The recently unveiled Samsung Galaxy S4 will undoubtedly be a popular smartphone this year, but that doesn't mean there aren't other contenders to the title of best Android smartphone. Probably one of the most surprising players this year is Sony, who has pleasantly surprised us and many smartphone fans with the Xperia Z.
But is the Sony Xperia Z a real challenger to the Samsung Galaxy S4? Or is Samsung so far ahead of every other Android manufacturer that its devices are without rival?
If you’re looking for a video comparison between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z, you can jump straight to the bottom of this article. But perhaps you will be more interested in joining us as we go through the pros and cons of each device. Sounds fun? Let's begin.
Samsung Galaxy S4
Sony Xperia Z
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm130g
139 x 71 x 7.9 mm (5.47 x 2.80 x 0.31 in)146 g (5.15 oz)
4.99-inch, Super AMOLED1920 x 1080 Full HD, 441ppi
5-inch TFT LCD Bravia Engine 21920 x 1080, 443ppi
CPU and GPU
Samsung Exynos 5 Octa
Quad-core A15 (1.6GHz) + Quad-core A7 (1.2GHz)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T
Quad-core Krait 300
Snapdragon S4 Pro MDM9215M / APQ8064Quad-core 1.5GHzAdreno 320
16GB/32GB/64GB internalmicroSD, up to 64GB
16/32GBmicroSD, up to 64GB
13MP rear, LED flash, autofocus, burst mode, Shot with Sound, Dual record, Smart Erase
13.1MP rear, autofocus, LED flash, HDR2.2 MP front, 1080p, 30fps
The Samsung Galaxy S4 features a 5-inch Super AMOLED display that shows 1920 by 1080 pixels at a 441ppi ratio.
The Sony Xperia Z uses a 5-inch TFT display that runs at a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, and shares the same 441ppi density.
Both displays are very crisp and both look great, and although some may love the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S4 display has more vivid colors, others call might be put off and consider them gaudy.
Verdict: Draw – the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z both have great displays.
Design and Build Quality
Given that the two devices have displays of the same dimensions, they are quite similar in terms of overall footprint. With that said, Sony and Samsung have markedly different design languages, and their philosophy is epitomized in their respective 2013 flagships.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 weighs 130 grams, measures 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm (5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 in), and features asymmetrically rounded corners, a hardware ,button and two capacitive buttons below the display, with a polycarbonate back.
In the other corner, the Sony Xperia Z features an angular, almost monolithic shape, with on-screen navigational buttons and a glass back.The Xperia Z is quite slim, clocking in at 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm (5.47 x 2.80 x 0.31 in). One of the special features of the Xperia device is its resistance to elements – the device is dustproof and can be submerged under water for up to 30 minutes without any adverse effects.
Verdict: Design is subjective to personal preference, but the Sony Xperia Z takes the round thanks to its build quality and proofing.
CPU, GPU & RAM
The international version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 uses the new Exynos 5 Octa SoC, which brings together four high-speed A15 cores and four high-efficiency A7 cores. This is ARM's new big.LITTLE configuration, that is said to provide amazing raw power, without putting too much stress on the battery. Samsung has added a three-core PowerVR GPU, that promises to help the Galaxy S4 run the most intensive games without breaking a sweat.
Although we’ll have to wait for benchmark results to roll in, the Exynos 5 Octa SoC is estimated to overcome the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 in benchmarks. The Qualcomm-made chipset is used in the North American version of the Galaxy S4 (1.9 GHz Quad-Core Krait CPU, Adreno 320 GPU).
Both versions feature 2GB of RAM, which is the de facto standard in early 2013.
The Sony Xperia Z is powered by a Qualcomm S4 Pro released just a few months ago. However, the specs race in the mobile industry is advancing at breakneck speed, leaving the S4 Pro behind in terms of raw performance, as benchmark scores clearly indicate.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in three versions, with 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB of internal storage space respectively. The Sony Xperia Z is available in 16GB and 32GB versions. Both smartphones feature microSD card slots.
The Sony Xperia Z features a 13.1MP primary camera and a 2.1MP secondary one. Naturally, Sony used its in-house developed Exmor RS for the camera, which is widely considered one of the most advanced in the market.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 13MP primary sensor and a 2MP secondary camera. Traditionally, Sony’s cameras are slightly better than the ones on Samsung devices, but we’ll have to wait for more test shots before we can know for sure that’s the case here.
The Sony Xperia Z comes with a 2330 mAh non removable battery, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 features a 2600 mAh removable battery. Battery life is likely to be similar, but Galaxy S4 users will be able to use a spare battery to get through the day.
Android implementation and software
The Sony Xperia Z comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box and uses Sony’s own, lightweight overlay on top. Sony’s user interface is tightly integrated with its media services, and does have feature several interesting functions, although some users might consider it not
Verdict: Samsung has packed enough features in the Galaxy S4 to make sure that every user will find something to like.
Although Samsung is in a totally different situation than Sony as an Android manufacturer, the truth is that the Sony Xperia Z is quite an interesting and attractive device.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the faster smartphone of the two, that’s for sure, but the Sony Xperia Z wins some points back thanks to its better design and protection against water and dust.
My opinion is that choosing between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Xperia Z could ultimately boil down to this question: are you comfortable with SAMOLED displays and don’t put too much price on the design and build quality of a high-end smartphone? Then the Samsung Galaxy S4 is clearly the better smartphone for you. However, Sony Xperia Z is a very interesting choice for almost every type of user.
What do you guys think? Does the Samsung Galaxy S4 blow the Sony Xperia Z out of the water? Or is it the other way around? Drop us a comment and let us know what you think.
Growing up in my father's PC store, I was surrounded by and developed a passion for technology ever since I was in kindergarten. However, advancements made in the technology world continue to amaze me on a daily basis! I've been writing about the Android OS since back in October 2008, when Google and HTC launched the first Android smartphone ever, the T-Mobile G1 / HTC Dream. Although I'm no company's fanboy, Android is the mobile OS I devoutly support.
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