Sony Xperia XZ3 Review

June 17, 2019 | Amy Davies | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


Sony’s latest flagship smartphone, the Xperia XZ3, draws on some of the features of the tech giant’s other products. Although Sony has been in the phone market for some time, recently it hasn’t proven to be much of a competitor for Apple, Samsung, Huawei and even smaller (phone) brands like Google.

Despite it being a flagship phone sitting at the top of Sony’s line-up, the Xperia XZ3's price feels more like a mid-range offering. It costs around £699 in the UK, and is also available on a range of different contracts at various price points. For this review, we were kindly loaned the Sony Xperia XZ3 by Vodafone UK, who offers the phone along with a number of different contracts.

One of the key features of the phone is its HDR OLED display, which uses the same technology as Sony’s range of televisions.

In terms of specifications that appeal to photographers, the Sony Xperia XZ3 has just a single 13-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor on the back, coupled with a 25mm f/2.0 lens. It is joined by a camera on the front of the phone, which is also a 13 megapixel device, but slightly smaller in physical size (1/3.06”) and comes with a 23mm lens.

Other features include 4K HDR recording, a Pro mode and Predictive Capture. Another useful feature is the capability to increase the phone’s memory by adding a microSD card.

Ease of Use

Sony Xperia XZ3
Front of the Sony Xperia XZ3

In the past, Sony’s Xperia phones have been a little on the blocky, or utilitarian, side. With the Xperia XZ3, Sony has produced something a little sleeker than we’re used to (from Sony) with curved, rounded edges and a very shiny surface. The result is quite a stylish device that competes well, looks-wise, with some of the other sleek models on the market – like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

A nice feature of the phone is one of the options for starting the native camera app. The phone will detect when it is lifted into a picture-taking position, launching the camera app for you – you’ll simply need to tap in the middle of the screen to confirm that you want to take a picture. This only seems to work if you’re holding the phone in a horizontal, landscape position, but never-the-less it’s a great and natural way to quickly start the app.

Sony Xperia XZ3
Rear of the Sony Xperia XZ3

Otherwise, you can launch the native camera app directly from the Sony Xperia XZ3’s lock screen by swiping up from the bottom right of the screen. As we’ve seen before with Sony phones, the native app is pretty well featured, giving you lots of scope to change settings and so on.

As standard, the app will launch in the generic “photo” mode. Even in this mode there’s a couple of different options to take control of. You can adjust white balance as well as exposure compensation using sliders accessed by tapping an icon, which looks like a sun. You can also adjust aspect ratio, with choices between 16:9, 4:3 and 1:1. There are also options to engage a self-timer, as well as switching the flash to a number of settings including auto, fill, red-eye reduction and off.

Sony Xperia XZ3
The Sony Xperia XZ3 's Camera Mode

If you tap a cog icon in the top right hand corner of the screen you can bring up a number of additional options for this shooting mode. That includes switching Predictive Capture on and off, switching on Object Tracking, adding Grid Lines for composition and so on. If you’re shooting in a different mode, the options available in this submenu vary, to include additional options for the Pro mode for example.

If you want to shoot video, you can select the video icon towards the bottom of the app. Again, you’ll have options to change a variety of settings in the cog menu – for video, that includes resolution (up to 4K is available), object tracking, SteadyShot (image stabilisation) and so on.

To change to a different shooting mode, press the Mode button – but note you’ll have to unlock the phone to choose a different mode, which is a little annoying when you’re quickly working. A number of different shooting modes are available, including Portrait Selfie, Bokeh, Slow Motion, Manual, Creative Effect and Panorama.

Sony Xperia XZ3
The Sony Xperia XZ3 In-hand

Bokeh mode allows you to create fake shallow depth of field effects. Since the Sony Xperia XZ3 uses just one lens, it does this by taking two pictures in relatively quick succession and merging the two together to create the appearance of a limited depth of field. Because it takes two pictures, it doesn’t work overly well with anything that is likely to move in between the two shots – such as pets, and even people you’ll have to persuade to stay as static as possible. It’s better suited to shooting still life, such as food and the like.

By selecting to shoot in Manual mode, you’ll get a lot more options for changing settings, which is good news for enthusiasts. In this mode, you’ll be able to alter AF mode, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, metering and white balance by tapping each of the parameters then using a slider to make changes. You’ll also be able to switch HDR on or off, and again change aspect ratio, switch on a timer and choose different flash options. One disappointment here is that there appears to be no form of raw format shooting available, unlike several other Android phones on the market.

Sony Xperia XZ3
The Sony Xperia XZ3's Shooting Modes

When you’re ready to take a photo (or video), you can tap an onscreen shutter button. The physical volume key can be set to a couple of different functions in the camera menu, including being able to trigger off the shutter if you prefer. By default it will control zoom – but as that’s digital only, you may find it preferable to use the button for the shutter.

With the Sony Xperia XZ3, you’ve got the option to increae the phone’s storage via a MicroSD card, which can be inserted into the slot next to the SIM card. Once you’ve done this, in the camera app you can choose to save your photos to either the internal storage, or the external memory card.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

As is often the case with smartphone cameras, the Sony Xperia XZ3 performs best when the quality of light is good. In good light conditions, the XZ3 produces images with vibrant colours and a good overall impression of detail. If you examine images closely at 100%, it’s possible to see some image smoothing, but that’s not unusual from a smartphone and is only likely to be a problem if you intend to print your smartphone shots at huge sizes.

Left to its own devices in the “Auto” mode, it tends to produce exposures which are generally well-balanced, unless perhaps you’re shooting something very high-contrast.

In lower light, performance is less impressive with some visible noise creeping into the shot from around ISO 400 upwards. There’s also a fairly noticeable loss of detail which can be seen when ISO speeds of 800 and above are employed.

Shooting close-up can sometimes result in a false confirmation of focus, so that’s worth keeping an eye on if you look to shoot typical macro-type shots, such as flowers.

The shallow depth of field effect is very poor – in fact it’d almost be preferable if the phone didn’t offer it at all. It produces images which have very noticeable fringing around the subject, so it’s best to avoid using the mode at all. Other single lens smartphones, such as the iPhone XR put in a much, much better performance, while the single-lens Google Pixel 3 even manages to compete very well with dual lens models.


The Sony Xperia XZ3 has 9 manually-selectable ISO sensitivity settings available at full resolution, ranging between ISO 50 and ISO 12800.

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso50.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso6400.jpg

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Sony Xperia XZ3's fixed lens provides the focal length demonstrated below.

Standard Lens


Digital Zoom



This macro shot shows how close you can get to the subject.




The flash settings on the Sony Xperia XZ3 are Off, On and Auto. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Wide-angle Lens - Flash Off


Wide-angle Lens - Flash On


Rear Camera - Flash Off


Rear Camera - Flash On


Selfie Camera - No Flash


Selfie Camera - Flash



The long exposure shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1 second at ISO 50.






Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Sony Xperia XZ3 camera, which were all taken using the 19 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movies & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 3840x2160 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 80.2Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 18 second movie is 66.7Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 19 second movie is 40.3Mb in size.

This is a sample slow-motion movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 19 second movie is 27.9Mb in size.

Product Images

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3


The amount of choice in the smartphone market at the very moment is very broad. There’s something to suit a wide variety of budgets, with the Sony Xperia XZ3 slotting fairly squarely into the mid-range section of the market.

Despite Sony being a market-leader and producing very impressive standalone cameras, that doesn’t seem to translate directly into a very impressive smartphone. While image quality is decent in good light, it’s nothing special and drops off in low light. The quality of the shallow depth of field effect also leaves a lot to be desired.

Although it doesn’t command such high prices as phones like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro or the Samsung S9, there are other phones in this price bracket that are much easier to recommend – such as the OnePlus 6T or the Google Pixel 3, for example. If perhaps you are particularly loyal to Sony you might be drawn towards the Xperia XZ3, though.

There are some positives about the XZ3. The app is quite well-featured, giving you plenty of scope to change settings as you see fit – it’s disappointing not to see a raw shooting mode though, for those who want a little bit more control in post-production.

It’s also quite a stylish design, and the ability to launch the camera by picking up the phone and holding it in a typical camera shooting position is a nice touch. Being able to expand the internal memory with a microSD card is also welcome for photographers who may take lots of pictures and video.

Overall the Sony Xperia XZ3 is a smartphone which can produce some good images, but it’s not one that is likely to be at the top of most people’s wishlists – aside from those who are particularly fond of the Sony brand. Although in the mid-range, it’s still not a “cheap” option, and is more expensive than the Google Pixel 3, which is a much better option for single-lens phones, while if you’re keen to stick to a budget, OnePlus is a great alternative choice.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 3

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Sony Xperia XZ3.

Apple iPhone XR

The Apple iPhone XR is the cheapest of the three new iPhones released in 2018, sacrificing the telephoto lens and higher-resolution screen that the XS models offer. Read our in-depth Apple iPhone XR review to find out if it's still worth considering...

Apple iPhone Xs

The Apple iPhone XS is the 2018 update of Apple's best ever selling phone, last year's iPhone X. Read our Apple iPhone XS review to find out what this latest version offers and if it's the right smartphone for keen photographers...

Google Pixel 3

The brand new Google Pixel 3 smartphone offers photographers a 12 megapixel sensor, 5.5-inch FHD+ screen, wide-angle selfies, Portrait Mode, and the clever Night Sight mode for low-light hand-held shooting. Read our in-depth Google Pixel 3 review to find out just what it's capable of...

Google Pixel 3 XL

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL are new flagship smartphones from Google. New features for photographers include Top Shot, which uses AI to help you capture the perfect photo every time, Super Res Zoom, which produces sharp details when you zoom, and Night Sight, which lets you take natural-looking photos…

Google Pixel 3a

Do you want the same excellent camera from the flagship Pixel 3 but at a much lower price? Of course you do! Then look no further than the brand new Pixel 3a, which features exactly the same camera module as its big brother, including the innovative Night Sight and Portrait modes, but at almost half the price. Read our Google Pixel 3a review to find out if this is all the smartphone camera that you actually need...

Honor 20 Pro

The Honor 20 Pro is a mid-range smartphone with flagship pretensions, aiming to take on £$1000 devices at a much lower-price point whilst delivering similar levels of performance, specification and quality. Does it succeed? Find out now by reading our in-depth Honor 20 Pro review, complete with full-size sample images and videos.

Honor View 20

The Honor View 20 is a mid-range smartphone with flagship specs and performance, with a 48 megapixel sensor, a “hole punch” to house the front-facing camera, and dedicated Night, Portrait and Pro shooting modes aimed at photographers. Is this all the smartphone that you really need? Find out now by reading our in-depth Honor View 20 review, complete with full-size sample images and videos.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is simply the best smartphone for photographers that we've ever reviewed - find out why by reading our in-depth Huawei Mate 20 Pro review, complete with full-size sample images and videos...

Huawei P30 Lite

The Huawei P30 Lite is a new mid-range smartphone that offers a lot of features for keen photographers. It has a triple camera setup with a 48 megapixel wide-angle lens, an 8 megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 2 megapixel bokeh lens. Find out if this is all the smartphone camera that you need by reading our in-depth Huawei P30 Lite review, complete with full-size sample images and videos...

Huawei P30 Pro

The Huawei P30 Pro is a flagship smartphone that aims to rewrite the rules of photography. The P30 Pro is equipped with a new Leica Quad Camera System, including a 40MP main camera with the HUAWEI SuperSpectrum Sensor, a 20MP ultra-wide angle camera, an 8MP telephoto camera, the ToF Camera…

Nokia 7 Plus

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Galaxy Note 9 is Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, boasting a 6.4-inch screen, dual 12-megapixel cameras with dual-aperture control, 2x optical zoom, 4K video at 60fps and super slow motion video at 960fps, and internal memory up to 512GB. Take a look at our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review to find out if this is the best smartphone camera for avid photographers...

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

The Galaxy S10 Plus is the best smartphone that Samsung have ever made, but is it also the best for keen photographers? Find out now by reading our expert Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review, complete with full-size sample images and videos...

Sony Xperia 1

The Xperia 1 is the first ever Sony smartphone to borrow technology from the company's successful Alpha range of mirrorless cameras, including the very popular Eye AF feature and the latest Bionz X processor. Could this be the ultimate smartphone for photographers? Find out now by reading our in-depth Sony Xperia 1 review, complete with full-size sample images and videos...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Sony Xperia XZ3 from around the web. »

The Sony Xperia XZ3’s jaw-dropping OLED screen is a huge accomplishment and sees the company leapfrog LG and Samsung with its first OLED effort. As for the rest of the phone, things are less clear-cut. A combination of a misplaced fingerprint scanner, some frustrating software and a good, but not excellent, stills camera prevents the XZ3 from being a must buy. That is unless you spend your entire mobile life watching videos.
Read the full review » »

When it comes to its smartphones division, you couldn’t accuse Sony of resting on its laurels. Certainly, the company launches new phones more often than some people have hot dinners. The Xperia XZ3 follows hot on the heels of the Sony Xperia XZ2, giving Sony a second stab at going up against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 and Google Pixel 3.
Read the full review » »

I know I'm a little late to this one, but Sony products are ones that I feel the need to luxuriate in, to get a feel for their pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks, over the course of a few weeks, not a few days. I think that's OK, too, because the average Sony smartphone buyer probably isn't lining up on day one to buy the company's new phones. That is, if they're even in a country that sells Sony products in stores.
Read the full review »


Memory and storage

64 GB UFS internal memory
microSDXC support (up to 512 GB)

SIM capability

Single SIM
Dual SIM
Nano SIM

Operating System

Android™ 9 Pie

Processor (CPU)

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 Mobile Platform 11


3330 mAh
Smart Stamina
Qnovo™ Adaptive Charging
Battery Care
USB Power Delivery (USB PD) fast charging
Wireless charging (Qi)


Water resistant (IP65/68)
Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5


193 g


158 x 73 x 9.9 mm


White Silver
Forest Green
Bordeaux Red


6.0”, 18:9 OLED QHD+ (2880 x 1440) HDR display
TRILUMINOS™ Display for mobile
X-Reality™ for mobile
Dynamic Contrast Enhancer
HDR up-conversion

Main camera

19 MP Motion Eye™ camera
1/ 2.3” Exmor RS™ for mobile memory-stacked sensor
Pixel Pitch 1.22 μm
25 mm wide Sony’s award-winning G Lens F2.0
Predictive Hybrid Autofocus (0.03s)
BIONZ™ for mobile image-processing engine
960 fps Super slow motion video (FHD/HD)
Predictive Capture (motion / smile)
Autofocus burst
x8 Digital Zoom (photo and video)
HDR Photo
4K HDR Movie recording
Quick Launch & Capture
Low-light photo: ISO 12800
Low-light video: ISO 4000
Predictive Hybrid Autofocus
Anti-distortion shutter
Triple image-sensing technology
SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stablisation)

Front camera

13 MP
1/ 3.06” Exmor RS™ for mobile
23 mm wide angle lens
Low-light photo: ISO 3200
Low-light video: ISO 1600
SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stablisation)


LTE (4G) Cat18 with up to 1,2Gbps download speed 9


A-GPS, A-Glonass, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS 10
WiFi Miracast
Bluetooth® 5.0 wireless technology
DLNA Certified®
Google Cast
USB Type-C™

Fingerprint sensor

Fast and secure unlock


High-Resolution Audio (LPCM, FLAC, ALAC, DSD)
Stereo speaker with S-Force Front Surround
Stereo Recording
Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio11
Automatic Headphone Optimisation
Virtual Phones Technology
USB Type-C™ to 3.5mm Audio Jack Adapter


3D Creator
Album for photo & video
Movie Creator
AR effect
Xperia Lounge

Key accessories

Style Cover Touch SCTH70 for Xperia XZ3
Style Cover Stand SCSH70 for Xperia XZ3
Wireless Charging Dock WCH20


The Sony Xperia XZ3 smartphone features a 19MP Motion Eye main camera and 13MP front camera providing 4K HDR Movie recording, Full HD 960FPS Super slow motion and advanced 3D Creator now with facial expressions. The new Smart launch with AI instantly prepares your camera when you hold your phone up in landscape mode, ensuring you never miss a moment.

The Sony Xperia XZ3 will be available in selected markets globally from end of September 2018 and will be among the first devices to ship with the latest Android 9 Pie.

Sony Europe Press Release

Sony’s new Xperia XZ3 flagship smartphone brings you a seamless design for an immersive viewing experience

• A stunning 6-inch 18:9 QHD+ HDR OLED display, powered by Sony’s award-winning BRAVIA® OLED TV technologies, to deliver deeper blacks, sharper images and more vibrant colours

• Beautifully curved 3D glass design seamlessly blends the OLED display into the slim phone body for perfect hand fit

• Side sense uses AI to cleverly predict the apps you need most and puts them in easy reach

• Smart launch with AI ensures you never miss capturing a moment by launching the camera mode when the phone is lifted horizontally

• 19MP Motion Eye™ main camera and 13MP front camera provide unique capturing technologies, including 4K HDR Movie recording, Full HD 960FPS Super slow motion and advanced 3D Creator now with facial expressions

Berlin, IFA, 30th August 2018 – Sony Mobile Communications (“Sony Mobile”) continues its evolution in Xperia™ engineering and design with the announcement of its latest flagship, the Xperia XZ3, powered by the best of Sony’s expertise across TV, audio, imaging and gaming, in a sleek modern design.

“Our new XZ3 flagship smartphone is not just beautiful to look at, but it’s packed with Sony’s cutting-edge audio and visual technologies, letting you enjoy high quality content just as the creators intended, for a truly immersive entertainment experience in the palm of your hand.” said Hideyuki Furumi, Executive Deputy President, Head of Sales Marketing, Sony Mobile Communications. 

The most immersive experience to see more, hear more, feel more

Xperia XZ3 features a beautiful 6-inch QHD+ HDR OLED display, powered by Sony’s award-winning BRAVIA OLED TV technologies, to deliver deeper blacks, higher contrast, and sharper clarity with more vibrant colours to enjoy your favourite movies and content. And advanced X-Reality™ for mobile will “up-convert” SDR content to near HDR (High Dynamic Range) so even when you’re watching content online, you can enjoy a high quality playback offering higher resolution, wider colour gamut, and improved contrast.

The immersive entertainment effect is also enhanced by Sony’s premium audio expertise. The S-Force Front Surround Sound speakers are now even more powerful with 20% more loudness than the previous model. Hi-Res Audio lets you listen to music in the quality as the artist intended, while DSEE HX upscales your compressed music to near Hi-Res Audio quality; and LDAC ensure superb wireless listening.

And Dynamic Vibration System creates a powerful haptic experience that enhances music, movies and games; letting you feel the action in your hands and bringing content to life in a completely unique way. 

A seamless design and intuitive interface

The curved 3D glass in front and back blends seamlessly into the device body to create a sleek and elegant borderless design, generating beautiful reflections and ambient colours from all angles. The XZ3 sits comfortably in the hand, courtesy of an extended 18:9 screen framed around a near bezel-less body.

Crucially, the XZ3’s slim 3mm aluminium metal frame does not compromise looks for durability, together with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5 and IP65/IP68 certified water resistance . And there is a choice of four beautiful colours  in a stunning finish to reflect your individual style: Black, White Silver, Forest Green, and Bordeaux Red.

XZ3 also introduces a new user-friendly interface Side sense, using AI to provide easy and convenient access to your favourite apps. Simply double-tap anywhere on either side of your XZ3, and it cleverly predicts and displays the apps you want to use next placing them within easy reach, without having to scroll up or down for them. Designed with large displays in mind, Side sense offers effortless, one-handed operation.

Advanced Motion Eye™ camera and AI in Xperia

XZ3 features new Smart launch with AI that instantly prepares your camera when you hold your phone up in landscape mode, ensuring you never miss a moment. Smart launch, together with existing features with AI including Superior Auto, Predictive Capture, Predictive Autofocus and Smile shutter, ensure the XZ3 camera gives you the best chance for a great shot. And of course only Sony’s Motion Eye™ camera offers 4K HDR Movie recording for pro-quality filming and Full HD 960fps Super slow motion for dramatic shots. 

Complementing the 19MP main camera is a best-in-class 13MP front camera that lets you capture beautiful and improved portrait selfies with beauty and bokeh effects for creative shots. In addition, advanced 3D Creator now lets users add facial expressions to their scans, taken with either the front or main camera, making them even more lifelike.

Powerful performance

Powered by the cutting-edge Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 Mobile Platform, the XZ3 gives users the world’s fastest maximum connection speeds at 1.2Gbps. In addition, your immersive experience is set to last all day, thanks to several useful battery features such as Smart Stamina, STAMINA mode, plus Battery Care  and Qnovo Adaptive Charging technology to help the battery stay healthy to give you a longer battery lifespan. 


A range of accessory covers Style Cover Touch SCTH70 and Style Cover Stand SCSH70 will be available in corresponding colours. Also available are charging and audio accessories:

• Wireless Charging Dock WCH20 

• Open-ear Stereo Headset STH40D

• 2-way Style USB Audio & Bluetooth® Headset SBH90C

• USB Type-C™ 2-in-1 Cable EC270


Xperia XZ3 will be available in selected markets globally from end of September 2018 and will be among the first devices to ship with the latest Android™ 9 Pie

Preview Images

Ahead of our full review, here are sample images taken with the Sony Xperia XZ3 premium smartphone.

A gallery of sample images taken with the Sony Xperia XZ3 smartphone.

Sony Xperia XZ3 Sample Images

Sample Movies & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 3840x2160 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 80.2Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 18 second movie is 66.7Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 19 second movie is 40.3Mb in size.

This is a sample slow-motion movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 19 second movie is 27.9Mb in size.

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