Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet comparison review

Xperia Z4 Tablet

Sony recently gave the whole world of tech the eyes, and launched the Xperia Z4... as a tablet. We're still waiting to find out what is happening with the Xperia Z4 smartphone, and indeed whether Sony is committed at all to making phones. It would be a terrible shame if not, as Sony does good phone. But it has also made great tablets, right from the outset when its Sony Tablet P and Tablet S were the first non-iPads to offer something different to blown-up Android phones. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.

Sony's latest tablet is the Xperia Z4 Tablet - a 10in slate that is, confusingly, an update to the excellent Xperia Z2 Tablet. It means that Sony is currently selling that 10in tablet, as well as a smaller, Kindle-sized 8in slate improbably called the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. Snappy, huh?

If you are in the market for a non-iPad, consumption tablet, these are two of the best. So we set out to find out what separates Sony's little n large. It's the only Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet comparison review you need. (Also see: Best tablets 2015.)

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: UK price & availability

Sony has now revealed that the Xperia Z4 Tablet will cost £499 when it becomes available to buy in the UK in June.

So far, £499 is the price Sony has revealed for the WiFi-only model with 32GB of space and it comes with a keyboard, so it's possible that you'll be able to pick up the Xperia Z4 Tablet at a lower price without the keyboard. The 4G version is £579 with the keyboard.

At launch the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact was priced from £329. Now you can pick up the most basic Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact from just £299. That's for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version - which right now is the only flavour on offer from Sony's UK website. (See also: 10 best 10in tablets of 2015 UK.)

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Design & build

The Xperia Z4 Tablet has a 10.1in display. It is a square, blocky-looking device even thinner than its direct predecessor, the Xperia Z2 Tablet, at 6.1mm compared with 6.4mm. This is an exceptionally thin tablet.

Light, too. The WiFi model of the Xperia Z4 Tablet is 392g, while the 4G LTE model is 396g. It is a delight to hold, particularly impressive considering its 10in display. And the Xperia Z4 Tablet is waterproof up to the highest rating available: IP68. The headphone port and microUSB ports don't even need covers to make the device waterproof, so feel free to use the Xperia Z4 Tablet in the bath or by the poolside without a worry.

The Xperia Z3 Compact is one seriously thin and light 8in tablet. At 6.4 mm and 270 g is is thicker, but lighter than its big brother. It's almost like holding a phone because the device is so slender – holding it one-handed is a breeze. The stainless steel frame looks great and we like the rounded curves of the cover. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact will be available in black or white only.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review

It's also dust- and waterproof, with a soft touch plastic rear cover which matches that of the Xperia Z2 Tablet. This may not look quite as impressive but provides much better grip. Waterproofing in this case means slightly fiddly flaps (apart from the headphone jack) but they do hide everything neatly away, too.

The Sony tablets' IP68 rating is something which you typically won't find on other tablets and may be a big advantage.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Display & hardware

Taking a closer look at the screen on the Xperia Z4 Tablet, you'll find a 10.1in display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution, which equates to an impressive 299 ppi. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has an 8in screen with a Full HD (1920 x 1200) resolution. This makes for a pixel density of 283 ppi. Not quite as impressive as big brother, but not something you will notice, either.

Inside the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, which is both octa-core and 64-bit. It's paired with 3GB RAM, 32GB of storage and a microSD card slot for adding up to 128GB more.

Connectivity-wise, you'll find 11ac WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 and MHL 3.0, as well as an optional 4G LTE model for the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet.

Sony's newest tablet has High-Res audio, too, with front-facing stereo speakers, digital noise cancelling support, automatic headphone compensation and a new LDAC codec which supposedly transmits data three times more efficiently than Bluetooth.

We've not yet been able to test this claim, but Sony suggests that you can expect a whopping 17 hours of video playback from the Xperia Z4 Tablet's 6000mAh battery.

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet review: Hands-on with the iPad Air 2 rival with 17-hour battery life

Inside the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor which is the same as previous Sony devices such as the Xperia Z2 Tablet but the chip is clocked higher at 2.5GHz. Alongside this is 3GB of RAM and we can report smooth performance during our time with the tablet.

In terms of storage, there are 16- and 32 GB models (11GB available after firmware on the former and 26 GB for the latter) but Sony offers a microSD card slot for adding up to 128GB. Again: right now we can see only the 16GB version on sale direct from Sony, although the other models are in stock elsewhere.

Wireless includes 11ac Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE but no IR Blaster for taking control of device like TVs. There's also no wireless charging but there is a dock connector on the side if you wish to buy a compatible accessory – Sony's official Magnetic Charging Dock DK39 costs £39.

It's also great to see front-facing stereo speakers although they do distort fairly badly when the volume is at the upper end.

Despite clocking the processor higher, Sony touts an impressive 15 hours video playback from the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact's 4500mAh battery. (See also: 14 best budget tablets 2015 UK.)

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Cameras

On the rear of the Xperia Z4 Tablet is an 8.1 Mp camera, which uses Sony's Exmor RS sensor. The front-facing camera is a 5.1Mp camera with a wide angle lens, which will allow you to get more people in the frame.

If you're into tablet photography then the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact has a pretty decent 8.1 Mp rear facing camera with an Exmor RS sensor – about on par with the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. However, the high quality 2.2 Mp front camera is arguably more useful for video calls.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact review screen

With both phones you can play around with plenty of camera apps such as Sound Photo, AR fun, Face in, Multi camera and more. Using the Superior auto mode will automatically mean 6 Mp 16:9 photos and Full HD video so if you want the full 8 Mp (at 4:3), switch to manual mode. (See also: The 29 best Android tablets of 2015 UK.)

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Software

The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google's latest version of its operating system. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact comes with an earlier version of Android OS in the form of 4.4.4 KitKat – an upgrade to Android L will come in due course, we're told. (See also: 6 things we want to see in Android M.)

With both tablets Sony has added its own interface, though it's not much different from stock Android aside from the pre-loaded Sony apps such as Walkman, Album, PlayStation and Lifelog.

There's also PS4 Remote Play, which lets you play PlayStation 4 games on the device from the console over the same WiFi network. (Also see: Best tablets 2015.)

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • 10.1in IPS Triluminos screen, 2560x1600, 300ppi, 500cd/m2
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 64-bit
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage, microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
  • 8.1Mp rear camera with Exmor RS
  • 5.1Mp wide angle front camera
  • MHL 3.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/ac
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Nano-SIM (LTE model)
  • 6000 mAh battery
  • 254x167x6.1mm
  • 392g (Wi-Fi), 396g (LTE)
  • Black, white
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • 10.1in IPS Triluminos screen, 2560x1600, 300ppi, 500cd/m2
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 64-bit
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage, microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
  • 8.1Mp rear camera with Exmor RS
  • 5.1Mp wide angle front camera
  • MHL 3.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/ac
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Nano-SIM (LTE model)
  • 6000 mAh battery
  • 254x167x6.1mm
  • 392g (Wi-Fi), 396g (LTE)
  • Black, white

OUR VERDICT

This is a case of horses for courses. The 8in form factor is great for reading, or watching and playing whilst on the move. If you need to stand up on your commute, for instance. Meanwhile Sony's 10in tablet is a stylish and powerful full-sized slate. If you are in the market for an Android tablet, Sony's devices are high-quality, fairly priced.

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