2018 has been an important year for Sony’s mobile division, which debuted the biggest change in hardware design we’ve seen in several generations from the company, and continues to make sweeping changes with the Xperia XZ3. From a camera standpoint, there’s nothing different about the rear-facing camera when compared to recent Xperia XZ devices. That’s the same 19-megapixel MotionEye camera with a large 1/2.3-inch sensor, 1.22-micron pixel size, and an f/2.0 Sony G-lens with a wide 81-degree field of view. Most main rear-facing cameras are between 71 and 75 degrees on average, so this is a fair bit wider than other phones. The front-facing camera is getting the huge upgrade from the Xperia XZ2 Premium, which brings a 13-megapixel 1/3.02-inch sensor capable of 3200 ISO in photo and 1600 ISO in video, behind an 86-degree field of view f/2.2 lens. That’s a big upgrade from the 5-megapixel 1/5th inch sensor on the regular Xperia XZ2, which was also only capable of 1600 ISO in photo and 1000 ISO in video.
Specs aside there’s also a big new camera redesign that brings a much-desired visual refresh to the camera while still retaining all the good stuff behind the scenes, and some unfortunate other limitations as well. A swipe left or right will swap between photo and video modes in a snap, with the rest of the modes located in a clearly-labeled white modes button at the bottom, which is within thumbs reach at all times. This is a fantastic design that makes modes easy to find, with some brand new colorful flat icons for each mode too, helping bring visual aids to the table for fast switching. Launch speeds and focus times are excellent, with a hybrid autofocus that’s rated at 0.03 seconds to focus, although the visual behavior of this has always been a bit weird.
Press the shutter and you’ll find the camera always refocuses the scene, but this is done for a number of reasons. First off is in the predictive capture ability, which detects things like smiles on faces or motion in a scene, and will later present you with up to 4 full-resolution options to choose from instead of just the shutter timing. This is a bit one-up on Google’s Top Shot implementation, which will allow you to choose from any point in time in the 2-second capture window, but the massive drop to 1 or 3-megapixel resolution renders those options somewhat useless in a number of cases. It’s not just full-resolution photos in Predictive Capture that makes Sony’s implementation better, it’s the fact that the camera refocuses between every single one of these shots, ensuring that your subject is always in focus and blur-free; something the camera specifically looks for when picking images out of the burst. A visual refresh isn't all that awaits though, as Sony's overall quality is better than ever, including some incredible audio recording quality, excellent crop detail, and a surprising improvement to overall dynamic range. Check out our review video below and don't forget to subscribe to us on YouTube!