Sony Xperia Z vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The Samsung Galaxy Note handsets have been best in class since their existence, not only because they are great devices, but also due to the fact that they’ve had no competition. HTC has recently released the Butterfly J/Droid DNA (although not in the UK), which is the first handset to come close to the Galaxy Note II in terms of screen size. The Xperia Z, therefore, will be the first UK handset to offer an alternative to the Galaxy Note 2 for those that want as much real estate as possible.
While the handsets are similar in terms of screen size, there are some big differences that need to be observed if it’s not just screen size that you’re interested in. Let’s see how these two match up on paper.
Unique Selling Points
Before we look at the comparable features of these two handsets, we first need to look at what makes them stand out from the competition. First up, there’s the S Pen functionality of the Note 2. There’s nothing else like this available in the current smartphone market, so if you’re looking for a stylus, there’s no compromise. The split screen multi-tasking that Samsung’s Multi View offers is incredibly powerful and there’s a whole range of other features that the S Pen includes.
However, the Xperia Z has its own trump card to play, and that comes in the form of an IP55 and IP57 protection rating. This means the handset is water and dust resistant and can be submerged in water up to 3 feet deep. It’s not the first handset to offer these features, but it is the first flagship. Previously you would have had to have settled for a smaller screen on the likes of the Sony Xperia Go or Motorola DEFY. The Z also comes with a small recess enabling you to attach a lanyard, which is a big plus for sporty users.
Although the 5” display of the Xperia Z is still half an inch smaller than that of the Note II, what it lacks in raw size it makes up for with other screen technology. The Xperia Z has a superior resolution – 1080 x 1920 compared to 720 x 1280 – as well as a better PPI (pixel density) of 443 compared to the Note II’s 267. Both handsets have protective glass, although as we point out in our Xperia Z review, Sony does not specify which type of glass it uses, whereas the Note II has Corning Gorilla Glass 2.
Both handsets run Android Jelly Bean. The Galaxy Note II currently runs on 4.1.2, which includes the aforementioned Multi View for split screen multi-tasking. The Xperia Z will launch on 4.1 but will be upgraded to 4.2 ‘shortly after launch’. In terms of customs skins, it’s really a question of preference. Sony’s skin could be said to be a bit lighter than Samsung’s TouchWiz, but a good launcher can mostly replace the functionality of either. It’s also expected that Sony will replace its current Social Networking app, Timescape, with a revamped app called Socialife.
Sony’s Xperia Z comes with a 13MP camera, whereas the Note II offers 8MP. The truth is, either camera will take very good photos. However, it must be said that on paper, the Xperia Z has the superior snapper. Both handsets have an LED focus and flash, plus 1080p video recording. We should mention that the Xperia Z has continuous autofocus when recording, which should make for even better footage. In terms of front facing cameras, the Xperia Z again comes out on top with its 2.2MP camera, which includes the same Exmor R lens technology that benefits the rear cam. The Note 2 still fairs well with its 1.9MP front camera, which will be more than enough for the majority of users. You can check out sample video footage for either handset on the Clove YouTube channel. There are also some early Xperia Z photo samples available here.
Both handsets come with an assortment of connectivity options and accompanying accessories. Either can be connected to a TV using an MHL cable and includes the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC options. I won’t go into any further detail as we have a Sony Xperia Z connectivity demo available here and a Note 2 connectivity demo here. Available for the Xperia Z is the Sony LiveDock, to which we have been able to connect a USB hard drive. The LiveDock can also be used to connect other USB accessories and connects the Xperia Z to a compatible HD display. The Note II Smart Dock offers similar functionality and the first stock is due to arrive at Clove in March.
In terms of storage, both of the handset versions that Clove ranges come with 16GB internal storage. Each handset then has a microSD slot. The Note II can take MicroSDXC cards up to 64GB, whereas in our testing only a 32GB MicroSD card worked with the Xperia Z. However, some reports have suggested that using the Xperia Z to format a 64GB SDXC card will enable its usage. We cannot confirm at this stage but will do so as soon as possible.
Due to its larger size, the Note II naturally has a larger battery, measuring 3100mAh compared to the Z’s 2330mAh. The Note 2 does of course have a larger screen to power, so this will affect the battery to some extent. Another feature that Sony is advertising strongly for its new handset is STAMINA, which it says can increase battery life by up to four hours. If this kind of performance can be achieved without hindering user experience too much, the Xperia Z will likely be the winner on the battery side of things.
Size & Weight
With its mammoth screen, the Note II is much larger, and therefore much heavier, than the Xperia Z. The Note 2 weighs in at 180g, the Xperia Z at 146g. Dimensions-wise the Xperia Z is substantially thinner; it measures 139 x 71 x 7.9mm, compared to the Note II, which is 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm. Overall the Xperia Z is the more pocketable and will feel slightly less cumbersome than the Note 2.
If you’re looking for a device with a big screen, the Sony Xperia Z and Note II have plenty to offer. It will likely be the unique selling points of the two that will sway your decision: would you rather have the added functionality of the S Pen stylus, or the piece of mind that the Xperia Z offers with its resistance to dust and water? There is of course the design to consider as well – do you prefer the sleek squared finish of the Xperia Z, or the smooth curves of the Galaxy Note II? The choice is yours, but Clove will happily help with any questions that you have along the way.