Showdown: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact vs Apple iPhone 6

The best of Sony takes on the best from Apple

Apple’s iPhone 6 is being challenged by underdog Sony, which released the Xperia Z3 Compact this week in Australia. Both smartphones are crammed with the best technologies Apple and Sony have to offer, but the feature-set couldn’t be more different.

Pocket friendly designs

Picking between the Z3 Compact and the iPhone 6 on looks alone is tough. Sony’s smartphone sources charm from its noticeably smaller size, which helps it sit more comfortably in the hand. The Z3 Compact isn’t shabby looking either with its front and back finished in tempered glass.

Apple’s iPhone 6 ditched glass backing long ago. The latest rendition wears aluminium, and the sides round right over so that they meet the screen’s shaved edges almost seamlessly. The iPhone 6 stands taller at the expense of besting the Sony on width by 2mm.

Taking the screens into consideration edges the Xperia Z3 Compact ahead. The iPhone has a larger 4.7in display with fantastic legibility and brightness levels. Sony’s display is characterised by these hallmarks too, only the company managed to squeeze its 4.6in display in a smartphone that stands no taller than the iPhone 5S.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Google v Apple

Montagues and Capulets, Batman and the Joker, Apple and Google.

This time the battle isn’t between good and evil, but rather Apple’s iOS 8 and Google’s Android 4.4 KitKat.

The bottom line is both operating systems work well with the hardware, benefit from ripe application stores and are backed by great cloud services. Neither is better than the other: they’re both wonderfully great.

Apple's iOS 8 at a glance
Apple's iOS 8 at a glance

Sony's rendition of Android at a glance
Sony's rendition of Android at a glance

Picking between the two boils down to the products you already own because these smartphones work best as part of their respective ecosystems. Mac owners who own an iPad will see little value in buying an Android smartphone, while users of Google services who have an Android tablet will benefit most from buying an Android smartphone.

Winner: Draw

Read more: Nikon Coolpix AW120 review: Tough and then some

Hardware at a glance

Winner: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Read more: Samsung delays Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge launch in Australia

Camera megapixels and fun modes

Sony’s Xperia Z3 Compact can take 20.7 megapixel photos and Ultra High Definition videos. On the resolution front, the Z3 Compact has the iPhone beat.

The Z3 Compact’s camera excels in other areas too. The interface, for instance, can be set to auto or to a detailed manual mode. The camera can take photos underwater by using the good ol’ fashioned shutter key.

A night photo taken with the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
A night photo taken with the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

The iPhone 6 has an 8 megapixel camera with support for Full HD recording. Apple’s camera user interface is end-to-end simplistic, and it offers advanced shooting modes, such as slow-motion and timelapse videos, in an intuitive fashion. The interface doesn’t work in landscape orientation, which is why so many letterboxed videos run rampant on YouTube. Apple compensate for a lack of manual camera controls with advanced photo editing options.

My gripe with Apple's iPhones

Both cameras take exceptional photos in natural lighting. The iPhone 6 edges ahead when taking night time portrait photos on account of having a dual-LED flash, (compared to the single LED bulb on the Z3 Compact), but the Sony scores points for the quality of its videos when recording at night. It’s also worth noting the Z3 Compact records sound better than the iPhone; a useful trait for concert goers.

A night photo taken with the Apple iPhone 6
A night photo taken with the Apple iPhone 6

Winner: Draw

Stand out features

The iPhone 6 wages in with its Siri personal assistant and Touch ID finger scanner. These technologies aren’t new, though no other company does them quite as well as Apple. The iPhone 6’s advanced features, such as Wi-Fi calling and Apple Pay, aren’t available in Australia. What a shame.

The Xperia Z3 Compact is a case of Sony playing to its strengths. It’s a tough little smartphone with certification against dust and a waterproof rating, and fluent in multimedia with support for high fidelity music files and built in upscaling technology. Then there’s its unique competitive edge: its screen can be used in place of a television to play PlayStation 4 games.

A real stand out feature of the Z3 Compact is its battery life. Good Gear Guide measures the battery life of each smartphone we review. The iPhone 6’s lowest recorded battery life was 17 hours, while its highest was 25 hours. The Z3 Compact managed to last 25 hours at its worst, and defied belief by lasting 44 hours at its best.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

There can only be one winner

Apple and Sony have made stellar smartphones, with each excelling on all fronts, whether it is design, hardware or software. Anyone interested in a regular sized smartphone should seriously consider the iPhone 6 or the Xperia Z3 Compact. And then when you’re done, consider them some more.

One of these smartphones is the better buy -- by a small margin. Sony has finally one-upped Apple and it has done so by getting all of the basics right, and then adding features people will likely use on every single day.

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Tony Ibrahim

Tony Ibrahim

Good Gear Guide

@slicktonyi

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