First off I currently have a note 3 and am as happy as I've ever been with a phone. It does it all, blazing fast, multi window, a feature to shrink the screen for one handed use, great battery life, stylus, and a bunch of dumb features crammed in software wise that I don't care for but who knows, maybe I'll use one of them someday and appreciate it. Nothing wrong with them being there when I can turn them off.
However, I STILL HATE TOUCHWIZ. It makes me want to jab my eyes out whenever I look at it or hear that stupid water droplet sound. I am running a touchwiz 4.4 build, so its the best touchwiz you can get on a phone currently and I still hate it. This is my main motivation for wanting to switch. (On a side note have you guys seen the touchwiz build for the new note tablets? Wow, what a beautiful build they have. If thats a sign of things to come then touchwiz will finally get away from the crap software that looks like it came from the playskool factory). I also think the build quality is just average, although the best I've seen from samsung yet.
The build quality on the sony is literally on another level and with the water proofing and dust resistence it really is a work of art. That coupled with stock android and it seems that you can't go wrong with this phone.
Or can you? One thing the note 3 does beautifully is the multi window feature and use of a gesture to shrink the screen down when wanting to quickly select buttons you normally wouldn't be able to reach with one hand. I went looking for similar features for the xperia because I just can not live without them now that I have them. I found an exact xposed module match for the multi window and from the reviews its flawless or pretty close to it. I wasn't able to find the shrink screen gesture but I did find another xposed module that will allow you to move portions of apps down the screen more so that you can access info more easily with one hand. It just uses padded areas to move things down. Not as good as what the note offers but its something. These two litte things and the advantages of stock android are all I need as far as the software goes.
As for the hardware, you lose half the onboard storage, a gig of ram, an IR blaster, a small amount of battery, and an LED flash. Stock android probably negates the loss of ram because bloated touchwiz probably consumes that as soon as you boot the phone up. The LED flash is probably used twice a year for me, I've never used the IR blaster, and I have a memory card and cloud storage for those needs.
Heres the ONLY thing I need form the community. I see people posting a lot about how amazing the phone is and how they got used to the size within 3 days and it's awesome and this and that. These people also had only had the phone for a week or two so the excitement hadn't worn off yet and they are probably blinded by new-device-ism. What I would love is if someone who has had this phone for over 6 months can comment on the size. I am particularly concerned with it fitting in my front jeans pant pocket. I won't use a case so it will just be the bare phone. Right now my note 3 is seriously pushing the limits. It fits but when I sit down the top of the phone is actually touching my lower abdomen because the pockets aren't deep enough to accomodate the whole phone. I don't want this thing jamming into my side every time I sit down. Also I am mildy concerned about flexing the phone and breaking the screen. Thats honestly the only two concerns I have with it.
Let me know what you think!