What’s going on everyone, Mike here and in this video we’re having side by side the Samsung Galaxy Alpha (which I already reviewed here) and the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.
Before you proceed, please keep this in mind: I’ve used these devices for a few days before they were officially announced and the Z3 Compact mentioned here is a pre-production sample and not the final release unit. That’s why there might be some inexactitudes in the video and some of the mentioned details might be different to those of the final unit. I will address those in the post.
Anyway, the Z3 Compact is a true flagship, a miniaturized version of the Xperia Z3, with whom it shares most of the specs and features. The Galaxy Alpha is a top-tier smartphone as well, but it cuts a few corners here and there, so at least on paper, is at a disadvantage.
The Z3 Compact also has a smaller footprint than the Alpha and that’s because it packs a slightly smaller screen, but also because its top and lower bezels are thinner than on the Samsung. The Alpha inherits the Android commands placed just beneath the screen from the other Galaxies and that leads to a taller body, while the Sony still makes use of on screen controls.
The Z3 is however thicker and heavier than the Samsung, so these phones are really not much alike. On one side there’s the Sony, whose screen is easier to cover with your thumb and whose rounded soft plastic edges make it comfortable to grab and hold. But its glass back is slippery and prone to smudges. On the other there’s the Samsung, with its sharper metallic edges and a smooth polycarbonate back, which is still plastic at the end of the day, but actually feels nice and makes the phone grippy.
All in all, I’m enjoying both these phones. They are compact enough for single hand use and they feel solid in hand, reliable. There are a few practical aspects that might steer you towards one side or the other though. The Sony is waterproof and offers a microSD card-slot, but all its connectors are hidden behind plastic caps, while the Samsung’s back is removable and allows access to a replaceable battery, but lacks any means of expanding the storage space.
So I’d say this round ends in a tie.
The Sony gets the point when it comes to screen quality though, as it gets a 4.6 inch
1920 x 1080 1280 x 720 px display with an IPS panel, which is bright, vibrant and capable of painting natural looking colors, but suffers from somewhat narrow viewing angles. The Galaxy boosts a 4.7 inch screen with an AMOLED panel and all of its pros and cons, including the rich blacks, deep contrast and oversaturated, skewed colors, and the same 1280 x 720 px resolution.
Hardware and everyday performance
Hardware wise, there’s a Snapdragon 801 chip on the Z3 Compact and an Exynos 5260 platform on the Galaxy Alpha and the latter is really competitive, outmatching the Qualcomm option in most benchmarks and even in daily activities.
It’s hard to say which is the fastest of the two though. Both run Android 4.4, but diffrently tweaked and customized by each manufacturer. Sony’s iteration is simpler, closer to stock KitKat, while Samsung’s TouchWiz is known for changing everything that can be changed.
But we can say this for sure: it won’t be easy to find a more consistent user experience than on this phones, as they both work smooth, with almost no hiccups at all. On top of that, you’ll find proprietary apps on both these devices, like S Health and S Voice on the Samsung, or Walkman, PlayStation and Xperia Lounge on the Sony.
Picking one software solution offer the other is in the end up to you though, as both sides have their fair share of pros and cons.
Next we get to talk about the cameras. The Alpha gets a 12 MPx shooter, while the Z3 inherits the 20.7 MPx shooter we’ve seen on previous Sony Z smartphones. On paper, it’s at least a class on top of the Alpha’s solution, in practice, the difference between the two is pretty narrow.
However, I can’t post the pics and videos taken with this pre-production model for the time being, as they might be somewhat misleading. I will however update this version as soon as I get my hands on a final retail unit, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, you can check out the pictures shot with the Galaxy Alpha over here.
Last but not least there’s the battery life. Despite packing a smaller battery than the Z3 Compact, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha can easily get through the day and even reach the end of the second most of the time.
The Sony packs a larger, encased battery, and will usually go for about 2 days of average use easily, which is definitely not bad at all.
Both handsets offer ways of squeezing more out of their batteries, with the Ultra Power Saving mode on the Samsung or the Stamina mode on the Sony, but by cutting access to some features or capping the overall speed, which are compromises I’m usually not willing to make, unless really needed.
Alright, all these being said, we can conclude that there are reasons to get either of these phones. The Sony Xperia Z3 compact makes less compromises and is overall perhaps the better option if you’re after a compact Android handset with top tier features.
The Samsung checks most of the right boxes as well and is a different device: lighter, but slightly bigger, with a different kind of screen, a different UI and a replaceable battery.
Which one I’d choose in the end is really not important here, what matters more is which you would choose. So please let me know who gets your hard earned buck: is it the beefy waterproof Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, or the sleek Samsung Galaxy Alpha, the long awaited Samsung smartphone with a metallic body?
I’ll be waiting for your comments below and I’m around to reply if you have any questions or need help deciding.