In this spec shootout, we’re back to compare the new iPhone 6 Plus with the Sony Xperia Z3.
Some of our readers insist that the iPhone 6 Plus is only worth comparing to the Note 4, the LG G3, or some other “phablet”-sized device. At the same time, however, there’s more to a device than display size. Keep in mind, too, that iPhones in the past such as the 3.5-inch display on the iPhone 4S and the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5 didn’t keep tech writers and enthusiasts past and present from comparing the iPhone experience with the 4.7-inch HTC One M7 or the 4.8-inch Galaxy S3 and 5-inch Galaxy S4, to use a few examples.
With that said, the iPhone 6 Plus’s 5.5-inch display shouldn’t keep us from comparing it to smaller Android devices. In the past, the iPhone was the smaller device; now, we can still compare the larger iPhone to smaller Android devices. The same courtesy that’s been extended to smaller iPhones should now be extended to smaller devices such as the Galaxy S5 and now, the Xperia Z3 when comparing them to the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.
With that said, we think the spec shootout below is justified. Let’s get down to business.
Size and Weight
The Sony Xperia Z3 has dimensions of 146 x 72 x 7.3mm and weighs 152 grams while the iPhone 6 Plus has dimensions of 158.1mm x 77.8 x 7.1mm and weighs 172 grams.
Interestingly enough, the Xperia Z3 is slightly thicker than the iPhone 6 Plus, but the iPhone 6 Plus weighs 20 grams more than the Xperia Z3.
The iPhone 6 Plus is also taller than the Xperia Z3 and wider than the Xperia Z3. When it comes to dimensions, however, we give the win to the Xperia Z3 because the device will still feel more compact in the hand than the iPhone 6 Plus. The wider dimension can be justified by a larger display, but why is the iPhone 6 Plus so much taller and heavier than the Xperia Z3? When it comes to the in-hand weight of the iPhone experience, Apple’s somewhat lost its edge with the iPhone 6 Plus.
Display Size and Resolution
The Xperia Z3 features a 5.2-inch liquid crystal display (LCD screen) with a Full HD screen resolution of 1920 x 1080p. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, features a 5.5-inch, “Retina HD” display with a Full HD screen resolution of 1920 x 1080p.
The iPhone 6 Plus provides more screen real estate (a first for Apple’s iPhone), but the Xperia Z3 and the iPhone 6 Plus tie when it comes to screen resolution. The iPhone 6 Plus has a pixel density of 401ppi (pixels per inch), while the Xperia Z3 has a pixel density of 424ppi. While Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus may appeal to some users, as with all phones that feature wider displays, pixel density often suffers. There’s not much of a significant difference between the 401 pixels of the iPhone 6 Plus and the 424 pixels of the Xperia Z3, but individuals who crave brighter displays will prefer the Xperia Z3.
Processor and RAM
The iPhone 6 Plus is powered by Apple’s dual-core, 1.32Ghz A8 processor and the new M8 motion coprocessor that provides barometer information for the first time this year along with other fitness tracking information and data that includes Apple’s new Health and HealthKit app user data. The iPhone 6 Plus is powered by less than 1GB of RAM (975MB).
The Xperia Z3, on the other hand, is powered by a 2.5 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM. Sony stuck with the Snapdragon 801 in its Z3, despite the fact that a number of smartphones such as Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note 4 is powered by Qualcomm’s latest quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor.
There are a number of iOS adherents who say that specs don’t matter and that the slower-clocked processor of the A8 is more than sufficient to “manhandle” the quad-core Snapdragon processor. That may be the case, but quad-core processors are built to better handle multitasking than dual-core processors. With less than 1GB of RAM in the iPhone 6 Plus, there’s not much multitasking that one can do with the device. In contrast, 3GBs of RAM allows Xperia Z3 users to push their devices when it comes to multiple tabs and webpages open simultaneously, along with a number of tasks like listening to music, sending emails, and watching YouTube videos – in many cases, emailing and YouTube video watching occur at the same time for some individuals.
When it comes to specs, we give the clear win here to the Xperia Z3. While some may contend that the iPhone 6 Plus is faster, we’d have to say that speed means little when one can’t multitask on their devices to their heart’s content. Everyone doesn’t want or need a multitasking experience, but expensive devices should provide this feature from the outset.
The iPhone 6 Plus comes in variations of 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB memory storage models. Apple decided to eliminate the 32GB model this year and push the 64GB iPhone 6 Plus in the $299 with a two-year contract slot to encourage customers to spend a little more this year for a larger-memory device. Keep in mind that iOS 8 consumes about 5.7GB of storage space on devices, so your iPhone may not have as much free storage available as it has had in recent years.
In contrast, the Sony Xperia Z3 comes with 16GB of storage but Sony says that you should expect no more than 12GB of internal memory storage when using the device right out of the box.
In years past, one could expect 13GB of storage remaining after one takes account of the memory storage consumed by iOS, but the new near 6GB of space required for iOS 8 means that a 16GB iPhone 6 Plus may come with only 10GB of space available for apps and photos. While Sony provides only 12GB of internal memory storage out of the box, the Xperia Z3 also provides a microSD card slot with expandable memory storage up to an additional 128GB. Apple’s never been known to provide expandable memory storage, so what you pay for with the iPhone 6 Plus is what you get.
With that said, we give the win in the memory storage round to Sony’s Xperia Z3.
Battery and Battery Life
The iPhone 6 Plus features a 2,915mAh battery that Apple says will provide up to 12 hours of battery life on Wi-Fi, LTE, and 3G Web browsing as well as 14 hours of video playback, 80 hours of music listening experience, and 24 hours of 3G talk time. The Sony Xperia Z3 features a 3,100mAh battery that provides up to 10 hours of video playback, 130 hours of music listening time, and 16 hours of talk time.
The iPhone 6 Plus provides better video playback than the Xperia Z3 (14 hours vs. 10 hours) and better 3G talk time than the Z3 (24 hours vs. 16 hours), but the Sony Xperia Z3 provides more music listening time (130 hours vs. 80) on a single charge than the iPhone 6 Plus.
With that said, the Sony Xperia Z3 does have a larger battery than the iPhone 6 Plus (3,100mAh vs. 2,915mAh), but Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus has a smaller battery that is better optimized for your overall web browsing experience than Sony’s Xperia Z3 battery. As for standby time, however, Sony’s Xperia Z3 will provide 920 hours (or 30 days) as opposed to the 16 days of standby time on the iPhone 6 Plus. The results seem to be mixed here in favor of both devices in different battery areas, so we’ll leave the choice up to you.
The iPhone 6 Plus features an 8MP back camera and a 1.2MP front camera, while the Sony Xperia Z3 features a 20.7MP back camera and a 2.2MP front camera.
Apple’s 8MP camera remains the same in the iPhone 6 Plus as it did in the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, and iPhone 4S. Apple has increased the size of its pixels and aperture in the new iPhone 6 Plus, and the initial photos we’ve seen show that Apple has made some slight improvements in photography with the iPhone 6 Plus over the iPhone 5s. Sony’s 20.7MP camera has remained the same within the Xperia experience since at least the Xperia Z1.
Both devices seem to retain their same cameras as found in previous iterations while aiming to improve their camera experiences via additional software. Some individuals believe that specs don’t matter, but having larger digital zoom and pictures that put you closer to the objects in them are features of larger-megapixel cameras. One thing to remember is that the iPhone 6 Plus’s Exmor camera sensor is manufactured by Sony Electronics, the same company responsible for the Xperia Z3.
The question with the camera contest as with all camera contests comes down to the photos themselves. Despite what many perceive as the accurate color reproduction of the iPhone 6 Plus and its 8MP camera, photos are also harder to see with an 8MP camera that keeps objects at a distance. 16MP and 20MP cameras like those of the Galaxy S5 and the Xperia Z3 place objects and scenes up closer so that visually-challenged users find the beauty in up-close images and details.
Thus, we give the win here to Sony’s Xperia Z3. We believe that Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus camera is still formidable despite its low megapixel count, but we also believe that with Apple’s recent display size increase, the company is capable of also providing a larger-megapixel count experience to rival its Android competitors. Had iPhone users not clamored for larger displays, the 3.5-inch display of the iPhone 4S would still be the norm. Here’s to hoping that Apple pays attention to the photographers among its iPhone fans and increases the 8MP camera experience to that of a 16MP or 21MP camera to match that of its major Android rivals.
The iPhone 6 Plus now provides a larger display for iOS users, but there’s more to the success of Android devices than larger displays. The same can be said for Sony’s Xperia Z3.
Sure, the iPhone 6 Plus matches Sony’s Xperia Z3 screen resolution, and has a battery that isn’t too far off from the Z3’s, but Sony’s front and back cameras, quad-core processor, memory storage and expandable memory, as well as its IP65/68 water and dust resistance makes the Xperia Z3 the better device in its specs and features.
As always, we realize that there’ll be some responses to this post with the words, “specs don’t matter.” We continue to disagree with this claim, seeing that Android devices such as the Xperia Z3 with their multitasking capabilities can do more than what Apple provides in the iPhone experience. Even with a larger screen and brighter screen resolution, Apple still maintains the same 1GB of RAM – which doesn’t allow for much multitasking or simultaneous use of two or more applications.
Specs do matter, and with each presentation, Apple attests to this fact. Why is it the case that Apple provides a spec sheet on its main website if specs don’t matter? Why does Apple take time to list specs in its presentation (such as its 8MP camera) if specs don’t matter? Specs do matter, as there’ve been a number of iPhone users who clamored for a larger display for years. In the same way, there are a number of iPhone users who want a larger battery in the entry-level iPhone experience (not just in the iPhone 6 Plus), as well as expandable memory storage in their devices beyond what Apple continues to give them.
In short, we hope Apple remembers that larger displays and brighter screen resolutions are only small pieces of the puzzle that comprises the Android experience; any rival OS that seeks to match Android’s success will have to offer better battery, better cameras, increased multitasking, and more.
|Features||iPhone 6 Plus||Sony Xperia Z3|
|Processor||A8 chip with 64-bit architecture, M8 motion coprocessor||2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Quad-core|
|Main Memory||1GB of RAM||3 GB RAM|
|Display||5.5-inch Retina HD with IPS technology (1920 x 1980 pixels at 401 ppi)||5.2″ Full HD (1920×1080 pixels), 424ppi|
|Storage||16GB, 64GB and 128 GB||16 GB internal storage expandable up to 128 GB|
|Camera||8MP iSight camera with Focus Pixels, True Tone flash and OIS, and 1.2MP front-facing sensor||20.7 MP rear camera, 2.2 MP front-facing camera|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0 GPS, NFC||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, 4G, USB 2.0|
|Dimensions||158.1 mm x 77.8 mm x 7.1 mm||146.5 x 72 x 7.3 mm|
|Weight||172 grams||152 grams|
|OS||iOS 8||Android 4.4.4|
|Colors||Silver, Gold, and Space Gray||Black, White, Silver-Green and Copper|
|Water and dust resistance||None||Waterproof and dust tight (IP65 and IP68)|