iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 full review

Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6

Sony vs Apple is a classic battle. Two of the top, premium tech manufacturers with hardcore fans - guaranteed to be annoyed by this comparison. But it's an important comparison. It is rare that both Apple and Sony update their flagship smartphones at the same time, rare indeed that Sony and Apple go head to head in any market.

And the Sony Xperia Z3 and iPhone 6 are important releases for their manufacturers. Manufacturers such as LG, HTC and Samsung have arguably moved ahead of Sony, and definitely left behind Apple, over recent years, in terms of the all-round packages contained in their flagship smartphones. (For more, see the 42 best smartphones of 2014.)

It doesn't seem to have affected either Sony- or Apple's market share or profitability, but as the smartphone market matures the next couple of years is likely to prove critical to the ongoing fortunes of both of these tech giants.

Here then we compare the brand new flagship smartphones from Sony and Apple. It's the Xperia Z3 vs the iPhone 6 based on our tests, the specifications, and our reading of the market. Here's our Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6 smartphone comparison review.

Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6 comparison: UK price and availability

The interesting thing to note here is the change in the market. Where once the iPhone was the expensive phone, and Android handsets competed on price, now Apple's phone just about fits in on price and value. Indeed, in this case you could argue that with comparable storage the iPhone 6 is cheaper than is the Xperia Z3.

The iPhone 6 starts at £539 inc VAT for the 16GB model. You will likely need more space than that, and the 64GB will set you back £619, £699 gets you a 128GB iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 has just gone on sale, and is widely available throughout the UK, although you may find stocks limited for the next few weeks.

The Xperia Z3 will go on sale in the UK at some stage in September 2014 at £549 inc VAT for the 16GB model. There is a 32GB model likely to be available in some territories, not yet confirmed for the UK.

iPhone 6

Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6 comparison: specs

Let's start with the important stuff: raw processing power. The Xperia Z3 comes with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor - no 64-bit here in preparation for Android L. It is clocked at 2.5GHz and paired with 3GB of RAM.

The iPhone 6 comes with an Apple A8 processor. But don't be fooled by the Apple branding, this is a dual-core chip running at 1.4 GHz. And it has only 1GB RAM.

So the Xperia is measurably more powerful than the iPhone. If power is your thing, there is no contest here. However, if you live for speed and responsiveness rather than processor numbers it is worth pointing out that in our use we found them both super fast handsets. Indeed, the iPhone's synthetic benchmark scores are excellent.

It is possible that if you run multiple high-power processes the Sony will be more capable, of course. Perhaps we could posit that the Xperia is better for high-end gaming, too. Difficult to tell. For more on speed benchmarks, see What's the fastest smartphone 2014?

We've discussed onboard storage options before, but it is important to point out that the Sony offers external storage in the shape of MicroSD card slot that can take up to 128GB. Apple doesn't like expandable storage - it says - because it may affect performance. That attitude increasingly feels anachronistic and we'd much prefer the Sony's take on this subject. Give us expandable storage, Apple!

Both the iPhone 6 and the Xperia Z3 offer 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and both are LTE 4G phones. The Xperia Z3 has a non-removable Li-Ion 3100 mAh battery, the iPhone 6 a non-removable Li-Po 1810 mAh battery. Clearly that iPhone battery is smaller, but remember that the benefit of a less powerful processor and less RAM is that the iPhone 6 will draw less power. And the biggest killer of battery life? A big display. On which...

iPhone 6

Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6 comparison: display

The Sony Xperia Z3 has an IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen boasting 16M colours. It's a 5.2in display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. That gives a pixel density of 424 ppi - not up there with the best QuadHD displays, but impressive nonetheless. Sony also offers its solidly impressive display technology including Triluminos and X-Reality (intuitive contrast enhancement). These sound impressive - I can't say as I know exactly what they mean. I can say that the Xperia Z3 has an impressive looking screen.

In the case of the iPhone 6 we find a 4.7in display. It is an LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen with - yes- just the 16M colours. You get, as you would expect, shatter proof glass with an oleophobic coating. Into this display is packed 750 x 1334 pixels, making for a pixel density of 326ppi. This is very much an iPhone screen: sharp and colourful, with realistic colour reproduction and good viewing angles.

Both good displays, but put them side-by-side and we have to say we prefer the Sony's. Sorry Apple, but you've been losing ground on this score since you started spouting nonsense about Retinas. (See also: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus comparison: which new iPhone is best?)

Xperia Z3

Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6 comparison: design and build

The Xperia Z3 utilises the by now classic styling of an Xperia smartphone: square shape, side mounted buttons and rounded sides. It continues the combination of glass and aluminium, with the introduction of nylon corners which should prevent damage in the occasion of dropping the phone.

Sony continues to offer a dust- and waterproof design so that means all ports apart from the headphone jack are underneath flaps. The phone is IP68 rated which is slightly higher on the dust side of things and can be submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. You'll notice that new colours are available beyond black and white so you'll be able to choose from copper or silver green too.

The new Xperia Z3 is 7.3 mm thick and weighs 152 g. However, at 72 x 146 mm it's still a big phone. By contrast at 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm the iPhone 6 is certainly not a small phone, but it is uncommonly thin, and smaller than the Xperia Z3 in general. And 129 g is very light for a large-screen smartphone: much as you would expect from Apple. If you want a big-screen handset with a smaller chassis, you are going to choose the iPhone over the Sony.

The iPhone 6 is a very different device from the iPhones of the past four years. The new phones have rounded edges - not just the metal, but the edges of the glass front are curved. This and the overall thinness make it a very comfortable fit in the hand.

In general then we prefer the iPhone's build and design over the Xperia Z3's, but the Sony phone is indisputably more robust, as well as water- and dust-proof. You won't need a case for it in the way that you will the iPhone 6. Big and bulky or nicer looking but potentially more breakable. You decide.

Xperia Z3

Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6 comparison: cameras

The iPhone 6 sports an 8Mp rear-facing main camera that can capture video up to 1080p at 60fps, and 720p at 240fps. The Xperia Z3 by contrast offers a 20.7 Mp camera that captures video up to 2160p at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps, and 720p at 120fps. It's also an HDR video camera.

Around the front both boths have webcams, the iPhone's being a 1.2Mp camera and the Sony's a 2.2Mp. You cannot fully judge a camera by its specs, and we haven't fully tested either phone camera. So that's all we can say about that.

iPhone 6

Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6 comparison: software

Android vs iOS is a conundrum. Android isn't like it used to be: if you are new to the smartphone game there's no obvious winner. These are the two most popular and best mobile operating systems around so it's about picking which one is right for you.

In essence, if you are a long-term iOS user you are probably best off sticking with what you know. You have after all almost certainly spent a lot of cash on apps that you'll have to spend again in Android. But it is worth considering that your iTunes music files will work in Android, and Android offers the opportunity of shopping around for music, movies, books and TV shows. See also: Just another opinion about Apple's new iPhones.

Xperia Z3 vs iPhone 6 comparison: which is best?

Two great smartphones toward the top of the tree, if you are an Apple fanboy or fangirl (fanperson?) you will wish to stay iTunes and the App Store. Fandroids will swear by the Sony on this one. Unusually, Apple is marginally cheaper, but the Xperia Z3 is ahead on almost all quantifiable metrics. That's where we would put our money, principally because of the expandable storage, better display and more robust build. But the iPhone 6 is a big step forward for Apple, and it is by no means a bad deal. (See also: Sony Xperia Z3 vs Xperia Z2 comparison review.)


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 11.ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 4
  • Nano-SIM
  • 3100mAh battery
  • Dust and waterproof (IP68)
  • 72x146x7.3mm
  • 152g

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