If you’re in the market for one of the biggest, best smartphones of 2014, but still on the fence between iOS and Android, we’ve got the perfect pairing to help you choose. The iPhone 6 Plus and the Sony Xperia Z3.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Sony Xperia Z3: Design
From a design perspective these handsets are two sides of the same coin. Apple and Sony have pulled some of the same tricks to make two very attractive looking smartphones.
The iPhone 6 Plus is an impeccably thin 7.1mm wafer with curved edges that help improve comfort in the hand despite its larger size. The bigger all-metal body does mean it’s heavier than the Z3 by a noticeable amount though, which is the price you pay for that larger display.
Speaking of which, Sony’s contribution is smaller and lighter with a metal frame that like the iPhone, boasts curved edges which also play host to the hardware controls. Unlike the Plus however, the Z3 is only available in one storage option, but supports microSD cards under one of several sealed ports that give the Z3 its waterproofing chops. The iPhone will need a third-party case before it’s ready to take a dive.
The material choices are the biggest difference here; the all-metal iPhone stays smear-free far more readily than the fingerprint-laden glass frontage and back of the Z3. We prefer the Sony for its more manageable size, but the iPhone does feel nice in the hand, just test you can fit it into your pocket before laying down some cash.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Sony Xperia Z3: Screen
Sony’s worked hard on its screen technology in recent years and the Z3’s 5.2-inch Full HD Triluminos display is stunning, vibrant and bright. Its higher pixel density over the iPhone also gives you the crisper image so your pictures and videos look fantastic, not to mention small text, even without zooming in, is easy to read.
The larger 5.5-inch Full HD panel on the 6 Plus is the first of its kind for Apple and just as with previous iPhones, it is brilliant. Tim Cook made a big fuss about the work put into the latest display at launch and in the flesh it is one of the best we’ve seen.
Movie fans will love the expansive size, great contrast and most of all, the exceptional brightness and viewing angles. Apple doesn’t dress the screen with fancy technologies like the Z3’s X-Reality engine, but it doesn’t need to, it just works.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Sony Xperia Z3: OS
The on-going battle for supremacy between iOS and Android is exceptionally close this year. iOS 8 is an iterative incarnation of last year’s 7, with handy new features like faster Spotlight search and new tools for health and the connected home, but it borrows from Android with tweaks to elements such as a customisable notifications panel. The 6 Plus does however boast landscape support that might be preferred for two-handed use and there’s more control over aspects like power management of your apps.
Over on the Android side you have the latest build of 4.4 KitKat skinned with Sony’s distinctive UX. That means a big, bold interface with icons front and centre. By default the interface is a little convoluted thanks to a myriad of widgets boasting Sony’s many services, but these can easily be hidden.
You may prefer Apple’s iTunes offerings of music and video for being less obtrusive, but the media experience on the Sony looks and feels richer, not least because of Sony’s roots into the music and film business.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Sony Xperia Z3: Performance
At first glance Apple’s new dual-core A8 chip doesn’t look like it could stand up to the quad-core performance of the Snapdragon 801 at the heart of the Xperia Z3, but iOS’s talent for optimisation disproves this theory. Both phones are quick to launch applications, quick to multitask and generally impress across the board with regards to usability.
In both instances we saw the occasional dropped frame and noticed heat build for intensive 3D gaming, likely a result of poorer optimisation on Android and an underpowered GPU when it comes to pushing pixels onto the iPhone at Full HD resolution.
Both devices feel likes flagships and are equally matched in many areas. Battery life is comparable too. Despite being bigger and heavier, the 6 Plus features a slightly smaller battery than the Z3. Both phones will manage up to two days in general use, although the Sony’s more robust power saving tools will win out if you need it to stretch further and might be the preferred choice for power users.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Sony Xperia Z3: Camera
Sony’s made a name for itself by offering the biggest megapixel count in the Android space. The 20.7-megapixel Exmor sensor can capture shots at 8-megapixels in superior auto mode, but for best results, demands that you go manual. By doing this you can also shoot images at a much higher resolution.
Sony’s also packed the Z3’s camera with a host of fun, interesting and varied modes, although some are definitely more useful than others.
It’s biggest strengths are in the video department, where you’re able to capture footage in 4K, enjoy excellent image stabilisation and should you need to, record footage underwater thanks to the hardware shutter key.
Meanwhile Apple’s built one of its best iSight cameras into the iPhone 6 Plus. At 8-megapixels pictures are smaller, but the quality is undeniable. Users will love its fire-and-forget functionality, letting you snap in all manner of conditions without having to tinker – something not so attainable with the Z3.
Whilst there aren’t as many modes, you now have control over exposure, slow-motion capture is now recorded at an impressive 240 frames per second and as the Plus is the first iPhone with optical image stabilisation, footage looks exceptionally smooth (although perhaps still not as stable as the Z3 is capable of).
Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Sony Xperia Z3: Verdict
This pairing poses a tough decision if you’re OS agnostic. The iPhone 6 Plus is a fantastic entry into the large-screen phone market by Apple. Its performance, design and best of all, screen offer a sterling smartphone experience. Some my find this larger iPhone doesn’t quite as readily suit iOS as the vanilla iPhone 6, but there’s no denying the added benefits of extra screen-realestate to give your fingers some room to get creative. As ever it’s the easier option, the phone that does the things you want without asking any questions.
The Sony Xperia Z3 is, like many Android smartphones, the tinkerer’s choice. You get far more control over your experience – sometimes that means it takes longer to achieve the desired result when taking a photo for example, but it also affords you levels of flexibility the 6 Plus simply can’t offer. It may be smaller, but it’s also more affordable and the media experience is just as good, not to mention it offers a few distinctive perks like waterproofing and Remote Play for PS4 owners.
This is a close race, but one you’ll win whichever side you pick.