Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Sony Xperia Z3: first look


The new Samsung Galaxy Note phablet is here and ready to allure fans of large-screen smartphones! But so is the equally new, and large-but-still-smaller Sony Xperia Z3. The new Note is in no doubt the successor that the Galaxy Note 3, one of last year's most impressive smartphones, deserved. But so is the Xperia Z3, which comes a mere six months after its predecessor made waves with its powerful internals and refined design. Both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 will be competing for smartphones enthusiasts' attention in the coming weeks, so let's see how they measure up to each other!


The Xperia Z3 swings with the ladies while the Galaxy Note 4 plays his burly wingman.

Both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 are impressive phones that exude premium sheen and hardware prowess. But if we were to judge looks alone (which is, of course, subjective), Sony's flagship is the one that will swing with the ladies thanks to its rounded aluminium frame and tempered glass panels, while the Note 4 plays his burly wingman, dressed in typical Samsung plastic crammed between a metal frame. Both are crafted very well, and have that sturdy feel you'd expect from a high-end smartphone.

There's no getting around the fact that both the Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 are large smartphones. In exact numbers, Samsung's new phablet measures an appropriate 6 x 3 x 0.33 inches, 6.2oz (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm, 176g), while the new Xperia is a more compact 5.74 x 2.83 x 0.28 inches (146 x 72 x 7.3mm) at 5.36 oz (152 grams). However, when you take into account the Note 4's substantially larger screen (5.7 inches by diagonal versus the Xperia Z3's 5.2 inches), the phablet makes for a compact device in its own class. Samsung went the extra length to produce the most comfortable Note 4 possible, shaving extra weight off its sides and screen bezels. Sony too did an excellent job with slimming the Xperia Z3 from the Z2's 0.32 inches (8.2mm) down to 0.28 inches (7.3mm), but its form stays the same.

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The devices are available in Black, White, Gold, and Pink for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, while the Xperia Z3 comes in Black, White, Copper, and Silver Green. But which phone is the one to take on a rainy day? Both are sealed tightly against water and dust, and should be able to survive half-hour underwater dips of 1.5 meters. In terms of sensors, both smartphones feature enough data collectors to use them as portable weather stations. The Xperia Z3, in particular, boasts a step counter and detector to aid your walking consciousness.

As an object of differentiation, the Galaxy Note 4 sports its unique S-Pen stylus that fits snugly into its own slot within the device's body. It also has a fingerprint sensor for secure unlocking and payments, and a heart-rate sensor for, you know, heart rate measurements.


Both phones have displays that are extremely pleasant to look at, but the Note 4's is more future-proof and detailed.

Samsung has the habit of using every Galaxy Note generation to showcase the latest in its display developments. And with its mind-blowing 5.7-inch QHD S-AMOLED display with a pixel density of 515 pixels per inch, the fourth is certainly not an exception. Not only is the display razor-sharp, but it touts a fashionably skinny bezel as well, which will help it fill your eyes to the max. In contrast, the Xperia Z3 "only" has a clear and bright 5.2-inch 1080p LCD screen with a pixel density of 442ppi and Sony's TRILUMINOS Display, Live Color LED, and X-Reality technologies caring for the best possible view. Truth be told, both phones have extremely pleasant displays, but if you are looking to future-proof yourself and enjoy catching microscopic details, then the Note 4 is the one to take home.


Samsung's ambition has always gravitated around extensive functionality and deeply structured menus, while Sony is decidedly multimedia-centric.

Both TouchWiz (Samsung, first 9 screenshots) and Xperia UI (Sony, last 11 screenshots) are well-established Android interfaces with distinct visual languages and software features. Visually, both are modern and pleasant to look at, with the Xperia UI having the relative advantage of feeling pretty close to the "stock" Android experience while still having an identity. Software-wise, Samsung's ambition has always gravitated around extensive functionality and deeply structured menus, while Sony is decidedly multimedia-centric. In comparing the Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3, the main point of differentiation is certainly the former's S-Pen features. Note devices make using the stylus a seamless, natural experience for all users that prefer this form of input. The S-Pen is a true Samsung household that is yet to be convincingly replicated by the competition. Additionally, the Galaxy Note 4 supports features such as swipe gestures and has a fingerprint scanner.

Processor and memory

While the Galaxy Note 4 is better prepared for the graphically-advanced games of the future, the Xperia Z3 will comfortably hold its own for another year or two in most regards.

Holding on to its cutting-edge approach to the Note devices' hardware, Samsung packed a potent quad-core Snapdragon 805 32-bit CPU along with 3GB of RAM in the Galaxy Note 4. This is an extremely powerful and energy-efficient configuration that does short work of demanding games and usage scenarios, even with a display that pushes two times as many pixels as the Xperia Z3's. Talking about Sony's flagship, its internals represent a more restrained and reasonable approach. The combination of a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 quad-core CPU and 3GB of RAM is exactly what a high-end smartphone with a 1080p display needs to operate smoothly and have great battery life - anything more would have been overkill! While the Galaxy Note 4 is better prepared for the graphically-advanced games of the future, mostly thanks to the Snapdragon 805's powerful Adreno 420 graphics unit, the Xperia Z3 will comfortably hold its own for another year in all regards.


Both smartphones are terrific cameraphones!

Samsung equipped the Galaxy Note 4 with the latest in its camera technology - a 16MP ISOCELL sensor rear cam. This means it has the Galaxy S5's phase-detection auto-focus, to which it owes its fast focusing speed. It's also graced with optical image stabilization, which is a feature cherished by many. Meanwhile, the front camera is a 3.7-megapixel snapper for your selfie-taking pleasure.

Sony, on the other hand, went all-in on the Xperia Z3. It sports a mighty 20.7MP camera sensor with 8x digital zoom, and 3x "Clear Image" zoom, while the front cam is a handy 2.2MP unit with 1080p video chat and recording support. Both phones offer 1080p and 4K video recording, along with their Snapdragon chipsets' built-in photo re-focusing and editing trickery.


Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 are very compelling devices, but they are different enough as to make each a very clear choice depending on one's needs. If you want the latest specs, a huge display, and thorough software functionality, you'd probably opt for Samsung's blockbuster. And if you prefer a slim smartphone with a little less hardware power and sheer functionality on tap, you might end up happier with the Xperia Z3. Actually, no matter which one you choose, you will be a happy power-user!

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