Here is the Sony Xperia T3; Sonyís svelte new phone with a large 5.3Ē screen thatís only 7mm thick. Itís available from Bell for $49.95 on a 2 year ďLiteĒ plan, $399.95 outright or $449 unlocked from Sony. For your money you get a large 5.3Ē screen, a 7Ē thin profile, quad-core 1.4Ghz Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8MP camera, 2500mAh battery and the latest version of Android.
Is that enough for your money? Letís check it out:
What about the Nexus 5?
Without a doubt, the T3ís biggest competition is from the Nexus 5. While the Nexus has been out for almost a year, and I get the feeling that itís going to be discontinued soon, out of all the phones sold here, it still gives you the most bang for your buck.
The fact that you can now buy it for $350 from Koodo instead of having to pay $359 + shipping plus have to wait for it to be delivered makes it an even more compelling buy. Did I mention the Nexus 5ís are all unlocked?
While the Nexus 5 has a slightly smaller screen, 5Ē vs 5.3Ē on the T3, and a slightly smaller battery, 2300mAh vs 2500mAh, pretty much everything else about it is superior.
Front and center is the 1920x1080 display vs 1280x720 on the Sony which makes the Nexus a little bit sharper. It also comes with 2GB of RAM which is handy since you can switch between apps more quickly. Another big difference is that the Nexus comes with Qualcommís full fat Snapdragon 800 which is substantially faster than the T3ís Snapdragon 400.
While Sony has been good about keeping their phones updated, Nexus phones usually get their updates even faster and have a history of being supported longer than Sony phones.
What about the OnePlus One?
A 16GB OnePlus One (OPO)costs $299 USD which after shipping, taxes, brokerage and conversion, works out to around $420 CAN which is cheaper than the T3 if you add on taxes.
Just about everything on the OPO is superior to the T3. The only spec the T3 has over the OPO is a MicroSD slot.
I guess another thing the T3 has over the OPO is that getting it fixed is probably a little simpler since OPO isnít sold by carriers here.
The big thing though is that youíll need an invite from OnePlus to buy an OPO. That means signing up with them and then waiting.
Itís a good deal but if youíre not a phone nerd, procuring one is probably more of a hassle than youíre willing to put up with but if youíre willing to tough it out, itís worth it.
What about the Sony Xperia M2?
Another problem with the T3 is that Sony sells the M2 with almost identical specs for $100 less on Fido and Rogers. Full disclosure, I havenít actually tried the M2 so Iím just going by the spec sheets but only real difference between the 2, is that the M2 has a smaller 4.8Ē display vs the T3ís 5.3Ē plus the M2ís battery is proportionally smaller.
Iíll be the first to admit, the difference between a 5.3Ē and a 4.8Ē screen is significant. But that said, 4.8Ē is still quite large and given the choice, unless you absolutely need a bigger screen, Iíd save the $100.
What about the Sony Xperia T2 Ultra?
Sony actually has another phone thatís available for $399.99 unlocked direct from Sony. It also boasts similar specs: LTE, quad-core Snapdragon 1.4Ghz processor, 1GB RAM plus it adds a 6Ē, 1280x720 display, 3000mAh battery and a 13MP camera. Like the M2 I havenít tried it but if you want a large screen, 6Ē is almost as big as it gets.
Huawei Ascend Mate 2?
Speaking of big screens, if youíre open to going on Wind, you can pick up the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 (review coming soon) for the same money as a T3. It comes with a 6.1Ē display which is one of the biggest on the market plus it also comes with 2GB of RAM vs 1GB on the Sony.
Both have quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processors. On the T3 itís clocked at 1.4Ghz while itís 1.6Ghz on the Mate 2. The Mate 2 also comes with a gigantic 4050mAh battery while the T3 gets by with an adequately sized 2500mAh.
You also get more storage on the Mate 2 which comes with 16GB vs 8GB on the Sony.
Iím still reviewing the Mate 2 so Iím not sure if itís actually better, but the Mate 2 does come with a 13MP camera vs 8MP on the Sony.
The wild card here is how fresh each phone will stay. Lately, Sony has been pretty good when it comes to keeping the version of Android on their phones updated. The T3 Iím checking out here is already on 4.4.2. I donít have a crystal ball (not one that works anyways) but Iím guessing Sony will keep the T3 up to date for another year, maybe a year and a half.
On the other hand, Huawei in Canada hasnít been very good, I have the original Mate from a year ago. While itís a solid device I donít remember it receiving a single Android update. Wind is smaller carrier so since the Mate 2 is only available from them probably means Huawei isnít going to spend the resources to get it updated. It ships with 4.3 so you should manage your expectations and assume that, thatís all youíll ever get.
On the LTE front, the MT2-L03 variant which supports Band 2/4/5/17 while the T3 supports bands 4/7/17. Let me translate that for you: Both support AWS (band 4) which is the most important band here in Canada.
Band 7 aka as 2600 is used by Rogers across their LTE foot print to deploy service of up to 150Mbps. Itís also available on Bell (not TELUS) though the coverage footprint is much more modest than Rogers. Itís unfortunate the Mate 2 doesnít support Band 7 because itís quite useful on Rogers (thought not useful at all on Wind).
Band 17 AKA as 700Mhz is supposed to be the solution to poor indoor and rural coverage. As of right now, itís not a big factor on any networks here in Canada so itís more about future-proofing. Both phones support this band.
The Mate 2 also adds support for 2 and 5 which are what the big 3 currently use to deploy HSPA. If you plan on keeping the Mate 2 for another 5 years, Iím guessing they might re-farm one of these bands for LTE.
Specs aside, I prefer the feel of the Mate 2 over the T3. While the T3 is noticeably thinner, I donít feel that Sony got the execution right so it ends up feeling kind of cheap. It has sharp edges around the sides which are intentional, but the unintentional consequence is that it makes it feels cheap.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini:
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is another $400 phone (on Fido, Rogers and Virgin Mobile) to consider but at 4.3Ē, its screen is substantially smaller. While I liked the GS4 Mini a lot, itís a bit long in the tooth now and unless you want a smaller phone, its specs arenít superior and at $400, itís not a particularly good deal so do yourself a favour and skip this one.
Samsung Galaxy S III:
For $100 less, you can pick up a Samsung Galaxy S III from Koodo or Virgin Mobile. The GS3 has now been around for over 2 years but itís still receiving updates and it has one important advantage over the T3; it comes with 2GB of RAM which makes switching between demanding programs more smooth. Of course, if youíre thinking of a GS3 the big problem isÖ
What about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2:
The big problem if youíre deciding between a GS3 and a T3 is that the Note 2 is $300 from Koodo and Virgin Mobile. Yeah, itís been out for almost 2 years but itís still being updated from Samsung (currently up to version 4.4.2 - same as the T3), comes with a 5.5Ē display HD, a stylus that works well, 2GB of RAM, more available accessories, etc.
The only problem with the Note 2 is that the display isnít the greatest outdoors. Other than that, for $100 less, the Note 2 is a more compelling choice.
Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+:
One wild card is the Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+ (review coming soon) for $300 on Koodo. Itís Canadaís first octa-core phone. Yes, it comes with 8 processors plus unlike the octa-cores sold on Samsungís latest tablets, all 8 cores on the Idol X+ are identical and all 8 can be used at once.
Thatís great and all but the thing is, the individual cores used by the Idol X+ arenít top-of-the-line models but rather the same sort youíll find on many mid-range Snapdragon 400ís though the Idol X+ís are clocked at a beefy 2Ghz vs 1.2Ghz on the T3 plus the X+ comes with a faster graphics processor.
As far as pecking order goes, the Idol X+ís octa-core processor isnít as fast as the quad-core Snapdragon 800 in the Nexus 5, but itís itís definitely faster than the T3ís. I hope the Idol X+ comes with a T-Shirt to remind others that it comes with a 8-core processor. 8 or 4 cores? Donít you love marketing?
The X+ also comes with a 5Ē 1920x1080 display which is sharper than the T3ís, plus you get a slightly bigger 2600mAh battery and more storage (16 vs 8GB).
The big difference is that the X+ doesnít support LTE but at $300, itís still a tempting alternative.
A used recent flagship
If youíre thinking about paying full price for a T3 and know what to look for when buying used, you might consider a current used flagship like a HTC One M8
, a Sony Xperia Z2
, or something like that. It will cost closer to $500 but then again, $400 + tax is close to that. Youíll be getting a phone with a substantially faster processor, a camera thatís many times better, more RAM a better screen, etc.
Better yet, look for a LG G2
- used ones go for under $300. Or if you want a Sony, pick up a Sony Xperia Z1
or wait another month or 2 wait for Sony to shoot themselves in the foot and announce a Sony Xperia Z3 just a couple of months after they released the Z2 and watch the Z2 prices drop.