…in most senses of the term cracking. I’ve been using the Z3 now for nearly six months. It’s my day to day work horse and pops in and out of various pockets, bags, onto table tops and all sorts. It is used to watch videos, listen to music, check email, in fact, pretty much everything that anyone uses a phone for.
It spends a lot of time using network bandwidth to download music and to surf the internet. Usually upwards of 2GB per month. I’m a relatively heavy data user.
So what of the features that a) Made me choose the phone and b) were the big selling features of it? And especially when I can compare it to the iPhone 6+ that my partner has?
The camera is very good. It’s low light performance has been excellent when I’ve used it for concerts, although the autofocus has often struggled. It has a strong zoom thanks to the 20.7 MP sensor, but you do have to think a little too much about what you are doing. In comparison with the photos that have come from my partner’s iPhone 6+? I actually think the picture quality is generally better on the 6+. The images are generally taken more quickly as the autofocus is a lot quicker, and even in low light, the iPhone seems to focus better than the Z3, although the image quality is hard to tell apart until you zoom in.
The stage at Queen from afar (with very challenging lighting):
Zoomed in onto Adam Lambert – maximum zoom level:
What of the much vaunted battery life, which was a key factor in my selection of this phone? Well, it can be very, very good, but, as always, your mileage may vary. On arrival, the phone managed to push out a very healthy 36-48 hours of what I consider heavy use, surfing a lot and using a lot of screen time. However, with the addition of Google Fit and Good (business email system), the Stamina mode stops functioning. This causes a slight issue in terms of longevity of the battery life.
While I still beat the iPhone 6+ in battery life, I tend to get to the end of the day on between 10% and 35%, dependent on use during the day. While that’s not terrible, and day means off charge at 4.30am and on again at around 11pm, it’s not the two days I was hoping for. I could of course turn off the two apps that cause the biggest issue with Stamina mode, but this would be self defeating. So it’s good and bad.
Size and Weight
It is smaller than an iPhone 6+ and I prefer to use it to when I borrow the other half’s iPhone. It is at the maximum extreme of what i find comfortable to use. And given the screen real estate in the size phone, I certainly wouldn’t want to go any larger. If I’m honest, I’d probably go smaller next time, which seems to be a heresy in these heady days where size seems to matter!
Ruggedness and build
The delicious glass and metal aesthetic of the Z3. It really does feel like a premium product, and it certainly comes across as one. With the IP68 rating, this thing should be capable of withstanding a lot…
It certainly has a very slippery back – if your surface is even 0.5mm off horizontal, it will slide. And the glass on the back scratches like a crazy thing. I’ve also managed to dent the Aluminium surround, but hey, that’s life with a modern smartphone. I know I’ve dropped it a couple of times, and I don’t have it smashed to pieces yet.
But as I mentioned at the start, it’s a cracking phone. And mine has two of them. One significantly bigger than the other. First up is the small one near the camera lens. It can be seen in the image below, but I don’t think it’s an enormous problem.
What’s perhaps more concerning is the following crack which stretches from the bottom left hand corner to half way up the opposite side. I suspect that the IP68 rating is no longer valid with this one. More disturbingly, I don’t see an impact point so it either occurred as a drop flat on something or in a pocket where it had pressure applied to it.
Now I’ve not had a mostly glass phone before, but I foresee that the insurance I took out when I bought this one is highly likely to get used. I’ve had it six months and there is a crack like this in it already? That 24 month contract is already looking like it was far too long.
As “yet another Android flagship”, this is a very good phone. Google Now is a feature that has grown in stature and I’ve found to work remarkably well. Android itself is as good and frustrating as it ever was, in equal measure. It still frustrates the hell out of me that Android can’t spot a phone number in a text message and make it available to call, while Apple can. Simple things!
My biggest concern is really the fact that I’m now seeing these cracks to the rear glass. I know that I could avoid some of the wear by buying a cover. I have one, but the whole point of the phone is that it is thin and light. And you lose a lot of this if you stick a cover on it. How long will it last? I’m not sure, but if it breaks within twelve months, I think it would be fair to say that the device wasn’t fit for purpose. It gets used on a daily basis and carried around, as a phone is wont to do. It should be robust enough to last the duration of the contract under which it is taken…