Xperia XZ3 vs. XZ2 Premium vs. XZ2 vs. XZ2 Compact: Smartphone battle royale

Sony Xperia XZ3 review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The Sony Xperia XZ3 has been revealed, and it has Sony’s first ever smartphone OLED display. But while it’s the newest Xperia, it’s not the only one around. Should you be saving your pennies for Sony’s latest, or should you invest in other Sony flagship phones that were released within the past four months? Those include the Xperia XZ2 Premium, Xperia XZ2, and XZ2 Compact. To find out, we put together a jumbo-sized battle royale, with your pocket space as the prize.

Specs

Xperia XZ3 Xperia XZ2 Premium
Xperia XZ2
Xperia XZ2 Compact
Size 158 x 73 x 9.9 mm (6.22 x 2.87 x 0.39 inches) 158 x 80 x 11.9 mm (6.22 x 3.15 x 0.47 inches) 153 x 72 x 11.1 mm (6.02 x 2.83 x 0.44 inches) 135 x 65 x 12.1 mm (5.31 x 2.56 x 0.48 inches)
Weight 193 grams (6.81 ounces) 236 grams (8.32 ounces) 198 grams (6.98 ounces) 168 grams (5.93 ounces)
Screen size 6-inch OLED display 5.8-inch IPS LCD display 5.7-inch IPS LCD display 5-inch IPS LCD display
Screen resolution 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (537 pixels per inch) 3,840 x 2,160 pixels (765 pixels per inch) 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (424 pixels per inch) 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (483 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 9.0 Pie Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo
Storage space 64GB 64GB 64GB 64GB
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 512GB Yes, up to 512GB Yes, up to 512GB Yes, up to 512GB
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM 4GB 6GB 4GB, 6GB 4GB
Camera 19MP rear, 13MP front Dual 19MP & 12MP rear, 13MP front 19MP rear, 5MP front 19MP rear, 5MP front
Video Up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps Up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps Up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps Up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes Yes Yes
Water resistance IP68/IP65 IP68/IP65 IP68/IP65 IP68/IP65
Battery 3,330mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

Qi wireless charging

3,540mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

Qi wireless charging

3,180mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

Qi wireless charging

2,870mAh

QuickCharge 3.0

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T
Colors Black, Silver White, Forest Green, Bordeaux Red Chrome Black, Chrome Silver Liquid Black, Liquid Silver, Deep Green, Ash Pink Black, White Silver, Moss Green, Coral Pink
Price $900 $1,000 $800 $650
Buy from Best Buy, Amazon Best Buy, Amazon Best Buy, Focus, Amazon, BuyDig Best Buy, Amazon, Focus, BuyDig
Review score Hands-on review 2.5 out of 5 stars 3 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Sony Xperia XZ3 review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Since all four are equipped with the powerful Snapdragon 845, you’re likely to find similar performance in each. The amount of RAM available in each phone varies, but since all have at least 4GB available, you’re unlikely to find much of a difference in real-world performance. They are all square on storage space too, with 64GB available in each and up to 512GB extra through a MicroSD card.

Can the battery break the tie? Possibly. Each phone has a battery sufficient for at least a day’s worth of tapping, streaming, and watching. The XZ3 has a slightly larger battery than its counterpart, which puts the XZ2 out of the running — but the XZ2 Premium and XZ2 Compact both sport great batteries for their sizes, even with the Premium’s massive 4K resolution pulling hard on the 3,540mAh battery.

There’s Quick Charge 3.0 on each of these phones, too, but the XZ2 Compact suffers slightly in lacking the convenience of wireless charging. With the Compact out of the running, it comes down to the XZ3 and the XZ2 Premium — and having 2GB more RAM just squeezes the win for the XZ2 Premium. Realistically, the XZ3 and XZ2 Premium are neck-and-neck.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium

Design and durability

sony xperia xz2 premium xz familiy comparison
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

All four of these phones follow Sony’s new Ambient Flow design ethos, but there are small differences to be found. First off, the XZ2 Premium’s 16:9 aspect ratio display gives it some seriously chunky bezels at the top and the bottom of the device, putting it out of the running. The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact have a slimmer forehead and chin, but neither can compete with the more curved look Sony’s taken with the XZ3. The XZ3’s screen curves into the body, reducing the bezels on the sides, and it’s combined with further reductions of top and bottom bezels.

Other than these differences, all four phones are pretty much the same. They all are IP68/65 rating for water and dust-resistance, none has a headphone jack, and they’re all on the heavier side for 2018 smartphones. All but the Compact are also extremely slippery glass phones, so it’s definitely worth picking up a case for grip and protection. The Compact has a glass back and it’s easier to hold, which makes it slightly more durable.

Still, the design changes made with the Xperia XZ3 make it the more attractive phone.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

Display

Sony Xperia XZ3 review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The Xperia XZ3 is the first Sony smartphone to come with an OLED display, putting the IPS LCD displays in the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact to shame with deep inky blacks and bright vibrant colors. But can it beat the astoundingly sharp 4K resolution of the XZ2 Premium? It’s a hard choice to make, and one that’s likely to be personal — but for us, it’s so hard to tell the difference between the sharpness on the XZ3’s Quad HD+ resolution and the XZ2 Premium’s 4K resolution that the better OLED color reproduction and deep blacks on the XZ3 make the choice clear.

The XZ3 might have the best screen we’ve ever seen on an Xperia phone, and it wins this round.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

Camera

sony xperia xz2 premium lens offset
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Sony’s camera hardware is some of the best around, but it tends to fall slightly short of true greatness. The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact have capable cameras, but it’s the dual-lens XZ2 Premium that showed us what Sony’s really capable of with some exceptional low-light performance. The XZ3 should be the next step up in Sony’s evolution, but for some reason the company chose to step back down to the same 19-megapixel single lens from the XZ2. We’re expecting the XZ3 to have a strong camera — but we doubt it will be capable of matching the XZ2 Premium’s performance.

Around the front of the XZ3 you’ll find a 13-megapixel selfie shooter that’s much the same as the XZ2 Premium’s. All four of the phones also support 4K HDR video recording and super-slow motion video at 1080p.

Each of these phones have a capable camera suite, but we’re confident that the XZ2 Premium is the strongest of these four.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium

Software and updates

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Sony’s record with Android updates is strong, but the XZ3 takes an immediate lead straight out of the gate with the inclusion of Android 9.0 Pie. Sony has confirmed that the entire XZ2 range will receive Android 9.0 Pie eventually, but since that’s yet to happen it gives the XZ3 the lead. Being a newer phone, you can also expect the XZ3 to be supported for slightly longer than the XZ2 range.

Outside of the more advanced operating system, you’ll find similar amounts of Sony’s usual bloatware applied to these devices.

The Xpera XZ3’s use of Android 9.0 Pie gives it the win here.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

Special features

Sony Xperia XZ3 review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Being a Sony-made device, every one of these four devices comes with Sony’s PS Remote Play that allows users to stream their PlayStation 4 gameplay to their Xperia smartphones, bypassing the need for a TV. Another niche feature is the 3D Creator app, which creates 3D models of objects using the phone’s camera. You’ll also get a more immersive experience from the Dynamic Vibration System on the XZ3, XZ2, and XZ2 Premium that vibrates during videos to emphasize punches, gunshots, or other activities.

Sony’s added more features to the XZ3 though, and you might find them more useful. Side Sense is similar to Samsung’s Edge Sense, and it brings up a shortcut menu of frequent apps and actions when you tap the side of the screen. The Smart Launch feature launches the camera automatically when held in landscape.

The Xperia XZ3’s additional features are still a little niche — but since it gets everything the XZ2 range gets, this is clear win for the XZ3.

Winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

Price

You can buy one of Sony’s Xperia XZ2 smartphones from a range of retailers right now, but you’ll commonly find them on Amazon and Best Buy. The XZ3 will be available from Best Buy and Amazon from October 17.

The Xperia XZ3 will set you back $900, while the XZ2 Premium retails for a staggering $1,000. The XZ2 costs $800 — and the XZ2 Compact is the cheapest of the lot, starting from $650.

Xperia smartphones don’t work with CDMA networks, so there’s no support for Verizon and Sprint — but they will work fine with AT&T and T-Mobile.

Overall winner: Sony Xperia XZ3

The Xperia XZ3 is, in many ways, a very similar beast to the XZ2 range. There’s been no really big jump in power or design, and most of the improvements involve fine-tuning rather than an overhaul. But the differences that are present are enough to make the Xperia XZ3 the more solid choice out of the four on offer.

The exception is the XZ2 Compact, which targets people who desire smaller phones. It’s one of your best choices if you don’t want a massive device.

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