Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra

by: Ankit BanerjeeSeptember 10, 2013
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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra_ Quick Look

With the original Galaxy Note, and the success of the Galaxy Note 2, Samsung paved the way for other Android device manufacturers to experiment with devices that feature ultra-large displays. In many ways, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra pushes the limit in this criteria, and it’ll be quite interesting to see how the Sony device fares against the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Let’s take a look!

samsung galaxy note 3 xperia z ultra aa 2

The design aesthetics of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra are largely the same as the Xperia Z’s. With a stylish, rectangular, all-glass design, the Xperia Z Ultra is just a much bigger version of the Xperia Z, but is still one of the slimmest devices available, with dimensions of 179.4 x 92.2 x 6.5 mm, and weighing 212 grams. Every port is covered with a small piece of rubberized plastic which effectively makes the device dust and water resistant.

You might like: Best Sony Xperia Z Ultra cases.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is comparatively smaller and lighter, but thicker, than the Xperia Z Ultra, with dimensions of 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm and weighing 168 grams, which is of course, obvious, because of the comparatively smaller display of the Note 3.

The biggest difference in design, compared to other Samsung devices, is the faux leather back cover, which is soft to touch, and makes it very easy to grip. With the same silver spine as seen on the Galaxy S4, and the new back cover, the Galaxy Note 3 is a stylish smartphone as well.

There are always going to be debates about what material and build quality OEMs use for their devices, but in the case of these two smartphones, it will mostly come down to how big a smartphone you want.

samsung galaxy note 3 xperia z ultra aa 1

With a massive 6.4-inch display, the Xperia Z Ultra is one of the largest smartphones around, one that features a Triluminos display with the X-Reality engine. At 1080p resolution, the pixel density of 344 ppi.

The Galaxy Note 3 features a smaller 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, also with a 1080p resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 386 ppi.

The camera department is where the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is found lacking. The Galaxy Note 3 features the same camera as the Galaxy S4, featuring a 13MP rear shooter, with a BSI sensor, LED flash, zero shutter lag and Smart Stabilization. Like the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy Note 3 camera is loaded with features, including Drama Shot, Sound & Shot, Animated Photo, Eraser, Best Photo, Best Face, Beauty Face, HDR, Panorama, and more.

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra on the other hand features an 8MP rear camera, with no flash, which means that while the device takes pretty good pictures in well-lit conditions, low light photography isn’t possible. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra camera is similar to what you’d find on  tablets, so the camera department is where the identity crisis of the Xperia Z Ultra comes into play.

Both devices feature a 2MP front camera.

Even though the Xperia Z Ultra is the larger of the two smartphones, the device features a smaller 3,050 mAh battery, compared to the 3,200 mAh battery of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The Galaxy Note 3’s battery is also removable, which is not an option with the Xperia Z Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 xperia z ultra aa (2)

The LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 features a 2.3 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, while the 3G version will house a 1.9 Ghz Octa core processor (quad-core 1.9 Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 + quad-core 1.7Ghz ARM Cortex-A7). The Galaxy Note 3 also boasts 3GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB internal storage, which is further expandable via microSD up to 64GB.

On the other hand, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is powered by a 2.2 Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage with microSD expansion. While the Xperia Z Ultra specs are great, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 does boast better specifications.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 features Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on-board, which, until the recently announced Android 4.4 KitKat is released, is still the latest version of Android. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Samsung device without the TouchWiz UI overlay and its numerous features. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 includes all Galaxy S4 features, plus some new features such as Scrapbook, S Finder, Pen Window, and My Magazine, along with a lot of new (upgraded) S-Pen related apps, such as Air Command, Action Memo, and Screenwrite. You can check out the complete list of features in detail here.

Sony’s Xperia UI on the Xperia Z Ultra is similar to the Xperia Z. The interface is simplistic, with an ICS styling, even with the device running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. You also get various media-related Sony apps, such as Gallery and Walkman. To make full use of such a large display, there is also Small Apps, which are small overlays that give you access to apps for multitasking.

Unless you’re adamant about a huge display, or absolutely cannot use a “plastic” device, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is certainly shaping up to be the better choice between the two.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Note 2

You can find everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 here, and our detailed hands-on review of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra here.

What’s your favorite?

  • MCrapp

    Note3!I’m Ready!

  • Kal

    Sony is soooo beauty

  • I really enjoy my Z Ultra. I’ve had the first two Notes and loved them as well, but just wanted to try something different. Something he didn’t mention was being able to use pens and pencils with the Ultra, as well as it being water proof, not resistant, as I think there is a difference here. In the longrun I could end up with a Note 3 after there are some used ones available, but right now I’m happy with my Z Ultra.

    • Guest

      Hells yea

    • Ivan Myring

      Water proof can be submerged for longer/deeper.

    • raj

      Pencil input: it’s missed by most of the people during reviews

      • Sadly. It’s so handy too!

        • raj

          Try it once. I am more into handwriting recognition and it s very helpful for me.

          • Oh I already have, it’s a great feature. I think an actual pencil or pen feels more intuitive than the s-pen, as much as I’ve always enjoyed it.

          • Gilles LeBlanc

            Yea man same story as yours with the Notes and also migrating to Z Ultra. The pen feeling better makes allot of sense to me the stylus is to damn thin.

  • Gilles LeBlanc

    Great video review, thank you!

  • polargirl360

    How can these authors keep comparing these two phones as peers? If anything, the Z1 would be a slightly better peer comparison to the Galaxy Note III than the Z Ultra since 5.7″ is closer to 5.0″ than it is to 6.44″

    • Agentx

      That and the internal specs are much much closer.

    • Eleze

      Besides the fact that Z1 has a good camera and flash, the Ultra is still Note III’s competitor. And actually, the bigger screen feature is a real deal.

      If you do the math, it’s just ~0,7″ less or more regarding the Note’s screen size. Z Ultra still competes in this category with great features.

  • raj

    I have an Xperia Z Ultra and I am very satisfied with it

  • TheFamilyMan

    I’ve pre-ordered my Z Ultra C6833 for amazing $629 shipped! FOR REAL. I have an iBlazr and a Muzu Shuttr which other than MP brings the Sony of to snuff AND EVEN EXCEEDS the Note III, a phone which I refuse to waste my money on.

    For my money is time for a change a pace and I’m going Sony the way by Experia Z Ultra C6833 LTE! Good riddance Samsumg – you’re getting stale.

    • TheFamilyMan

      by the way go to and NOT MUZU. I’m sorry for the typo.

  • Good review, but you are comparing two phones released in two different time frame. Samsung Note 3 is not yet available in market and Xperia Z Ultra is almost 3-4 months old.

  • Jack

    No comparison, the Sony looks too huge, too awkard, too unsophisticated.
    In every department, the Note 3 wins hands down.
    This is clearly one of those cases where there is no debate unless you’re a Sony fanboy.

    • Gilles LeBlanc

      Unless your a tall man like Tybarius and I totally understand it being to big. Do you know what its like sudenly smelling burning hair then realizing its your hair touching the light bulb?

      • TheFamilyMan

        You’re only in denial when you say size matters, it’s how you use your tool my man. Mature up, everyone knows what they say. Big hands = big feet, big feet = … well you know the rest!

        Big screen! Where’s your mind, in the gutter? This is a techy-geeky blog sure, but we keep it entertaining and fun!

        Methinks you should read all the comments BEFORE adding your .02¢. Unless you were at the end of ask the comments at the time of course!

        • Gilles LeBlanc

          Nothing you said makes sense :-(… I’m pointing out that if you wear smaller pants your pockets are thereby smaller. Also, you likely have smaller hands which lends credence to the idea that a Z Ultra is less then ideal. I’m sorry my 2cents offended you as I pointed out for some height is a sensitive subject and it shoudnt be l.

    • lil bit

      I can tell you havent seen the Ultra in real. Its big yes, but its the most stunning device you will ever see, the size is the important thing here, together with the insane slimness its what makes it special and stunning.

      But i could never have one, the lack of LED flash is such a serious restriction, i need ONE device, and then it must be COMPLETE.

  • James Brown

    Sony wins in design, but that’s it.
    The Note 3 has more Ram, flash for camera, larger battery, etc.
    …and the battery in the note 3 can be replaced.

    The only competition the Note 3 has is the HTC One Max.

    • Guest

      Enjoy your extra 200 mHa, what is that 1/6 of a tripple A. My faith in techies has been restored with all this reasonability. And no the extra 3GB will not improve the speed of my device the way most geeks are configured. And camera flash that most use as flashlights can be my massive 6.4 inch screen in flashlight mode.

      • TheFamilyMan

        I love you man, well said!

      • gadgetguy

        Great point on using flashlight mode for camera flash but would the canera still operate if in flashlight mode?

  • Topcat488

    S-Pen functions, large screen but yet still pocketable, better camera with flash… GN3!

    • liqn7

      The screen size is the biggest boon of the XZU. 5.68″ vs 6.44″ is +0.76″. That’s an extra 29% screen area or nearly 1/3 more viewing space. This alone in my mind makes the note 3 not even worth considering for me as I’m seeking the largest device I can pocket which will replace my 7″ tablet as well. The GN3 is a popularist device designed to be a larger phone, whereas the XZU is a true phablet :)

      • TheFamilyMan

        Again, well said!

  • Lin

    I dont consider scribbling on the screen with a pencil comparable to a actual phone with a stylus and software

    • Guest

      No its better actually, easier to write with a pen or pencil for extended periods. Jesus go back to the 90s man and bring your stylus with you.

  • Dominic

    I have been a long term Galaxy & Note advocate and owner. The fact that I can get the Ultra for under $600 and the note 3 is roughly $900 I believe the price difference sells it for me… so excited to get my new Ultra :-D

    • TheFamilyMan

      Maui I ask where you found the Z Ultra for inner $600, please. I’ll go there right now and green it if this is fire the C6833 LTE version which is what I’m after. No more 3G for me ma!

      My Notes have been trustworthy but I also remember my long list favorite Sony-Ericsson from way back. He’ll I think it had a massive 2″ screen, Huge at the time!

      2.2 vs. 2 3 ghz no big deal, 8MP camera, it’s a phone BUT a camera. For an occasional picture, to snap a goofy once in a lifetime picture – the Z Ultra well do just what my Note II does right now, it’ll get the job done. Enuff said.

      • TheFamilyMan

        I absolutely HATE auto-correct, I’m sorry for the typos.

      • Gilles LeBlanc

        Hahaha I often think of those early sony erricson phones as well.

  • Bullydogger

    the question will be is the Sony Z Ultra coming to Verizon Wireless or not???!!!

    • meatmeat

      good question becaus ive been doing research on the ultra for the longest andhaven’t come across anything saying that it will. I wonder if it can use Verizons lte sim though????????

  • meatmeat

    I actually believe there can never be any real competition because of the fact that phones are not multi carrier.

  • lil bit

    NO matter how much i dislike touchwiz and physical button and lack of app switch button, i have to chose the Note 3 as the best here. I seen the Z Ultra in the store, its unreal, best looking gadget ever, and Sony has a great UI, i just cant forgive the lack of LED flash. I need ONE device that can do everything, i cant bring another phone or camera just to take random pictures at night, its lame to have a phone at this price that cant even take a picture at a late night party, and people bringing digicams and irrelevant gadgets to an informal party look stupid. (I saw a guy some days ago who brought two ipads to the bar. Wow, just wow.)

    Note 3 sux and has stuff i dont like, even the s-pen i dont need, though i admit i did use the pen sometimes we then i had Note 2, for example puzzle games, like Flow when playing tablet boards. Still, Note 3 has no dealbreakers (though the presence of S-apps is near to being one, i really hate those things so much, so halfbaked, so useless, its probably luck i dont have to chose between these two)

  • Z Ultra Fail

    Could have been the best device ever, yet how in the world do you not put in an led?????

    • jek

      What u can get with only led flash? It cannot stop the move object…want to catch picture better buy Canon DSLR..hahaha

  • bharadwaj reddy

    I have been using Samsung phones since corby when android was not introduced in India. I used galaxy s, s2,s3 and note 2, I was quite happy with them this is the first time I have changed my phone brand in 4 years and I am very happy with Sony xpera z ultra . I feel it’s got better display in terms of size . In terms of performance it’s definitely better than note 2 Because of a new processor . I don’t really miss the inky blacks and punchy colors of my notes amoled display as the quality of z ultra s is quite good,what it lacks on terms of saturation and black levels is compensated by colour accuracy, resolution,brightness and size overall this display feels better than note 2. I am happy with the battery the stamina mode when used during a part of the day ensures that I get a whole day even with heavy use. Camera in bright light is very good on par slightly better than note 2 but just don’t use it in low light the lack of flash definitely is felt . that’s one area I am feeling the pinch but that’s easily masked by the strengths of this phone . Being slimmer it is definitely more pocketable than my note 2, it feels a lot lighter and ergonomic than note 2. Best part is the apple rivaling built quality and it’s water resistant. I did drop it once accidentally and with such falls my note 2 would have split open after which I needed to re attach the battery cover and battery but this one stayed intact but I can’t comment on the strength of the glass or the shatter proof reliability of this phone yet. I feel under heavy continues heavy usage the battery is draining quite fast which any mobile device other than the ipad are vulnerable to. With my note 2 while using what’s app when I want to attach a picture from the gallery it used to take quite a long time to load my Entire gallery where as this phone dose it in a wink.The typical lag associated with android is totally’s a worthy phone to upgrade from note2.

  • Rana

    Note 3 is too costly… Not worth that much honestly… About a 150$ lesser and it would be a giant

  • Mohammad Javad

    how much did u get from samsung ?

  • Ali

    how much money , samesung did pay for the review ?

  • Barrett

    Fix the camera, and the Z Ultra would be mine… I’ll keep my note 2 for now. Sony, sooooo close.

  • z ultra

    fuck the note 3 , xperia z ultra is realy the best. z ultra ,z ultra . z ultra
    sony xperia z utlra fuck u samsung

  • gadgetguy

    I want the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. I’m into the larger screens and it definitely has that! I’ve had my time with the Note line, time for something new. I was flirting with the Samsung Mega unti I saw the Ultra. Only problem is i’m on the AT&T network. I’d have to get the unlocked version of the Ultra. Where can I get this phone?

  • gadgetguy

    I want the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. I’m into the larger screens and it definitely has that! I’ve had my time with the Note line, time for something new. I was flirting with the Samsung Mega unti I saw the Ultra. Only problem is i’m on the AT&T network. I’d have to get the unlocked version of the Ultra. Where can I get this phone?

  • Gabriel

    “Galaxy Note 3 is certainly shaping up to be the better choice between the two”
    that is CERTAINLY just your opinion…I completely disagree.