Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Sony Xperia Z3
Samsung has never faced as much competition in the Android universe as this year. It now releases the next generation in its pious phablet line – the Galaxy Note 4, but it will be clashing with a lot of new flagships this fall, and the might S Pen sword might not help ward off the enemies. One of those cage matches will be with Sony's fresh Xperia Z3, and it will be one for the books, so let's measure up those two, and see who's boss...
The crusty Note 4 design is no match for the slim and waterproof Xperia.
Needless to say, the Z3, with its premium glass and metal design looks much more stylish than the large and clunky Note 4. Moreover, despite its thin and light chassis, Sony's phone is also waterproof, unlike the Note 4, and dons a pair of stereo speakers at the front. Samsung's phone has a removable plastic back cover, which lets you swap the battery if needed, but the Z3 can last, precluding you from having to carry a spare juicer at the camping trip. Samsung has included its fingerprint scanner in the Note 4, which here is even more uncomfortable to use than on the S5, as you'd have to balance the phablet on your pinkie while trying to swipe your thumb over the home key down low. The Z3, on the other side, relies on only old-school pin or gesture lock options.
Samsung's stand-out design and functionality feature that comes with the Note line – the S Pen stylus – is now much more comfortable to take out and snap back in the silo, and has doubled its pressure sensitivity for a marginally better experience while trying to jot down a shopping list or cut and share a piece of a website. It provides an additional input method which the Z3 lacks, and yet is not something that all Note owners use on a daily basis.
The heart rate sensor from the S5 also finds its way in the Note 4, and Samsung added a blood oxygen level measure there, too, if you are inclined to trust such a measurement made through your finger skin. For the first time, there is a UV sensor, too, should you forget not to go out in the scorching sun at noon on the beach, adding to the list of dubiously useful sensor laundry list.
Role swap! The Z3 LCD panel brags extremely cold colors, while the ultra high-res AMOLED display is hue-accurate, go figure.
Samsung pulled out all stops with the Note 4, and included a 1440 x 2560 pixels QHD AMOLED display in its new phablet, making it futureproof for more than one flagship cycle. Thus, despite its hearty 5.7” screen diagonal, the Note 4 returns the whopping 515ppi pixel density. This might seem much higher than the 424ppi of the 5.2” 1080 x 1920 pixels display of the Z3, and yet the difference can't really be told with the naked eye from a normal viewing distance, so the Quad HD specification would serve you for bragging rights only.
When it comes to color presentation, though, the Note 4 has a lot more going for it, as it is the most accurate AMOLED that Samsung has produced to date. Usually we lambast Samsung's AMOLED panels for having too cold hues, but in this comparison the roles are reversed. Sony has calibrated the Z3's LCD display way on the cold side of the spectrum, making whites appear blue, arguing that this helps the brain processes cold colors as brighter. Note 4, unlike previous generation AMOLED screens, comes with excellent color temperature of 6600 K, almost matching the reference 6500 K. Color error is also minimal, as you can see in the charts below, unlike the Z3's screen which resembles the older AMOLED screens. The only subpar characteristic of the Note 4 screen in terms of image quality is the gamma value of 2 (2.2 is the reference) but we can't say that the 2.5 value of the Z3 is better, either.
Both phones seem to enjoy similar low screen reflectivity and are legible to read in bright sunlight. However, the Z3's whopping 713 nits of brightness make it slightly better in this aspect, although they really smash the Note 4's 468 nits. The minimum brightness of the Note 4 is excellent, though, at just one nit, but the Z3 isn't far behind at 4 nits, so both won't poke your eyes out if you receive a late night text message.