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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z comparison review

Around £500 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has, at long last, arrived so we look at how it compares to the Full HD Sony Xperia Z. Read our Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z comparison review to find out more.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z

Since launching, the Sony Xperia Z has held the top spot in our smartphone chart since launching, but can the Samsung Galaxy S4 topple it? Find out in our Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z comparison review.

The first big Android smartphone launch of the year was Sony's Xperia Z but now the Samsung Galaxy S4 is here to challenge its Japanese rival.

See also: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Galaxy S3 comparison review.

If you're trying to decide between these two Android heavyweights this comparison review will help you out. See also: Best smartphones of 2012  

See also: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5 comparison review.

Take a look at the following two articles for more details on each smartphone.

Sony Xperia Z review

Samsung Galaxy S4: details, what you need to know

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: Design and build

As you can see from the image above, the Galaxy S4 looks quite similar to the Galaxy S3 in design and therefore pretty different to the Xperia Z. It's a case of rounded pebble-like vs sharp and square so you can take your pick. What might help you decide is that the Galaxy S4 is mostly plastic with a removable cover and the Xperia Z is largely glass and boasts a waterproof and dust proof.

See also: Group test: What's the best smartphone?

With 5in screens, both are pretty big smartphones. The Galaxy S4 is marginally smaller than the Xperia Z at 69.8 x 136.6mm compared to 71 x 139mm. The two are wafer thin at 7.9mm and since the Galaxy S4 is smaller with a plastic build it's a little lighter - 130g against 145g.

The superior build quality of the Xperia Z makes it the better smartphone in this area.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: Screen

Things are pretty tied when it comes to the screen. As expected, the Galaxy S4 has a 5in display with a Full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920. As does the Xperia Z so each has a high pixel density of 441ppi - beaten only by the HTC One.

Technology varies as the Samsung uses SuperAMOLED while the Sony uses its own Mobile Bravia Engine 2. There's little to choose between them, the Galaxy S4's screen offers a little more brightness and colours look eye popping. However, the Xperia Z's screen has a more natural look.

The other difference is glass as the Galaxy S4 uses Gorilla Glass 3 but the Sony Xperia Z has unamed shatter proof and scratch-resistant glass.

Since we're splitting hairs between the two, it's a draw here.

Samsung Galaxy S4 black mist

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: Processor and performance

The Xperia Z has the same impressive 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor found in the Nexus 4. The UK model didn't get the Exynos 5 Octa 8-core processor but has a 1.9GHz quad-core processor instead. Both phones are matched on RAM at 2GB.

The Galaxy S4 blew the Xperia Z out of the water in terms of benchmarks. It scored 3227, 41fps and 1092ms in Geekbench 2, GLBenchmark and SunSpider. The Xperia Z scored 1986, 30fps and 1791ms respectively.

We were surprised, then, to find the Galaxy S4 very laggy at times. Something we didn't find with the Xperia Z.

It's difficult to call a winner here since the benchmarks suggest the Galaxy S4 while user experience says the Xperia Z. The latter is more important, though, so the Sony comes out on top.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: Storage

Sony has opted to sell just a 16GB model of the Xperia Z but the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models – although it's only the 16GB model which seems to be available at the moment.

Both have a microSD card slot for expansion and although the Xperia Z is supposedly limited to 32GB, it's been widely reported that formatted 64GB cards also work. The Galaxy S4 takes 64GB cards as standard.

With almost half of the Galaxy S4's internal storage being taken up with the OS and Samsung's additional features and the current lack of the 32GB and 64GB models, the Xperia Z takes a win here.

Sony Xperia Z

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: Cameras

In terms of specs, cameras are almost the same. Both have a 13Mp rear facing camera with the ability to shoot video in Full HD 1080p quality. The Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z have 2Mp ad 2.2Mp front facing cameras respectively. Like the main shooters, they can record 1080p video.

As you would expect there's little difference in quality here. However, the range of additional shooting modes which the Galaxy S4 offers means it pips the Xperia Z.

Samsung Galaxy S4 side profile

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: Software

Both of these smartphones run Google's Android Jelly Bean but slightly different versions. The Xperia Z is on 4.1.2 while the Galaxy S4 ships with version 4.2.2. It's a minor difference and the Sony will be updated soon anyway.

The far bigger difference is the user interface overlay which each firm applies to Android. Sony's is closer to vanilla Android but the Galaxy S4 with TouchWiz comes with more exclusive software features.

Which interface you prefer is down to personal taste but our main concerns is that, not only does the Galaxy S4's software features take up space, a lot of them are gimmicky and buggy. What's more, you can't uninstall them to free up memory.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: Battery

The Sony Xperia Z has a 2330mAh non-removable battery while the Galaxy S4 has a larger, and removable, 2600mAh battery. This doesn't automatically mean that the Samsung offers longer battery life.

We found both phones to offer excellent battery life, each being capable of two days of use. It's a draw here.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Expert Verdict »

Samsung Galaxy S4 Scores 8.7 out of 10 based on 2095 reviews
Display: 5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
Processor: 1.9GHz quad-core
OS: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
Camera: Main(Rear): 13 Mega pixel Auto Focus camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Sub (Front): 2 Mega pixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps with Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Video: Codec: MPEG4, H.264, H.263, DivX, DivX3.11, VC-1, VP8, WMV7/8, Sorenson Spark, HEVC
Recording & Playback: Full HD (1080p)
Audio: Codec: MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC?/eAAC?, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AC-3, apt-X
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (HT80), GPS / GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth® 4.0 (LE), IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
Sensor: Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer Temperature & Humidity, Gesture
Memory: 16/ 32/ 64 GB User memory ? microSD slot (up to 64GB), 2GB RAM
Dimension: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130g
Battery: 2,600 mAh

The Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z are level in a number of areas. However, considering the cheaper price of Sony's smartphone and the fact it offers better build quality and doesn't disappoint where the Samsung does, it's our winner here.


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