When the Sony Xperia Z was officially unveiled, most of us in the tech community were pleasantly surprised. Not only did the Z have exceptional build quality, it actually seemed to get quite a few things right in the hardware department as well.
This sparked tons of articles on the net asking things like “Is Sony making a comeback”, and so forth. The Sony Xperia Z is an attractive handset with some reasonably decent specs, but how does it compare to the de facto Android standard, the Samsung Galaxy line?
When it hit, the Xperia Z might have been able to outdo the Samsung Galaxy S3 without a hitch, but the S4 seems to be a whole new ballpark. Let’s take a look at how the two handsets compare on paper first:
As you can see, at first glance, the Galaxy S4 beats out the Xperia Z in just about every way. That said, a phone isn’t good just because of ‘on-paper’ specs.
Build Quality and Design
While I like both Samsung and Sony, it is hard for even the most hardcore Samsung fan to deny that the plastic-bodied design of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a bit too much like the GS3 and not nearly as ‘premium’ looking as other high-end handsets, the Sony Xperia Z included.
Both phones are about the same size and weight (give or take a little), but the designs of the two flagships are clearly night and day.
The Galaxy S4 has rounded corners, a hardware button, two capacitive buttions and a polycarbonate backing. In comparison, the Xperia Z has a bit more of a boxy design, though it does still have rounded edges. It also features glass on the back.
Personally, I think that there is something more ‘premium’ about the way the Sony Xperia Z presents itself, but it comes down to taste. Some of our readers are going to prefer the outer-look of the S4, others will prefer the XZ.
On the build quality front, you do have to give the Xperia Z some extra props though for having a dustproof and water-resistant design, which allows it to be submerged for up to 30 minutes in water without any adverse effects.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z both have 1920×1080 displays with 441ppi ratios. The big difference between them is that the S4 has a 5-inch Super AMOLED display, the Sony Xperia Z has a 5-inch TFT display.
Honestly, both displays seem to provide great image quality, making it hard to really consider one or the other better in this regard.
Samsung and Sony both put very similar cameras into their devices, with Sammy’s front camera being 13MP, Sony’s being 13.1MP. The back cam on the Sony is a 2.1MP, the back cam on the Samsung is a 2MP.
Of course there is always more to the story than just what the MP rating says. Until more comparisons of the pictures between the two devices show up on the net – it’s hard to say which is really the better of the two. Traditionally? Sony usually has better cameras, but again, we can’t say for sure at this point.
Now it’s the Samsung Galaxy S4′s time to shine. The phone features a Exynos 5 Octa SoC (international) you get the power of four high-speed A16 cores, alongside four high-efficiency A7 cores. There is also a three-core PowerVR GPU. In the North American version, the Galaxy S4 has a Snapdragon 600.
Regardless of which version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 you pit against the Sony Xperia Z, the S4 is probably going to win without any trouble. While the Xperia Z’s Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro isn’t a bad chip by any means – the mobile tech world moves quickly and the S4 Pro certainly isn’t the leader of the pack anymore.
Additionally Samsung has a lot of special hardware features like an IR blaster that allows you to use your phone as a remote. Bottom-line, the Sony Xperia Z is a solid phone in the hardware department, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 redefines the definition of excellence thanks to its cutting edge specs.
The Sony Xperia Z packs a 2330 mAh battery, the Galaxy S4 has an even bigger battery at 2600 mAh. The life between the two devices should actually be rather similar, but the Samsung really wins here in one regard: it can be removed.
That means you can keep spare batteries around if you are going to be away from an outlet for an extended period of time.
Sony’s Xperia Z comes with Android 4.1 and uses Sony’s custom overlay on top. The interface is tightly integrated with Sony media services and is a capable enough build.
That said, Samsung wins here. Not everyone loves the TouchWiz interface, but with Android 4.2 and TONS of custom software features – what’s not to like? From AirView to Smart Scroll. Samsung Knox to Group Play, Samsung has you covered with tons of special features added to their custom Android Jelly Bean build.
I’m going to use the easy out here first: “Both phones have a lot to offer in different ways, it really is up to your own personal tastes”.
Expanding that: If you really care most about cutting-edge hardware on the inside, but don’t really give a damn about the premium outer-look, the Galaxy S4 is the best choice. Heck, some of you might even prefer the Galaxy S4 look, especially if you are a Samsung fan.
For those that want a more durable build with dustproof/waterproof capabilites and a more stylish outer-appearance, the Sony Xperia Z is going to satisfy, at least as long as you are okay with your flagship device having the not-so-new S4 Pro over the Snapdragon 600 or other ‘newer’ chips.
The more important question is what YOU the reader thinks. So how about it, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 or the Sony Xperia Z? Which would do you think is the better phone all around?