Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z1/Z1S: first look

Okay, we know what you’re thinking just by reading the title of this article. True, the Sony Xperia Z1/Z1S is regarded as Sony’s flagship phone from last year, which is being replaced by the just announced Xperia Z2. Of course, some folks might argue about the extreme differences here, seeing that the Galaxy S5 is hot off the press and sporting some next-generation specifications and features. However, taking into account that the Xperia Z2 isn’t yet available for purchase at the moment, we decided to stack it against the model that is – so it’s going to be none other than the Xperia Z1/Z1S in this particular comparison.


The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a plastic body, while the Sony Xperia Z1/Z1S has a tough one that’s comprised of a sturdy metallic frame with a glass front and back. Needless to say, the materials by themselves tell us clearly how these two handsets differ in design.

On one hand, we appreciate that the Galaxy S5 has a more sophisticated look than ever before, but on the other, the plastic construction lacks the solid feel attached to the Xperia Z1/Z1S. Looking at their specs sheet on paper, it’s Sammy’s pride and joy that lays claim to being the thinner, lighter, and more compact handset between them – albeit, it’s hardly noticeable in real life. 

What’s wonderful to point out here is how the two handsets are resistant to water, but technically, there’s more protection with the Xperia Z1/ZS. With its IP67 rating, the Galaxy S5 meets the criteria for being water and dust resistant. Now the key thing here is that it’s only water resistant, and not waterproof. Meaning, it’ll withstand being used in the rain or if it comes into contact with splashes as you’re washing your hand, but it doesn’t have the complete water submersion element in play with the Sony Xperia Z1/Z1S.


Depending on your taste, either of the two displays will fit your liking – so it’s more of a personal preference matter kind of thing. The Galaxy S5 features a smidgen larger 5.1-inch 1080p Super AMOLED panel that’s notable for delivering 500 nits of brightness, something that by itself is an impressive feat. On the flip side, its rival in Xperia Z1/Z1s packs a 5-inch 1080p Triluminos display that adapts to the content that’s being viewed.

Although the Sony Xperia Z1/Z1S has the advantage of having the higher pixel density figure, it doesn’t matter as much because it’s hardly noticeable from a near or far away view. Nevertheless, the Super AMOLED panel continues to amaze us with its rich and sometimes overly saturated color reproduction. Plus, it seems to be sporting the better viewing angles as well.

Well people, the fun doesn’t end there with Sammy’s neato/redundant technology, as it has the ability to track our fingerprint as we hover over it as well. The tech with the display is astounding in itself, which is far more than what the Xperia Z1/Z1S boasts. 


This is a classic battle when one is stuffed to the roof with an exorbitant amount of features with its software experience. Briefly checking our Sammy’s latest customized Android experience, we feel as though it still caters to a broader range of people – and that’s despite the fact that some of those features might prove to be redundant to them. Conversely, the Xperia UI running in the Xperia Z1/Z1S is most notable for its superb visual presentation, which is evident right from the start with its homescreen and various core organizer apps.

Visually, we appreciate that Samsung has toned things down with its customized experience, but the Z1/Z1S continues to have the more simplistic one. Seriously folks, it’s a toss-up as to which of the two is the more superior one. However, we have to point out that Samsung is trying to make sure that your life is totally encompassed by its experience – so you gain secondary features like the S Health app to track your lifestyle.

Processor and memory

Being the newer device, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is sure to attract people with its quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC with the Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM. With the newer piece of silicon, the S5 manages to maintain a smooth consistency with its performance. Despite being outclassed on paper by its rival, the Xperia Z1/Z1S’ quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM and the Adreno 330 GPU exhibits the same likeable movements – so there’s not one we can sufficiently say is better than the other!

At the bare minimum, the two handsets will be stuffed with 16GB of internal storage, but of course, they can be supplemented thanks to their microSD card slots. Since it’s on the side, we prefer the location of the slot in the Xperia Z1/Z1S more – mainly because we have to remove the back cover of the S5 to access its slot.


Crazy to believe that smartphone cameras have come so far, but these two aren’t afraid to show off the kind of gear they have in tow. For the Galaxy S5, it packs along a monster sized 16-megapixel auto-focus camera that features an f2.2 aperture lens, LED flash, 1/2.5” sensor, and one of the fastest focusing time in a smartphone camera. Don’t count out Sony’s pride and joy just yet, mainly due to the fact that it boasts an even higher count 20.7-megapixel auto-focus camera that features an f2.0 aperture lens, and 1/2.3” sensor.

There are several modes and manual controls with the two smartphones in question to appease conscious minded photogs, but they each have their own unique perks that stand out. For the Galaxy S5, it has a neat Selective Focus function that allows us to give that blurred look to the background in our shots – while the Xperia Z1/Z1S has a bunch of cool augmented reality shooting modes that add some fun and life to the experience.


Sammy’s newest flagship is surely starting to look like the more appealing handset between the two. In fact, there are a bunch of cool new features in tow that greatly adds value to it. Specifically, they include its new fingerprint sensor, heart rate sensor, and how they’ve made it so the experience is intertwined with the S Health app. Come to think about it, the phone is meant to have some sort of significance in how we roll on a daily basis. Still, the Sony Xperia Z1/Z1S is a fantastic smartphone in its own right, as it has a premium construction that’s unmatched by its rival. Topping it off, too, is its impervious nature to water!

Depending on the outcome of the Galaxy S5’s pricing, the favor might lean towards the Xperia Z1/Z1S – more so when it’ll more than likely see a significant price reduction in light of the S5’s arrival. Only time will tell…

Related phones

Galaxy S5
  • Display 5.1" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh(21h 3G talk time)
Xperia Z1
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 20.7 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(15h 3G talk time)



1. Tizen007

Posts: 575; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

If Sammy wants to go with a plastic design next time tell them to learn from LG.

5. hurrycanger

Posts: 1775; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

As long as it can still have removable back and removable battery, I'm all for it.

11. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

wouldn't that render the water resistance? while you're running under the rain and you dropped your device and it falls to some "swampy" pavement, water damage is possible. we all know what happens to galaxy devices when they drop. the battery covers easily get removed.

19. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

wouldn't that render the water resistance ineffectual? hehe

7. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

quit complaining bout PLASTIC body. if u don't like it DON'T BUY IT. It's a good thing so u can remove the battery door and replace the battery

16. Tizen007

Posts: 575; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

That is true. Your words have inspired me not to spend hundreds on that crap.

2. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

Now that I've had time to think, every phone this year will be a relative disappointment with no real innovation, especially in the first half of this year. I dare not get my hopes up for the latter part either. Its not that these phones are terrible, because they are wonderful devices. Its just that specs and designs seem to be reaching a cliff. I'll say it'll be a year and a half to 2 years before cell phones wow us again and we start seeing some unique gadgets.

3. BooBooooooo

Posts: 57; Member since: Aug 07, 2013

Oh...isn't there design department in samsung?

4. maherk

Posts: 7023; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Just take a look at the back of these phones, one that was touched thousands of times today yet look clean, and one that has been with the reviewer only and it is all covered by smudges and fingerprints. No wonder why Samsung are the undisputed kings of the Android market, they listen to their customers not to the trolls. Its been 6 years now, and we have been promised by those trolls that the end of Apple and Samsung is on the next corner, and every year they are being proved wrong. Hate the plastic back, easy, grab yourself a leather, carbon fiber, aluminum, or even a tempered glass bettery door for your galaxy. Too bad, it's not the same story with the Z1s2 or the HTC one and even the S4 copy aka G2.

8. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

same argument. hate the smudges? get a case or cover. if you drop your s5 and the back cover opens, the water-resistance is immediately defeated.

9. maherk

Posts: 7023; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Ignorance at its highest, what does the smudges has to do with you dropping your phone. I don't think there is anyone on this planet who drops his phone more than he holds it. Unless you prove me wrong. btw, I hit the plus button instead of reply, so of you get a 100 likes, be sure they are 99.

12. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

you seem to lack inductive reasoning skills. i'm referring to your favorite plastic back cover. yes, it's removable but it can negate the water resistance of the device. the galaxy s5 is touted to be water resistant. what if you drop it while you're under the rain? the battery cover easily snaps off. we've seen this many times in galaxy devices. after the cover is removed, your battery and other electronic parts are exposed to water and moisture.

10. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Dude you're on a roll today! +1

6. amansingal14

Posts: 309; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

All I know is that Xperia z2 sounds more tempting than S5 right now, even though even z2 disappointed most of us. Now it's all up to you HTC

20. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

Don't put no weight on HTC. My fav OEM is gonna disappoint too...-__-

13. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

looks like they're about the same size. same thinness with the other containing a larger battery 3200 vs 2800.

14. maherk

Posts: 7023; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

They look like that, but they aren't. And yeah, Z2 has a bigger battery, still GS5 has fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, physical home button, ir blaster, and yet it is smaller and lighter.

15. mokhtar

Posts: 405; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

if i have the choice between z1 and s5 ..i will take z1 for sure , s5 is so ugly and huge bezels looks so fat , the UI suck a lot , and a plastic body , wtf this phone is a joke

17. maherk

Posts: 7023; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You do know that the Z1 has a larger dimensions than the S5, do you? You ve made a fool out of yourself budd.

18. boosook

Posts: 1442; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

LOL... this phone makes the Z1 look Compact! :) The Z and Z1 have been criticized very much for their size. Now, will the reviewers treat the S5 in the same way or suddendly, because it's Samsung, the bezels will be fine?

21. g2a5b0e unregistered

If you weren't such a mindless troll, you would have realized that the Z1 is bigger than the S5 in every dimension even though it has a smaller screen. S5: 5.59" x 2.85" x .32" Z1: 5.69" x 2.91" x .33" You end up looking really stupid when you don't fact check before you post dumb sh*t.

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