Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 comparison review

Samsung announced the Galaxy S6 at MWC 2015 as expected but Sony decided not to launch the Xperia Z4 despite saying it was happy with a six month refresh cycle. That means the Xperia Z3 remains the firm's flagship phone but how does it compare to the new Galaxy S6? Find out in our Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 comparison review. Also see: Best smartphones 2015 and Best Android phones 2015.

Since the Xperia Z3 is last year's flagship smartphone, it's a little unfair to compare these two handsets but they will have to compete in the market until its successor comes along so we're fine with it really. We will, of course, compare the two 2015 flagships from Samsung and Sony when the Xperia Z4 launches. Read next: Best new smartphones coming in 2015.

If you like what you see, check out Where to buy the Galaxy S6 and the best deals.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 review: Price

Arriving on 10 April, the Galaxy S6 has an official price of £599 from Samsung for the cheapest model. However, retailers like Unlocked Mobiles have it pegged slightly lower at £584. Either way it's a premium price tag. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 UK release date, price and specs

Since it's been on the market for six months or so the Sony Xperia Z3 had dropped in price from its original £499 which is already £100 cheaper. You can pick it up, at the time of writing for around £390 so that's a significant saving compared to the Galaxy S6.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Sony Xperia Z3

Also see: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Samsung Galaxy S6: What's new in the Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 review: Design

The Galaxy S6 is still recognisable as a Samsung flagship phone but there are quite a few changes in the design. There's a new metal frame which looks similar to the iPhone 6 and gone is the dreaded flimsy plastic rear cover in favour of a Gorilla Glass 4 panel.

Samsung has made the more slender phone here at 6.8 mm and 138 g compared to the Z3 which is 7.3 mm and 152 g.

Samsung Galaxy S6 design

Although the shape is quite different – Sony's Xperia Z3 is the trademark square – the combination of a metal frame and glass front and rear make these two phones pretty similar. While the Galaxy S6's camera sticks out and the phone has a physical home key, the Z3 has neither.

Neither has a removable battery due to the design and although the Galaxy S5 is waterproof, Samsung has dropped this feature on the Galaxy S6. As usual, you can reply on Sony to offer waterproofing.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 review: Hardware

Screen size remains the same on the Galaxy S6 at 5.1in which is marginally smaller than the Z3's 5.2in. However, the resolution has been upgraded to Quad HD (1440 x 2560) and Samsung still goes for its SuperAMOLED technology. It's also worth pointing out that there's a Galaxy S6 Edge which has a dual edge display.

Sony's is a more traditional Full HD resolution and it uses its own Triluminos technology. There's nothing wrong with the display on the Xperia Z3 but Quad HD just looks stunning so the Galaxy S6 pips it here.

Sony Xperia Z3 screen

Inside the Galaxy S6 is Samsung's own Exynos 7420 octa-core processor (quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 and quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57), 3 GB of RAM and a Mali-T760 GPU. The firm ended up not going down the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 route.

The Xperia Z3 has a Snapdragon 801 which is 2.5 GHz quad-core and there's also 3 GB of RAM and an Adreno 330 GPU. Both offer top-end performance but it's understandable that the newer Galaxy S6 is more of a powerhouse. The Xperia Z4 should challenge it more closely with a Snapdragon 810.

On storage, the two differ vastly with the Galaxy S6 available in 32-, 64- and 128 GB capacities but Samsung has dropped the microSD card which has always been there so you can't add any more. Sony just has 16- and 32 GB version of the Xperia Z3 and the latter is harder to come by. However, it does offer a microSD card slot so you can add up to 128 GB more.

Wireless is closely matched with dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 with atpX, NFC and 4G LTE. However, Sony doesn't offer an IR blaster, heart rate monitor or fingerprint scanner, which are all features of the Galaxy S6. Samsung's phone also has Cat 6 4G LTE compared to Cat 4 so is theoretically twice as fast.

Sony fights back with exclusive features such as High Res audio support plus the addition of PS4 Remote Play so these may be of more use to you than some additional sensors.

Samsung Galaxy S6 camera and sensors

Things are a close match when it comes to cameras as the Sony Xperia Z3 has a 20.7 Mp rear camera while the Galaxy S6 has a 16 Mp snapper. Both can shoot video in up to 4K resolution but it's worth noting that that Samsung offers optical image stabilisation and Sony offers up to ISO 12800. If you're interested in selfies then the Galaxy S6 has a higher resolution front camera a 5 Mp compared to 2.2 Mp.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 review: Software

You'll get Android 5.0 Lollipop with the latest TouchWiz user interface on the Galaxy S6 out of the box and we'd normally say it's a lot heavier than Sony's Xperia user interface but this edition is stripped back considerably. Samsung's phones now come with Microsoft apps pre-installed but the firm gives you the ability to remove apps you don't want.

Sony Xperia Z3 PS4 Remote Play

It's quite refreshing and while the Xperia Z3 still ships with Android 4.4.4 KitKat, it's upgradable to 5.0 Lollipop. AS we mentioned earlier, Sony offers the advantage of software features like High Res audio and PS4 Remote Play.

There's no outright winner on software since it's really down to personal taste and which features you'll genuinely find useful. If you don't have a PlayStation then PS4 Remote Play is irrelevant, for example.

Samsung Galaxy S6: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Exynos 7420 octa-core (1.5GHz A-53 & 2.1GHz A-57) processor
  • 3GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • 32GB/64GB/128GB storage (no microSD support)
  • Mali-T760 GPU
  • 5.1in (1440x2560, 577ppi) Super AMOLED screen
  • 16Mp rear camera with LED flash, smart OIS, real-time HDR and IR Detect white balance
  • up to 4K video recording @ 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 4G Cat 6 LTE
  • SIMtype: nano-SIM
  • dual-SIM as standard: no
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • USB OTG
  • heart-rate sensor
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 2550mAh non-removable battery with Qi and PMA wireless charging
  • 143.4x70.5x6.8mm
  • 138g
  • 1-year warranty
  • test scores: Geekbench 3.0: 4438 (MC), 1347 (SC)
  • SunSpider: 1048ms
  • GFXBench: 30fps (T-Rex), 14fps (Manhattan 3.0), 6fps (Manhattan 3.1)
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Exynos 7420 octa-core (1.5GHz A-53 & 2.1GHz A-57) processor
  • 3GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • 32GB/64GB/128GB storage (no microSD support)
  • Mali-T760 GPU
  • 5.1in (1440x2560, 577ppi) Super AMOLED screen
  • 16Mp rear camera with LED flash, smart OIS, real-time HDR and IR Detect white balance
  • up to 4K video recording @ 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 4G Cat 6 LTE
  • SIMtype: nano-SIM
  • dual-SIM as standard: no
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • USB OTG
  • heart-rate sensor
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 2550mAh non-removable battery with Qi and PMA wireless charging
  • 143.4x70.5x6.8mm
  • 138g
  • 1-year warranty
  • test scores: Geekbench 3.0: 4438 (MC), 1347 (SC)
  • SunSpider: 1048ms
  • GFXBench: 30fps (T-Rex), 14fps (Manhattan 3.0), 6fps (Manhattan 3.1)

OUR VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is the better phone here, offering more up to date hardware but understandably so since it's six months newer than its rival. However, the Sony Xperia Z3 is still a top-notch handset and is a lot cheaper so remains a decent purchase.

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