Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Sony Xperia Z3 full review

Two of the biggest smartphones launches of the second half of 2014 are the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but how do these handsets compare? Find out in our Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comparison. See also: Best smartphones.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Price

The Xperia Z3 and Galaxy Note 4 are brand new smartphones so it's no surprise that they will set you back more than £500 apiece. However, there is a reasonable difference between them.

Sony's official price for the Z3 is £549 but it's available for less at retailers such as Clove which has it for £515. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Note 4 is a pricey device at around £575. Read: Sony Xperia Z3 release date, price and specs.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 worth paying extra for? Read on to find out the different in hardware, performance, unique features and software.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Design

Sony has been producing dust- and water devices for a while now and the Xperia Z3 is no exception. In fact, at IP68, it has the highest rating yet. Although Samsung made the Galaxy S5 with a watertight design, the firm hasn't brought this over to the Galaxy Note 4.

Because of the screen size, the Galaxy Note 4 is a bigger device overall and is unsurprisingly heavier than the Xperia Z3 at 176 g compared to 152 g. The Xperia Z3 is also thinner: 7.3 mm against 8.5 mm.

Build quality is superior on the Xperia Z3 which a nicely put together combination of aluminium and glass – with new nylon corners for accidental drops. Samsung sticks with is faux leather textured back although there is a metal edge running around the edge. We're hearing that early adopters are complaining about a gap between the screen and frame. There's a Swarovski edition of the device if you like a bit (a lot) of bling.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Swarovski

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Screen

Both the Xperia Z3 and Galaxy Note 4 stick with the same screen size as their predecessors. This means the Z3 has a 5.2in display while the Note 4 is a reasonable amount larger at 5.7in.Sony has also stuck with a Full HD resolution – partly because it doesn't think Quad HD is necessary and to provide better battery life. This means the Z3 has a pixel density of 424 ppi. Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy Note Edge comparison review

Samsung on the other hand has pushed things to Quad HD meaning the Note 4 joins the members only club previously exclusive to the LG G3. It's 1440 x 2560 resolution equates to a pixel density of 515 ppi.

Sony Xperia Z3 screen

We've experienced the screen quality on the Note 4 (and LG G3) and think that Quad HD is fantastic – a bit like having a 4K TV so we feel the Samsung outpaces the Z3 here but this does have battery implications.

The other difference is that Samsung uses its usual Super AMOLED technology while Xperia Z3's IPS LCD display employs its own Triluminos and X-Reality technologies from Sony's TV range. We've seen both and the Xperia Z3's screen is more easy going and out favourite while the AMOLED tech is a little too in your face – you may disagree though.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Processor and GPU

As well as the same screen, Sony has stuck with the same processor on the Xperia Z3 as the Z2 - a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801. The chip is clocked higher at 2.5 GHz though and the phone has 3 GB of RAM.

On the Samsung side of the fence is the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 (or a 1.9GHz Exynos octa-core processor in some market) which we're surprised Sony didn't opt for; Namely because it's a 64-bit processor and we already know that Android L will be 64-bit when it arrives.

The Galaxy Note 4 also has 3 GB of RAM so it's more up to date 64-bit processor swings this area in its favour. See also: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Note 4

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Storage

You might be used to choosing which storage capacity you want when buying a phone but neither of these smartphone offer any choice. The Sony Xperia Z3 comes in just a 16 GB model while the Galaxy Note 4 is available in 32 GB only.

Both have a microSD card for adding up to 128 GB additional storage but having twice as much storage out of the box means this round also goes to the Note 4.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Wireless

As you would expect from two top-end premium smartphones, the Xperia Z3 and Galaxy Note 4 come with the latest wireless technology: 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC and Cat 4 LTE 4G.

The Galaxy Note 4 has theoretically faster LTE with Cat 6 (up to 300Mbps) on the Snapdragon model while the Z3 has Cat 4 which is half the speed. The Note 4 also has slightly newer Bluetooth 4.1.

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Unique features

Unique features are becoming increasingly important when comparing smartphones and for manufacturers standing out from the crowd.

Samsung loves extra features and you probably don't need us to tell you that the Galaxy Note 4 comes with the S Pen stylus. It also has an IR blaster which the Z3 doesn't have. Also not on the device's rival are a fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor and UV sensor.

That's a lot of stuff but may be completely useless to you personally. As we mentioned earlier, the Z3 has a dust and water resistant design. It also has front facing stereo speakers. New features consist of High-Res audio support and PS4 Remote Play.

Sony Xperia Z3 camera

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Cameras

The rear facing camera on the Galaxy Note 4 is 16 Mp and features auto focus and Smart OIS (optical image stabilisation). HDR offers a live preview, so you can see exactly what your image will look like before you capture it.

Sony has stuck with the same 20.7 Mp camera as with previous Xperia smartphones, but there are a couple of upgrades. It has a new 28 mm wide-angle lens and a whopping maximum ISO of 12800 for better results in low light. Sony is also one of the only smartphone makes to add a dedicated shutter button which can be also handily used to launch the camera app.

It's a close call but Sony wins it for us on the rear camera but Samsung has a better shooter for selfies. Although both phones can record Full HD video from the front camera, the Galaxy Note 4 has more resolution at 3.7 Mp compared to 2.2 Mp.

Related: Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z3 Compact comparison review: Is the mini Z3 too good?

Sony Xperia Z3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Software

As you would expect, the Galaxy Note 4 and Xperia Z3 both come pre-loaded with Android 4.4 KitKat. However, they have significantly different user interfaces with Samsung TouchWiz and Sony own nameless overlay.

Sony's is much closer to stock Android and is overall a lot simpler and clutter free. The interface looks much the same as previous versions which for some users will be a good thing. As we mentioned earlier, two key features are High-Res audio playback and PS4 Remote Play – the latter will arrive in November.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 S Pen software

TouchWiz is one the marmite Android interfaces and is more suited to long time users as opposed to newbies. You'll want to go for the Note 4 if you will make use of all the software which comes with the S Pen including Air Command (Action Memo, Smart Select, Image Clip, Screen Write), S Note and Photo note.  There are also other features such as S Health and Multi-window.


Sony Xperia Z3: Specs

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • 5.2in Triluminos Display (1080x1920, 424ppi)
  • 2.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 3GB 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
  • 3100mAh battery
  • Dust and waterproof (IP68)
  • 72x146x7.3mm
  • 152g

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Specs

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • 5.7in SuperAMOLED display (1440x2560), 515 ppi
  • 2.7GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 CPU
  • Adreno 420 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 16Mp rear camera laser AF with optical image stabilistaion
  • 3.7Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 4K
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • NFC
  • Infrared
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Heart rate monitor
  • UV sensor
  • A-GPS
  • 4G LTE (Cat 6)
  • Micro-SIM
  • 11.9Wh (3220mAh) battery
  • 79x154x8.7mm
  • 175g