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

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z

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.

Dimensions

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.

Design

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.

Display

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.

Processor

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.

Connectivity

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.

Memory

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.

Camera

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.

Conclusions

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.

Sony Xperia Z Articles

  • CJK

    i will go for Xperia Z without a second thought.
    The features are more practical and imp one.
    I dont want my expensive mobile to die out coz of water.

    • Ace

      my thoughts exactly, if the S4 was waterproof, I’d go for it; but since Sony actually takes into consideration clumsy people like me, i think that’s a good selling point. and i think they’re confident enough about the life of the phone that they wont let water get in the way of a lasting device. Plus, all these complaints about sub-par viewing angles on the Xperia Z doesn’t make much significance cause honestly, who looks at their phone at an angle? lol. I’m pretty sure 99 percent of the population views their phone straight on.

  • Pardeep Mandhan

    will go for S4 ..processor nd OS matter a lot..rest all features are same

  • BBAD

    The Xperia Z will win in the Camera and Storage round. Sony offers 50 GB lifetime BOX storage which means a total of 130, which is more than S4. I would say it is a DRAW. But I will prefer Z over S4.

    • The Galaxy S4 comes with 50 GB of Dropbox storage for two years. There are a lot of cloud storage alternatives out there, but we didn’t take them into consideration.

    • gh

      sam

    • admin

      sam sung offers 30 gb storage

      • Modirator samsung

        not 30 ,50

  • AolovoloA

    Tbh The most important thing that has to be considered is also the price of the 2 devices… And plus the fact that it has newer technology and that it has jelly bean 4.2.2 is because it came out later…

    • Karan

      By the way guys the name of sony ui i is not xperia ui its Timescape Ui..

  • Dave

    Does it really matter how many cores my phone has? This is just a hardware propaganda perpetuated by the chip and phone makers to keep the new products selling. What really matters more is how efficiently the processor works with the software and if it suffers any lag due to its hardware. I am sure a 1.5 Ghz processor on the Sony should be more than sufficient to handle my day to day requirements. Even most of the heavy Games on the Market should run smoothly on this configuration. If the Octa core can save power while running that’s a whole different ball game then. But then using most of the new features on the S4 would require the front camera to operate continually which would def drain a lot of power. I loved the Xperia design but loved these new features on S4 and though i may tire of them eventually, as of now they are very impressive. Both are great phones and i would really spend several more hours in the store comparing them side by side before i can make up my mind.

  • common sense

    you have labeled the phones wrong in the picture at the top. idiot

    • anonymous

      Yes, the author does have the phones mislabled, however, your “idiot” comment makes me think of how a 20 year old grocery-store stock boy who’s has no respect of anyone or anything. come on.

      • can u tell me what it means by ”who’s has no respect” which is in your reply? who’s has??? WTF! ‘who’s’ itself means ‘who has’,so y use another ‘has’? 😛 neva mind-just being humorous… heheheee… another 20 yrs old boy messing arnd… neva mess with 20..

  • s3 mama

    I have a S3 and was waiting to upgrade to the S4
    so I can get the wireless charging (hate plugging in at night), but found out
    it’s a $100 add-on. Then I found the Monster Watts Stealth Qi wireless charger
    SET for $40, and it comes with the S3 wireless receiver which fits under the
    phone’s back, plus the charger is S4 compatible. And yesterday they announced that they will accept the S3
    receiver for trade-in when the S4 one is available.

  • Kad

    Didn’t you miss the important parameter of battery life? How long does each one last in Talk and Standby mode?

    • Since the Galaxy S4 didn’t hit the market, we didn’t wanted to jump into conclusions. Judging by the battery capacity (2,330 mAh for Xperia Z vs 2,600 mAh for SGS4) the Samsung smartphone might have a longer battery life.

      Moreover, the Exynos 5 Octa chipset of the S4 should be more battery-friendly than the Snapdragon S4 Pro unit of the Xperia Z.

      But the Galaxy S4 comes with a lot of features that are accessing the front-facing camera, which may be real battery hogs.

      Therefore, we can’t say which one is better in terms of battery life until we get to test them under day-by-day usage conditions.

      • Dhruv

        Is the battery of Xperia Z replaceable? what if there’s some problem in the battery after say about one year? will the phone become obsolete?

        • Dave

          Yes of course, i own an xperia S and it too has a fixed battery. But if i need to i can always get the battery changed. The only difference is that since in Sony the battery is fixed, you would need to get it changed at the service center only. I agree with Liviu, that the larger battery of S4 alongwith a more battery friendly chipset should mean better battery life for S4. This is provided if you are not using the new features of S4 (smart scroll, air flick etc). But would it make sense then to switch to S4 from your current phone if you are not going to use its star features??

      • Kad

        Seeing comments like
        http://communities.sonyericsson.com/message/432517
        I wonder what battery tests have you performed. Above comment is also reflected on at least one other site, with several users confirming it.

      • Kad

        In fairness, I also see this comment
        http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=980575

        so it is possible that you have missed the problem. Since Sony has made no response so far (you have mentioned an update); is it too much to expect a re-review of this product?

  • Daniel Cornwell

    The Xperia does look awesome, but the GS4 clearly wins. Thanks for confirming my decision. Now just waiting for budget to allow purchase, hopefully WishPlz will come through and tell me about a discount. http://bit.ly/XRexQQ in case anyone wants to join me.

    • Taz

      So I am appreciative of you sending me to WishPlz and I feel I owe you one, so I’m gonna help you out by letting you know that you should be tracking this instead: http://bit.ly/166nlSJ

  • Erik

    I really think both designs are too big, and I don’t like the rounded corners on the s4, and the non-removable battery on the experia Z.

  • Hello there,

    Which phone has loudest speaker when playing music/video ? =)

    Which one has voice recorder function?

    Which phone can take multiple photos at one time?

    Thanks! =)

  • sarasein

    Me and my wife owned Sony phone all time since the last 9 years . I never use Samsung. I think i want to try Samsung S4. Samsung always good at the accessories features. However I believe that Sony are durable,punishable and tougher phone than Samsung. I dropped my Sony Xperia Ion sometime,and my kid had stepped on it but it still working. I just dont like the signal reception not as good as expected.

  • Matt Avion

    After replacing the screen 3 times on the S3 – yes I’m that clumsy! (or is it that the S3 screen was fragile?) – I’ve bought the Xperia Z. I’ve been using the built in Endurance mode already which totally suits me and saves so much battery. The build quality and feel of the phone plus it being waterproof (seriously!!) made me doubt the S4 would really be much better than the S3 which frankly has a really boring UI feel… but we all have our own opinions right? 🙂

  • Rev Nguyen

    I’ve the Xperia Z Sony in my hand. Lovely smartphone forever (for me). Water and dust proof. Excellent. Nice display of 5 inch and high resolution, better than my laptop and desktop computer. Glass on the back and the front. The frame of Xperia Z stronger than metal, but much lighter than metal. I’m a fans of Sony from years…