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Sony Xperia Z3v review: Verizon gets the exclusive on this Xperia Z2 do-over

Florence Ion | Oct. 24, 2014
You know how you sometimes look back to the past and wish you could have done something in your life differently? Sony sort of pulled the same schtick with its new flagship, the Xperia Z3v. The Xperia Z2 was supposed to be its big flagship phone of the year, but this new phone is making us wonder why it didn't just wait to release this instead.

You know how you sometimes look back to the past and wish you could have done something in your life differently? Sony sort of pulled the same schtick with its new flagship, the Xperia Z3v. The Xperia Z2 was supposed to be its big flagship phone of the year, but this new phone is making us wonder why it didn't just wait to release this instead.

Hopefully you didn't just buy the Xperia Z2, because the Z3v is just a bit better in every way — and it's exclusive to Verizon, a carrier other than T-Mobile, which the company has been tied to at the hip all this time. Its powerful hardware and neat bundled features are also a perfect example of what Sony is capable of when it takes its time with a product.

Design deja vu

The Xperia Z3v comes dressed up in Sony's signature "Omni-Balance" design motif — the same one it's been using for a few years now. At first glance, the glass-covered chassis is almost indistinguishable from its predecessor — from any of its predecessors, really — and about the only noticeable difference is the rubbery polymer coating around its edges.

What's worse: It's actually different from the Xperia Z3 announced in September at IFA, which has a metal band around its edges. I'm struggling to understand the thought that went behind manufacturing a different chassis for the Verizon variant of this phone, and as a Verizon subscriber I'm especially bummed that I don't have the option to purchase the more premium-feeling version.

The Xperia Z3v's 5.2-inch 1080p display is powered by Sony's proprietary Triluminous LCD display technology, which kicks elements like color and saturation up a notch, as well as the X-Reality image processing engine, which is fancy marketing speak for a feature that sharpens edges, eliminates missing pixels, and boosts the richness of colors, even for low-quality black market video content. It also lets you adjust the color tone and white balance of the smartphone's screen as you see fit — kind of like how you'd adjust the color settings on your TV.

The display features a pixel density of about 424 pixels per inch, which puts it right behind the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8). It's one of the brightest displays I've ever seen, though not nearly as bright as the Super AMOLED on Samsung's latest smartphones. It was also surprisingly legible out in bright sunlight with the display brightness turned all the way up.

Like the rest of the Sony device family, the Xperia Z3 is both water and dust proof. Sony made the right move by jumping on the "life proof" bandwagon early, even though that shiny glass chassis is hardly the type of thing you want to take out with you on the old dusty trail. Also, while the flaps that protect the charging port and MicroSD and SIM slots are necessary, they're still very annoying to deal with. Ladies, you will chip regular nail polish opening the ports every day, so plan to invest in gel manicures if you stick with this phone.

 

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