2014 may be over, but Sony’s Xperia Z3 still holds a place in our heart for the best phone of that year, bringing speed, design, and quality to a package that’s hard to ignore. Six months later, does it still hold up?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, but when it comes to phones in this country, we’re all spoiled for choice.

There’s big, small, and plenty in the middle, with phones priced from $49 to $1449, and that can make selecting a phone for the next two years an interesting game for people.

Flagship phones, though, are the area most people tend to look at, eyeing the logic of if they spend the most amount of money, surely they’ll get the best result, the best value for the next few years.

And we totally get that logic, because it’s not just about best value, but also best technology and best style, something only the top tier products get on a yearly basis, with the results gradually trickling into subsequent middle and budget releases.

Last year, Australians had some of the best choices they’d had in ages, with excellent offerings from all camps. There was the dual-camera curiosity from HTC (M8), the heart-rate tracking Galaxy S5 from Samsung, a big pen-replacing phone with a curved screen from Samsung (Note Edge), and a 5.5 inch super high-res phone from LG that hardly felt like a 5.5 inch phone at all (G3).

Sony also had a couple of models available, with the Z3 and Z3 Compact, both of which were stellar smartphones, but one clearly outshone the other.

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With a frame of aluminium, and front and back material of glass, it was hard to go past the Sony Xperia Z3 as something of a bit of a legend, designed well and made very well, with Samsung opting for a similar concept in design in this year’s Galaxy S6.

Sony was here last year, though, and even featured water-resistance and upgradeable memory, two things Samsung did away with in the 2015 release of its smartphones, much to the surprise of everyone.

Last year, we rated it as one of the best phones, offering an excellent screen, superb camera, and features that we so desperately wanted to see on other devices, such as a battery that could achieve more than a day, a camera shutter button, and even a neato magnetic charging dock that unfortunately was proprietary to Sony but did turn the phone into a sort of horizontal alarm clock when it was docked.

Six months on, Sony’s Z3 is still going strong, and we’ve even seen an update to the very latest operating system, with Google’s Android 5.0 “Lollipop” now rolled out across the device.

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For the most part, the look of Sony’s take on Android is still here, a softer stance on the Google operating system, with as many as four program shortcuts at the bottom of the phone, several widgetised home screens, and a menu of apps that you can sort by most used with an uninstall option easy to find by swiping from the left.

Android looks a little different in some areas, and Sony now relies on the same sort of dropdown bar we’ve seen on every Lollipop device, meaning a quick settings menu you can expand with one flick of a finger, notifications that you can swipe away, and the options for something new — new phone call, new message, new email — appearing at the very bottom atop the main screens, making it very easy to make a phone call or writing a message.