Huawie-Mate-S-hands-on-AA-(12-of-16)

The start of IFA 2015 saw major smartphone releases from Huawei and Sony, both of which offer up some industry firsts and plenty of high-end features. Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium boasts the world’s first 4K smartphone display, while Huawei has announced the first Force Touch enabled handset. But how do the phones’ other features compare and are they better than what is already on the market?

As both Huawei and Sony are targeting the upper end of the market with their latest releases, we are going to look at the latest large handsets from LG and Samsung, as well as the more reasonably sized HTC One M9 for our comparison.

 Xperia Z5 rangeHuawei Mate SGalaxy S6 Edge+LG G4HTC One M9
Display5.5-inch / 5.2-inch / 4.6-inch LCD
4K (3840 X 2160) / 1080p / 720p
5.5-inch AMOLED
1080p
5.7-inch AMOLED
QHD (2560x1440)
5.5-inch LCD
QHD (2560x1440)
5.0-inch LCD
1080p
SoCSnapdragon 810Kirin 935Exynos 7420Snapdragon 808Snapdragon 810
CPU4x 1.9GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.2GHz Cortex-A53
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.1GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
2x 1.8GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.4GHz Cortex-A53
4x 2.0GHz Cortex-A57
4x 1.5GHz Cortex-A53
GPUAdreno 430Mali-T628 MP4Mali-T760 MP8Adreno 418Adreno 430
RAM3GB / 2GB3GB4GB3GB3GB
Storage32GB32 / 64 / 128GB32/64/128GB32GB32GB
MicroSDyes, up to 200GByes, up to 128GBNoYes, up to 128GBYes, up to 128GB
Unlocked Price€799 / €699 / €549€649 / €699€800+~€610€649

It’s no suprise that Sony is now the big winner when it comes to pixel count, at least with its 4K Premium model. The 5.5-inch 4K display delivers a whopping 808 pixels per inch, trouncing the 518PPI of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the LG G4’s 538PPI. However, the benefits of a QHD display over a 1080p version are already debatable at this display size, so it seems doubtful that a 4K display will yield as large a boost to visual clarity as the huge pixel count would suggest.

Sony’s regular Xperia Z5 model sits more in the typical area of the market right now, with a 5.2-inch 1080p screen that closely matches the likes of the HTC One M9 for resolution. Thinking about it, it seems odd that Sony believes that a 0.3-inch difference in display size warrants a 4 fold increase in pixel resolution. The smaller Xperia Z5 Compact sticks with the 720p display resolution as previous generation models, resulting in an acceptable 323 PPI.

xperia z5 premium

While the 5.5-inch 1080p display on the Mate S may not sound that ground breaking, it does come with an insanely high 1800000:1 contrast ratio, providing the crisps blacks and wide color gamut that we have come to associate with AMOLED displays.

If display clarity if high on your priority list, the Xperia Z5 technically tops the rankings, although you won’t be disappointed with a QHD resolution phone either. Just remember, native 4K content is going to eat into the Z5’s storage space too.

Speaking of which, the Xperia Z5 range comes with 32GB of internal storage, pretty much the minimum for a high-end model. This matches up with other handsets in this price range and the microSD card slot supports up to 200GB of extra storage if you need it. The Mate S and Edge S6+ offer options with the most built-in storage, but you’ll miss out on a microSD slot if you opt for a Samsung phone.

As for processing performance, the Xperia range features a high-end Snapdragon 810 that competes with other phones at this price segment. The Adreno 430 GPU looks like it would struggle to render native 4K games, so I imagine some form of upscaling will take place using Sony’s X-Reality PRO technology. The Xperia Z5 Compact still stands out as one of the few small form factor phones to offer flagship level performance.

sony xperia z5 first look aa (9 of 14)

Sony is promising notable camera improvements with its latest Xperia range.

The Mate S and its Kirin 935 processor is the weakest link here, as the phone doesn’t feature any high-performance A57 cores for heavy lifting and the Mali-T628 MP4 is not particularly high-end these days. However, the octa-core chip is no slouch and will easily handle your day to day tasks and gaming on the 1080p display. It’s just not the choice for those who have to have the very fastest tech.

The Samsung Exynos 7420 is still the processor to beat this year, although it is only mildly faster than Snapdragon 810 handsets. The S6 Edge+ is the only phone on our list to come with 4GB of RAM, but again the real world performance benefits here are marginal, if any.

 Xperia Z5 rangeHuawei Mate SGalaxy S6 Edge+LG G4HTC One M9
Camera23MP rear
5MP front
13MP rear
8MP front
16MP rear
5MP front
16MP rear
8MP front
20MP rear
4MP front
Battery3,430 / 2,900 / 2,700mAh2,700mAh3,000mAh3,000mAh2,840mAh
Fast Charging?Quick Charge 2.0NoYesQuick Charge 2.0Quick Charge 2.0
Wireless Charging?NoNoQi and PMAQi (optional cases)No
Fingerprint Scan?YesYesYesNoNo
IP ratingIP68NoNoNoNo
Dimensions154.4 x 75.8 x 7.8mm / 146 x 72 x 7.3mm / 127 x 65 x 8.9mm149.8 x 75.3 x 7.2 mm154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.6 mm
Weight180g / 154g / 138g156g153g155g157g
Unlocked Price€799 / €699 / €549€649 / €699€800+~€610€649

Moving on to extra features, and the Mate S comes with an improved fingerprint scanner, new camera technology and a renewed focus on build quality. The phone has a 13MP rear sensor, complete with optical image stabilization, and a high resolution 8 megapixel sensor on the front. Unfortunately, Huawei’s Force Touch feature is reserved for its 128GB model, which hasn’t been priced yet but will probably cost at least €750. However, there’s no Quick Charge, wireless charging or IP rating options here, which can be found on some other devices for a similar price.

Sony, by comparison, has gone all out with additional features in the Xperia Z5 range and it’s tough to find a competitor with so many extras, except for the Galaxy S6 range. Along with the new fingerprint scanner, the Z5 is IP68 rated for water and dust resistance, features Quick Charge 2.0 technology and comes with a relatively large battery. Sony has also upped its game in the camera department, with a new ExmorRS 23 megapixel F2.0 G Lens and some very fast auto focus technology and SteadyShot image stabilization.

However, additional megapixels don’t always produce better results, see the HTC One M9. The LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones are the handsets to beat this generation if you’re looking for the best looking pictures, so we will have to wait for some hands on tests to truly decide which handset is the best here.

huawei mate s aa 4

Huawei’s Force Touch looks like an interesting feature, but it is reserved for the 128GB premium model.

In conclusion, both of yesterday’s announcements from Huawei and Sony have resulted in very promising smartphones, although they are perhaps aimed at slightly different customers. Sony’s Premium 4K display may be a bit of a gimmick, but the rest of the Xperia Z5 hardware is very solid and certainly competes, and in some ways exceeds, other flagships on the market right now. I feel that more effort has been put in over the Xperia Z3+, but the improvements aren’t huge enough to automatically recommend an upgrade.

The Huawei Mate S doesn’t quite match up with other flagships when it comes to processing power, but its high contrast display, fingerprint scanner and range of storage options helps to set it apart from the pack. Which is important, as Huawei can’t claim to have a major price advantage with the Mate S this time.

How do you feel about the latest offerings from Sony and Huawei? Are you planning to pick up an Xperia Z5 or the Mate S?