Sony Xperia Z1 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
The Xperia Z1 comes packing some impressive camera hardware for a smartphone. For starters, there is a 20.7 MP sensor with a size of 1/2.3", while the Galaxy S4's 13 MP camera has a sensor size is 1/3.06", which is smaller. Meanwhile, the Z1's aperture is also quite wide at f/2.0, which is a bit better than the GS4's f/2.2. Focal length of the Xperia Z1 is 27mm (compared to 31mm for the S4), which will allow you to capture more of the scene in front of you.
In terms of camera UI, both handsets are quite versatile and convenient to use at the same time. The Xperia Z1 does manage to trump the GS4 a bit in the comfort department, due to its better organized camera settings, but the GS4 kind of makes up for it with the plethora of different modes that it offers, such as Beauty face, Night, Best face, Best photo, Sports and so on. The Xperia Z1 has a bunch of cool modes of its own, though. For example, there's Social Live, which is really fun feature that lets you broadcast video directly to your own Facebook feed.
Turning our attention to the images themselves, it really makes us glad to see that technology is moving forward, as the Xperia Z1 tends to produce even better pictures than the Galaxy S4, which is already a wonderful camera phone. In-focus details are significantly sharper in the 20.7 MP photos taken with the Xperia Z1. There is still a noticeable amount of noise, but on the whole, the data captured by the Z1 is a bit more substantial than what you can get out of the Galaxy S4's snapper. Colors are another interesting area to observe, as the Xperia Z1's photos are usually more realistic-looking. That's not to say that those from the Galaxy S4 are bad — quite the contrary — but they are a bit too contrasting. However, we definitely don't like the way the Z1 overexposes certain brightly-lit areas, which otherwise appear fine when captured with the Galaxy S4.
An added bonus to the 20.7 MP camera of the Xperia Z1 is that it lets you use the so-called Clear Zoom, which enables up to 3x high-quality zoom, unlike the simple digital zoom that the GS4 is capable of.
Indoor pictures are great with both phones. There is once again a bit more detail with the Xperia Z1, but there's also a slightly higher amount of noise. Still, the Z1 does seem to manage the color balance better in lower-lit scenarios. Comparing the power of the LED flashes, the one on the Z1 has the upper hand, as it's capable of illuminating slightly more of the scene in front of the camera.
When it comes to video recording, both handsets can go up to 1920 x 1080 resolution and a smooth frame rate of about 30 fps. There is a bit more sharpness and contrast to the image quality of the GS4's video, while the Z1 once again sticks to a slightly more realistic image. There isn't such a big difference between the two, though. The sound quality of the recorded video is a tad better with the Xperia Z1. The one of the Galaxy S4 is loud and clear, but lacks a bit in the low frequency department.
1. Sony Xperia Z1
2. Samsung Galaxy S4
3. Sony Xperia Z1
4. Samsung Galaxy S4
The Sony Xperia Z1 and Samsung Galaxy S4 are true multimedia powerhouses. With both of them featuring massive 5" 1080p displays, you can imagine that they'll be absolutely fantastic for video playback. This is another area where it'll be up to you to decide if you'd prefer the Galaxy S4's contrasting and vivid visuals, or the Xperia Z1's more natural color balance. You should also keep in mind that the Z1's viewing angles are quite poor, which means it'll be difficult for a number of people to enjoy a video at once. Sound-wise, we prefer the loudspeaker of the GS4, as it is more powerful and sounds a bit better than the Z1's run-of-the-mill speaker.
As far as music playback is concerned, you have Google's Play Music app with both, as well as Sony's and Samsung's custom music players, respectively. Both of them are good and represent what the companies stand for – Samsung's music app sports lots of settings and features, while Sony's Walkman music player is cleaner and a bit more modern. Both handsets come with high-quality earphones, with those of the Xperia Z1 managing to output a slightly better sound. Other than that, neither pair of earphones isn't very convenient to use.
Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
1. amiaq (Posts: 509; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)
ahh..comparison of real phones for real man.. thanks, I am sick of never ending iphoney article already.
12. bucky (Posts: 2461; 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.
22. av911 (Posts: 190; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)
And your cordless phone has more functions than an iPhone.
45. taikucing (unregistered)
hahahaha +1 for you
3. Atlas (Posts: 158; Member since: 15 Apr 2012)
It seems the phones are on par with the Z1 having a slight edge.
57. cheetah2k (Posts: 1508; 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..
58. Atlas (Posts: 158; 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.
5. maherk (Posts: 3425; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)
Dayyyuummm, the Z1 is even heavier than the note 3!!
8. maherk (Posts: 3425; 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.
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)
38. cttan456 (Posts: 62; 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!"
41. OldNorseBruin (Posts: 230; Member since: 12 Mar 2013)
...yeah, but you are talking about the POS iKrap!
6. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10438; 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.
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.
9. dmn666 (Posts: 244; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Should have done low light picture comparison without flash where Z1 really shines.
13. dmn666 (Posts: 244; 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
Note 3 basically basically turned yellow into green when viewed from an angle. Color shift is horrible on note 3
49. hung2900 (Posts: 949; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
My note 3 has no issue with viewing angle.
Maybe bad unit also.
51. dmn666 (Posts: 244; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Cool story. All Amoleds on samsung phones have color shift. Yours is no exception. Wise up next time.
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.
53. dmn666 (Posts: 244; 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.
60. anleoflippy (Posts: 595; 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.
10. buccob (Posts: 2514; 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
15. Feanor (Posts: 672; 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.
17. flynfree (Posts: 374; Member since: 09 Jun 2013)
I'll wait Z2 and/or Z1mini. Both phablet's are good!
19. Samsungadroidrules (Posts: 104; Member since: 28 Jul 2013)
I'll still Choose the Amazing Samsung GS4!
Design and built- Z1
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.
46. taikucing (unregistered)
lol, look at his name
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.
21. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1231; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)
The Z1 does not have an IPS display. Otherwise it would beat the S4.
35. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5498; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)
Sony Xperia Z1 beats Samsung Galaxy S4 even without LCD IPS display. ;)
23. Ronny666 (Posts: 111; 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.
29. FCB-Eto (Posts: 36; 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.
30. Ronny666 (Posts: 111; Member since: 08 Jun 2013)
Kinda confused because other reviewers have different results:
The Sony Xperia Z1 seem to have good talktime but not sure about other tasks.
24. Immolate (Posts: 310; 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.
26. Tsepz_GP (Posts: 980; 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.
32. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 2052; 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.
28. romeo1 (Posts: 706; 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.
33. Jason2k13 (Posts: 1151; 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.
44. romeo1 (Posts: 706; 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
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.
55. romeo1 (Posts: 706; 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.
31. TMach (Posts: 452; 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.....!
39. Feanor (Posts: 672; 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.
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.
36. bugsbunny00 (Posts: 1994; 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..
37. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10438; 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.
40. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 3718; 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.
42. OldNorseBruin (Posts: 230; 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?
43. OldNorseBruin (Posts: 230; 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!
48. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 3718; 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. :)
59. milanmahat (Posts: 13; 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..
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！！！！