Sony smartly recycles last year's design for its new Xperia Z3+ phone

Using the low-cost, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" approach, Sony's new Xperia Z3+ looks familiar and gets a new CPU, addressing the one glaring issue with the 2014 model.

Sony introduced its global flagship Android phone on Tuesday and it might look familiar if you've seen last year's model. That's because the Sony Xperia Z3+, which arrives on sale next month, appears nearly identical to the model it replaces, the Xperia Z3.

This year it's all about that plus in the name because Sony took 2014's flagship and swapped the processor out with a faster Snapdragon 810 chip while bumping the memory up to 3 GB. Aside from that, nearly everything else is the same or slightly tweaked.

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That's not necessarily a bad thing: The Xperia Z3 was generally accepted as a well-designed, capable phone that takes above average pictures and can run for two days on a single charge.

Related: One month with the Sony Xperia Z3: 10 reasons it's my favorite Android smartphone

Due to launch timing last year, Sony couldn't get the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon inside 2014 edition, so the chip change is a welcome addition. The Z3+ still has a 5.2-inch Triluminos display with 1080p resolution, is waterproof -- even with a new capless USB port -- and supports high-resolution audio files.

Sony is still using its own 20.7 megapixel Exmor RS image sensor. The phone is also thinner, with Sony shaving the thickness from 7.3 millimeters to 6.9.

Now that Sony has announced the Xperia Z3+, most of the commentary I'm seeing is that of disappointment because some feel that Sony could have done more here.

Perhaps it could have. Among the main gripes of the older Z3, however, was the choice of chip and Sony has fixed that.

Strangely, Apple seems to be able to take a prior year's phone model, make a few tweaks and that's OK. When Sony does the same, it's a let down. Go figure.

Depending on the price -- neither Sony nor network partners have announced the cost -- the Xperia Z3+ could represent one of the smartest moves of the year for Sony. By lightly tweaking last year's model and addressing the most glaring issue with it, the company will have saved design and production costs; key for the mobile unit which has been losing money and cutting jobs.

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