Notch-less smartphone showdown: Sony Xperia XZ3 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9

It’s autumn, so we’re expecting a new wave of shiny flagships to be hitting soon. In October, we should see Google unveil the Pixel 3. LG will also launch the V40 ThinQ, while Huawei is expected to introduce the Mate 20 series. And if rumors are correct, the OnePlus 6T will also make a debut during the very same month.

But also in October, Sony’s latest Xperia XZ3 should go on sale in the US. The phone was announced at IFA 2018 in late August and seems to have some potential.

If you feel like you can’t wait until October, and you need to feel a new phone in your hands right now, you could opt to buy the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung’s latest flagship device. The handset is already available for purchase from major retailers and carriers in the US.

But should you spend your money on the Note 9 now or wait for the new devices to hit the market? Well since some of them haven’t been announced yet, we’re going to take this opportunity to compare the Xperia XZ3 against the Galaxy Note 9 and see if it’s worth the wait or not.

Do looks matter?

Of course, they do. Everyone wants to flaunt a sleek smartphone, right? Well if you love Samsung’s curved InfinityDisplay, you’ll be more than satisfied by the Galaxy Note 9. Compared to what we’ve seen on the Note 8, Samsung kept the overall design with the Note 9.

You’ll get the same curved front and sandwiched metal rim which makes the smartphone feel distinctly modern and premium. But the biggest design difference compared to the previous model is that now the fingerprint sensor sits below the camera, and not next to it.

The glass back also means the Galaxy Note 9 has wireless charging. It also includes an IP68 rating for water damage and a headphone jack. Thankfully for some, the Note 9 foregoes the notch, that display cutout which we have seen on so many 2018 smartphones.

Similarly, the Sony Xperia XZ3 is also a device for the classical smartphone user. It does not have a notch, although it does feature a modern elongated body and 18:9 aspect ratio. The phone features a 6-inch HDR OLED display, which is a bit smaller than the Note 9’s 6.4-inch Super AMOLED one.

The highlight here is the display which is powered by Sony’s Bravia TV image processing technology. The company says this means the phone will be able to deliver more accurate details, depths, and texture in every scene when watching video and pictures.

What’s more, the screen also takes advantage of Sony’s Triluminous Display which should deliver an abundant palette of colors, as well as more natural shades and hues. Sony also uses what it calls X-Reality for mobile image processing engine to make pictures appear sharper, reduce noise and offer better contrast.

Like the Galaxy Note 9, the Xperia XZ3 is a glass/metal sandwich. Sony has used an all-new 7000-series aluminum alloy frame, which is apparently among the highest-strength available today.

Unlike the Samsung flagship, the Xperia XZ3 does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, although it is IP65/IP68 rated. It’s also Qi wireless charging enabled.

Taking a look at the entrails

When it comes to performance, the two flagships are pretty similar. They both rely on a Snapdragon 845, although the Note 9 arrives with up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of onboard storage. As for the Xperia XZ3, it will ship with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage with up to 512GB microSDXC card support. Which is still a petty solid configuration.

When it comes to battery, the Sony flagship relies on a 3,330 mAh battery, while the Galaxy Note 9 has a large 4,000 mAh powerhouse. It has Quick Charge, so once it gets depleted, you’ll be able to juice it back up again in no time.

Other Xperia XZ3 features worth mentioning are the speakers. Compared to the previous device they gotten 20% larger. Sony has also expanded the range of bass and treble frequencies for overall louder volume and included Hi-Res Audio.

There’s also the experimental force-feedback experience included with this release. It’s called the Sony Dynamic Vibration System. This is a more powerful, more advanced haptic feedback system that enhances music, movies, and games.

On the Galaxy Note 9, Samsung is taking advantage of its acquisition of Harman and associated audio brands, so the Note 9 external stereo speakers are tuned by AKG. You also get two drivers. So overall the speakers should manage to deliver sound that’s far fuller and bassier than most.

Cameras

The Sony Xperia XZ3 didn’t get massive upgrades in the photo department compared to its predecessor. There’s the same 19MP Motion Eye main camera system with 4K HDR recording and 1080 FHD super-slow-motion video capture at 960 fps. Yet, this time around you’ll get a more streamlined camera interface.

Users will also be able to enjoy the benefits of a new 13-megapixel sensor with f/1.9 and improved viewfinder. This means you’ll be able to take advantage of bokeh and beauty functions in real-time in the front camera interface.

As for the Galaxy Note 9, it gets the dual camera treatment with two 12-megapixel sensors on the back. The phablet also imported one of the biggest features of the Galaxy S9 duo, and that’s mechanical aperture. This allows the camera to manually switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 modes while capturing images.

Samsung has also added a new shooting mode called Intelligent Camera which should “intelligently recognize what you’re looking at“.  From there, the phone will automatically optimize various settings to make the picture look their best. Other phones like the LG G7 ThinQ and Honor 10 offer similar features.

Other features

Obviously, the Galaxy Note 9 ships with the iconic S Pen which is new and improved. For example, the stylus now has Bluetooth built into it, so you can simply press the button on it to control the camera.

The phone also comes with DeX mode that will simply turn on when you connect an HDMI to USB-C adapter to the Note 9 and any monitor. No additional dock needed. Samsung is aiming to provide a second-screen experience with DeX, instead of trying to mimic a desktop. Basically, you can use the extra screen to play a video, using the phone as you normally would.

You also have two voice assistants: the Google Assistant and Bixby. Samsung’s own virtual helper is in version 2, so you should expect an improved experience.

While the Sony Xperia XZ3 doesn’t have all that, it does ship with the latest version of Android currently available, Android 9.0 Pie.  And knowing Samsung, we won’t see that too soon on the Galaxy Note 9.

Price

Both of these phones are super expensive devices. The Sony Xperia XZ3 will hit the market on October 17 and will take you back with $899.99. It will available from Amazon and Best Buy.

As for the Galaxy Note 9, it starts at around $1,000 depending on where you choose to buy it from. The 8GB of RAM + 512GB storage model is even more expensive at about $1,250.

The Galaxy Note 9 is indeed the most feature-rich here, but the Xperia XZ3 has its highlights including a great display and superior camera. So what will it be? Well, it depends on your preferences, of course.