Sony Xperia T3 Review

Sony Xperia T3 Review
Sony Xperia T3 Review
Sony Xperia T3 Review
Sony Xperia T3 Review
Introduction


Sony's latest addition to its T-series, the T3, is a 5.3” midranger that is one of the slimmest handsets a brand-name maker has ever done - at 7mm girth, it is ready for a modeling carrier. As with most Sony middle-of-the-road Xperias these days, the _phone_ is outfitted with a modest quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip from Qualcomm and 1GB of RAM, along with an 8-megapixel Exmor RS sensor. Sony puts its design chops front and center with the T3, though, aiming to justify a $400 USD price tag, so let's see if it can succeed in the cutthroat world of Android midrangers...

In the box:

  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • In-ear stereo headphones
  • Warranty and information leaflets

Design

This one's a looker, with a 7mm steel frame, soft touch back, and a comfortable grip.

Sony's OmniBalance design language stays true to its core in the Xperia T3, with the signature metal power/lock key on the side, and a clear-cut rectangular form. This fashion statement of a _phone_ is built around a metal frame that rims it from all sides, and has a grippy soft-touch rear with sloping edges that makes it very comfortable to hold. Despite its slim profile, the phone feels very sturdy and solid in the hand, thanks to the rigid metal framing.

The power/lock key on the side, as well as the metal volume rocker, and the dedicated shutter key beneath it, are very solid, too, and with a nice clicky feeling to them. About the only gripe we have with the design, are the all-too-thick bezels, which make this 5.3” handset larger than the 5.5” LG G3, for instance.

 

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Front view | Side view
Sony Xperia T3
Sony Xperia T3
5.93 x 3.03 x 0.28 inches
150.7 x 77 x 7 mm
5.22 oz (148 g)

Sony Xperia T3

LG G2
LG G2
5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches
138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

LG G2

Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Sony Xperia Z2
Sony Xperia Z2
5.78 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches
146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

Sony Xperia Z2

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual phone Size Comparison page.


Display

Sony, please work harder on screen reflectance and viewing angles.

Sony outfitted the Z3 with a relatively large, 5.3” panel with 720x1280 pixels of resolution, returning a decent 277ppi pixel density. Granted, not everything looks as detailed as on those 1080p displays, but for the vast majority of tasks this pixel density does the job.

When it comes to screen quality, however, Sony's panel takes a step back, and no amount of X-Reality engines or BRAVIA branding can make for the fact that the display exhibits overly cold colors, returning 7698K temperature, compared to the reference 6500K white point. The screen therefore appears rather blueish, and the color saturation is a bit off, especially with the reds and the blue hues, as you can see in the chart below. The viewing angles are also pretty poor for today's standards, with brightness, contrast and color saturation diminishing greatly with the slightest tilt of the phone, and our measurements fully confirm our observation.

Our biggest gripe with the display is outdoor visibility, though. Despite the excellent peak brightness measurement of 569 nits we measured, which rivals the one on the iPhone 5s, the screen reflectance coating is rather poor. It bounces light back to our eyes with an aplomb, greatly diminishing contrast and visibility outdoors, even when the sun is not shining directly on the screen.

Display measurements and quality

  • Screen measurements
  • Viewing angles
  • Color charts
Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia T3 569
(Excellent)
16
(Poor)
1:1158
(Good)
7698
(Average)
2.18
4.54
(Average)
5.37
(Average)
Sony Xperia Z2 458
(Good)
16
(Poor)
1:1329
(Excellent)
6909
(Excellent)
2.59
4.41
(Average)
2.95
(Good)
LG G2 438
(Good)
8
(Good)
1:1338
(Excellent)
8109
(Poor)
2.25
4.27
(Average)
6.22
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S4 289
(Poor)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7316
(Good)
2.16
5.52
(Average)
7.31
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 58.5%
55.6%
unmeasurable
19.9%
0.9%
63.8%
74.4%
LG G2 79%
75%
87.6%
95%
28.4%
30.9%
73.5%
Sony Xperia T3 89.3%
93.8%
94.1%
56%
15.6%
18.9%
86%
Sony Xperia Z2 90.4%
93.8%
87.2%
8.6%
5.4%
4.3%
13.2%
View all
  • Color gamut
  • Color accuracy
  • Grayscale accuracy

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

  • Sony Xperia T3
  • LG G2
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Sony Xperia Z2

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

  • Sony Xperia T3
  • LG G2
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Sony Xperia Z2

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

  • Sony Xperia T3
  • LG G2
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Sony Xperia Z2
View all


Sony Xperia T3 Review

Sony Xperia T3 Review
Sony Xperia T3 Review
Sony Xperia T3 Review
Sony Xperia T3 Review
Introduction


Sony's latest addition to its T-series, the T3, is a 5.3” midranger that is one of the slimmest handsets a brand-name maker has ever done - at 7mm girth, it is ready for a modeling carrier. As with most Sony middle-of-the-road Xperias these days, the phone is outfitted with a modest quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip from Qualcomm and 1GB of RAM, along with an 8-megapixel Exmor RS sensor. Sony puts its design chops front and center with the T3, though, aiming to justify a $400 USD price tag, so let's see if it can succeed in the cutthroat world of Android midrangers...

In the box:

  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • In-ear stereo headphones
  • Warranty and information leaflets

Design

This one's a looker, with a 7mm steel frame, soft touch back, and a comfortable grip.

Sony's OmniBalance design language stays true to its core in the Xperia T3, with the signature metal power/lock key on the side, and a clear-cut rectangular form. This fashion statement of a phone is built around a metal frame that rims it from all sides, and has a grippy soft-touch rear with sloping edges that makes it very comfortable to hold. Despite its slim profile, the phone feels very sturdy and solid in the hand, thanks to the rigid metal framing.

The power/lock key on the side, as well as the metal volume rocker, and the dedicated shutter key beneath it, are very solid, too, and with a nice clicky feeling to them. About the only gripe we have with the design, are the all-too-thick bezels, which make this 5.3” handset larger than the 5.5” LG G3, for instance.


Front view | Side view
Sony Xperia T3
Sony Xperia T3
5.93 x 3.03 x 0.28 inches
150.7 x 77 x 7 mm
5.22 oz (148 g)

Sony Xperia T3

LG G2
LG G2
5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches
138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)

LG G2

Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Sony Xperia Z2
Sony Xperia Z2
5.78 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches
146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

Sony Xperia Z2

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual phone Size Comparison page.


Display

Sony, please work harder on screen reflectance and viewing angles.

Sony outfitted the Z3 with a relatively large, 5.3” panel with 720x1280 pixels of resolution, returning a decent 277ppi pixel density. Granted, not everything looks as detailed as on those 1080p displays, but for the vast majority of tasks this pixel density does the job.

When it comes to screen quality, however, Sony's panel takes a step back, and no amount of X-Reality engines or BRAVIA branding can make for the fact that the display exhibits overly cold colors, returning 7698K temperature, compared to the reference 6500K white point. The screen therefore appears rather blueish, and the color saturation is a bit off, especially with the reds and the blue hues, as you can see in the chart below. The viewing angles are also pretty poor for today's standards, with brightness, contrast and color saturation diminishing greatly with the slightest tilt of the phone, and our measurements fully confirm our observation.

Our biggest gripe with the display is outdoor visibility, though. Despite the excellent peak brightness measurement of 569 nits we measured, which rivals the one on the iPhone 5s, the screen reflectance coating is rather poor. It bounces light back to our eyes with an aplomb, greatly diminishing contrast and visibility outdoors, even when the sun is not shining directly on the screen.

Display measurements and quality

  • Screen measurements
  • Viewing angles
  • Color charts
Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia T3 569
(Excellent)
16
(Poor)
1:1158
(Good)
7698
(Average)
2.18
4.54
(Average)
5.37
(Average)
Sony Xperia Z2 458
(Good)
16
(Poor)
1:1329
(Excellent)
6909
(Excellent)
2.59
4.41
(Average)
2.95
(Good)
LG G2 438
(Good)
8
(Good)
1:1338
(Excellent)
8109
(Poor)
2.25
4.27
(Average)
6.22
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S4 289
(Poor)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7316
(Good)
2.16
5.52
(Average)
7.31
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 58.5%
55.6%
unmeasurable
19.9%
0.9%
63.8%
74.4%
LG G2 79%
75%
87.6%
95%
28.4%
30.9%
73.5%
Sony Xperia T3 89.3%
93.8%
94.1%
56%
15.6%
18.9%
86%
Sony Xperia Z2 90.4%
93.8%
87.2%
8.6%
5.4%
4.3%
13.2%
View all
  • Color gamut
  • Color accuracy
  • Grayscale accuracy

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

  • Sony Xperia T3
  • LG G2
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Sony Xperia Z2

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

  • Sony Xperia T3
  • LG G2
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Sony Xperia Z2

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

  • Sony Xperia T3
  • LG G2
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Sony Xperia Z2
View all


Interface and functionality

Sony's Timescape interface is getting a bit long in the tooth, but is thankfully unobtrusive and simple to use.

In a typical Sony fashion, the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system driving the Xperia T3 has been skinned with the Timescape interface, which has remained unchanged for quite a while now. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you consider Sony's design approach – the overlays are simple, uniform and easy on the eyes. If the default theme is not to your liking, you have some choice in terms of personalization – whether it's different themes, a different wallpaper for your lockscreen, or adding additional quick toggles in the pull-down notification panel.

The Xperia T3 also comes pre-loaded with a few apps, most of which are courtesy of different Sony services. For example, Sony Select is a small, curated apps and themes market, and Socialife News is a news reader with an ultra-simplified, yet rather laggy design. Apps like Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited, and even PlayStation Mobile can also be found on board, and there's even a custom Navigation app courtesy of Garmin present with a free, 60-days trial available.

Processor and memory

The Snapdragon 400 chipset is no beast, yet Xperia T3 treads along nicely still.

It's as if all midrangers have gathered together this year, and vowed allegiance to the quad-core, 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 400 chipset by Qualcomm, and the Xperia T3 is no exception. What can they do – Snapdragon 600 has been discontinued, and going to the 800/801 family would require pretty penny. This chipset, alongside 1GB RAM, actually make the Xperia T3 performance rather acceptable, with barely a lag or stutter in the interface, though heavy 3D games will take their toll on the weakling. The phone ships with 8 GB of storage, 5 GB of which are user-available, and offers a microSD slot for expansion.

Performance benchmarks

Quadrant
Higher is better
LG G2 20654
Sony Xperia Z2 18584
Samsung Galaxy S4 12078
Sony Xperia T3 10091
AnTuTu
Higher is better
LG G2 35376
Sony Xperia Z2 34088
Samsung Galaxy S4 24701
Sony Xperia T3 19699
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
LG G2 1229
Sony Xperia Z2 1177
Samsung Galaxy S4 704
Sony Xperia T3 842.6
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 1963
Sony Xperia T3 1785.3
Sunspider
Lower is better
LG G2 932.8
Sony Xperia Z2 925.4
Samsung Galaxy S4 1082.9
Sony Xperia T3 1247.3
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 12.4
Sony Xperia T3 4.2
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
LG G2 772
Sony Xperia Z2 1207
Sony Xperia T3 532.3
View all

Internet and connectivity

Plenty of wireless radios ensure a well-connected handset.

The browsing experience with the built-in Chrome browser on the Xperia T3 is a smooth affair. Even heavier, image-based websites load up quick, and navigating them puts no noticeable toll on the processor.

Connectivity options are plentiful, too. There's LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 a, b, g, n, 5GHz Wi-Fi, NFC, DLNA, A-GPS (with Glonass support), and even MHL compatibility for mirroring the T3's screen onto a bigger monitor.



Camera

For pleasant looking photos and fluid video look no further than the Xperia T3.

The Xperia T3 sports an 8-megapixel main shooter with a Sony Exmor RS sensor and f/2.4 aperture lens. The camera interface offers some thrills like manual scene modes, HDR photography, and color effects, and there is a dedicated camera key on the side for a quick picture uptake. By quick we mean about two seconds from pressing the side shutter key, and taking a pic. That speed metric goes down to about a second shot-to-shot pause from within the camera interface. The default Superior Auto shooting mode churns out 5.5-megapixel snaps instead of 8-megapixel ones, so you have to go into the settings, and choose a 4:3 format if you want to utilize the full resolution.

The 8 MP snapper might not wow you, but it takes pictures with a fine color representation and amount of detail. Granted, the colors are a tad saturated, compared to reality, but not to a unpleasant point. Shooting against a bright source produces photos that are darker than usual, though, even for smartphone standards, and it happens even if there is a piece of cloudy sky in the frame only. Other than that, we have no qualms about the performance of the T3's shooter – it is adequate for the phone's class.

Indoors things turn a bit sadder, as the Xperia T3 introduces noise in the frame, and the pictures come out a tad soft and mushy. The color oversaturation holds as well, but there aren't any glaring white balance mishaps. The LED flash does a pretty average job at illuminating our test scene from about three feet distance, failing to distribute the light evenly to the edges of the captured scene.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 3
No data
452
398
Samsung Galaxy S4 3.4
4.75
1016
486
Sony Xperia T3 3.8
4.8
515
468
LG G2 4
6.5
395
377
View all

  • Color poster
  • ISO Chart
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Use our samples comparison tool to see photos from more phones

As for video capture, the 1080p footage looks fine and is fluid at steady 30fps, with adequate detail, accurate colors, and no excessive artifacting. Our complaint is underexposure again, just like with the stills – the video comes out rather dark, compared to reality. The sound picked up by the two noise-canceling mics while filming is strong, and rather clean.


Multimedia

The Xperia T3 can be considered a multimedia consumption specialist, with a fairly large display, and rich codec support.

The usual crop of Sony-themed multimedia apps is what you'll find pre-loaded on the Xperia T3. As per usual, their design is pleasing and uniform, and they often offer some extra functionality you won't find on stock Android. For example, the Gallery is interconnected with Sony's PlayMemories Online service, which allows you to automatically upload photos to its servers and have them sync throughout all your connected devices.

The Walkman music player, for its part, has extras such as ClearAudio+, which automatically enhances sound clarity, not to mention that it's also hooked with Sony's Music Unlimited service (eligible for a free trial). Speaking of music, the thin T3's loudspeaker is of average quality, with bearable strength, and a bit tinny, flat sound.

The stock video player of the T3 played everything we gave it, such as DivX/Xvid/MKV formats, up to 1080p resolution. The player is rather barebones in terms of options, though, so if you want more features, you'd have to hit the Play Store.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 0.38
LG G2 0.29
Sony Xperia Z2 0.29
Sony Xperia T3 0.27
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 77
LG G2 66
Sony Xperia Z2 71
Sony Xperia T3 73
View all


Call quality

An earpiece with a hissy attitude, and two great noise-canceling mics form the call quality on the T3.

Sony Xperia T3 Review
The earpiece of the Xperia T3 is nothing to write home about, as its strength and quality are rather average. At the highest volume the eapriece develops a hissy attitude, and sounds rather hollow otherwise, unless you check the ClearPhase sound intensity setting in the menus, at which point the echo effect is gone, but the voices sound rather artificial.

The two noise-canceling microphones, on the other hand, perform really well at weeding the background noise, and relaying our voice loud and clear to the other side.

Battery

Sony does it again! The Xperia T3 joins our elite 8+ hours club of screen-on time, and is currently in the top 10 in our battery life rankings.

Sony Xperia T3 Review
True to its year-long midrange tradition, Sony managed to put a frugal display panel in the Xperia T3, and optimize the hardware for a pretty great battery life. Sony cites close to 15 hours of talk time and nearly a month on standby from the 2500 mAh juicer. We ran the T3 through our own battery benchmark, and the phone managed the whopping 8 hours and 23 minutes, putting it in our top 10 ranking, and cementing Sony's position as the brand-name maker that offers the best battery life on its handsets as a whole. If that isn't enough, whenever you're low on charge you can activate Sony's STAMINA mode, which essentially disables data/Wi-Fi when the screen is off, further helping you conserving battery.

Battery life

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage.

name
Time
Higher is better
Sony Xperia T3
8h 23 min (Excellent)
Sony Xperia Z2
8h 10 min (Excellent)
LG G2
6h 48 min (Good)
Samsung Galaxy S4
4h 59 min (Average)
View all

Charging time

name
minutes
Lower is better
Sony Xperia T3
211
Sony Xperia Z2
212
View all

Conclusion


Sony has made a well-rounded midranger that shines in terms of design, and performs adequately in most departments. Granted, its screen seems a bit too reflective outdoors, and the earpiece is not up to snuff, but the Xperia T3 offers an ultrathin chassis that is comfortable to hold, and an excellent battery life.

The catwalk star goes for about $400 in the States, or EUR 300 in Europe, which, granted, is a midrange price, and yet would make you pause if you compare it with the competition. For that kind of money you can now get the 32 GB G2, LG's 5.2” flagship from last year, which beats the T3 in almost every aspect, save for the thin design, and the battery life. Samsung's Galaxy S4 is a formidable competitor as well, since it comes with superior specs for the same price. It has a smaller, 5” display, but is way more compact than the T3. You can also take a long, hard look at the Chinese brands, churning phones like Huawei Honor 6, which can be grabbed from Amazon, or Xiaomi Mi4, which is available on Newegg, for instance. Granted, these brands are fairly obscure in the US, but will offer you truly flagship specs, like 5” 1080p displays, Snapdragon 801 procesors, and 13 MP cameras, for the same, or a bit higher tag than what Sony asks for the T3. Don't get us wrong, though – with its thin, yet sturdy chassis, and excellent battery life, the Sony Xperia T3 is still a great midranger – we'd just advise you to wait for the inevitable price drop, so you can save on the buyer's remorse when you compare it with last year's flagships.