Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4

Sony's Xperia Z is its flagship smartphone for 2013, but how does it stack up against Google's own Nexus 4? We take an in-depth look at these two Android smartphones in our Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4 comparison review.

Although these smartphones are pretty similar, there are areas which they are quite different and might cause you to sway to one particular handset.

After using both the Xperia Z and Nexus 4 for a while we've broken this down into different sections to you can home in on what's important to you.

Sony Xperia Z review

Google Nexus 4 review

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Price

Choosing between the Nexus 4 and Xperia is difficult for a number of reasons. However, the price could be the best way of deciding. We're talking SIM-free prices since there are many, ever changing, contracts on offer. See also: Group test: What's the best Android smartphone?

The Sony Xperia Z will set you back the same amount as an iPhone 5, £529 putting it at the top end of the smartphone market. Google's Nexus 4 in stark contrast costs just £239 for the cheapest model meaning you could escape the shackles of a contract for a more flexible SIM-only deal.

It's less than half the price but you certainly don’t get half the specifications. If you're on a budget then the Nexus 4 is clearly the best option for you, but if you have a bit more cash to flash then the Xperia Z might have a few features you think are worth paying for.

Read on as we look into the specifications and features on offer from each smartphone.

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Design and build

From our point of view, the Xperia Z and Nexus 4 both offer premium design and build. They are quite similar devices in a number of ways. See also: Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5 comparison review.

Both of these phones look the part with glass used on the front and back, each has a rubbery plastic frame but we found the Nexus 4 the more slippery customer. You can choose which you like the look of more with the distinct square shape of the Xperia Z or more rounded contours of the Nexus 4.

While the Xperia Z is plain glass the Nexus 4 has a rear cover which is covered in tiny silver squares. The somewhat glittery finish might not be to everyone's taste.

Google Nexus 4

Both of these phones are thin and light devices – the Xperia Z at 7.9mm and 145g and the Nexus 4 at 9.1mm and 139g.

With a bigger screen the Xperia Z is slightly bigger than the Nexus 4 at 71 x 139mm compared to 69 x 134mm. Both are large handsets and our advice is to try and get your hands on them before parting with your hard earned cash.

Build quality of each of these smartphones is exceptional; we scored them both nine out of 10 in our individual reviews. Neither has a removable rear cover and as we've mentioned both use mainly glass.

The biggest difference to point out is that the Xperia Z is dust and water proof (to an IP57 certification) whereas the Nexus 4 is not. The flaps covering the Xperia Z's ports might get annoying sometimes but if you want a more durable and rugged phone, the Sony has one up on the Nexus 4.

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Screen

As we've already mentioned, the Xperia Z has a larger screen than the Nexus 4. But at 5in and 4.7in respectively they aren't too different; both are big screens and good for web browsing, games and media consumption.

While both screens are decent quality, the Xperia Z does outperform the Nexus 4 thanks to its Full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920. This means it has a whopping pixel density of 441ppi compared to the Nexus 4's 320ppi with its still respectable resolution of 768 x 1280.

Sony Xperia Z Full HD screen

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Processor and memory

Google's Nexus 4 shares the same internal core specifications as the Sony Xperia Z. Each has a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro coupled with 2GB of RAM.

The Nexus 4 scored marginally better in the GeekBench 2 test with a score of 2009 compared to the Xperia Z's 1986. Neither did especially well in the SunSpider JavaScript test with scores of 1906ms and 1791ms. And in the GLBenchmark graphics tests both managed impressive results of 30fps and 39fps.

There's barely any difference in performance between the two phones so we can call it a draw on this front. Either device will deliver solidly good performance for a smartphone. They are two of the best we've seen to date.

Next page: Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4 storage, cameras, connectivity, software and battery life.

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Storage

Storage is an area where there is a clearer winner. The Nexus 4 comes in an 8GB and 16GB model and the Sony Xperia Z comes in just 16GB. It's the Sony's microSD card slot which gives it the edge ad Google doesn't provide one at all.

On the specification sheet the Xperia Z can accept up to 32GB microSD cards but many users have posted online that 64GB cards have worked also.

Google Nexus 4 smartphone

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Cameras

The Xperia Z is a clear winner in the photography department with its fantastic 13Mp rear facing camera. It has an LED flash, Sony Exmor RS sensor and is the first smartphone to offer HDR video recording.

The Nexus 4 still hasn't a decent 8Mp main camera but it simply isn't up to the standard of the Sony. Read more about the camera in our Nexus 4 and Xperia Z reviews.

In terms of front cameras, the Xperia Z wins again. It has a 2Mp camera with an Exmor R sensor and the ability to record video in Full HD 1080p. The Nexus 4 has a lower resolution 1.3Mp snapper and it's limited to 720p video.

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Connectivity

Both the Nexus 4 and Xperia Z have the kind of general connectivity you would expect from a decent smartphone including Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, near-field communications (NFC) and digital living network alliance (DLNA) certification.

There are a couple of differences though. The Xperia Z supports 4G LTE networks where the Nexus 4 doesn't while the Nexus 4 offers wireless charging which the Xperia Z doesn't. The latter does have metal contacts for a docking station mind.

It's swings and roundabouts here so you'll need to choose which is more important to you.

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Software

Things are pretty even on the software front with both devices running Android Jelly Bean. The Xperia Z is on the slightly older 4.1 compare to the Nexus 4's 4.2 but this is no big deal and the Sony will be updated soon. Either way you're getting a decent and polished version of Android.

The differences are fairly small; it's vanilla Android on the Nexus 4 against Sony's overlay. Both do the same job but look visually different.

Sony's lockscreen is more basic and there's no quick settings pull down bar but there are 'small apps' and more wallpapers and widgets on offer. Importantly, both have Google Now which is one of the main features of Android Jelly Bean.

There's no clear outright winner here as it really depends on personal taste. We recommend you try them both out and see which you prefer.

Sony Xperia Z vs Google Nexus 4: Battery life

As we've mentioned already, both of these phones have no removable rear cover so you can't get at the battery inside. The Xperia Z and Nexus 4 both get through a day of use comfortably and after using both devices it's the former which has managed to get us further though the second day.

This is largely thanks to its Stamina Mode which conserves battery power when the screen is off and its Low Battery Mode. It does have a larger battery capacity but it's got to drive a higher resolution screen.

Sony Xperia Z: Specs

  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS
  • 5in Reality Display (1080x1920)
  • Sony Mobile Bravia Engine 2
  • 1.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU
  • Adreno 320 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • 13Mp rear camera AF with LED Flash
  • 2.2Mp front camera
  • Video recording at 1080p
  • HSDPA, 42 Mbps
  • HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps
  • 4G LTE, Cat3
  • 2330mAh battery
  • 71x139x7.9mm
  • 145g
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS
  • 5in Reality Display (1080x1920)
  • Sony Mobile Bravia Engine 2
  • 1.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU
  • Adreno 320 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • 13Mp rear camera AF with LED Flash
  • 2.2Mp front camera
  • Video recording at 1080p
  • HSDPA, 42 Mbps
  • HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps
  • 4G LTE, Cat3
  • 2330mAh battery
  • 71x139x7.9mm
  • 145g

OUR VERDICT

The Sony Xperia Z is definitely the superior smartphone out of these two with its Full HD screen and superb cameras. However, the bargain price of the Nexus 4 can't be overlooked. You've got to choose between specifications and value for money here.

Find the best price