Here is a really tough comparison – between two new flagships, the Xiaomi Mi4 and the Sony Xperia Z3 – that are so close in specifications I could see this coming to a tie. However, we will look at both devices very closely and see if we can pick a winner in this comparison, as I hate ties.
Both devices are beautiful to look at and hold in your hand, and Sony has rounded the corners of the Xperia Z3 making it easier to hold for long periods with the glass-metal-glass construction. The displays are almost the same size – 5-inch on the Mi4 vs 5.2-inch – both are Full HD with displays of 1920 x 1080 pixels and both are IPS LCD technology.
Both devices have the exact same processor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core clocked at 2.5GHz. Both devices have the same 3GB of RAM and both offer a 16GB internal memory option – the Xiaomi Mi4 jumps to 64GB while the Xperia Z3 only jumps to 32GB, but offers an option to add additional storage. The 3080mAh battery of the Mi4 is just about the same size as the 3100mAh battery of the Z3 – both are non-removable.
The Xiaomi Mi4 and Sony Xperia Z3 are even almost the same size and weight, with the Z3 slightly larger and weighing 3 grams more. They both have Wi-Fi, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0, FM radios and they both work on T-Mobile's network.
Did I tell you that these two devices are almost the same? Please take a look over the detailed specifications below and then we will look at each individual device to see exactly how they do differ and then we will pick out a winner of this comparison.
The Xiaomi Mi4 comes to us by way of a Chinese website…until Mr. Barra and company can get a true U.S. LTE device shipped directly to our country…probably, sometime in 2015. While the Mi4 works on T-Mobile's network, please keep in mind that if any defects or repairs are needed, the device will have to be sent back to China. The design is very 'apple-like,' with the metal band around the outside edges and although the back is plastic (soon to be replaceable with some other materials), it has the look and feel of a quality built smartphone.
The places where these two devices differ can be found in the camera areas – the main, 13MP sensor with auto flash and dual-LED flash is great, but cannot stand up to the 20.7MP found in the Xperia Z3. But, when we look at the front-facing camera (FFC), the 8MP on the Xiaomi Mi4 buries the 2.2MP FFC found on the Xperia Z3 – not that I am discounting a good video chat or selfie, but the main camera is certainly the more important feature.
The Mi4 does offer an IR Blaster a bottom mounted speaker and Android 4.4.2 KitKat with MIUI 5 running over top. Off contract pricing is approximately $400 for the 16GB model and $500 for the 64GB model.
Sony Xperia Z3
We are so excited to see a new Sony flagship device actually making its way to a U.S. carrier at the time of its launching – unfortunately, it will be a T-Mobile exclusive, but one is better than none. This beautiful smartphone is made from glass and metal and it feels like a quality device when held in your hand…they rounded the edges slightly, made it a little thinner and lighter as well as narrowed the bezels a little – all criticisms of its predecessor, the Xperia Z2.
These two devices are so evenly matched, but there are a couple of standout areas in which the Xperia Z3 does breakaway – one is the ability to add up to 128GB of additional storage via a microSD card slot and the second would be in the main camera area. Sony, long known for their photographic products brings that expertise to the Z3 with a 20.7MP sensor. It not only has the auto focus and single LED Flash, but also brings a 25mm wide angle lens to the party – allowing you to include a wider image in each shot…you will be the hit at family reunions. Like we said earlier, the FFC is only 2.2MP – certainly capable of doing its job, but the Mi4 does have a full 8MP on theirs.
The Sony Xperia Z3 is slightly taller and wider, but its 7.3mm is thinner than the 8.9mm of the Mi4 – and being made of glass, it is only 3 grams heavier than the Mi4. As far as features go, the Z3 does include a few things the Mi4 does not – support for NFC and Wi-Fi calling and offers a TV-out jack as well. The Z3 does not have the IR Blaster built-in, but does have front-facing stereo speakers. The Xperia Z3 is also IP65/IP68 certified for dust and water resistance – so go ahead and take an underwater picture or video with the Z3. Another feature that will be of significance to the PS4 gamers – you can buy a hand-held adaptor, snap in the Z3 and have a remote play PS4 experience.
The Xperia Z3 will come with Android 4.4.4 KitKat built-in and run Xperia UI on top – a very light skin. It will be a T-Mobile exclusive and command a rather high price tag, in the neighborhood of $630 over a two-contract or an option to buy it outright from Sony for $530.
...And the Winner Is…
If it would boil down to saving $130 – $150, then you really cannot go wrong with the Xiaomi Mi4 – a finely crafted and spec'd smartphone. But if you can squeeze out the extra money, I am all for getting the Sony Xperia Z3 over its Chinese competitor. It is a lot of little things, but they all add up to a device that I would rather own. The Z3 is certainly a somewhat more premium looking device – the ability to expand its internal memory is also big plus in my book – the 20.7MP wide angle main camera is another…true it does not have the 8MP FFC, but for an occasional video chat or selfie, the 2.2MP found on the Z3 is certainly adequate. I would never rest my purchase decision on the megapixels of the FFC.
The Z3 also offers the NFC option, which will become increasingly important – the front-facing stereo speakers – and certainly the dust/waterproofing must come into play. The Android 4.4.4 is a higher version and Sony runs a very light skin and add to that the fact that repairs, if needed, can be taken care of in the U.S. Then you add in that it can be used as a remote PS4 player, that is just icing on the cake.
Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know which one of these devices you would pick and WHY…as always, we would love to hear from you.