Sony Xperia Z versus Samsung Galaxy S4

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.

Display

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.

Cameras

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.

Other Hardware

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 Battery

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.

Android

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.

Conclusion

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?


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17 Comments

  1. mayj says:

    I’ve always been a Sony user and had the Xperia ARC, which I’ve loved. But have now gone with the Galaxy S4 over the Xperia Z because I prefer the build – the Xperia just feels too boxy and sharped edged for me – nowhere near as tactile as the S4. Also I wanted a removable battery. I’m using the S4 now and it’s fab!

  2. Funsy says:

    Who is Samsung S4. Sony Xperia na Baba !!!

  3. seeteedub says:

    Galaxy S4 is better.
    (See how dumb that sounds?)

  4. Brucelindo says:

    Xperia Z the Best!

  5. I’m using the Experia Z, it’s fast, very nice to look at too – can’t really speak for the S4 (as its not available yet in UK) but im sure it will be good! Smart phones all do pretty much the same things these days, so everything I used on my Galaxy note also runs on my Z – it’s all down to personal taste really. Your not going to notice much difference in performance between these two phones as developers aim the software at a wide audience of users with different devices – only benchmark software will show the differences, but im not interested in fastest processor bragging rights :)

  6. sass says:

    Xperia Z for me, when it comes to performance for me they are both equal, why? co’z android
    O.S. only requires Dual Core, (xperia v 2 cores for example giving good performance), durability premium experience, Good looks XP Z for me but both of them are great phones

  7. I have always been a Sony phone user, dating back to the times of Sony-Ericsson. I have had the Xperia Play and the first SE Xperia phone with the sliding keyboard, and I’m very satisfied with both. I switched phone brand only when iPhone 4 was released, I had the 4S and now using 5… With the launch of Xperia Z, I think it is time to go back to Sony again!

  8. Manuel says:

    Xperia Z hands down… I already am using it… AND MAJORLY LOVING IT!! On LTE, IT IT FAST!!!!!!!

  9. Nguyen says:

    I owned the Sony Xperia Z a few weeks ago.
    Very nice, impressive to use, Dragontrial glass back and front. 6 x stronger than Gorilla glass used in Samsung Galaxy S4. Extra storage of 32 GB is not important!. I’m satisfied with totally 80GB RAM for music, photos, movies etc…
    Waterproof and dust proof is very important for me. 146 gram vs 130 gram is acceptable… glass vs plastic body and backcover of Samsung S4.
    Sony Xperia Z is stylish nice disign
    I’m still very happy with Sony Xperia Z….. if you want the Galaxy S4, you must to wait!!!

  10. nigel.currie8 says:

    The non-removable Xperia Z battery is a deal breaker, not just because I cannot carry a spare but because the phone will be worthless in time when the battery gets old.
    This was a big mistake from Sony. I have the Xperia arc and wanted to stay with Sony but i wouldn’t touch the Z with a barge pole.

    • Nguyen says:

      built in battery is better for quick charging! Sony needs less space to make Sony thin, small. Waterproof and dustproof……you can charger the Sony Xperia wiht high speed. Sony charger high capacity of 1.5 Ampere/hour…. other smartphone have mostly maximum of 1 A/h!

  11. Stefano says:

    Samsung CPU spec is more powerful but not enough to notice it. My current S-G3 is just as fast as my other phone, the Iphone 4 when in fact on paper, SG3 should be kicking my Iphone 4.

    Now for this year, Im getting the Xperia Z

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