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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: Android Jelly Bean Flagships Face-off

The 2013 flagship smartphones of the biggest smartphone makers in the world have already hit the market, and as far as it goes, the battle on the Android segment will be pretty tough this year. Both Samsung and Sony officially announced their high-end competitors, that’s why it’s time to see which of them will win the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z battle.

The Sony Xperia Z was the first to see the light of day, as the Japan-based company officially announced it earlier this year at CES 2013 tech event. The Sony flagship fits into the trend set for the 2013 smartphone segment, boasting a 5-inch full HD display, and received a lot of positive reviews for its build quality and design.

On the other, hand the Samsung Galaxy S4 is expected to become the best-selling Android-powered smartphone ever, also bringing a full HD display with a 5-inch diagonal.

Both devices come with powerful processors, both have displays capable of keeping them in the race for the best smartphone on the market, and they are both running Android Jelly Bean. You’d say there’s a tie here, but after the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z comes to an end you will probably think otherwise.

The winner of the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z battle will be chosen after the two smartphones will fight in eight different rounds, each bringing one point for the winner. We will be comparing the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z in terms of Dimensions, Design, Display, Processor, Operating System, Connectivity, Memory, and Camera.

Anyway, let’s cut the chit chat and begin the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z battle.


With the displays of the moderns smartphones growing in size, the smartphone makers are trying to make them as small as possible in order to bring the best one-handed experience. The race for the thinnest and lightest smartphone is also important for the smartphone makers, and even though the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z are really thin devices, they are not even close to what companies like Oppo, Alcatel, or Motorola have brought on the market.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is 136.6 mm tall, 69.8 mm wide and 7.9 mm thin, while weighing only 130 grams. On the other hand, the Sony Xperia Z measures 139 x 71 x 7.9 mm and has a weight of 146 grams. Now let’s do the math, the Galaxy S4 and the Xperia Z are equal when it comes to their profile, but the Sony flagship is 2.4 mm taller, 1.2 mm wider, and 16 grams heavier.

Since the the size and weight differences between the two terminals are almost noticeable, we’ll call this round of the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z battle a tie.


There are a lot of users out there who care less about dimensions and more about the design of the terminals. There are two complete design philosophies for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z.

Sony Xperia Z brings a sharp edges and a back covered by glass, giving the high-end smartphone a premium look. Moreover, the Xperia Z is both dust and water resistant and the IP57 certification is there to confirm it. Anyway, in order to resist in 1 meter deep waters for up to 30 minutes, the Japanese company had to wrap the components of the Xperia Z into a unibody case, which has its drawbacks: the battery is not removable.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 follows the design language introduced last year by the Samsung Galaxy S3 and continued by the Galaxy Note 2. Even though it has a bigger display compared to the Galaxy S3 the Galaxy S4 is just as tall and even narrower than its predecessor. Samsung’s design team managed this by making the bezel around the display narrower, which, in my opinion, looks great.

Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S4 uses plastic for the case, and many of the users will find it cheap-looking. But the plastic back lid offers access to the battery, and some users might choose it especially for this aspect.

Anyway, the Sony Xperia Z is definitely the better-looking smartphone, that’s why we will give the design point to the Japanese flagship. The Sony Xperia Z leads the battle against Samsung Galaxy S4 1 – 0.


There’s no doubt that all the flagship smartphones of the Android world will boast full HD displays this year. We already have three of them announced, and they are all coming with 4.7+ inch full HD screens: HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Sony Xperia Z.

The Sony Xperia Z comes with a 5-inch TFT display with 1,1080 x 1,920 pixels and a pixel density of 441 ppi, using Sony’s proprietary Mobile Bravia Engine 2 technology and shatter proof and scratch-resistant glass for protection.

The Galaxy S4 as a display that is similar to the one of the Xperia Z when it comes to size, resolution, and pixel density, but it uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

The Super AMOLED display brings more brightness and almost 180 degree viewing angles, but the color reproduction isn’t you can  call accurate on it. Each type of display has its pros and cons, and because the two devices come with displays that are identical in size and resolution, this round of the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z ends as draw, too.


Each time you buy a new smartphone, you must take it’s processor into consideration, because it’s the “heard” of the device. That’s were all the power is coming from, and here we are having two three powerful processors fighting.

The Japanese flagship brings a Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset manufactured by Qualcomm, with a quad-core CPU based on Krait 200 cores at 1.5 GHz and Adreno 320 GPU. Well, this was the processor that dominated the smartphone market in 2012, and some of you might find it outdated. I’m not saying it’s a bad chipset, but there are more powerful alternatives on the market, and Sony should have taken them into consideration.

As you probably heard there are two processing options for the Samsung Galaxy S4, depending on the market the smartphone will be retailed on.

The international variant will sport Samsung’s proprietary Exynos 5 Octa processor using ARM’s bigg.LITTLE architecture. The chipset is based on four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.6 GHz (used for gaming, multimedia playback, or any tasks requiring more processing power) and four Cortex A7 cores at 1.2 GHz for the basic tasks. The octo-core configuration should provide better battery life, and, according to Samsung the Exynos 5 Octa is 70% more battery friendly than the Exynos 5 Dual processor fitted on the Google Nexus 10.

The Exynos 5 Octa also has a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU that should deliver graphics performance somewhere between the iPad 3 and iPad 4.

But certain markets will receive the Snapdragon 600-powered Samsung Galaxy S4. Underpinned by a processing solution developed by Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 600 has four 1.9 GHz Krait 300 cores and Adreno 320.

Since both the Cortex A15 and Krait 300 CPUs are better than the Snapdragon S4 Pro based on Krait 200 architecture, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the smartphone that wins the processor round of our battle.


Looking at the high-end smartphones that were launched so far this year, you won’t find many differences between them when it comes to connectivity, as they are all sporting all the features a user should want.

The 4G LTE standard is becoming more popular, and more carriers are starting to adopt it, that’s why, it’s vital for a company’s smartphone to bring 4G LTE support. The 4G is so important, that the South Korean company had to ditch it’s proprietary Exynos 5 Octa SoC from the Galaxy S4 because it wasn’t compatible with the LTE networks in certain regions, fitting the more LTE-friendly Snapragon 600.

If you choose the Samsung Galaxy S4 you will receive connectivity features like 4G, HSPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, infrared port, microUSB 2.0, and 3.5 mm audio jack.

The Sony Xperia Z will bring you Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, microUSB 2.0, and 3.5 mm audio jack.

If you look back you will notice that compared to the Xperia Z, the Galaxy S4 will also bring infrared and WiFi ac, which aren’t important enough to make it better when it comes to connectivity. Another round of the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z is equally matched.


I’ll try to be quick about memory as there’s nothing much to talk about. The more memory you have the more satisfied you are. Let’s see.

2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage for the Sony Xperia Z, plus a slot for microSD cards of up to 64 GB. Total? Up to 80 GB of storage.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 brings three internal storage options 16, 32, or 64 GB, plus microSD Card support (up to 64 GB supported) and 2 GB of RAM. That’s a maximum of 128 GB of internal storage for the Galaxy S4.

As simple as it looks, the Samsung Galaxy S4 wins this round.

Operating System

Just like the title says, we are dealing with two Android Jelly Bean flagships here. Besides coming with different versions of Android Jelly Bean, the biggest differences will come from the user interfaces installed by the two companies on top of Google’s mobile operating system.

Sony Xperia Z comes pre-loaded with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and all the goodies that coming with it, and the flagship will receive an update to Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean soon after it hits the market. Sony’s UI? Well, the Xperia UI or whatever it is called (if you know it’s official name please enlighten us in the comments section), tries to stay close to the stock Android, but in the same time it’s full of Sony’s own apps, bringing nothing new to the market.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t look bad at all, but you will find loads of apps and widgets you won’t even need or use, which is pretty annoying.

Samsung’s TouchWiz UI is almost as boated as Sony’s UI, but at least the South Koreans tried bring some features that aren’t available on other smartphones. Oh, I almost forgot, the Samsung Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean out of the box.

Besides apps like S Memo, S Calendar, S Voice, and a couple more apps with S in front of them, once you head to the settings area of the Samsung Galaxy S4 you will find some pretty interesting features. We’ve seen some of them on the Galaxy S3 (Smart Stay, Pop up Play, Direct Call, or Smart Alert), but the Galaxy S4 comes with some new ones, too. Smart Scroll will scroll the page when your eyes reach the bottom of the display and Smart Pause will pause a video when the device notices that the user is no longer facing the display. Galaxy S4 also comes with touchless gestures: you can wave in front of the S4’s camera to scroll a web page or change a song that is currently played, or you can use your finger to get a preview of various items by simply hovering it over the specific item, working in a way similar to Note 2’s S Pen Air View.

Of course, some of you will really make use of the aforementioned features of the Galaxy S4, while others will get bored in the first couple of weeks, root it and install a custom ROM.

Anyway, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is definitely the smartphone that brings a richer experience to the user, therefore, the OS round of the battle goes to the South Korean flagship.


The smartphone makers have improved the cameras of their flagships in 2013, too, and with a couple of exceptions you will find 13 megapixel sensors on most of them.

The Sony Xperia Z comes with a 13 megapixel Exmor R sensor with autofocus, LED flash, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, image stabilization, HDR, sweep panorama. It also records full HD videos at 30 fps, with video stabilization and HDR. The secondary camera has a 2.2 megapixel sensor and full HD video recording support.

Samsung Galaxy S4 also comes with a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, LED flash, simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, HDR, and full HD video recording at 30 fps. Galaxy S4 also sports a user-facing 2 MP camera with full HD video recording capabilities.

Samsung also tried to improve the user experience when it comes to their smartphone’s camera and brought features like Drama Shot, Eraser, Cinema Photo, or Sound and Shot, all of them pretty useless if you asked me.

I can’t find a reason why the camera sensors of the two smartphones shouldn’t perform at the same level, that’s why the camera round of the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z also ends as tie.


The moment when we name the winner of the Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z battle has arrived.

The two smartphones have been equally matched when it came to Dimensions (they are pretty similar in size and weight), Display (both have 5-inch full HD displays), Connectivity (both have all you need from a smartphone), or Camera (13 megapixel sensors).

The Sony Xperia Z has won the Design round, courtesy of its water resistant premium-looking unibody case, scoring 1 point. The Samsung Galaxy S4 scored 3 precious points, because of its superior maximum storage capacity, powerful processor, and highly-appreciated TouchWiz user interface, winning the Memory, Processor, and Operating System rounds.

That’s all folks, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has won the battle? But was it a fair fight? Was it meant to end the other way? Please let us know in the comments section.

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