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printed October 20, 2017
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Review: Sony Xperia Z3v for Verizon Wireless

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Screen

The Z3v's screen measures 5.2 inches and includes 1920 x 1080 pixels. In other words, it matches the size and resolution of many competing models' screens. Sony enjoys heaping tons of technology buzzwords into its display marketing materials (Bravia, TriLuminos, X-Reality, etc.). What you need to worry about is how it looks. The Z3v's display is the finest ever from Sony. It is the brightest, sharpest, most colorful panel I've seen on an Xperia device. It compares well to screens on devices such as the GS5 and One (M8). It simply looks great. Viewing angles are excellent, and I had no trouble using it outdoors.

If you're not down with the out-of-the-box appearance of the screen, the Z3v allows for some adjustment. For example, the X-Reality engine is on by default. You can turn it off. You can also elect Super-Vivid Mode, which makes colors stand out even more. The screen also has a glove mode for use with gloves. It even allows you to adjust the white balance to set the temperature of the display. Few other phones can claim to have such controls.

Signal

The Z3v performed flawlessly on Verizon's network in and around New York City. It remained on LTE 4G throughout my time with the phone, and never dropped to EVDO or (gasp!) 1X. Voice calls connected on the first dial each time without fail, and the phone never dropped a call mid-conversation. LTE speeds were quite quick no matter what the signal conditions. I was able to stream YouTube videos and download apps with no problem everywhere I took the Z3v. Sony nailed the signal performance.

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Sound

Voice quality was also quite good. Not only were the majority of calls crystal clear, but they were loud enough to be heard in most environments. I was pleased with calls across the board, and those with whom I spoke said I sounded very good. You can set the volume at about 60% most of the time; ramping it all the way up will help overcome the noisiest spaces. Call quality through the speakerphone was also good, but volume dropped significantly. It's just loud enough to be audible in your house, quiet office, or a stationary car. If you're outdoors, in a raucous work environment, or in a speeding vehicle, forget it. Ringers and alert tones were generally loud enough to get my attention, and the vibrate alert is decent, too.

Battery

The Z3v did very well as far as battery life is concerned. It consistently lasted from morning to night with no trouble. I generally kept the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS radios on, and used the phone each day for listening to music, watching videos, and a whole lotta social networking. The video camera was the only app that drained the battery in any noticeable way. Like other Sony smartphones, the Z3v offers several tools to help manage battery life, too. For example, it includes Sony's Stamina Mode, which turns off the data radio whenever the screen is off. There's also a Low Battery mode that automatically turns off a customizable set of features (such as brightness, vibrate, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, sync, mobile data) when the battery drops below 30%. The controls don't necessarily offset the lack of removable battery, but can help extend battery life to the end of the day if you run into trouble.

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