Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra: High-end Phablets Face to Face

Galaxy Note 3 vs Xperia Z Ultra

The phablet segment acknowledged a hike in popularity over the past couple of months and most big players of the smartphone market have developed 5.5+ inch smartphones to respond to customers’ demand.

Until a couple of years ago, the phablet segment was dominated by Samsung’s Galaxy Note models, but this year there will be a lot of powerful competitors for the Galaxy Note 3. The Xperia Z Ultra is one of them, a high-end phablet announced by Sony in June 2013.

Moreover, the rumor mill speculates that HTC will also launch a powerful phablet by the end of the year, the highly-anticipated One Max. In the meantime, we will have a look at the battle between Galaxy Note 3 and Xperia Z Ultra.

You probably know from our previous Versus articles that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra battle will have 10 rounds, each worth 1 point. As you’ve already guessed the smartphone that wins most points will be declared the winner of the battle.

The ten rounds will compare the smartphones’ performance when it comes to Display, Dimensions, Design, Processor, Memory, Operating System, Camera, Price, Connectivity, and Battery Life.

Display

Most of the customers are choosing the phablets over regular smartphones because of the display size and screen quality and that’s what we will be talking about.

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra features a gigantic 6.4-inch Triluminos (TFT technology inside) display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and a pixel density of 344 ppi. On the other hand the Galaxy Note 3 boasts about a 5.7-inch full HD Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 386 ppi.

Even though Xperia Z Ultra’s display size would be more appropriate for surfing the web, watching videos, and playing games, the quality of the Triluminos TFT display is questionable, having both poor viewing angles and brightness. Even though the color reproduction is not what you’d call accurate on the Note 3′s Super AMOLED screen, the unit comes with unrivalled brightness and contrast and is more battery friendly than its rival.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 wins the display round because it comes with a higher-quality screen.

Dimensions

Because it has to accommodate a significantly larger display, the Sony Xperia Z measures 179.4 x 92.2 x 6.5 mm and weighs 212 grams. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is 151.2 mm tall, 79.2 mm wide, and 8.3 mm thin, having a weight of 168 grams.

Despite being thinner than the Galaxy Note 3, the Xperia Z Ultra is larger than the Samsung handset in any other aspect, also being heavier than the Korean phablet. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 wins another round.

Design

With the launch of the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung wanted to show the world that it is one of the phone makers capable of building premium smartphones.

Even though everybody expected the Galaxy Note 3 to look like a Galaxy S4 on steroids, the new Samsung phablet adopts a new design language with sharper edges and faux-leather and fine stitching for the back cover. The only design element borrowed from the GS4 is the aluminium bezel around the handset’s body.

The Xperia Z Ultra fits into the design lines introduced by the Xperia Z flagship, being an elegant smartphone with sharp edges and less rounded corners, build using premium materials like glass and aluminium. Moreover, the Xperia Z Ultra is very thin, measuring only 6.5 mm, being one of the slimmest smartphones on the market. Moreover, the Xperia Z Ultra is water and dust resistant, being IP58 certified.

There’s no doubt that the Galaxy Note 3 is the best-looking Samsung smartphone to date, but the new Galaxy phablet can’t cope with the elegant lines of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, therefore the point allocated for the design round goes to the Japanese terminal.

Processor

If you read the news you probably know that Samsung will launch two Note 3 variants, each arriving on different markets.

One of the two models, codenamed I9000 is powered by Samsung’s proprietary octo-core Exynos 5 Octa chipset with four Cortex A15 cores at 1.9 GHz (for the tasks that require more processing power), four Cortex A7 cores at 1.2 GHz (for basic tasks and improved battery efficiency) and a Mali T628 GPU. The other variant, the I9005, is underpinned by a Snapdragon 800 SoC with quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 CPU and Andreno 330 GPU.

Since the Xperia Z Ultra is also a high-end smartphone launched in the second half of 2013, the Sony terminal boasts about the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset. The only difference between the Snapdragon 800 unit mounted on the Xperia Z Ultra and the one on the Galaxy Note 3 is that the four Krait 400 cores are clocked at 2.2 GHz.

I guess it’s obvious that the Galaxy Note 3 wins the processor battle, as its processor runs at a frequency that is 100 MHz higher, which can be a decisive factor during games and apps that require more processing power.

Memory

With over a million apps available for download in Play Store and millions of songs and movies available in Google Play Music and Google Play Movies, respectively, you will need a lot of storage.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is available with either 32 or 64 GB of internal storage, but it also supports microSD cards of up to 64 GB. That’s a maximum of 128 GB of internal storage.

The internal flash storage of the Xperia Z is limited to 16 GB, but you can add up to 64 GB using a microSD card, totalling 80 GB.

Moreover, the Galaxy Note 3 is the first smartphone in the world to come with 3 GB of RAM (Xperia Z Ultra has 2 GB of RAM), which means that the Samsung handset will bring a richer experience when it comes to multitasking.

The Galaxy Note 3 undoubtedly wins the Memory round having a higher amount of RAM and storage.

Operating System

We are dealing with two smartphones running Android Jelly Bean, but even so, there are notable differences between the interfaces of the Note 3 and the Xperia Z Ultra.

The first one runs the latest Android version, Android 4.3, which was customized by Samsung with its proprietary TouchWiz Nature UX interface. Even though I’m not the biggest TouchWiz fan, I have to admit that the features brought by Samsung’s interface are neat.

Galaxy Note 3 borrows all the cool features from Galaxy S3, Note 2, and Galaxy S4, like Smart Stay, Smart Pause, Air View, Air Gestures, Multi Window, Smart Scroll, etc. and brings new features like Air Command, Action Memo, S Finder, Screen Write, or Samsung KNOX.

The Xperia Z Ultra comes pre-loaded with Android 4.2 (no sign of the Android 4.3 update yet) and with the Xperia user interface on top of it. Even though it looks cleaner than Galaxy Note 3′s TouchWiz, Xperia UI brings a strange looking app drawer and multitasking screen and loads of useless apps like WALKMAN, PlayStation, Sony Music, or Smart Connect.

Verdict? The Galaxy Note 3 wins this round as well, because it’s running a later Android version and because its TouchWiz UI is one of the most appreciated interfaces in the world.

Camera

We all like to take photos with our smartphones, so we need good cameras in order to get the best photos.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 boasts about a 13 MP camera with LED flash, autfocus, Dual Shot, Dual Video, Drama Shot, simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, panorama, and HDR. Note 3 also records 4K videos, and slow-motion 1080p@60fps videos.

Xperia Z Ultra comes with a modest 8MP sensor, with geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, image stabilization, HDR, sweep panorama, and 1080p@30fps video capture. The worst thing about Xperia Z Ultra’s camera is that it doesn’t come with a LED flash.

Seriously, Sony? No LED flash in 2013? This has to be another point for the Galaxy Note 3.

Price

The Nexus 4 is the proof that the price point of a smartphone is the key to success, therefore the cheaper model will win the price battle.

Since you can barely find the Xperia Z Ultra available on contract on the US market, we will talk about the unlocked prices of the two terminals. Sony’s phablet currently has a price tag of around $650, while the Galaxy Note 3 is available for purchase for about $700 off-contract.

The Xperia Z Ultra is cheaper than the Note 3, therefore it wins this round of the battle.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, NFC, IR blaster, and microUSB 3.0. On the other hand the Xperia Z Ultra brings LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and microUSB 2.0.

The infra red port and the microUSB 3.0 support are not enough to bring another point for the Note 3, so the Connectivity battle ends as tie.

Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 brings a Li-Ion 3,200 mAh battery, which is 100 mAh bigger than the one of its predecessor. In our tests showed that the Note 2 is capable of getting thorugh about 36 hours of moderate usage and considering that its successor comes with a more battery-friendly processor and a bigger battery unit, it should have an autonomy of around 48 hours.

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra packs a non-removable Li-Ion 3,050 mAh battery and when the smartphone was tested under typical usage circumstances it managed to stay awake for about a day and a half on a single charge.

Note 3 has better battery stamina, so it grabs another point.

Conclusions

We went through all 10 rounds of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra battle and it’s time to see which smartphone is better.

The Sony phablet has scored 2 points after winning the Design and Price rounds. Why? Because the Xperia Z Ultra is one of the best-looking smartphones on the market and because is about $50 cheaper than the Note 3.

The Connectivity round was equally matched, as the two high-end phablets come with similar connectivity features.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has won 6 rounds – Display, Dimensions, Processor, Operating System, Camera, and Battery Life, because it has a higher-quality display, is smaller and lighter than its rival, has a 13 MP camera with LED flash, faster CPU, more RAM and storage, runs the latest Android version, and because it has better battery life.

Galaxy Note 3 wins the war against Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6 – 2. Any thoughts on the result of the battle? Please share your opinion in the comments section below.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Articles

  • http://mymobilegeek.blogspot.com/ Jhai Alarcon

    One of the best feature of Xperia Z Ultra is its waterproof feature, but if I would buy a phablet I will go for Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

  • bj

    I agree with everything except for size and design. It would seem to me that these two would be congruent with each other since they would be determined more so on the needs of the consumer, art least it would to me. Nonetheless good review

  • ZV

    THERE IS NO DOUBT U ARE AN SAMSUNG FAN BOY

  • Gery Teague

    I would give the display win to Sony as their display is larger, and it doesn’t have the problems with viewing angles stated in this battle. But I could see how it would be a tie with the better power consumption and brightness of the Samsung. So… let’s say tie. Dimensions, well it depends if you want a bigger or smaller device, so… tie. Design, Sony. Processor is so close that noone will ever be able to tell the difference… tie. Memory, no doubt Samsung. OS, Sammy offers a lot more, but Sony is much cleaner… tie. Camera goes to Samsung. Price goes to Sony. Connectivity is a tie. Battery life Samsung. So, final score: Sony(2) Samsung(3). Ties(5). Which I think more clearly shows why these devices are so closely matched. If you’re looking for a device with more widgets go samsung, if you’re looking for a bigger device go Sony.

    • Varun Vashisht

      kudos dude…. I am a proud xperia z ultra user. had note 2… it all depends upon your personal choice but yes sammy wins on camera…but I am happy with ultra… cheers
      one more thing ..in ur review sony wins 3 rounds not 2, display, design, price… :)

  • Derick

    I’m still confuse .Why should there be 3 types of note 3.Which is faster?Which can support more gaming power?I’m fine with the note 3 but i don’t know which processor should i choose.Would i be dissapointed if i’ve bought the note 3 with a slow processor.

  • Mike_from_Saskatoon

    There are two problems with this review:

    1. You are not being objective. You give a point to Samsung for being SMALLER in a phablet test? You can think the Ultra is too big if you want, but in a phablet test it is crazy to penalize the Ultra for being big. That’s what this market segment is all about.

    2. The whole format is not designed to give an accurate result. Categories count as a win/loss, despite the difference being negligible and unnoticeable in many circumstances. For instance, the extra 100 MHz on the processor is never going to be noticed by anybody except when they run tests — in day to day usage it’s meaningless.

    I don’t know which of these units I will end up buying, but I think you should consider changing the format. As it is it felt like every time there was a design difference you simply picked your preference and awarded the point that way.

  • Ram Kumar

    super website i think that your are a chairman of SAMSUNG … he only do like that … dont think that the samsung is great .. u are all copy all thing from different companies and then sony does not need any of the advertisement , your samsung only give many advertisement . all are cheap plastic from samsung

    but SONY gives the quality to everyone if they have more price to sell .

    smartwatch for android is introduced by sony ,today u copied for that also ..shame on you samsung , you have to thing anything new ..

  • Gabriel

    The worst comparison I have seen unless you are Samsung doing it.
    Totally biased, and stupid points trying to make the Note 3 beat the Sony one on everything.
    Get a life loser…you are not fooling anyone!