Phone Comparisons: Sony Xperia Z3+ vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Active

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Introduction

Do we have a good one for you today – the all new Sony Xperia Z3+ with its beautiful metal and glass design goes up against the rugged Samsung Galaxy S6 Active.  The normal Galaxy S6 has the same sort of premium look of the Xperia Z3+, but with the Galaxy S6 Active, Samsung took the pretty glass back away and replaced it with a high-impact plastic back…you could really call it an entire case.  Does it look premium…not really, but the Galaxy S6 Active makes up for it in protecting your device from drops.

As different looking as these two devices are, they do have a few things in common besides being able to send/receive text messages, emails, playing games and making phone calls.  They both have practically the same size display – 5.2-inch on the Xperia Z3+ and 5.1-inch on the S6 Active, although with different technologies and resolutions.  Both devices use a 64-bit octa-core processor, although different manufacturers and different semiconductor device fabrication node technology.  They both come with 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal storage – again, with different technology,  The Xperia Z3+ has a microSD card slot to increase memory, while the S6 Active has no means to expand its internal memory.

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The cameras in both of these devices are excellent, although they are different size sensors, specs and software.  Both batteries are non-removable, although the S6 Active has a larger 3500mAh battery over the 2930mAh battery in the Xperia Z3+…but the Z3+ has excellent battery life and they both offer a quick charge option.  They both have the usual suspects – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC and a microUSB port for charging and data transfer and both are IP68 certified – dust and water resistant up to 1.5 meter and 30 minutes.

Please take a deliberate look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details.  After that, we will look at each individual device in greater detail and point out some of its pros and cons.  From all of this information we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.

Specifications

Smartphones | SpecOut

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Sony Xperia Z3+

Xperia Z4 Gold cam AHWhat can we say about Sony smartphones that we have not already talked about until we were blue in the face?  Sony quickly updated the Xperia Z2 to the Z3, then a new Xperia Z4 was announced, but only in Japan.  After an outcry from the rest of the world, the Xperia Z4 suddenly became the Xperia Z3+.  The basic structure is definitely related to Xperia Z series and retains the beautiful metal and glass construction with minor changes in colors.  Sony made slight modifications to  'clean up' the outside edges by moving the charging port to the bottom of the device rather than on the side, and even though it is still waterproof, it no longer needs a sealed cover – a welcomed change.  They removed the magnetic charging pins on the side and then they consolidated the SIM card and microSD card slots into only one larger slot – another nice convenience.

The Xperia Z3+ sports the same 5.2-inch IPS LCD FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 424 pixels-per-inch (PPI) same as the Z3, with some improvements in brightness and technology.  The S6 Active uses a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with 577 PPI.  Sony made the popular choice and went with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 64-bit 810 octa-core processor with four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and four clocked at 2.0GHz and an Adreno 430 GPU for graphics.  The S6 Active uses a 64-bit Exynos 7420 octa-core processor with 3GB of RAM – the processor is 14nm and the RAM is the faster DDR4 variety.  The Z3+ comes with 32GB of internal memory and offers expandable storage via a microSD card.  This compares to 32GB of UFS 2.0 internal storage and no availability for expansion in the Galaxy S6 Active.

The Xperia Z3+ uses an excellent 20.7MP main camera with autofocus and LED Flash has remained the same, which takes excellent pictures, although Sony still has not added OIS…the S6 Active is somewhat behind in sensor size with only 16MP, it more than makes up for it in other specs (see below).  The front-facing camera (FFC) on the Xperia Z3+ went from a 2.2MP to a robust 5.1MP with a 25mm wide-angle lens for better group selfies and video chatting and this pairs up nicely with the wide-angle 5MP on the S6 Active.

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The new Xperia Z3+ has dual front-mounted stereo speakers, enhanced audio and has Quick Charge 2.0 thanks to its Qualcomm roots.  It will come in Black, White, Copper and Aqua Green and will be running the latest Lollipop.  We are looking at a possible June/July arrival with a price tag of about $630 off-contract.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active

Samsung-Galaxy-S6-Active-AH-20

The Galaxy S6 Active is not your normal Galaxy S6 – no pretty glass here, but shock-resistant plastic that looks like you put a plastic case on your Galaxy S6 and covered up the glass.  However, it will protect your device from drops and most damage, although the camo blue and camo white is a little hard on the eyes…the gray version is much more tolerable.  Most of the same technology of the S6 is in the S6 Active, but are a few changes.  For instance, gone is the fingerprint sensor and capacitive buttons, which are replaced by three physical buttons, but there are some added benefits as well.  The S6 Active shares the Xperia Z3+'s IP68 certified for dust and water resistance up to 1.5 meters and up to 30 minutes under water, but also adds a MIL-STD-910G certification, which means it is resistant to salt, dust, humidity, rain, vibration, solar radiation, transport and is thermal shock resistant.

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As we mentioned earlier, the fingerprint sensor/home button has been replaced with three mechanical touch buttons that provide a nice click and feedback to the user.  It also has an extra programmable button on the left side just above the volume rocker whose default is the Samsung Activity app, but you could reset it to be a camera button or to perform one of many other duties.  The Activity app is designed for the camper or hiker, bringing up a menu with a flashlight button, the weather, compass and other features an outdoors person might want instant access.

The Galaxy S6 Active has a 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and about 577 PPI – this compares to the 5.2-inch FHD IPS display with 1080p and only 424 PPI on the Xperia Z3+.  The S6 Active uses the same processor in the Galaxy S6 – a 64-bit Exynos 7420 processor…the first one to use 14nm technology.  It is an octa-core processor with four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and four cores clocked at 2.1GHz.  This is a little more advanced technology than found in the Xperia Z3+'s Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor.  The both have 3GB of RAM, but the S6 Active uses the faster DDR4 RAM and they both have 32GB of internal memory, although the S6 Active uses a new and faster UFS 2.0 flash memory. The Galaxy S6 Active comes with only one 32GB internal memory option – gone are the 64GB and 128GB options, and it has no room for expansion.  The Xperia Z3+ comes with 32GB of memory, but has a microSD card slot for expansion.

The Galaxy S6 Active comes with a 16MP main camera with autofocus, LED flash, real-time HDR, f/1.9 aperture and OIS.  It also has a 5MP wide angle with the f/1.9 aperture and Live HDR, FFC for great group selfies and video chats.  This compares to a 20.7MP main camera and a 5.1MP on the Xperia Z3+.  The Galaxy S6 Active carries a huge 3500mAh battery, replacing the smaller 2550mAh battery found in the Galaxy S6, and should last into a second day of heavy usage.  The Xperia Z3+ has a smaller 2930mAh battery, but it too will get you easily through a day if not more.  It shares the fast charging capabilities of the Xperia Z3+ and the single speaker has been moved from the bottom of the device to the back, and does not come close to the sound of the dual front-facing speakers on the Xperia Z3+.

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Other things that the Galaxy S6 Active has the Xperia Z3+ does not, would be the heart rate sensor, the oxygen saturation sensor, built-in IR Blaster and built-in wireless charging for both Qi and PMA standards.  The price is the same as the regular Galaxy S6, so if you want this rugged device, it will cost you about $200 on a two-year contract or about $700 off-contract.

…And The Winner Is…

Samsung-Galaxy-S6-Active-AH-36

Summary

This again was a tough one, but specification wise, the Galaxy S6 Active, even with its less than stellar looks when compared to the Sony Xperia Z3+, is still the more technologically advanced device, so for that reason I am declaring it the winner.  Die Hard Sony fans will still say their Xperia Z 'series' is the best phone in the world, but that is only because they refuse to even entertain the idea of buying a Samsung with its awful TouchWiz (even though it is way toned-down) or a LG G4 because it is plastic or leather (we have a choice now).  The Xperia Z3+ is a great device made out of metal and glass…so is the new Galaxy S6/S6 Edge…that takes great pictures, but not as good as the Galaxy S6 series…and the Xperia is waterproof…so is the Galaxy S6 Active and has the Military Specification as well.

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The Galaxy S6 Active has a better display, better processor with better technology, faster RAM, faster Flash memory, more camera features, built-in wireless charging, a heart rate sensor, oxygen saturation sensor and is much more rugged…all for the same price as the Xperia Z3+.  If you do not like the looks, I completely understand, and if you pick the Sony Xperia Z3+ you will still have a great phone, but not the winner of this comparison.

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