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Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: spec comparison

MobileGuides
by James Laird
, 23 Apr 2013Guides
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z: spec comparison

There's no doubt that Android users are spoilt for choice when it comes to high-end handsets this year, and it doesn't get much more premium than the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z. Both represent tidy packages combining the latest hardware - think Full HD displays, 13-megapixel cameras, and oomphy quad-core chipsets - with sophisticated aesthetics and some unique features to boot. Of course, they also carry fairly exclusive price tags, so some consideration is prudent before splashing the cash. Does Samsung's latest Galaxy S rule the roost? Or might early trendsetter the Sony Xperia Z actually come up trumps? Let's take a look.

Size and weight

The Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z offer similar slimline physiques, with Samsung's new flagship measuring 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm and Sony's latest hero phone sizing up at 139 x 71 x 7.9mm. The Galaxy S4 may be slightly less taxing to hold, however, weighing just 130g where the Xperia Z tips the scales to the tune of 146g.

Display

Both the Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z sport 5in, Full HD screens with retina-pleasing pixel sharpness of 441ppi. The real difference on the display front is that the Samsung handset utilises Super AMOLED technology where the Sony device features an LCD screen.

Processor and battery

The LTE variant of the Galaxy S4 coming to the UK features a quad-core Snapdragon 600 chipset clocked at a whopping 1.9GHz – one of the best smartphone clock speeds we're aware of. The Sony Xperia Z packs a Snapdragon S4 Pro configuration with a clock speed of 1.5GHz - hardly shabby itself. The 2,600 mAh battery under the hood of the Samsung handset is marginally beefier than the Xperia Z's 2,330 mAh battery. Sony has pinned an 11 hour jabber boast on its current flagship handset, but Samsung hasn't offered up a talk-time estimate.

Software

The Galaxy S4 ships with the latest version of Google's Android OS, Jelly Bean 4.2, augmented by Samsung's native TouchWiz UI, which adds a rash of innovative functionality including fitness aids and a real-time translation feature. The Xperia Z features the less recent Jelly Bean 4.1. Sony's unnamed Android skin is a less domineering presence but still not the vanilla Android experience many gadget buffs crave. It's also worth noting that the Sony Xperia Z has been plagued by bug issues, though reports from frontline users appear to be improving with time.

Camera

In the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z, mobile photographers have a choice between two of the very best smartphone cameras on the market and they match up identically on paper: both feature 13-megapixel primary snappers and 2-megapixel frontside sensors. Of course, imaging enthusiasts will no doubt appreciate that megapixel measurements aren't an absolute indicator of quality - we're keen to hear your thoughts on how the two cameras compare. Get in touch using the comment section below, or link up with us on social media via the logos at the top of the page.

Storage and memory

The Xperia Z and Galaxy S4 both feature 2GB of RAM under the hood. The Samsung mobile comes with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of on-board storage, while the Sony Xperia Z is only available in a single 16GB iteration. Both devices feature microSD card slots, so these capacities can be cheaply and easily bolstered, but content hoarders will no doubt find themselves lusting after the Samsung phone and its 128GB potential.

Connectivity and wireless

Both handsets support the LTE standard and feature on EE's UK 4G network. NFC is a further unifying feature, but the Galaxy S4 will also come available in a 3G-only model, presumably at a reduced price point. The new Samsung handset also supports the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.

Extras

Until the Xperia Z arrived, our spec comparisons didn't really warrant a section for special features, but the water and dust-resistant Sony handset merited a re-evaluation. The host of nifty software features on the Samsung Galaxy S4 help it stand out from the crowd - more on all that jazz in a moment. 

Price, availability and opinion

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will start hitting shelves shortly - 26 April is the device's UK consumer release date and off-contract pricing as outed by Carphone Warehouse stands at £579.95. A range of deals are available - we're particularly fond of T-Mobile's £36 a month unlimited data tariff. Of course, you can buy the Sony Xperia Z today, with a SIM-free device available for as little as £470 via Handtec. So, should you wait for the Galaxy S4, or would you in fact be better served by the similarly kitted out Sony handset?

If it's the latest technology you're after, it's largely a case of horses for courses. Both offer 5in Full HD displays,  13-megapixel primary cameras, and quad-core chipsets. The devil really is in the details when it comes to this showdown, with the horned red chappy giving a slight edge to the Galaxy S4 overall. Its 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 is that little bit beefier, though processor clock speeds aren't necessarily a precise indicator of smartphone performance. Then there's the bevy of slick software features offered by the Samsung handset.

Like the HTC One, the Galaxy S4 features an infrared LED sensor, enabling your handset to double as a remote control in the living room. S Translate and S Health are real-time translation and fitness monitoring features, respectively, while Samsung Knox enables employers and IT departments to create a sandboxed work environment on the handset to protect sensitive corporate data. Smart Scroll and Smart Pause let you stop video and scroll pages via intuitive retina movements, and Air Gesture allows you to navigate your smartphone without actually touching the screen. We're no fan of the Galaxy S4's polycarbonate build, however – military-grade or otherwise, plastic is still plastic.

For what it's worth, the ability to go swimming with the Sony Xperia Z is really cool. It's a great all-around handset and, when all is said and done, you can probably get your paws on it for about £100 less than the Galaxy S4, which is that little bit newer, that little bit more impressive and, just maybe, that little bit more desirable.

 

Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE

Sony Xperia Z

Display

   

Screen size

4.99in

5in

Resolution

1,920 x 1,080 pixels

1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Pixel density

441ppi

441ppi

Type

Super AMOLED

TFT LCD

Processor and battery

   

Family

Snapdragon 600

Snapdragon S4 Pro

CPU

Krait 300

Krait

Cores

Quad-core

Quad-core

Clock speed

1.9GHz

1.5GHz

GPU

Adreno 320

Adreno 320

Battery

2,600mAh

2,330 mAh

Claimed 3G talk time

TBC

Up to 11 hours

Storage and memory

   

RAM

2GB

2GB

Internal storage

16GB /32GB / 64GB

16GB

microSD

Yes

Yes

Camera

   

Rear

13-megapixel

13-megapixel

Video

1080p @ 30fps

1080p @ 30fps

Front

2-megapixel

2-megapixel

Wireless

   

Standard

4G LTE

4G LTE

Wi-Fi

802.11 a / b / g / n / ac

802.11 b / g / n

NFC

Yes

Yes

Bluetooth

v4.0

v4.0

Integrated wireless charging

No

No

Dimensions

   

Size

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm

139 x 71 x 7.9mm

Weight

130g

146g

Operating System

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Price (SIM-free)

£579.95 via Carphone Warehouse

£470 via Handtec

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