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Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

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Introduction


Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
The excitement prior to the Z1's introduction was quite big, and for a reason – it turned out that the Sony Xperia Z1 is one of the finer Android smartphones for the second half of the year. But is it good enough to defeat what was one of the best Android smartphones for the first half of the year? Even though the Xperia Z1 has the benefit of coming out about half a year after the Samsung Galaxy S4, we can imagine that it's still quite scary to face Samsung's finest. After all, the GS4 has such a loyal following behind it...

But, scary or not, that's exactly what the Xperia Z1 will have to do right here. Armed with its quality design, powerful chipset and astonishing camera, the Z1 will try to prove that it has surpassed the Galaxy S4 in almost every aspect. However, we can imagine that the GS4 will not simply stay still and accept its destiny. Ladies and gents, let's invite these two fearsome gladiators into the arena, and don't forget your popcorn!


Design


Well, there are both good and bad things going for the designs of the Xperia Z1 and the Galaxy S4. While both handsets should be considered unisex, the GS4 has a somewhat more feminine look, especially when in white. That's not a bad thing, of course, but if we had to select the smartphone with the more impressive exterior, we'd go for the Xperia Z1. Not only does it look fancier, but it also sports a higher-quality construction, thanks to its tough front and back glass panels, as well as classy aluminum frame that unites it all into one appealing device. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S4 isn't bad, as far as appearance goes, but it's not necessarily eye-catchy, plus its flimsy plastic construction is anything but premium.

Now, that's OK, but when it comes to the size, we really find Sony's product to be on the bulkier side with its 5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches, compared to the Galaxy S4's 5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches. One can definitely feel a substantial difference when holding the Xperia Z1 and the Galaxy S4 – the GS4 feels much smaller, and so it's also significantly easier to hold and work with.

Neither the buttons of the Xperia Z1, nor those of the Galaxy S4 are very good, but they are all decent. Those on the Z1 are proably just a tad better. One thing that the GS4 lacks is a dedicated camera button, which is present on the Z1, so if you're taking a lot of pics with your smartphone, you might want to consider this.

Another area where the Xperia Z1 excels is toughness. While we wouldn't advise you to through your Z1 out the window just to see what happens, it's definitely nice to know that it's IP 58-certified, meaning that it has some degree of protection against water and dust. The Galaxy S4, on the other hand, doesn't feature such protection.

Sony Xperia Z1
5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches
144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm
6.00 oz (170 g)

Sony Xperia Z1

Samsung Galaxy S4
5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.



Display


In terms of specs, both screens seem very similar. Both measure 5 inches and have resolutions of 1080 x 1920 pixels, resulting in a breathtaking pixel density of 441 ppi. However, when it comes to their screen technologies, Sony and Samsung have chosen two completely different paths. Then again, that's something that can be said about Samsung and almost any other smartphone manufacturer.

Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Anyway, Sony is putting a lot of faith in its TFT LCD Triluminos tech, and we can't blame them. The screen of the Xperia Z1 is quite impressive almost every way you look at it. With its natural and realistic colors, the Z1 is among the more accurate screens out there right now. Its gamma still has some issues, though, resulting in some lost detail in the brighter areas (since some brighter levels are actually brighter than they should be), but overall, it's a great screen. The viewing angles are disastrous, though. With the Galaxy S4, viewing angles aren't as bad, but color balance is way off with an overly dominant green color and way too saturated colors. If you tone them down using the Professional Photo screen mode, colors do get a lot more realistic, but are still quite imbalanced.

When it comes to brightness and outdoor visibility, the Sony Xperia Z1 manages to gain the upper hand, thanks to the stronger output of its LCD screen (maximum brightness is about 495 nits), while the Galaxy S4 is way harder to view with its 288 nits. That's one area where AMOLED screens are yet to catch up with LCDs.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia Z1 495
(Good)
23
(Poor)
1:1440
(Excellent)
7355
(Good)
2.08
5.29
(Average)
4.57
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S4 289
(Poor)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7316
(Good)
2.16
5.52
(Average)
7.31
(Average)
View all

65 Comments
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posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:12 16

1. amiaq (Posts: 378; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)


ahh..comparison of real phones for real man.. thanks, I am sick of never ending iphoney article already.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 11:14 1

12. bucky (Posts: 1288; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


These phones now come with purses and watches to help contain and control them.

I have cordless phones smaller at home.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 13:12 10

22. av911 (Posts: 126; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


And your cordless phone has more functions than an iPhone.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 17:45 2

34. AnTuTu (Posts: 629; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)


Both are great devices.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 05:18

45. taikucing (unregistered)


hahahaha +1 for you

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:13 6

2. Kishin (Posts: 579; Member since: 30 May 2013)


Z1 will save u

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:14 6

3. Atlas (Posts: 157; Member since: 15 Apr 2012)


It seems the phones are on par with the Z1 having a slight edge.

posted on 30 Sep 2013, 05:13

57. cheetah2k (Posts: 768; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)


I compared the Z1 to the LG G2, and got the G2. The Z1 screen is still rubbish, and so is the 20MP cam that wont do 16:9 orientation at more than 8MP.......

Antutu 4.0 benchmarks - Z1 = 31000, LG G2 34800..

posted on 30 Sep 2013, 15:09 1

58. Atlas (Posts: 157; Member since: 15 Apr 2012)


That's because of the protective screen, take that off and see the Triluminous screen in action. I was only comparing the Z1 and G4, I know the G2 is better, but I would still go for the Z1.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:15 5

4. mayur007 (Posts: 356; Member since: 10 Apr 2012)


waiting for note3 vs z1..

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:30 9

5. maherk (Posts: 783; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Dayyyuummm, the Z1 is even heavier than the note 3!!

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:35 1

8. maherk (Posts: 783; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Oh and since they are going with the on screen buttons, they should've gone with a 5.2" screen. The way it is now, its more of a 4.7" screen than a 5" one. And it's too damn big for a screen of that size.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 11:14 6

11. Zakriya (Posts: 11; Member since: 05 Aug 2013)


Yes you are right but when you watch video or photos the buttons dissappear and screen becomes five inch plus On Screen Buttons Help In better multitasking and also can't be damage. (unless screen is damaged)
So these have some advantages as well.( p.s I love On screen buttons)

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 15:02 4

25. hosam (Posts: 11; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)


I really agree with you!!

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 00:51

38. cttan456 (Posts: 47; Member since: 22 Mar 2012)


On screen buttons do away with additional hardware and capacitive buttons which DOES break down. The iPhone's Home button is (in)famous for breaking. Its so prone to breaking that many phone repair shops here advertise their services by putting big signs saying "iphone home button repair at only $XX!"

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 02:11

41. OldNorseBruin (Posts: 121; Member since: 12 Mar 2013)


...yeah, but you are talking about the POS iKrap!

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:30 14

6. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7322; Member since: 14 May 2012)


I'd pick the Z1 over the S4 any day. Root it, install 4.3 and you got a beast in your hands.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:33 3

7. amilcarmz86 (Posts: 95; Member since: 09 Jul 2013)


Z1 is one of the best phones ever made... but i have to wait to get it.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:37 1

9. dmn666 (Posts: 194; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Should have done low light picture comparison without flash where Z1 really shines.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 11:16 11

13. dmn666 (Posts: 194; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Did PA get a bad unit? My z1 doesn't have any viewing angle issue. Here is a display comparison between z1 and note 3

http://www.eprice.com.tw/mobile/talk/4551/4881355/1/rv/sony-xperia-z1-i1-Honami-review/

http://timg.eprice.com.tw/tw/mobile/img/2013-09/17/4881230/epic520_3_SONY-_41d32fa71ada9e9c4b05b2ce5fe5bf1a.jpg

http://timg.eprice.com.tw/tw/mobile/img/2013-09/17/4881230/epic520_3_SONY-_1337411f4c51a1320ad7f7ed2c7dea2a.jpg

Note 3 basically basically turned yellow into green when viewed from an angle. Color shift is horrible on note 3

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 19:10

49. hung2900 (Posts: 765; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


My note 3 has no issue with viewing angle.
Maybe bad unit also.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 20:41 3

51. dmn666 (Posts: 194; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Cool story. All Amoleds on samsung phones have color shift. Yours is no exception. Wise up next time.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 20:57 2

52. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


Low brightness (crappy outdoor visibility compared to lcd display) and unrealistic colours is another problems that amoled have.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 21:24 3

53. dmn666 (Posts: 194; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Right on, mate. Let me add - crappy white and battery drain while showing that crappy white. Oh pentile matrix from dinosaur age and then calling it HD/FHD or anything is nothing but a scam.

posted on 01 Oct 2013, 10:11

60. anleoflippy (Posts: 244; Member since: 03 Jan 2013)


I've tried the Note 3 at some store today and I got the same result as seen in the pictures.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 11:07 10

10. buccob (Posts: 1305; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


Great article Ray.

It shows unbias opinions and highlights both pros and cons for those 2 phones... Keep it up

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 11:44 6

16. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7322; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Unlike Johhhhhhhhhhnnnnn V. *cough*

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 11:33 5

14. WHoyton1 (Posts: 1619; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)


Sony Xperia Z1 anyday boi!!!!!

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 11:43 1

15. Feanor (Posts: 292; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)


I won't be buying the Z1 until I check the screen for myself. I have seen the Z Ultra screen live and it's adequate, so I if the screen of the Z1 is at the same level, I'll probably buy this phone. But if the viewing angles area again as bad as it is often mentioned, then I'll skip until Sony improves their screen technology.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 12:20

17. flynfree (Posts: 374; Member since: 09 Jun 2013)


I'll wait Z2 and/or Z1mini. Both phablet's are good!

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 12:41

18. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5433; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


What phablets?

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 12:55 4

19. Samsungadroidrules (Posts: 104; Member since: 28 Jul 2013)


I'll still Choose the Amazing Samsung GS4!
Design and built- Z1
UI- S4
Performance- S4
Features- Both
Overall- S4 Rules!
* Note that my comments are based from my real life experienced. I'm not like those iSheeeps who praised their Fruit so much.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 13:07 7

20. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5433; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


"Performance- S4"

?

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 05:21 9

46. taikucing (unregistered)


lol, look at his name

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 06:42 2

47. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5433; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


Oh, I see. :D

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 15:24 11

27. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


* Note that my
comments are based
from my real life
experienced. I'm not
like those iSheeeps
who praised their
Fruit so much.

Hahaha... I think you are much worse than those isheeeps because you choose the “amazing” Gs4 even though you’ve never been using the Z1.

If you really love your GS4 just say something that makes sense like

“I don’t know much about Z1 but i’m very statisfied with my GS4 and i prefer phones that are made of thin plastic, lightweight and with thin bezels compared to waterproof phone with huge bezels made of aluminum and durable glass”

What you have said proves that samsheep is much worse than those isheep.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 13:12 1

21. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1044; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


The Z1 does not have an IPS display. Otherwise it would beat the S4.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 19:10 10

35. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5433; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


Sony Xperia Z1 beats Samsung Galaxy S4 even without LCD IPS display. ;)

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 14:05

23. Ronny666 (Posts: 108; Member since: 08 Jun 2013)


Camera on Z1 has marginal improvement but it really shines on low light pictures without doubt.

I think Z1 is slightly better than GS4 in almost every way except the size, no IR blaster, no MHL connectivity and not so great battery life (3000mah battery in the Z1 drains faster than GS4). All these actually matters to me more than just slight advantage on other areas.

How come PA did not do proper battery test on both devices rather than just stating the ratings from the manufacturers?

The Z1 will perform much better than GS4 in graphic extensive games but it is also important to note the battery consumption.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 15:30 3

29. FCB-Eto (Posts: 26; Member since: 17 Aug 2013)


I don't know about the S4 battery lasting longer than the Z1 because on other sites it's said to be the best after the LG G2 with engaget even going as far to pitting the S4 the Z and Z1 in a video loop test and the S4 died after 9 hours while the Z1 died after 12 hours and as we are on this page Sony has released two updates with one addressing the battery allowing it to last even longer.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 16:25

30. Ronny666 (Posts: 108; Member since: 08 Jun 2013)


Kinda confused because other reviewers have different results:
1)http://reviews.cnet.co.uk/mobile-phones/sony-xperia-z1-review-50012187/
2)http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_xperia_z1-review-987p3.php
3)http://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/review-sony-xperia-z1-next-frontier-mobile-imaging

The Sony Xperia Z1 seem to have good talktime but not sure about other tasks.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 14:47

24. Immolate (Posts: 270; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)


I find the window pane design to be primitive and unsophisticated, though I may not be in the majority on that. I loved the heaviness and solid feel of my og droid four years ago, but a modern phone needs curves to provide comfort when you're holding it. Nokia does rectangle in an interesting and artful way. Sony has the design competence to make a better-looking phone, with narrow bezels and a smaller chin and forehead. This one looks like 2011 tech. All you manufacturers look at the LG G2 screen that almost spills off the phone. You're doing it wrong.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 15:06

26. Tsepz_GP (Posts: 769; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)


Wow! Great to see a phone released in April giving a phone released in September a damn good run for it's money. I like how Samsung only need one flagship Smartphone and one flagship Phablet to just own both markets while competitors scramble to keep up making two smartphone flagships a year, some are even making multiples of each flagship a year.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 16:34 9

32. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 1107; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


This was nothing to do with Samsung. They've planned the Z1 ages back, it's silly to think that Samsung was the primary reason for another flagship.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 15:26 1

28. romeo1 (Posts: 174; Member since: 06 Jan 2012)


how about real live performance?
the "z" (yes the z not the z1) is already faster than the s4 in starting apps. the home button thing of the s4 is a bit to slow. and from what i've seen the z1 should be even faster in real live than the z so it should be a significant difference in speed i'd say. this weekend mine comes in and then i'll test it against the s4 for starting apps and stuff.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 17:15 3

33. Jason2k13 (Posts: 626; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)


wheres the test to prove that s4 is slower in starting apps? anyway theres a reason why opening apps is slow, its because samsung wanted transition effects and S voice is set by default with the home button. If you dont want transition effects, apps open fast and this can be enabled in developer options. Then turn off s-voice via home button.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 04:58 1

44. romeo1 (Posts: 174; Member since: 06 Jan 2012)


Just test it your self go to any phonestore there is where you can test the phones self.
For some reason I didn't see any review talking about the lag of the samsung s4. But if you google on lag you can see users who noticed this problem.

And you are saying it yourself that there is a reason its starting apps slow. You think sony has no transition effects? Or htc?
It should be fast out of the box or a software update comes within a couple of months than I don't have a problem with it

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 23:58

54. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


Perhaps the reviewers were afraid Samsung will not pay them again, if they say something bad about samsung product.

posted on 27 Sep 2013, 08:11 1

55. romeo1 (Posts: 174; Member since: 06 Jan 2012)


I believe Samsung and apple are paying the sites to give a good review. Like on the list of best gadgets of 2013 they've put the iPhone 5s as number 1 for being innovative? the fingerprint scanner no innovation its just an old technology put in a phone I wouldn't call that innovative.

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 16:28 5

31. TMach (Posts: 348; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


The viewing angles on both phones are excellent and that was a stupid comment from the reviewer! From someone who has both, have previously owned and used the S4 but now own the S4 Google Play Edition and a week old Z1, I must say the Z1 is an outstanding phone! To hold it is to understand what premium feels like and having watched a couple of movies on that screen, oh my! Each to their own but put your fanboyism aside and enjoy the Z1. Usually flit round changing my phones on a regular basis but I think that for the first time in a number of years, I don't see myself leaving the Z1 anytime soon.....!

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 01:24

39. Feanor (Posts: 292; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)


I wish I could agree but I just played with the Z1 in a shop and I was very disappointed to realize that viewing angles are indeed very poor, which takes away from the premium feel of the phone. If you are reporting indeed good viewing angles then I may start believing the rumours that Sony are still using old stock on some Z1s. Which somehow doesn't make sense considering the negative publicity and poor reviews that this might entail.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 19:33

50. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


Someone from esato forum who recently bought Z1 can give you solid proof that Z1 screen doesn’t have problem with viewing angles.

http://www.esato.com/board/viewtopic.php?topic=206135&start=2535

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 19:29

36. bugsbunny00 (Posts: 884; Member since: 07 Jun 2013)


ill wait for xperia z2 and galaxy s5 thats a real match right there...maybe then s5 will able to swim..

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 19:53 4

37. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7322; Member since: 14 May 2012)


S4 still holds it's ground still to this day. Use the phone as your daily driver for a few days before judging it completely.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 01:28

40. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2315; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Nice comparison of two beast, very good Ray, S4 is very comfortable to hold while Z1 is beasty in specs but its bulkier.
I'll pick Z1 this time.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 02:20 1

42. OldNorseBruin (Posts: 121; Member since: 12 Mar 2013)


Is there a way to get rid of the ON-SCREEN buttons? Both the Z & Z1 have "5-inch" screens, BUT in reality, with the on-screen buttons hogging up space, the screens are REALLY about "4.7 inches". Since the Z & Z1 both have ample lower bezels, why didn't they just stick the necessary buttons there? Anyone know the answers?

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 03:18

43. OldNorseBruin (Posts: 121; Member since: 12 Mar 2013)


Does anyone know which phone has the bigger screen? They're both supposedly 5-inch screens, BUT with the on-screen buttons eating up precious real estate, which phone ACTUALLY has more screen space to spare? Thanks for any help!

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 08:11

48. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2315; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


S5 has bigger screen for doing all tasks while Z1 has bigger screen only when watching movies, videos and images IMO. Here bigger = 5". Welcome. :)

posted on 01 Oct 2013, 09:40

59. milanmahat (Posts: 11; Member since: 01 Oct 2013)


I think In no aspect S4 beat xperia Z...Not in design, not in performance , not in camera, not n UI as sony UI is coolest and easy..

posted on 02 Oct 2013, 04:34

61. Hager_Peng (Posts: 2; Member since: 02 Oct 2013)


I like the design of the Sony.But I don‘t like Sony's icon!It‘s too ugly!!!!

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