Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Sony Xperia Z1
Which is better: a phablet or a smartphone? And exactly where do we draw the line between these two types of smart devices? Is it the size of the screen that determines if we should place a device in one category or the other, or is it the overall dimensions of the device itself? Why do we ask all these questions? Well, it's because the next pages will be dedicated to our in-depth comparison between the Galaxy Note 3 phablet and the Xperia Z1 smartphone. The thing is that the Note 3 is actually among the more gracious phablets money can buy right now, while the Z1 is definitely among the bigger Android flagship smartphones at the moment. These facts will definitely make this face-off quite interesting.
Let's stick with the design topic for a moment. We absolutely have to make the point that in terms of size, the Xperia Z1 (5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches) is dangerously close to the Note 3 (5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches). So close, actually, that it makes this comparison completely relevant, despite the fact that the two should technically be considered part of two different device categories. Still, as big as the Z1 is, it's still slightly smaller than the Note 3, making it feel a bit more comfortable to use. So, even though it's unprecedentedly big, the Xperia Z1 is still the easier to operate handset of the two.
Size is really important, but appearance and build quality should also be considered. This is where the Sony Xperia Z1 simply blows the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 out of the water. The glass and metal casing of the Z1 presents users with a much more exquisite design that not only looks better, but feels much more solid as well. Meanwhile, the Note 3 offers you a run-of-the-mill plastic body that simulates a leather finish. The Samsung doesn't feel cheap or anything, but it's far from the classiness presented by some other companies on the market, such as Sony, HTC, or Apple.
Sadly, when it comes to the feel of the physical buttons, the Z1 doesn't do anything that much better compared to the Note 1, as its keys are quite small and don't necessarily feel so clicky. It does, however, feature a camera shutter that is quite good. The Note 3 lacks such a key.
Both handsets are charged using their microUSB ports, but there's an important difference here, as the port of the Note 3 is USB 3.0 compatible, meaning that if you have a USB 3.0 port on your computer, you'll be enjoying faster transfer speeds and charging, as long as you're using the compatible cable.
So, the Xperia Z1 doesn't have a fancy microUSB 3.0 port, but what it does have is a certain degree ruggedness with its IP 58 certification, which means it's both dust- and water-proof. Meanwhile, the Note 3 has its hallmark feature, the S Pen stylus, which allows you to take handwritten notes or why not even draw on that 5.7” canvas.
Even though they are very close in terms of size, the Note 3 sports a significantly larger, 5.7” 1080p screen, compared to the Z1's 5” 1080p one.
High-quality LCD displays are usually considered more accurate and mature compared to AMOLED-based screens, such as the one of the Galaxy Note 3. That's mostly due to the LCD's higher brightness output and natural-looking colors, but the exact case we're dealing with here isn't so typical, and here's why...
Samsung is introducing regular improvements to its Super AMOLED screens, and we're happy to see that with the Note 3, the company has almost eliminated the problem with the troublesome outdoor visibility such displays usually suffer from. As a result, the phablet's panel is almost as bright and easy to see as that of the Xperia Z1. The other specificity in this case is the fact that the Z1 utilizes a so-called TFT panel (no IPS tech here), which makes it appear quite washed out when viewed at an angle, despite the 'Triluminos' enhancements.
That said, there's no escaping the fact that the screen of the Z1 produces a much more realistic image quality, due to its color temperature of 7000 K (kelvin) and Delta E (grayscale) of 3.96. With the Note 3, everything is somewhat unpleasantly greenish/bluish, due to insufficient red (color temperature: 8100 K; Delta E (grayscale): 6.34). It may not seem so obvious if you don't use a reference, but the moment you see both screens side by side, it becomes blatantly obvious that Samsung still has a lot of work ahead of it when it comes to ironing out all the kinks of its AMOLED screen technology.