Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Sony Xperia Z3: in-depth specs comparison

Almost a month passed away since Samsung and Sony unveiled their newest and most advanced devices, the Sony Xperia Z3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Both companies did not change the winning team and perfected the handsets over their predecessors in several rather important key areas. At first look, the Xperia Z3 did not look like an worthy successor to the Xperia Z2, both design- and specs-wise, but after we had the opportunity to review and spend some time with the device, we quickly found out that we have been underestimating Sony's flagship.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 4 is not out just yet, but this doesn't mean that we don't know something something about the power-laden stylus-wielder. As both devices shape up to be among the better smartphones for the second half of the year, we couldn't help putting the in the boxing ring and comparing their most vital specs and aspects toe-to-toe.

Design

The sony Xperia Z3 employs premium design, but the Galaxy Note 4 closely follows suit

Although it's kept the same size as its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 4 slightly different from the Galaxy Note 3 design-wise. For starters, we're now being treated to less plastic than before - don't get us wrong, it's still predominant, but the frame of the Galaxy Note 4 is made of metal, a fledgling Samsung trend that originates with the Galaxy Alpha. The rear cover still imitates leather, but unlike the Note 3, the Note 4 comes sans the hate-it-or-love-it fake stitching. Although premium, the Note seemingly can't stand up to the Xperia Z3 in this department. The latter relies on a unibody aluminum build, and is rear is covered with glass for an extra-premium feel. The overall grip of the Xperia Z3 suffers from its design, though - although not as slippery as the Xperia Z2, the Z3 still loses when compared to the grippy Note 4.

Size-wise, both devices are almost in the same category. The Galaxy Note 4 has dimensions of 6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm) and weighs 6.21 oz (176 g), whereas the Xperia Z3 is slightly smaller with dimensions of 5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches (146 x 72 x 7.3 mm) and tips the scales at 5.36 oz (152 g). Then again, we shouldn't forget that Samsung has successfully eked out more display screen estate from the comparable overall sizes of both Android powerhouses - 5.7 inches compared with the 5.2 inches on the latest Xperia Z3.

This is due to the larger bezels of Sony's finest, which have to accommodate the front-facing speakers of the handset. Then again, Sony deserves credit for being able to endow the Xperia Z3 with IP65/68 dust- and water-resistance, while keeping it the low profile of the device intact. At the same time, the Note 4 is adorned with the typical for Samsung removable back cover and battery.

Another difference between the Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 is the former's signature S Pen stylus, which adds a whole new level of functionality to Samsung's phablet.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Dimensions

6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches

153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm

Weight

6.21 oz (176 g)

Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3

Dimensions

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches

146 x 72 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.36 oz (152 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Dimensions

6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches

153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm

Weight

6.21 oz (176 g)

Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3

Dimensions

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches

146 x 72 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.36 oz (152 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page


Display

Where AMOLED and LCD clash yet again


Display-size, the Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 can't be more different. We already mentioned the differences in the screen size (5.7" vs 5.2"), but the used display technologies are as different as the two sides of a coin. Unsurprisingly, a Super AMOLED display is gracing 74.39% of the Galaxy Note 4's front side. The resolution of the device is yet another "first" for Samsung - say goodbye to 1080p displays and welcome the new, Quad HD kid in town which boasts a resolution of 1440x2560 pixels. This is working out a spectacular pixel density of 515 pixels per inch, meaning that one would hardly find the display of the Note 4 not pixel-rich enough.

In the meantime, Sony once again relies on its time-tested Triluminos LCD 1080p display for the Xperia Z3 flagship. The combination between the 1080x1920-pixel resolution and the 5.2" display size works out a pixel density of 424ppi. That's a good result, but the Xperia champion is trailing behind the Note 4 in the pixel density department. We've already reviewed the Xperia Z3 and found out that despite its impressive maximum and minimum brightness (713 and 4 nits, respectively), the display Xperia Z3 fails to impress in the color temperature department - its 10,324 Kelvins are far away from the 6500-Kelvin reference point and that's why the display looks quite cold and blueish.

At the same time, some of the colors are oversaturated and unnatural, which is not an welcome change over the previous representative of the Xperia flagship line.




Processor and memory
Both are formidable powerhouses, yet the Galaxy Note 4 is a tad more future-proof

Samsung's latest greatest phablet is indeed a step-ahead from the Xperia Z3, as the former comes with the most power-laden Snapdragon chipset available at the moment - the Snapdragon 805. In the Galaxy Note 4 in particular, the quad-core SoC is churning the gears at 2.7GHz, which should effortlessly power the pixel-rich display. The combination between the 3GB of RAM, the on-board Adreno 440 GPU, and the Snapdragon SoC ensure that few things will be able to make the Galaxy Note 4 sweat.

It's important to say that the Galaxy Note 4 will ship with a different chipset in certain regions. Once again, we are dealing with a home-made Samsung SoC -- an octa-core Exynos 5433, comprising four ARM Cortex-A57 cores and another slew of four ARM Cortex-A53 ones, which operate in a seamless, power-efficient concerto in accordance with the big.LITTLE technology. This Exynos variation of the Note 4 also relies on an ARM Mali-T760 GPU to chew through graphics-intensive games.

The Sony Xperia Z3, on the other hand, relies on a tad older SoC generation, as it's equipped with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 8974-AC silicon, humming at 2.5GHz, and an Adreno 330 GPU unit that takes care of graphics. At least on paper, it seems that the Galaxy Note 4 has the upper hand in raw processing power, but let's not forget that both SoCs will have slightly different tasks ahead of themselves. The Snapdragon 805 inside the Note 4 will have to take care of no more or less than 3,686,400 pixels and the usually performance-hungry TouchWiz interface. At the same time, the Snapdragon 801 in the Xperia Z3 has to cope with "merely" 2,073,600 pixels and Sony's lighter Xperia UI. 

SoC and model number
Chip fabr.
CPUGPU
ArchitectureMicroarchitectureCoresFreq. (GHz)Microarchitecture Freq.(MHz)
Snapdragon 801 8974-AC28nm HPMARMv7Krait 4004up to 2.45Adreno 330578
Snapdragon 805 APQ808428nm HPMARMv7-AKrait 45042.7Adreno 420600
Exynos 5 Octa 543320nm HKMGARMv8-ACortex-A57/A534+41.9/1.3Mali-T760700

Both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 come with 3GB of RAM, which is (at the moment) as goods as it gets in the RAM department. This paves the way for terrific multi-tasking experience on both devices - surely, the Note 4 has not grown up in this segment in comparison with the Note 3, which also shipped with 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM, but this amount of operative memory is perfectly sufficient even for the heavier multi-taskers out there. Meanwhile, the Sony Xperia Z3 flaunts 3GB of RAM, because why not? Not only does this ensure an impeccable heavy-tasking experience, it's also another highlight of the spec sheet that shines brightly over some of the Xperia Z3's rivals.

SoC and model number
Memory technology
TypeBus width (bit)Bandwidth (GB/s)
  Snapdragon 801 8974-ACLPDDR332-bit dual-channel933 MHz (14.9 GB/s)
  Snapdragon 805 APQ8084LPDDR332-bit quad-channel800 MHz (25.6 GB/s)
      Exynos 5 Octa 5433LPDDR332-bit dual-channel 825 MHZ (13.2 GB/s)

Samsung's new phablet ships with 32GB of on-board memory out of the box, whereas the Xperia Z3 comes with 16GB of storage. Thankfully, both devices come with microSD card slots on board, so you can easily expand the user-available memory - both devices support up to 128GB microSD cards.

Interface and functionality

Z3's utilitarian simplicity meets Note 4's heavy bag of features

Both the Note 4 and the Xperia Z3 come with the latest rendition of Android, the Android 4.4.4 KitKat chocolatey goodness. Of course, Google's OS has gone through some modifications in both devices. Sony's interface solution, the so-called Xperia UI, keeps things simple and light, which is generally not a bad thing, but Xperia Z3's interface is not as feature-rich as the Galaxy Note 4. Sony has once again put a solid amount of emphasis on the multimedia capabilities of the device.

The latter unsurprisingly comes with Samsung's TouchWiz interface aboard, which is among the most feature-rich Android UI skins as a whole, but this over-the-top software faculty often results in slight hiccups here or there. It is yet to be seen if the Galaxy Note 4 suffers from the hereditary TouchWiz syndrome or the latter has finally met its archenemy in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset. 

While the cosmetic differences between the interfaces of the Xperia Z3 and the Galaxy Note 4 might not be as stark as the ones between iOS and Android themselves, there are a lot of design contrasts between TouchWiz and the Xperia UI. The latter is just a slightly reskinned variation of stock Android, whereas Samsung has once again unleashed its whole revamping capabilities on Google's smartphone OS. Similar to the TouchWiz variation on the Galaxy S5 flagman, the Galaxy Note 4 is home to a number of additional spic and span features that further complement the S Pen functionality of the phablet. 
 
It's important to mention that the Galaxy Note 4 outscores the Xperia Z3 in terms of on-board sensors. The phablet has snatched most of the biometric sensors of the Galaxy S5 - we are talking about an "improved" heartrate monitor and a fingerprint sensor, as well as an UV sensor. What's more, the Note 4 comes with an SpO2 sensor that measures your bloodstream's oxygen saturation.

Surely, these features will stand high in the book of those users who need to monitor their health data at all times or add a whole new level of security to their phone. The Xperia Z3, on the other hand is "only" endowed with an on-board step counter. Then again, Sony's focusing on what actually matters with the Xperia Z3, so we are not surprised of the lackluster of more biometric sensros aboard. And this is not a disadvantage at all. 

Camera

You can't go wrong with either of these well-endowed cameraphones


Sporting a 16MP ISOCELL rear snapper (similar to the one of the Galaxy S5), the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is adorned with both digital a optical stabilizations an board - meet Samsung's Smart OIS, which will make sure that the videos you shoot will be devoid of blur or unintentional shakiness. As usual with Samsung, the camera interface of the Note 4 totes a surplus of shooting modes and different options. In the video-recording department, the Galaxy Note 4 is capable of shooting 4K videos at 30fps.

At the same time, Sony's new flagship flaunts a 20.7MP rear snapper sans OIS. Smart stabilization is, luckily, at the user's disposal. The size of the Exmor RS camera sensor is among the larger ones - 1/2.3", and it also comes with a refreshed 25mm G Lens optical system, which has an f/2.0 aperture. The Sony Xperia Z3 is also the first smartphone to boost the light sensitivity capabilities of the camera to ISO 12800, paving the way for usable photographs under otherwise-inappropriate light conditions. Similar to the Note 4, the Xperia Z3 is also perfectly capable of shooting 4K video clips. 

If you are selfie-obsessed, both devices probably won't disappoint. Specs-wise, the Galaxy Note 4 is better-equipped in the department, as it's flaunting a 3.7MP front-facing shooter with a pretty-wide, f/1.9 aperture. In the meantime, the Xperia Z3 sports a more standard 2.2MP front-facing camera, which is, unfortunately, not as wide-angled as we'd like it to be. Still, it produces photos with natural colors and enough detail, as well as correct exposure under the correct light conditions. 


Conclusion and expectations


Both the Sony Xperia Z3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 are the most power- and feature-laden products of their respective manufacturers. As usual, each an every user should decide for themselves which device is arguably the better one. The Xperia Z3 shines with its utterly-impressive battery life and waterproof capabilities in a pretty thin body, whereas the Galaxy Note 4 is undoubtedly a high-specced powerhouse that will most probably be among the most relevant players on the Android market for the foreseeable future. When it comes down to the popular bang-for-the-buck ratio, it's highly unlikely that either of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or the Sony Xperia Z3 will fail to deliver.



Related phones

Galaxy Note 4
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 3.7 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3220 mAh(20h 3G talk time)
Xperia Z3
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 20.7 MP / 2.2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3100 mAh(14h talk time)

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66 Comments

1. spin9

Posts: 310; Member since: May 31, 2014

Godzilla vs Muto!

3. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

godzilla vs sh*t

30. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Both are beasts. Both FTW.

35. Ashoaib

Posts: 3298; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

godzilla vs common zilla

40. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

yet z3 will be more responsive .

50. Ashoaib

Posts: 3298; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

thats all?

48. oister85 unregistered

Goliath vs david

7. rantao333

Posts: 346; Member since: May 21, 2013

gap vs tight

22. maherk

Posts: 6961; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Both are Godzillas imo, you can't go wrong with either one of them. Hands down, the best 2 smartphones ever built.

24. district11

Posts: 126; Member since: Apr 17, 2011

Lol xD

2. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2361; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

16GB of internal memory? Who does this ? Smh.... Note 4 \m/

4. MichiGo

Posts: 173; Member since: Sep 09, 2014

Personally, I like the Z3 more because of the great battery life, smaller size, IP rating, battery life and lack of Touchwhiz. Thats just me tho.

8. g2a5b0e unregistered

You said battery life twice, but you have no idea yet what the battery life of the Note 4 will actually be.

10. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Lol right?

36. Ashoaib

Posts: 3298; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

I like note 4 for replaceable battery..... who can compete with samsung's super amoled display? moreover, great multitasking is still unrivaled... whereas z3 is a typical flagship which any company can offer

5. John.v2

Posts: 45; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

neutrally speaking specs which matter make z3 better. outdoor visibility over 700 nits, best flagship battery , better looking device, extremely thin, big enough screen. while note 4 will have better xda developer support only..... comparatively

9. g2a5b0e unregistered

The S5 has a screen that is very visible outdoors & the Note 4's screen will be just as bright, so that's not much of an advantage for the Z3, we don't know the battery life for Note 4, so you can't use that yet, looks are subjective, I would argue that the extra thinness is actually a disadvantage, & what you call a "big enough screen" isn't going to be the case for everyone

11. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Note 4 can achieve a maximum brightness of about 700 nits.

18. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Displaymate says 700 nits on automatic brightness only. ~400 nits in all other situations.

20. g2a5b0e unregistered

I fail to see your point. We're talking about maximum brightness here. Why would you not have your phone on automatic while out in the sunlight to take advantage of the capability?

28. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Actually, manually it can achieve about 500nits of brightness, which is totally different form your answer. Please educate yourself before posting.

45. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Average brightness (50% picture)- ~370 nits Full brightness (100% picture)- ~350 nits Peak brightness (1% picture)- ~450 nits Auto brightness - ~478-750 nits *from Don't tell me to do what I have already done. Chill out, I'm not trolling.

37. Ashoaib

Posts: 3298; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

neutrally speaking, specs which matters still make note 4 a better choice... z3 is a type of phone which any other company has(except ip certification)... chinese are better budget friendly option in this typical type of flagships... my phone has 515nits peak brightness and it is pretty good enough under full bright sunny day and note 4 is capable of reaching 700

6. John.v2

Posts: 45; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

there is absolutely no way note 4 is better than z3 apart from cpu frequency. BTW touchwiz doesn't matter which snapdragon you have....it will eat all its power and convert it into lag

12. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Hater detected. Please further explain your hands on review with the Note 4 for us all.

29. buccob

Posts: 2975; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

pot, meet kettle. Anyway both, Note 4 and Z3 are great devices that should please buyers... though a bit different users... I actually like the Z3 Compact, so neither phone on this article appeal to me.

46. dmakun

Posts: 382; Member since: Jun 06, 2011

I like the Z3 compact too but not more so than the note 4. All the hate for Touchwiz is getting rather unfair. I abandoned the "great" Htc sense for Samsung's TW many years ago and I've never looked back. The only thing I dislike about TW is the launcher and the same applies to HTC Sense launcher as well (so I have a nova launcher as my default) and this just works for me on top of TW with its feature rich experience. People are latching on to this TW lag band wagon without experiencing it as a daily driver (by the way my TW experience as been on all 3 galaxy note devices). I wish for TW to be better like every other oem launcher because in the end consumers like myself are the winners

17. anleoflippy

Posts: 596; Member since: Jan 03, 2013

Hater much?

21. chaosnightmare

Posts: 182; Member since: May 20, 2010

Note 3 doesn't lag, so there's not a single reason to think note 4 will, in the other hand note 4 spoils better screen to size ratio, i'ts not only about "big enough screen" if both devices are almost the same overall size then bigger, higher resolution and most acurate screen is better, design its about preferences, Note 4 has not the best constructions materials ever but I find the Xperia design boring and some people like removable battery, spen and physical/capacitive buttons more. We don't know anything about note 4 battery life yet but we know specs and this one will most likely be on favor of Z3.

41. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

ooh it does lag and moreover lag is subjective you only notice it when you are coming from a smoother device . s5 hangs and so does note 3 just give it few months.

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