The Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 were two of the biggest launches at this year’s IFA trade show at Berlin. Both smartphones are the new flagships for their respective manufacturers and offer exciting new features.
Both the smartphones are quite different to one another and have individual strengths differentiating them from each other as well as their other rivals in the market. Sony’s first attempt at stealing a large pie out of the flagship smartphone market this year – Xperia Z2, had not really worked as well as Sony hoped due to initial supply constraints and a lack of a positive market response later. But can the new Xperia Z3 help the Japanese technology giant to give Samsung a run for its money this time around? We can only wait and watch.
But which one of the two should YOU be picking later this month when both start hitting stores globally? We aim to help you out with just that in our versus article today. Let’s begin.
When it comes to displays, the Xperia Z3 and the Galaxy Note 4 offer completely different screen sizes and technologies. The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with a 5.7 inch Quad-HD resolution display (2560 x 1440) with Super AMOLED panel. The screen is also protected by 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3 coating to help it resist scratches and damage. It is also Samsung’s most accurate AMOLED display yet, with preliminary display analysis showing massive improvements over the S5 display in terms of color and greyscale accuracy. It is also brighter and boasts superior sunlight legibility.
The Sony Xperia Z3 comes with a 5.2 inch IPS LCD 1920 x 1080 Full HD display with Sony’s unique TRILUMINOS and Live Color LED technologies. You might think that sounds familiar to the Xperia Z2’s display but you’d be wrong to think both are using the same panel. The Xperia Z3 makes use of an all panel which Sony claims is the brightest it has ever used for any Xperia smartphone. The maximum brightness of the Z3 screen is said to 600 nits, which is higher than all the top smartphones in the market today. Then there’s the X-Reality image processing engine too, which works behind the scenes to further improve the viewing experience.
There is obviously a significant difference when it comes to pixel density between the two smartphones. The Galaxy Note 4 boasts of a pixel density of 515PPI, compared to Xperia Z3’s 424PPI. But in the real world, that advantage cannot really be observed clearly by the naked eye.
This round goes to the Note 4 because of its higher resolution advantage, but the margin isn’t very wide. Some of you might even prefer the Z3 display over the Note 4’s.
Sony has been criticized heavily in the past for the large bezels its Xperia smartphones come with. A lot of smartphones today have very high screen-to-body ratio and boast of ultra-thin bezels, but Sony doesn’t seem to be very excited about this new trend. Nevertheless, they have improved on this front with the Z3. The Xperia Z3 is claimed to have bezels just 0.2mm thick on the sides. As a result the Xperia Z3 is less wide than the Z2. Its overall dimensions of 146 x 72 x 7.3mm are certainly not going to top the screen-to-body ratio charts though. It is 11 grams lighter than its predecessor too.
The Galaxy Note 4 is a much more efficient design based on screen-to-body ratio. Even though the Note 4 boasts of a 5.7 inch display, it isn’t that much bigger than the Xperia Z3 in terms of the physical size. Its dimensions of 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm are pretty impressive for a smartphone with such a large display. The side as well as bottom and top bezels have been trimmed as much as possible to maximize the display area. It is slightly heavier than the Xperia Z3 though, at 176 grams
The Note 4 wins this round easily, thanks to its superior screen-to-body ratio.
The Galaxy Note 4 is the first smartphone in the world to come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset. The Snapdragon 805 chipset is a much bigger upgrade from last year’s Snapdragon 800 than the 801 released earlier this year. The S805 chip comes with a Quad-Core processor clocked at 2.7GHz and an all new Adreno 420GPU with 30% higher performance. The jump in application performance from the Snapdragon 801 isn’t that impressive but the gain in graphics performance more than makes up for it. The new Adreno 420 GPU will have no issues handling the Note 4’s Quad-HD resolution as the processor has been built from the ground up to work with super high resolution displays. Until we see the first Snapdragon 810 devices come out next year, the Snapdragon 805 should remain one of the most powerful mobile chipsets in the market.
Sony not only skipped the Quad-HD screen upgrade for its Xperia Z3, but also the Snapdragon 805 chipset. The Xperia Z3 comes with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip that it offered on its Xperia Z2 smartphone earlier this year. The only difference is that the processor is clocked slightly higher on the Z3, at 2.5GHz. So in terms of graphics performance, the Note 4 should have the edge, in spite of its higher resolution screen. Application performance should be comparable due to Samsung’s TouchWiz UI being more resource intensive than Sony’s light Android skin.
Yet another straight win for the Note 4 here.
Sony has seemingly been hesitant to provide anything more than 16GB internal memory on its flagship devices since the Xperia T in 2012. Unfortunately, they have still not changed their minds with the Xperia Z3. The latest Xperia flagship continues to offer only 16GB internal memory, but the T-Mobile US variant of the phone will be getting a 32GB option. There is, of course, a microSD card slot for expansion. But we really wish Sony would consider offering at least 32GB internal memory as standard for its next flagship. With the size of new HD games getting bigger and bigger, the paltry 16GB internal memory will be filled in no time. Google also seems to be in a mood to disallow the use of microSD card slots to store apps and games with the recent Android versions, so the 16GB internal memory is definitely going to be a bigger issue in future. Thankfully Sony hasn’t skimped on the RAM size, with the Xperia Z3 coming with 3GB RAM.
The Galaxy Note 4 comes with the same 3GB RAM, but has double the internal storage capacity. It comes with 32GB of standard on board memory, and also offers a microSD card slot for expanding the memory further.
And the winner of this round is…….. Yup you guessed it right! The Galaxy Note 4
On a flagship smartphone, you expect the camera to be simply brilliant and provide you with consistently good image quality. Both these devices are more than capable of doing that. But which one has the better camera?
The Galaxy Note 4 comes with a 16MP 1/2.6” size sensor with f2.0 aperture lens. This is not the same module as on the Galaxy S5 though. But it does have a key advantage over the S5 as well as the Xperia Z3’s camera – Optical Image Stabilization. Note 4 is the first Samsung Galaxy smartphone to come with Optical Image Stabilization for shake-free videos and non-blurry pictures of fast-moving objects. The camera is also capable of 4K Ultra HD video recording at 30 frames per second. Samsung has also concentrated on the front-facing camera and equipped the note 4 with a 3.7MP front shooter with a fast f1.9 lens and 120 degree wide-angle range for group selfies.
Sony’s Xperia Z3 comes with the same 20.7MP 1/2.3” Exmor RS camera that is also seen on the Xperia Z2. But Sony has made enough changes to the camera on the Z3 for a much superior imaging performance. The maximum sensitivity of the camera has been doubled to ISO12800 from ISO6400 on the Xperia Z2. That is the highest sensitivity on any current smartphone available for sale. For videos you get maximum sensitivity of ISO3200. That means the Xperia Z3 will be able to capture great images and video even in low light situations. One area where smartphone cameras struggle with is low light shooting, and with the high ISO and the fast f2.0 lens that lets in ample light to the sensor, the Xperia Z3 can definitely exceed your expectations. The Xperia Z3 also offers 4K Ultra HD video like the Note 4 and comes with an Intelligent Active Mode digital stabilization feature that analyzes your movements while you’re shooting videos and accordingly eliminates shake and blur from the videos. The front-facing camera is 2MP unit though, which is a bummer.
This round is a tie. Both smartphones offer excellent image quality as well as a host of features for fun shots.
Using the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, the Galaxy Note 4 offers superior connectivity options than the Sony Xperia Z3. The Galaxy Note 4 is among the first smartphones in the market to offer LTE Cat.6 support for download speeds up to 300Mbps. It also supports the newer Bluetooth version 4.1. There is also Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac MIMO dual-band connectivity, with support for higher download speed support. NFC is also on board.
The Xperia Z3 offers LTE Cat.4 support for 150Mbps download speeds, like most other smartphones in the market. There is also Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC support. It also comes with Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n support, lacking the Wi-Fi802.11ac standard support that the Note 4 offers.
So the Note 4 is definitely more future proof in terms of connectivity options, and that makes it our winner in this round.
The Galaxy Note 4 line has always been very impressive with regards to battery life. The Galaxy Note 3 last year offered one of the highest battery stamina among all leading smartphones. The Galaxy Note 4 comes with a similar sized battery as the Note 3 at 3220mAh but Samsung claims that the Note 4 is more efficient and thus will provide excellent battery life. While we’re definitely not arguing with that, we are a little skeptical due to the Quad-HD resolution of the Note 4. We have seen the kind of impact Quad-HD screen can have on battery life with the LG G3. It too offers the same battery capacity as the G2, but offers much lower battery stamina due to the higher resolution.
Sony claims that the Xperia Z3 offers 2-day battery life. How? Well, the company claims that all the internal parts have been made more efficient compared to the Xperia Z2. Along with that, they have also heavily optimized the software to ensure that the power draw can be minimized and extract the most out of the 3100mAh battery. The claim is yet to be verified, but going by what we saw on the Z2, the Xperia Z3 shouldn’t not disappoint when it comes to battery life. Sony has really worked hard to improve the battery life of their devices this year and all the Xperia models released this year have had fantastic battery life.
That brings the Xperia Z3 its first victory, edging out the Note 4 by a small margin.
Samsung has tried to make the Note 4 every bit as premium on the inside as its internals. The Note 4 is the first Samsung flagship device to come with a metal frame. The back of the device is made out of polycarbonate though, with a faux-leather cover like on the Note 3. The rest of the design isn’t vastly different from the Note 3 but the subtle changes do make it appear more premium than its predecessor.
The Sony Xperia Z3 is also a similar story. It doesn’t look vastly different from its predecessor – the Xperia Z2. It has the same metal frame with front and back glass Omni-balance design. But it does have some minor changes that differentiate it. It no longer offers the shiny finish on the side metal frame but has a more understated matte finish this time. The device is also noticeably thinner than the Z2, at just 7.3mm. It is also IP68 certified, which is the highest level of dust and water resistance available on a smartphone.
There is no denying the fact that the Sony Xperia Z3 is the better looking as well as better built device of the two. Plus the high level of water resistance also helps it win this round easily
Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as well as the Sony Xperia Z3 come with Android 4.4.4 KitKat out of the box. The Note 4 is running Samsung’s TouchWiz UI overlay and a host of Samsung specific apps and features like S-Health, S-Pen, and Multi Window. The Multi Window feature is exclusive to the Note 4 and allows you to open multiple apps in separate windows like you would on a PC. This is definitely a very useful feature and similar implementations from other manufacturers including Sony, are nowhere as polished. On the downside, TouchWiz UI continues to be heavy, affecting overall performance of the device.
Sony’s software on the Xperia Z3 doesn’t offer fancy features like on the Note 4, but it is much closer to stock Android and doesn’t bog down on resources much. You do get Sony’s media apps though, which are quite nicely designed in terms of layout and offer good functionality.
This round is a tie.
Both these smartphones are not yet available for purchase and will be hitting stores starting from the end of this month. The Galaxy Note 4 will be available in all the major markets including the US. All four major US carriers – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint will be offering the device. The Xperia Z3 on the other hand will be available in the US only from T-Mobile.
As for the pricing, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is expected to cost around €699 in Europe whereas the Xperia Z3 would be available for around €649. The US prices haven’t yet been revealed but are expected to be around $699 and $649 respectively.
This round doesn’t really have a clear winner as we are still waiting for official pricing information from more sources.
So we’re going with a tie for this round.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has won most of the categories in this comparison. It packs the latest Snapdragon chipset, has a Quad-HD resolution display, superior connectivity, offers double the internal storage, and is the more productive mobile device of the two thanks to the S-Pen functionality.
The Xperia Z3 on the other hand is the one that will appeal to those who use their smartphones as multimedia devices more than a productive tool for getting some work done on the move and appreciate the dust and water resistance feature of the device. You get twin stereo speakers on the front for much better audio experience in comparison the single speaker at the back on the Note4. It should also have a slight edge in terms of battery life and offers superior low light camera performance. It is also the better looking device of the two and despite not being the most compact smartphone around, it is still a shade smaller than the Note 4.
So there you have it. We hope we have made your decision easier with our comparison. Do let us know which one you prefer and why.