1.5GHz||2.5GHz|
|GPU||Adreno 430||Adreno 330|
|Claimed 3G Talk Time||Up to 14 hours||Up tp 14 hours|
Storage and Memory
|Internal Storage||32 / 64 GB||16 / 32GB|
|MicroSD||Yes, up to 128GB||Yes, up to 128GB|
|Rear||20.7 megapixel||20.7 megapixel|
|Video||2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps, HDR||2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps|
|Front||5.1 MP, 1080p@30fps||2.2-megapixel|
|Standard||4G LTE||4G LTE|
|WiFi||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot||WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac|
|Integrated Wireless Charging||No||Yes|
|Size||146 x 72 x 6.9 mm||146 x 72 x 7.3 mm|
|Operating System||Android 5.0 Lollipop||Android 4.4 KitKat|