Here is the battle of two brands that are considered some of the best at building quality Android smartphones AND two of the brands that are the hardest to get in your hands - the Sony Xperia Z3 and the OnePlus One. Sony just seems to have problems with distribution channels and arriving at agreements with the carriers, whereas, OnePlus started out with a 'lottery system' to help them gauge production and sales...they finally did away with that mess and tried a wild idea. Potential customers order online and if they are in stock, they ship out, if they are out of stock, they ship them after they are built...what a novel idea.
These two devices have so much in common, that it is scary, and going to be very difficult to pick a winner. Other than the OnePlus One having a .3-inch larger display, they are identical - Full HD IPS LCD - with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. They both use the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz and each have 3GB of RAM and both have 16GB models - the Xperia Z3 also has a 32GB option and the OnePlus One has a 64GB option. Even their 3100mAh batteries are the same size! They are even close to the same size, with the OnePlus One a little taller and a little wider and a little thicker...okay, a little larger all around.
The Xperia Z3 and the OnePlus One each have the usual suspects - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, DLNA and a microUSB 2.0. Both have dual speakers - the Xperia Z3 are front-facing and the OnePlus One's are on the bottom - both great places.
Please take a look at the detailed specification sheet below and compare these two devices side-by-side and then we will look at each individual smartphone and see if we can work on picking a winner in this comparison.
Sony Xperia Z3
The elusive Sony Xperia series is about to be released in the U.S., the same time as everywhere else, exclusively on T-Mobile - this is what Sony recently said about the new and improved Xperia Z3. Sony lovers will be so happy and I only wish it would be sold on more carriers - I would never jump carriers for a device. Made of metal and glass, it is a beautiful looking device and feels like a quality product.
There are so many specifications where the Xperia Z3 and OnePlus One are nearly or spot on identical, let's see if we can find some differences to look at that will help make the selection of a winner any easier. The Z3 does offer the option to add an additional 128GB of internal storage to the built-in 16GB or 32GB in the device itself - I am not even sure why manufacturers bother with 16GB any more...32GB should be the minimum...but most all of them do.
Another area the Xperia Z3 excels is in the camera department - Sony has written the book on cameras and their 20.7MP main camera with a 25mm wide-angle lens is certainly the winner here over the 13MP camera in the OnePlus One. Both devices have auto focus, LED flashes and neither one has OIS. The Z3 only has a 2.2MP front-facing camera (FFC) versus the 5MP of the OnePlus One - and while more is usually better, for what is required of a FFC, 2.2MP is good enough to do the job. Don't get me wrong, I would rather have 5MP...but as little as most of us video chat on our smartphone, 2.2MP is fine for social media selfies.
Additional features are another way we differentiate devices and the Z3 has a few extras. They both have the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, DLNA and a microUSB 2.0 connector. The Z3 also has Wi-Fi calling capabilities, a FM Radio, front-facing stereo speakers, is IP65/IP68 certified dust and waterproof, and if you are into PS4 (which many Sony users are) then you can buy an additional hand controller that your Z3 will slip into and you can use it for PS4 Remote Play. The Z3 is also running 4.4.4 KitKat with a light Xperia UI on top, which could be a plus if you like almost pure Android, or a hindrance, if you are a big CyanogenMod lover. The Xperia Z3 will be an expensive device...no pricing has been set for the U.S., but from what we have heard and seen in the U.K., it could be anywhere from $600 - $800+ off contract and this is where the OnePlus One really excels.
The OnePlus One smartphone, like the Z3, is a premium device and you can see it and 'feel' it when you hold it in your hand. The magnesium body has a rough coating, much like a pumice stone feel that adds a nice grip and picks up no fingerprints. The 5.5-inch display is slightly larger than the 5.2-inch display of the Z3. The processor and 3GB of RAM are identical in each device - the internal memory does have a 64GB option, but the Z3 can also use a cheap microSD card and the OnePlus One cannot.
The 13MP camera in the OnePlus One (which uses a Sony sensor) takes excellent pictures in most situations, but it cannot outdo the 20.7MP shooter on the Z3 - the OnePlus One does have a dual-LED flash, and while that is a nice feature, it does not define the camera in the OnePlus One as better at taking pictures.
As far as extra features go, the OnePlus One has the defining Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, DLNA and a microUSB 2.0 port, same as the Z3. The dual speakers are found on the bottom of the device - a great place for them if you use your speakerphone when it is sitting on your desk or upside down in your shirt pocket while driving or working. The OnePlus One runs the CyanogenMod 11S UI on an upgraded Android 4.4.3 KitKat...which is good if you are a fan. The OnePlus One should work on GSM networks, such as AT&T and T-Mobile. Its saving grace is the price - $299 for 16GB and $349 for 64GB, and these are off-contract prices - a terrific, high-end device for an excellent price.
...And the Winner is...
I really thought this was going to be a tough one, but it turns out that it was a lot easier than I thought. With both devices having such a great build and so many specifications the same, all we really have to do is look at the few things that are different - when I do that, the Z3 has more pluses than the OnePlus One. When we factor out the great price of the OnePlus One, to me, the Xperia Z3 wins for a number of reasons. I listed them below, in no particular order....
The Xperia includes a microSD card slot, so you can cheaply add up to 128GB of additional internal storage. The Sony has a better camera - plain and simple - 20.7MP wide-angled lens with auto focus and a LED Flash...true, not a dual flash, but that in and of itself, would not cause a better picture. Sure, the OnePlus One has a better FFC, but that camera will not win a comparison. The Z3 is IP65/IP68 certified dust and waterproof, it includes an FM radio and for you PS4 fans, you can purchase an optional controller to use your Z3 for Remote Play. The Z3 uses Android 4.4.4 KitKat with a light Xperia UI and the OnePlus One has been updated to Android 4.4.3 running CyanogenMod 11S UI - this is a toss-up which one you like better.
If we are picking strictly on value for your dollar, than the OnePlus One would win hands down, so if price is your deciding factor, then the One is for you - plain and simple. But if we put the price aside, the Z3 offers just as good build quality and offers more features than the One can provide. Please jump onto our Google+ Page and let us know which one of these wonderful, high-end devices you would pick as the winner of this comparison and WHY...as always, we would love to hear from you.