Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Interface and Functionality
The Xperia Z2 comes with Android 4.4 KitKat and a sleek Xperia UI on top that impresses with its consistent style and lively animations. TouchWiz, in contrast, feels cartoonish.
Sony ships the Xperia Z2 with the latest version of Android, 4.4.2 KitKat, with Sony’s Xperia UI on top. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, on its part, has been updated to KitKat in some parts of the world and on many carriers, but unfortunately our version is still running on the dated Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. We’ll hope for an update that will bring parity in terms of OS versions between the Z2 and the remaining Jelly Bean-flavored Note 3s.
While in terms of Android versions the two phones are not that far apart, the actual difference in UI is huge. Sony’s Xperia UI is a clean skin with a commendably uniform design language with modern iconography, all things that leave a feeling of an all-Sony Android experience. Samsung’s TouchWiz, on the other hand, has this cartoonish visual style that often contradicts the pure Google aesthetic within some apps.
The Xperia UI comes with a few additional settings and apps that you may or may not like. The Note 3, on the other hand, is just packed with little tweaks, settings and often times it is confusingly for the average user as it features two apps that do the same thing. On the flip side of things, users who love options will have rich choice to tweak and adjust all sorts of features on the Samsung device. Samsung’s skin also enables some capabilities that the Xperia Z2 simply cannot match: Multi Window mode, for instance, allows you to split the screen and use two apps at the same time. The Z2 only has the option to pop-up new ‘small app’ windows on top of what you’re doing, but no such rich multitasking features.
In terms of specific apps, we ought to single out Samsung’s S Health fitness and wellbeing hub that aggregates information about how many steps you take daily, and allows you to also type in the foods you eat, and track all that information in one place.
We should not forget that the Note III also comes with an S Pen stylus tucked in, ready for your note-taking and stickman drawing adventures with the help of the bundled in S Note app that is nice and rich in functionality. The Xperia Z2 does not feature a stylus, nor does it have those features that artists might appreciate.
For all else, and most basic functions the two phones are equally capable. The phonebook app is unsurprisingly very rich and detailed on both. If we were to pick the nits, we’d mention, though, that on the Xperia Z2 you can conveniently swipe between the tabs for your call log, favorites, and all contacts, while on the Note 3 you have to tap on a tab name to switch to it.
The virtual keyboards on the two phones differ in their looks and style, but the experience is almost identical - buttons are well spaced, and typing is fast and easy on the large displays. The only thing that is uncomfortable on both is single-handed typing - it’s very hard on the Xperia Z2, and almost impossible on the Note 3 since it’s just too wide for a finger’s reach by default,but you can shrink the screen to smaller sizes for more comfortable single-handed typing.
Processor and Memory
The Xperia Z2 has top-of-the-line specs: Snapdragon 801 with 3 gigs of RAM. The older Note 3, however, is not far behind.
Sony’s Xperia Z2 has pumped up silicon muscle: it sports the latest and most powerful Snapdragon 801 quad-core system chip running at 2.3GHz and a whopping 3GB of RAM. The Galaxy Note 3, however, is not much behind with a Snapdragon 800 chip running at 2.3GHz as well, and also sporting plentiful 3GB of RAM.
In practical terms, both run snappily in daily operations. We’re still noticing a slight stutter here and there, though, and it’s a bit more apparent on the Galaxy Note 3, where TouchWiz seems to still lag in some particular places.
Gaming is taken care of the Adreno 330 GPU on both handsets, and you can play all the latest and most graphically intense titles on the Play Store with ease (and most importantly - smooth framerates) on both the Z2 and the Note 3.
Internal storage starts at the more conservative 16GB on the Xperia Z2, while the Note 3 gets double that with 32 gigs on board. Luckily, both phones support expandable storage, and you can augment your memory via microSD cards of up to 128GB.
Internet and Connectivity
Browsing is a pleasing experience on the large screens of both devices, and both support 4G LTE connectivity.
Sony has chosen to go with just one built-in browser to surf the web - mobile Chrome. We feel this kind of choice lifts off the unnecessary complication of having to pick the best out of two browsers for the average user. Why are we mentioning two browsers, though? It’s because companies like Samsung (but not only) are shipping two browsers on board - the Note 3 has a Samsung browser and Chrome.
The actual browsing experience is excellent on both devices - pages load and render quickly, and scrolling around and zooming in and out is lag-free.
In terms of connectivity, the Xperia Z2 and Note 3 are similarly capable as both feature 4G LTE Category 4 modems that support download speeds of up to 150Mbps. Other connectivity options include dual-channel Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC on board of both.
It’s worth saying that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 also has an infra-red (IR) blaster built-in, and you can use it as a remote control for your TV, or other electronics. The Xperia Z2 does not have such an option.