Sony Xperia Z3 vs Apple iPhone 5s: Full smartphone specs comparison

Just one week before Apple pulls the cloak on its iPhone 6, Sony has launched the Xperia Z3 smartphone at a packed IFA 2014 event. Premature or not, the Z3 has replaced the less-than-a-year-old Xperia Z2 with a slimmer, lighter and more powerful handset. But is the Xperia Z3 any match for Apple's iPhone 5S? And more importantly. should you buy the Xperia Z3 or the iPhone 5S?

Let's break down the specs and take a look at which one is worth the hefty price tag.

Display

They say size doesn't matter, but when it comes to smartphones we're slightly obsessed with the dimensions of our screens. Measuring 5.2in, the Sony Xperia Z3 positively dwarfs the 4in iPhone 5S. Now depending on what you use your smartphone for, that could be the deciding factor that swings you towards a final decision.

Those who want a lightweight device that you can slip in and out of your back pocket with ease to check emails, texts and small apps would likely prefer the svelte iPhone 5s. However, those who use their smartphone to consume media on the move would be better off with the larger Sony Xperia Z3. For gaming in particular, a larger screen will offer more tactile controls on those pesky, complex apps.

In terms of quality, the Sony Xperia Z3 has a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution with 423.64 pixels per inch (ppi). Meanwhile the iPhone 5s offers a 1,136 x 640 resolution with 326 ppi. On the surface it may seem like the Z3 wipes the floor with Apple's flagship, but considering how much bigger its screen is, the Z3 is going to need that added resolution to match the quality of the smaller iPhone 5s.

Overall though, the Z3 does just pip the 5s to the post. Its display is bright and crisp with luminous colours and excellent viewing angles - even in bright sunlight. Throw in its solid ppi count, and it's like carrying a high quality (if tiny) TV in your pocket.

Size and weight

This links in to what I was saying above, but it's evident from the moment you place the Xperia Z3 and iPhone 5S side-by-side that there is a significant size difference.

The Z3 measures 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm while the 5s fits more snugly in the palm at just 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm. Sony's flagship is also much heavier at 152g compared to Apple's 112g.

Now it may be much bigger, but that is actually quite weighty even by phablet standards. The LG G3 has nearly the same dimensions, but weighs just 149g. In this scenario, the iPhone 5s may just win out.

Battery

There's a dramatic difference between the 3,100 mAh battery offered by Sony, and the 1,560 mAh battery offered by Apple.

Clearly, the Z3 packs a lot more power, and with a bigger screen and higher pixel density it's going to need it. However, a key selling point of the Z3 is the claim that it can last up to two days of standard use before being charged.

That's a seriously impressive announcement, and with Sony's famous STAMINA mode (which disables all background applications when the screen is switched off) you can be sure that the Z3 will offer some of the best power-saving options in the mobile market.

In contrast, the iPhone 5s's battery life has been widely criticised for draining too quickly, and for even overheating from just taking photos and opening a few applications. Here, the Sony Xperia Z3 is a clear winner.

Cameras

Considering that Sony also manufacturers cameras to pay its bills, it's of no surprise that the Xperia Z3 boasts a very impressive camera. The 20.7-megapixel snapper combines crisp autofocus with LED flash, meaning it can take high-quality photos even in low light. Budding James Camerons will also be pleased to know it offers 4K video, and a 2.2-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies and Skype calls.

In contrast, the 5s only offers an 8-megapixel camera with 1,080p video and a 1.2-megapixel front-snapper. Since the iPhone 5s launched in September 2013, this is proof of how far mobile technology can move in just 12 months. Still all things considered, on the photography front the iPhone 5s really can't compete.

Conclusion

Under the hood, the Sony Xperia Z3 offers far superior specs to the Apple iPhone 5s. It boasts a superior camera, longer battery life, and coincidentally packs 3GB of RAM compared to the iPhone 5s's 1GB, so in theory it should be much faster.

The only place the iPhone may edge ahead is in size; for those who prefer their smartphones scaled down, the Xperia Z3 may prove too hefty. Still, it's also important to remember that the Z3 offers fully waterproof protection and can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to half an hour. The 5s, in contrast, will have to stay out the shower.

Obviously the iPhone 5s has been out the blocks for far longer than the just-launched Z3, but if it's these two phones you're deciding between we'd definitely recommend Sony's flagship.

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Specifications

Sony Xperia Z3 iPhone 5s

Display

Screen size 5.2in 4in
Resolution 1,920 x 1,080 pixels 1,136 x 640 pixels
Pixel density 423.64ppi 326ppi
Type TRILUMINOS IPS LCD

Processor and battery

Family Snapdragon 801 Apple A7
CPU Krait 400 Cyclone
Cores Quad-core Dual-core
Clock speed 2.5 GHz 1.3 GHz
GPU Adreno 330 PowerVR G6430
Battery 3,100 mAh 1,560 mAh
Claimed 3G talk time 14h talktime 10h talktime

Storage and memory

RAM 3GB RAM 1GB RAM
Internal storage 16GB 16/32/64GB
microSD Yes No

Camera

Rear 20.7-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video 4K 1,080p
Front 2.2-megapixel 1.2-megapixel

Wireless

Standard 4G LTE 4G LTE
Wi-Fi WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac
NFC Yes Yes
Bluetooth v4.0 v4.0
Integrated wireless charging Yes No

Dimensions

Size 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm
Weight 152g 112g
Operating System Android 4.4 KitKat iOS 7
Price (SIM-free) £549 £549/£629/£709
Availability September 2014 Now