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Call quality


Honestly, we aren't blown away by any of these two handsets when it comes to sound quality during calls. In terms of loudness, they are both pretty decent, but don't expect to hear any deep or natural sounding tones through their earpieces. The Note 3 tends to sound slightly better. Things are pretty similar on the other end of the line, where your callers won't have any major issues.

Of course, it should be kept in mind that sound quality during calls depends on a number of factors, so the experience is bound to vary.

As we said in the previous part, neither speaker is particularly impressive, but the slightly stronger and clearer output of the Galaxy Note 3 should prove to make it a bit more suitable when using the handset's speaker in loud environments. The Xperia Z1's loudspeaker will also get the job done, though.

Battery


Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Sony Xperia Z1 feature some quite beefy battery units. The one on the Note 3 is a 3200 mAh, while the one of the Z1 has a capacity of 3000 mAh. According ot the official statistics provided by the manufacturers, the Xperia Z1 should offer a continuous talk-time of 15 hours in 3G, while stand-by is rated at 35 days in 3G and 31 days in 4G, which are all great figures. The Galaxy Note 3 is also a very good performer in that respect, as it should theoretically offer about 17 days of stand-by and 21 hours of talk-time in 3G. Keep in mind that these are theoretic times that do not factor in things like the power consumption of the display, so once again, battery life will definitely vary depending on your usage behavior.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage. All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.

hours Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note3
6h 8 min (Poor)
Sony Xperia Z1
4h 43 min (Poor)

But enough of the boring statistics. We've done our own battery test with both phones and have found the Note 3's battery to be slightly longer-lasting. Our battery test is designed to replicate typical real-world usage, and although it can't be 100% representative of the actual battery life users are going to experience, it's bound to give us a better idea of how the devices are going to perform. So, the Galaxy Note 3 managed to remain active for about 6 hours and 8 minutes, while the Z1 powered itself off after about 4 hours and 42 minutes. That's quite a difference, indicating that in most cases the Note 3 should be able to remain alive for a bit longer than Sony's offering.

Conclusion


At the end of the day, which one should consumers go for – the Note 3 phablet or the Z1 smartphone? It turns out that it's actually not that easy to answer this, as it's not simply a matter of size. If the two handsets were mostly equal in what they do, then the bulkiness of the Xperia Z1 would have probably pushed us into the Note 3's direction. However, the Xperia Z1 is quite a solid contender that's able to give the Note 3 a run for its money in almost all categories. Sure, it's bulky for its a smartphone with a 5” display, but it's still a bit smaller and more compact than the Note 3. It's display is significantly smaller, but produces higher-quality visuals. The Z1's camera is about equal or slightly better in some scenarios, while the software has a more mature and streamlined look.

All of this doesn't mean that the Note 3 is an inferior product. Not at all. The Note 3 is probably the best phablet money can buy right now and it really has no major flaws. What we mean is that both handsets are very good at what they want to be, so it really comes down to the subjective nature of personal preferences. If you want the bigger screen – get the Note 3. If you prefer the more solid construction and exquisite design, get the Z1. At the end of the day, both feature top-notch hardware and tons of features to keep you busy, so you can't go wrong with either of them.



Software versions of the reviewed units:
Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Android 4.3; Build JSS15J.N9005XXUBMI7
Sony Xperia Z1: Android 4.2.2; 14.1.G.1.518

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