Tech Review: PlayStation 4 Remote Play on the Sony Xperia Z3 Smartphone

A few months ago, we brought you our review of Sony’s Xperia Z3 smartphone. At the time, Sony’s PlayStation 4 Remote Play functionality wasn’t available at the time and we weren’t able to include it in the review. With Remote Play now well-and-truly rolled out, we decided to revisit our review and talk a little bit about how we found it.

What you need to get PS4 Remote Play working properly on your Xperia Z3 is the PlayStation App itself, which is free, a PS4, the Xperia Z3 Game Control Mount and a decent wifi connection.

The first thing you’ll need to do is ensure that both your PS4 and Xperia are on the same Wifi network. This means clearing the network as best you can of any traffic that isn’t internet related – tell your roommates to shop streaming all their TV shows and movies from the NAS for a while because you need to able to eliminate latency as best you can to get the full effect.

You pair your controller to the phone using the App and from there your phone will become a second screen for your PS4, mirroring the image on your TV. You can now change the TV to whatever channel you want and go about your business while the PS4 continues to stream to the phone. In practice, it works very similarly to the way Nintendo’s Wii U Game Pad allows you to play various games on its built-in screen. The difference here is that you’ve got control over your entire PS4 and ANY GAME you want to play, rather than ones that are built to be displayed on the second screen like on the Wii U.

Depending on which game you play via PS4 Remote Play, you’ll receive a bit of a different experience. Simple, slower paced games – I used Life is Strange and The Wolf Among Us to test – work great. You can explore at your leisure, engage with NPCs and conduct your detective work without interruption of technical hitches. Depending on the strength of your wireless-fi, you might notice a fraction of a second delay between pressing a button on the controller and your character moving as the signal bounces from the phone to the router to the PS4 and back.

This is especially noticeable in moderately paced to fast or precision games. I went on to test Watch Dogs and Lego Marvel Superheroes in the moderate category and found that it was, on the whole, still possible to play both games as normal, when the action heated up and I needed to be a bit more accurate I found I struggled to hit my targets due to the short delay. FarCry 4 and Destiny proved to be a real challenge to get to grips with, my shots often going far wide of their marks. I found Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare single-player was actually quite playable via PS4 Remote Play, however the multiplayer – a much more reflexive, twitch-based game, was next to impossible to play properly.

Again, this is all contingent on how strong your wifi is. I’m running these tests on the D-Link N750 Dual Band Modem Router I bought a couple of years ago for use at home so, depending on your own set up, your mileage may vary.

Graphically, there’s a noticeable downgrade from the way your PS4 usually looks on your TV but this is to be expected. It’s streaming to a much less powerful device on a much smaller screen and a lower quality stream would make things much easier on your wifi network. Having said that, most things still look remarkably nice with a decent amount of detail still present even in the most graphically intensive games – try out The Order: 1886 or Killzone: Shadowfall to see what I mean.

The controller mount itself is quite simple to use – the controller sits snugly within it and latches underneath the control sticks, out of the way of your fingers. It’s doesn’t add a lot of weight to the controller, either, which was a concern I had going in. It’s really nice to see Sony took this into consideration when building the mount. At the top of the mount itself is a large suction cup to which your Xperia Z3 will be affixed. The phone does add a bit of weight to the apparatus as a whole, which means if you’re planning on settling in for a longer session (or at least as long as the batteries in your phone and controller can hold out) you might find the old wrists start to get a bit achy. The suction cup is surprisingly stable and keeps the phone from moving about too much when tapping buttons and using motion controls (which, if you thought those were lame before, try using them when you’ve got an expensive mobile phone attached to your controller). The mount will set you back around AU$40 and, if PS4 Remote Play is something you’ll be using quite a bit is well worth the investment.

Overall, I found the Xperia Z3’s PS4 Remote Play to be a pretty stable streaming system. It’s perfect for when you’ve got to watch the kids while they hang out and watch a movie or your partner wants to watch 17 consecutive episodes of Cake Boss in a night – you just whip out your phone and the controller mount and you can play a few games to pass the time. Just keep an eye on those batteries.