The Xperia Z1 comes packing some impressive camera hardware for a smartphone. For starters, there is a 20.7 MP sensor with a size of 1/2.3", while the Galaxy Note 3's 13 MP camera has a sensor size of 1/3.06", which is smaller. Meanwhile, the Z1's aperture is also quite wide at f/2.0, which is a bit better than the Note 3's f/2.2. Focal length of the Xperia Z1 is 27mm (compared to 31mm for the Note 3), which will allow you to capture more of the scene in front of you.

In terms of camera UI, both handsets are quite versatile and convenient to use at the same time. The Xperia Z1 does manage to trump the Note 3 a bit in the comfort department, due to its better organized camera settings, but the Galaxy Note 3 kind of makes up for it with the plethora of different modes that it offers, such as Beauty face, Night, Best face, Best photo, Sports and so on. The Xperia Z1 has a bunch of cool modes of its own, though. For example, there's Social Live, which is a really fun feature that lets you broadcast video directly to your own Facebook feed.

Turning our attention to the images themselves, we notice that the Xperia Z1 tends to produce even better pictures than the Galaxy Note 3, which is a wonderful camera phone on its own. In-focus details are significantly sharper in the 20.7 MP photos taken with the Xperia Z1. There is still a noticeable amount of noise, but on the whole, the data captured by the Z1 is a bit more substantial than what you can get out of the Galaxy Note 3's snapper. Colors are another interesting area to observe, as the Xperia Z1's photos are usually more realistic-looking. That's not to say that those from the Galaxy Note 3 are bad — quite the contrary — but they are a bit too contrasting. However, we definitely don't like the way the Z1 overexposes certain brightly-lit areas, which otherwise appear fine when captured with the Galaxy Note 3.

An added bonus to the 20.7 MP camera of the Xperia Z1 is that it lets you use the so-called Clear Zoom, which enables up to 3x high-quality zoom, unlike the simple digital zoom that the Note 3 is capable of.

Indoor pictures are great with both phones. There is once again a bit more detail with the Xperia Z1, but there's also a slightly higher amount of noise. Still, the Z1 does seem to manage the color balance better in lower-lit scenarios. Comparing the power of the LED flashes, the one on the Z1 has the upper hand, as it's capable of illuminating slightly more of the scene in front of the camera.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note3 2.7
No data
Sony Xperia Z1 3.2
No data

When it comes to video recording, both handsets can go up to 1920 x 1080 resolution, but the Note 3 steps things up by offering smoother 60 fps video recording, as well as 4K video recording at 30 fps. In order to enjoy the 4K footage, however, users have to own a 4K-compatible display. There is a bit more sharpness and contrast to the image quality of the Note 3's video, while the Z1 once again sticks to a slightly more realistic image. There isn't such a big difference between the two, though. The sound quality of the recorded video is a tad better with the Xperia Z1. The one of the Galaxy Note 3 is loud and clear, but lacks a bit in the low frequency department.


The Sony Xperia Z1 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are true multimedia powerhouses, but naturally, the bigger screen of the phablet will be even better for stuff like watching video or playing games, though the differences in the image quality are still valid. Once again, users will have to decide if they'd prefer the Galaxy Note 3's contrasting and vivid visuals, or the Xperia Z1's more natural color balance. It should also be kept in mind that the Z1's viewing angles are quite poor, which means it'll be difficult for a number of people to enjoy a video at once.

As far as music playback is concerned, you have Google's Play Music app with both, as well as Sony's and Samsung's custom music players, respectively. Both of them are good and represent what the companies stand for – Samsung's music app sports lots of settings and features, while Sony's Walkman music player is cleaner and a bit more modern. Both handsets come with high-quality earphones, with those of the Xperia Z1 managing to output a slightly better sound. Other than that, neither pair of earphones isn't very convenient to use.

Loudspeakers, loudspeakers... it's probably not very easy to get them to sound right, as both the Z1 and the Note 3 don't seem capable of outputting above average sound. That's pretty much all you're going to get with them – average sound quality, but the Note 3 does manage to gain the upper hand with its slightly clearer and louder sounding.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note3 0.43
Sony Xperia Z1 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note3 76
Sony Xperia Z1 68

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