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.

Quadrant Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 18584
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 22270
AnTuTu Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 34088
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 31543
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 1177
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 1214
Vellamo HTML 5 Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 1584
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 2766
Sunspider Lower is better
Sony Xperia Z2 925.4
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 599
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z2 12.4
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 9.77

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.

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68 Comments

66. jellmoo

Posts: 2687; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Seems pretty straight forward: If you want a fun toy that you can take in the bathtub, get a Z2. If you want a productivity machine that's great for the office, get the Note 3.

57. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Well the Z2 is more like a Z1S already exists...it's more like a Z1S2. ..whereas the Note 3 is true upgrade and way better in terms of basically everything that makes a smartphone a smartphone. Z2 doesn't stand a chance. People should just face the truth rather than just blindly commenting that the Z2 is much better.

52. Owlet

Posts: 450; Member since: Feb 21, 2011

PhoneArena, Note 3 doesn't have a speaker on the back. Really? How bad do you know your phones??? It's on the bottom edge to the right of the charging port last time I checked.

62. Victor.H

Posts: 1112; Member since: May 27, 2011

Thanks, it's fixed now.

42. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I am tempted to replace my Xperia Z Ultra with the Z2 mainly for hte camera and stereo speakers. But I think the 1.2 inch reduction in screen size would be hard to live with now.

40. Immolate

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 17, 2011

Really not fair to the Z2 to compare it to a phone that it's not designed to compete with. The screen is way too small and it doesn't have a stylus. Now if they could increase the screen size to 5.7ish without increasing the size of the already massive footprint, they'd be able to compete with the G for second place.

35. wilsong17 unregistered

Note 3 amazing battery life and speed

29. JayBEE

Posts: 182; Member since: Apr 03, 2014

I suggest comparing the Z2 to the Oppo Find 7, whenever the latter is released. Even though I have the Note 3, I really want the Oppo Find 7, but got tired of waiting. My only complaint with the Note 3 is that it is a wee bit large for one-handed usage.

34. wilsong17 unregistered

Have you try turning on one hand use

27. vuyonc

Posts: 1094; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Both are probably the best in their respective classes right now and you can't go wrong with either but dang the N3 has really stood the test of time (well about 8 months anyway).

20. papss unregistered

These are two great phones.. I've owned a note3 and would love to get my hands on a z2. Those complaining about size can always buy a iphone 5s for your baby hands

21. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

There is size and there is ridiculously unacceptable size. The Note 3 size for a 5.7 inch screen and a stylus/Wacom digitizer. Perfectly acceptable. The Z2 size for a 5.2 inch screen is freaking ridiculous.

44. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I see so many people post opinions like this. But I think Sony put the large bezels on the phone to make it easy to hold in landscape mode. The Note 3 is mainly a portrait orient device. Owning a Xperia Z Ultra I can tell you that I need those bezels to hold the phone in landscape comfortably.

46. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

When you hold these 2 phones on the ear it looks like a joke. But I always use a good bluetooth instead of looking weird holding a big phone

18. redmd

Posts: 1965; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

PA, we want S5 vs Z2 review comparison.

16. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Holy crap the Z2 and M8 are huge. No way a 5.2 inch screen phone should come anywhere near the size of a Note 3 and yet the Z2 is near enough. Disgusting how bad the current crop of 2014 flagships are.

47. splus

Posts: 174; Member since: Nov 26, 2011

Everyone is raving how S5, M8 and Z2 are good, but I couldn't agree with you more! Just a bit larger screens than 2013 crop, but much larger phones overall. If I'm buying a phone of that size then I want to have larger screen! I wouldn't be surprised if G3 is smaller than Z2, even though it has a much larger screen...

15. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Both are excellent phones. All comes down to size preference.

10. drazwy

Posts: 377; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

Summed up in 4 words. One exists, one doesn't.

11. DEATHSTROKE9

Posts: 399; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

What does that even mean?

24. drazwy

Posts: 377; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

Just what it says. I can buy a Note 3. I can't buy a Sony Z2. Most of the people that have ordered one in the extremely limited release areas, are still waiting for it. And those that did actually get one, have build quality issues. So I guess it technically exists, but it's not a real viable purchase.

58. cheetah2k

Posts: 2332; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

spot on drazwy. Sony released the Z2 in Feb, yet no one can get one without paying huge prices on ebay.... And then there are dead pixel and overheating issues... Another Sony fail..

56. TheGenius

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Look at artsim98. He has been waiting for his z2 for ages now and there's no sign of it yet. ! :p

65. drazwy

Posts: 377; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

He preordered one?

67. TheGenius

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Yup. Look at comment #8

8. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Sonera is the worst carrier their delivery takes forever.

9. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

still waiting for your Z2? That's taking forever I said!

36. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Yep. This is horrible I'm so nervous all day just waiting for the message to come lol

6. mokhtar

Posts: 405; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

z2 is clear winner here .. better display , better camera , better design ,and better sound experience .. and WATERPROOF .. SO no chance to note 3 here .. Z2

12. refillable

Posts: 1071; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

I am speechless about those fake statement...

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