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Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: two high-end Android smartphones slug it out

£599 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Sony

The arrival of Google's new flagship smartphone, the Nexus 5, has turned the high-end Android smartphone market on its head. Here's our Sony Xperia Z1 vs LG Nexus 5 comparison to help you decide which smartphone comes out on top.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review

The Nexus 5, with its incredibly low SIM-free price, has turned the Android market on its head. Here's where we put the two high-end smartphones head to head with each other in this Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review. See all smartphones reviews.

See also: Nexus 5: Where to buy.

Before we go any further we need to make it clear that we have not yet had any hands-on time with the Nexus 5, so this will be a comparison based purely on the confirmed specs of both devices. We expect to receive a sample of the LG Nexus 5 within the coming days. See also: HTC One vs Nexus 5 comparison review.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: price

Perhaps the most significant difference between these two smartphones is the price. The £299 (SIM free) 16GB Nexus 5 is half the price of the £599 (SIM free) Sony Xperia Z1.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Nexus 5 price means there must be a catch, or there is something wrong with the handset. The truth is that Google happy to sell the Nexus 5 at cost price – or even at a loss – in return for locking customers into its Google Play store.

The LG Nexus 5 is the obvious winner here.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: Design and build

The biggest difference between the Xperia Z1 and the Nexus 5 is the way they look and feel. The Nexus 5 is more slightly smaller and lighter, while sporting some soft curves here and there. The slightly chunkier Xperia Z1 is a lot more boxy in it's appearance but still very stylish.

Both smartphones sport 5-inch HD displays (technically the Nexus 5 is 4.95 inches), with the Xperia Z1 having a little bit more bezel on board.

What the Sony Xperia Z1 does have however is IP58 certified dust proof and water resistance up to 1 metre and half an hour. Alas, the Nexus 5 does not.

 

Size (mm)

Weight

Sony Xperia Z1

144 x 74 x 8.5

170g

LG Nexus 5

137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6

130g

Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: Screen

The Xperia Z1 and Nexus 5 have pretty much identical screens when you look at the specs. The only real difference is that the Nexus 5's display is 0.05-inches smaller. Both are capacitive touchscreens, with 16M colours and both have 1080 x 1920 pixels, cunningly the 0.05-inch difference gives the Nexus 5 - 445ppi - four more pixels per inch than the Xperia Z1's 441pixel density.

The Nexus 5 has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection, while the Xperia Z1 states that it has scratch-resistant glass and is shatter proof.

 

Size (inch)

Pixels

Pixel density

Sony Xperia Z1

5

1080 x 1920

441ppi

LG Nexus 5

4.95

1080 x 1920

445ppi

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: Processor and performance

The Sony Xperia Z1 has 2 GB of RAM and a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. It's a quad-core processor with an impressive clock speed of 2.2 GHz, the highest we've seen on a smartphone to date.

The Z1 is out new record holder in Geekbench 2 with a score of 3673, beating the Samsung Galaxy S4's 3227. It also stormed through GLBenchmark 2.5 with 53 fps, again beating the Galaxy S4's 41 fps. Sony has done the treble with a superfast time of 738 ms in SunSpider 1.0.

The Nexus 5 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2.26GHz quad-core processor paired with 2GB RAM, and an Adreno 330, 450MHz GPU. You can expect the Nexus 5 to produce equally impressive benchmark results. We will update this section once we get our hands on the device and have ran the benchmarking tests.

Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: Storage

The Nexus 5 is available to buy with either 16/32GB of internal storage, while the Xperia Z1 is only available with 16GB of on board storage. The kicker is that the Xperia Z1 has the valuable option of adding expandable storage via its microSD slot, this lets you add up to 64GB of extra space.

 

Internal

Expandable

Sony Xperia Z1

16GB

microSD (up to 64GB)

LG Nexus 5

16/32GB

N/A

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: Camera

On paper this one is a bit of a mismatch, the Xperia Z1's camera is a 20.7Mp beast, complete with a heap of capture effects such as burst shots and panoramas.

The specs and features of the Nexus 5 are hardly second rate though, the 8Mp rear-facing camera should take pictures that will be more than sharp enough for the average user.

 

Primary (Mp)

Secondary (Mp)

Video

Sony Xperia Z1

20.7

2

1080p@30fps

LG Nexus 5

8

1.3

1080p@30fps

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: Connectivity

Both of these big guns feature all of the usual suspects when it comes to connectivity.  Dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA, GPS, 4G LTE, NFC and microUSB are all in play here. The Nexus 5 does have wireless charging though.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nexus 5 comparison review: Software

The Xperia Z1 comes with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean pre-installed as its OS, complete with a few handy and unobtrusive Sony apps and features.

The Nexus 5 comes with the brand new Android 4.4 KitKat operating system installed and is the first smartphone to do so. As always with Nexus devices, this will be a “vanilla” version of Android and will come with no bloatware. To find out more about Android Kitkat read our Android 4.4 KitKat release date, new features and device upgrades article.

Sony Xperia Z1 Expert Verdict »

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£371
£375
£382
Sony Xperia Z1 Scores 8.8 out of 10 based on 157 reviews
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS
5in Triluminos Display (1080x1920)
2.2GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU
Adreno 330 GPU
2GB RAM
16GB internal storage
microSD slot (up to 64GB)
20.7Mp rear camera AF with LED Flash
2Mp front camera
Video recording at 1080p
Wi-Fi up tp 11.ac
Bluetooth 4.0
NFC
HSDPA, 42 Mbps
HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps
4G LTE
Micro-SIM
3000mAh battery
Dust and waterproof (IP58)
74x144x8.7mm
170g

If you want to buy a SIM free smartphone, then we'd strongly advise you chose the Nexus 5, it's an amazing smartphone with top of the range specs with a ridiculously low price tag. However, if you want to take out a lengthy contract then it really is a closer contest where neither the Nexus 5 of Xperia Z1 will disappoint you.

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£371
£375
£382
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