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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Vs. Sony Xperia Z1: Far East Flagship Showdown

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Vs. Sony Xperia Z1: Far East Flagship Showdown

Which of the IFA 2013 heavyweights deserves your hard-earned cash?

September 4 was a very exciting day for smartphone enthusiasts. On that particular day, both Sony and Samsung held separate press events, during which their latest creations were unveiled to the public. Evidently, those of you who have remained in touch with the latest happenings should already know that the highlights of these events were the Sony Xperia Z1 (formerly known as Honami) and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Although these two gadgets are not actually part of the same category of smartphones, both have been announced on the same date. More so, certain key similarities in terms of hardware specs make these devices top-tier. Needless to say, today we’re going to discuss about both the Xperia Z1 and the Galaxy Note 3, in a quest to give you a better understanding on what you can expect from either one of these devices. What better way to do it other than figuratively putting these handsets side-by-side?

Raw Spec Battle

In terms of sheer hardware specs, the Note 3 and Z1 are almost completely different beasts. Aside from the fact that they share the same display resolution and type of SoC, there aren’t many similarities to talk about.

Starting off with the Note 3, Samsung’s third phablet features a 5.7 inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and 386 pixels per inch – just as some rumors had suggested. On the other hand, there’s no flexible display here, not that this should come as a surprise to anyone.

Much like the Galaxy S4, the Note 3 will also be retailed in two main variants: an LTE-capable device and a 3G-only model. While the LTE model features a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz and an Adreno 330 graphics chip, the 3G-only variant is being powered by the Exynos 5420 Octa-core SoC (the new and improved version). The latter comprise one quad-core Cortex-A15 unit with a frequency of 1.9 GHz, coupled with a secondary quad-core Cortex-A7 unit clocked at 1.3 GHz. It’s an improved version of the “big.LITTLE” architecture that had originally been introduced on the Samsung Galaxy S4. The Note 3 also takes advantage of 3 GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of storage expandable by up to an additional 64 GB via microSD.

In the media department, Samsung’s latest phablet is equipped with a 13 MP main camera boasting dual-shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, and 2160p at 30 fps, as well as 1080p at 60 fps video recording capabilities. The main camera is complemented by a 2 MP front-facing shooter.

Last but not least, the handset is being powered by a 3,200 mAh battery and runs on Android 4.3 with the latest TouchWiz UI on top.

Moving on to the Sony Xperia Z1, this particular handset arrives in a more common display size, measuring 5.0 inches diagonally. The resolution is set at 1080 x 1920, resulting in a pixel density of 441 ppi. Underneath Z1′s hood beats the heart of a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.2 GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, and 2 GB of RAM. The device will be offered with only 16 GB of on-board storage, but much like the Note 3, the Sony Xperia Z1 also features a microSD card slot (up to 64 GB).

There have been plenty of leaks and rumors suggesting that the “Honami” will be a camera-focused smartphone – and they were right on the money. The Xperia Z1 features a 20.7 MP camera with G Lens and a 1/2.3 inch Exmor RS sensor with an f/2.0 aperture.

Despite the impressive on-paper specification of the camera, the Z1 is capable of recording 1080p at 30 fps video only. On the bright side, the presence of video stabilization should play an important role in the camera’s performance.

The Sony flagship draws its power from a 3,000 mAh battery. Also, worth mentioning is that the device runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and features dust and waterproof capabilities (IP58 certified).

Design, Software and Closing Words

In terms of design, the Note 3 and the Xperia Z1 could not be more different. Aside from the obvious discrepancy in overall dimensions, the Xperia Z1 features a glass back panel that reminds us of the Xperia Z and Z Ultra. On the other side, Samsung has changed gears with the Note 3, abandoning the glossy plastic finish in favor of faux leather and stitching. I have a feeling that not all gadget enthusiasts will appreciate this design language, but the Note 3 has never been closer to offering a genuine notebook feel before.

All in all, both the Note 3 and the Xperia Z1 are fantastic devices, but they clearly target different market segments. The Note 3 is a productivity tool and the software additions that complement the new S Pen show that. These include Action Memo, Scrapbook, Screen Write, S Finder and the Pen Window, all which have been implemented through a radical new menu.

In contrast, the Sony Xperia Z1 is more of an all-rounder, offering a certain degree of resilience with its waterproof capabilities, a regular (by today’s standards) display size and an impressive main camera. Once again, the software side of things also shows Sony’s intention to emphasize the main shooter. New additions to the camera app include Info-eye, Social Live and Timeshift among many others. More impressively, Augmented Reality layers are also a big part of the camera experience.

So which one of these two devices would you rather pick? What type of tool would serve your needs best? Leave a comment below and feel free to share your thoughts regarding the matter.

Vlad Andrici is editor for and writes about technology issues. Follow Vlad on Google Plus.