Sony Xperia Z3 Compact vs Apple iPhone 6 full review

After being launched within weeks of one another in September, the iPhone 6 and Sony Xperia Z3 Compact are both fresh, new smartphones with similar sized screens, so could be the cause of some serious head-scratching when it comes to choosing between the two. Here, we talk you through the similarities and differences in our iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison.  See also: Best smartphones 2015

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Price

The first differentiator between these two smartphones is the price. The iPhone 6 starts at £539 for the 16GB model, while the Xperia Z3 Compact offers only a 16GB model and costs £429 direct from Sony, or even less if you shop around.

So that's a saving of at least £110 already, and if you think you need more than 16GB (which most people do) you'll have to cough up lots more for the 64GB iPhone 6 (£619) or the 128GB iPhone 6 (£699). The Xperia Z3 Compact has a microSD slot, so you can expand upon the built-in 16GB the capacity as and when you choose at a much lower cost.

Is the iPhone 6 worth £110+ more than the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact? Read on to find out.

If you're wondering what the difference is between the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and its bigger sibling, the Sony Xperia Z3, take a look at our Z3 vs Z3 Compact comparison. You can also find out about the differences between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus here.

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Design

Next is the design and build of the two smartphones, which is quite different despite the similar screen sizes.

The iPhone 6 measures 138x67mm, while the Xperia Z3 Compact manages to squeeze its screen into a smaller, 127x65mm body.

The Z3 Compact is thicker than the iPhone 6, measuring 8.6mm compared with the iPhone's insanely thin 6.9mm. It's a teeny, tiny bit lighter, at 127g compared with 129g – that 2g is hardly going to be a deal breaker.

The overall look and feel of the iPhone 6 and Xperia Z3 Compact is quite different. The iPhone 6 has a soft, rounded design made with glass and aluminium that is sleek and stylish. It has rounded edges and a screen that curves subtly at the edges, making it feel really comfortable in the hand.

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact also has a glass and aluminium-based design, but is built with durability at the forefront, something that can't be said about the iPhone 6. It has nylon corner pieces that should absorb shocks and prevent the smartphone from being damaged if you drop it, and it's fully dust proof and waterproof up to 1.5m.

Durability is definitely a factor that could help make your decision between these two smartphones. If you're known to be a bit clumsy and if you like to use your smartphone in the kitchen, in the bathroom, on the beach or by the poolside, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is likely to be the best choice for you.

But for those not so worried about durability, the iPhone 6 is a stunning piece of kit (that sadly you'll be tempted to cover up with a case), available in Silver, Gold or Slate Grey.

The Xperia Z3 Compact comes in white, black, orange or green.

We should also mention that the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact has front-facing stereo speakers, unlike the iPhone 6 which has a speaker grill along the bottom instead.  

The iPhone 6, on the other hand, has a TouchID fingerprint sensor beneath its home button for unlocking the device and several apps, and paying for items online. The TouchID's usefulness will grow as more third-parties integrate it into their apps, too.

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Screen

The iPhone 6 boasts a stunning, LED-backlit IPS LCD display, measuring 4.7in diagonally. The pixel count is 750x1334, which equates to a pixel density of 326ppi. As we've come to expect from Apple's iPhone displays, it's sharp, colourful and offers good viewing angles.

The Xperia Z3 Compact has a slightly smaller display measuring 4.6in. It's resolution is 720x1280 pixels, which makes a slightly lower pixel density of 319ppi. It's still crisp and bright, so the difference in quality between the Z3 Compact and iPhone 6 screens is barely noticeable. 

The Xperia Z3 Compact does have some extra features that make it more useful, though, including the ability to use the smartphone's touched screen while wearing gloves (you'll need to switch on this mode first) and double tap to wake options. There's also a 'smart backlight control' that keeps the screen awake as long as you're looking at it.

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Hardware & specs

Inside the iPhone 6 you'll find Apple's A8 processor. It's a dual-core chip running at 1.4GHz, and is paired with 1GB RAM. It's a brilliantly fast smartphone that we've found to be smooth, speedy and responsive.

That's compared with the Xperia Z3 Compact's Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, which is clocked at 2.5GHz and is paired with 2GB RAM. It's clear which one sounds more powerful (hint: the latter), but how did they compare when it came to benchmark tests?

In the Geekbench 3 processor speed test, the iPhone 6 scored an average of 2794, which is almost identical to the average of 2800 for the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, making these two smartphones very closely matched in terms of performance.

The GFXBench graphics test results tell a slightly different story. The iPhone 6 beats the Xperia Z3 Compact in the T-Rex test, scoring 49fps compared with a slightly lower 41fps, but both scores are impressive. However, when running the Manhattan test, both smartphones achieved a score of 26fps, so it's tricky to put the iPhone 6 clear ahead of the Xperia Z3 Compact but it is a tad better at handling graphics. Not that you're likely to notice that small difference unless you tend to play heavy-duty smartphone games.

The final benchmark test is the Sunspider Javascript test to give an indication of web browser responsiveness. In this case, a lower score is better, and the iPhone 6 blows the Xperia Z3 Compact out of the water with an incredibly low score of 351ms compared with the Z3 Compact's 944ms (which is still good compared with many other rivals).

Overall, the iPhone 6 is a bit faster than the Xperia Z3 Compact, but we'd suggest that the small speed boost is not going to be noticeable enough to most to warrant the £110 extra cash.

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Connectivity

On the connectivity front, the iPhone 6 offers 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and LTE, as well as NFC (but it's limited to Apple's Apple Pay service). The Z3 Compact is similar, with the same WiFi, Bluetooth and 4G capabilities but a more useful NFC chip.

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Battery life

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact wins at battery life, sporting a 2600mAh cell bigger than the iPhone 6's Li-Po 1810 mAh battery, but both are non-removeable. We found the Xperia Z3 Compact's battery life to be absolutely fantastic, with the iPhone 6's battery draining much quicker.

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Cameras

The iPhone 6 offers an 8Mp rear-facing camera with larger pixels (1.5microns) for better image quality, and we've found it to be an excellent camera capable of capturing images that we'd be proud to print and frame.

The Xperia Z3 Compact also has a fantastic camera, with an amazing 20.7Mp rear-camera that has a 25mm wide-angle lens and a very high ISO of 12800 for low light photography. The camera actually captures images in 8Mp by default, but can be upped in manual mode (those photos will take up more of your 16GB storage space, don't forget).

When it comes to video, the iPhone 6's rear camera can capture up to 1080p at 60fps, or 720p at 240fps (for Slo-Mo videos). Sony's offering can shoot 4K video, so trumps Apple's offering here.

The Xperia Z3 Compact also beats the iPhone 6 with its front-facing camera, at 2.2Mp compared with 1.2Mp.

If camera quality is an important factor to you, the Xperia Z3 Compact is well-worth considering over the iPhone 6 (and remember that £110+ you're saving).

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Software

Now we come onto the tricky subject of software, which will always divide opinion. Personally, I prefer iOS over Android (I'm talking software, not necessarily the devices they run on), for its design, ease-of-use and apps. (Check out this feature revealing 10 hidden features in iOS 8)

However, many of you reading this will be long-time Android users who much prefer Google's operating system.

So what you need to know here is that the iPhone 6 (obviously) runs Apple's iOS, at present it's iOS 8, and the Xperia Z3 Compact runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat, soon to be updated to Android Lollipop (5.0).

Standout software features that add to Google's vanilla Android on the Xperia phone include support for PS4 Remote Play and Walkman app. Sony also offers high-res audio, including playback of DSD files (this is a first for smartphones).

The iPhone 6 offers everything you'd expect from iOS and more, including Passbook, the new Apple Pay service (which is currently limited to the US), iTunes, iBooks, iCloud and new iCloud Drive features and more. You can find out more about iOS 8's capabilities in our iOS 8 review.

You might also want to take a look at our Android Lollipop vs iOS 8 comparison

iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact comparison: Verdict

There's no doubt that the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is the smartphone that offers the better value here. It beats the iPhone 6 in some areas including camera capabilities and durability, and when it is beaten by the iPhone 6, it's beaten by a smidgen that is, in our eyes, not worth the extra £110.

The iPhone 6 will appeal to fashionistas, lovers of the iOS ecosystem and those who aren't too concerned about how much they spend on their smartphone. For the more frugal among us, the Z3 Compact is the better option, and will also appeal more to keen smartphone photographers/videographers (though the iPhone 6 doesn't do a bad job here either), klutzes (me included), Android users, audiophiles and PlayStation gamers. 


Apple iPhone 6: Specs

  • Apple A8 processor
  • 16/64/128 GB storage
  • 1 GB RAM
  • iOS 8
  • 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
  • 1.2 MP secondary camera
  • 750 x 1334 pixels, 4.7 inches LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
  • 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm
  • 129 g

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: Specs

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • 4.6in Triluminos Display (720x1280, 319ppi)
  • 2.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD slot (up to 128GB)
  • 20.7Mp rear camera AF with LED Flash
  • 2.2Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 2160p
  • Wi-Fi up tp
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 4
  • Nano-SIM
  • 2600mAh battery
  • Dust and waterproof (IP68)
  • 65x127x8.6mm
  • 129g