Sony Xperia XZ vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: first-look comparison of two camera-first flagships

When you're a smartphone-maker looking to make waves on the market, Samsung is your company to beat. The behemoth sells more handsets than anyone else, and its flagships regularly set the bar by which all other smartphones are measured. That's exactly what we're doing in Berlin today, as we check out how Sony's new Xperia XZ compares to the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Why the S7 instead of another flagship? Well, if Sony had to name one big selling point for the Xperia XZ, you can bet that it would shine that spotlight on the phone's camera. With upgrades like a multi-axis digital stabilization system, laser-assisted autofocus, and a color sensor capable of calibrating the phone's camera for ambient lighting conditions, Sony aims to prove that the XZ's 23MP camera is among the best you'll find out there. And having played with more than a few smartphone cameras ourselves, we know that the Galaxy S7's 12MP camera is the one many Android fans are going to point to as the best option around.

But there's more than just camera performance to look at when comparing these phones. We've only had the opportunity to take a few sample shots with the Xperia XZ thus far – so a proper in-depth camera comparison will have to wait – but that still leaves us with other yardsticks by which to see how Sony and Samsung's heavyweights measure up.

From a pure design standpoint, the Xperia XZ and Galaxy S7 couldn't be much more different; the S7 is all curves and glass, while the XZ is a monolith of imposing right angles and metal. At least, that's true from a head-on perspective, but even Sony can't resist the appeal of a few graceful curves, and its front and back panels smoothly transition to the handset's edge.

We also see differing approaches to component placement, and maybe the biggest one here is the phones' fingerprint scanners. Samsung takes the popular front route, integrating its scanner with the GS7's home button, while Sony embarks on the road less traveled and returns to its unusual side-mounted fingerprint scanner, baked in to the phone's power button. While you may feel strongly about one location being more ideal than the other, Samsung has an indisputable leg up here, as its fingerprint scanner is available globally; we hear from Sony that once again its phone's scanner will be market-dependent, and some users will get a plain-old power button, no scanner present.

The Galaxy S7 also makes a convenient point of comparison for the Xperia XZ because its screen is in the same ballpark size-wise, with a 5.1-inch panel to the Sony model's 5.2-inch display. But that's where the similarities stop, as Samsung employs a high-res quad-HD 1440 x 2560 AMOLED component, while Sony goes with an arguably less ambitious 1080p LCD screen. That display is hardly out of character for Sony's phones, but considering the competition it's up against, we wonder if such a screen is doing the XZ a disservice. Then again, the gains of quad HD may not be worth power and cost sacrifices.

Speaking of the sizes of things, the Xperia XZ is an across-the-board larger phone than the S7, as you can plainly see in these images: it's taller, wider, and even thicker. But even with all that extra bulk, the S7 still somehow manages to come through with a bigger battery, holding 3000mAh of charge to the XZ's 2900mAh.

Under the hood, both these flagships run Snapdragon 820 chips, so performance shouldn't be a night-and-day difference. Samsung gives the Galaxy S7 4GB of RAM, though, while Sony's handset is stuck with just 3GB. Both 32GB and 64GB storage options are present for each of these phones, but not every market is going to have its pick. At least they both support microSD expansion, letting users easily push past those limits.

Connectivity on the Xperia XZ is arguably more forward-thinking, with Sony embracing reversible USB Type-C. When the Galaxy S7 came out, Samsung still hadn't quite gotten there, but with Type-C on the Note 7, it seems like a safe bet that the company's next Galaxy S model will be Type-C right out of the gate.

We've still got to put the Xperia XZ through our full review process and get to know all it's capable of – as well as spot any problem areas where it threatens to let us down. And you had better believe we'll be following that up with some in-depth hands-on comparisons, including those with models like the Galaxy S7. For now, though, check out the gallery below for some early first-look comparisons of this camera-first pair.

Related phones

Xperia XZ
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2900 mAh(17.5h 3G talk time)
Galaxy S7
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(28h 3G talk time)



1. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Sony's flagship seems better on camera hardware, but their software is nowhere near Samsung's.

3. Kumar123 unregistered

Yeah, Samsung phone's camera app is really amazing. I'm really envious of current Galaxy's camera app. They went from the worst to the Best. In this area Samsung has done really well.

13. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

I think it's the other way around haha. Samsung's hardware seems better, but nothing comes close to Sony's software: stable, fluid, Sony's duplicate apps are better and it doesn't look childish. And the support my Z2 got was amazing, the 2014 Z3 still has a concept of Nougat.

19. hillaryisacriminal

Posts: 242; Member since: Aug 26, 2016

yeah i agree sony software is nowhere near samsung, beacause we don't see any lag on sony ui and it is more stable than that radical taliban sponsored company called samsung

2. Kumar123 unregistered

Design, Display, software of XZ all looks better than S7. Too bad they go with SD820 and same s**tty sensor instead of new ones.

27. Papa_Ji

Posts: 839; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

Aakhand chutiya....

29. Kumar123 unregistered

LUL. Whatever Mama_ji.

4. maherk

Posts: 6774; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Only 0.1" difference in screen size, yet the Sony looks gigantic next to the S7 thanks to those massive chins. There was a time when some blamed the IPxx certificate for those huge bezels, then came Samsung and debunked that theory.

7. Busyboy

Posts: 731; Member since: Jan 07, 2015

No one blamed the IP rating for the bezels. The stereo speakers are to blame. Does the S7 have front facing stereo speakers? Didn't think so.

8. maherk

Posts: 6774; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Another weak excuse. Have you ever seen the Nexus 6? It has one of the best and loudest stereo speakers on a smartphone, yet the bezels are one of the slimmest. And the S7 does have one speaker up top, and a combo of a home button, fingerprint scanner underneath it, as well as two capacitive buttons.

9. pyradark

Posts: 895; Member since: Jun 10, 2012

Does nexus is a waterproof phone? I guess not, waterproofing is not a weak reason for those bezel

11. maherk

Posts: 6774; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Here we go again lol

17. Busyboy

Posts: 731; Member since: Jan 07, 2015

"And the S7 does have one speaker up top" God, that was the worst argument I've ever read. All phones have a speaker up top, but they aren't even close to being as loud as a regular speaker. Why? Because it's purpose was for phone calls only silly. And you're seriously going to bring in the Nexus 6 into the mix? Do you realize that phone is almost an inch larger than this phone, and that it's more than 10mm thick compared to the XZ's 8mm? Of course they can make the bezels so thin while they include stereo speakers because there's so much more space to work with, not to mention the fact that they didn't need to waterproof it. Until there's a smartphone with an IP68 rating that includes stereo speakers in a compact body you can keep quiet.

18. maherk

Posts: 6774; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

So wait, you proved me right by using the waterproofing as an excuse for those Jay Leno's chins? You know, alongside the other excuse, stereo speakers. FYI, with a simple mod, you can turn any top speaker into a loud one, and I know that because I flashed that mod on my S7 few weeks ago. Its called the Sound Mod, by zubi, if you want to check it for yourself. Now I see you getting mad and starting to call names, so I ll leave you believe in whatever crap the makes sense to you, because I don't have much of time to entertain a stubborn fanboy.

16. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

(S7, note7 also waterproof, and it has small bezels)

14. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

The only time when you comment is to say something negative about Sony (or defending Samsung). Nothing wrong with that, I hoped they would slim donw the bezels as well, but it just noticed it. The answer is the massive 1/2,3" camera sensor btw, which they always place in the top bezel. They don't want a camera hump and a smaller top bezel because of theis omnibalance design.

15. maherk

Posts: 6774; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Might want to go check my comments when the Z5P was released. Or how about when less than a week ago, I was the only one saying that Sony are the only OEM that offer a true compact flagship. Orrr, how about you check my comment on the Note 7 Spen getting stuck article? You are such a fanboy that you only see the good I say about Samsung or the bad I say about Sony.

20. hillaryisacriminal

Posts: 242; Member since: Aug 26, 2016

sony design and durability is way better than that cheap fragile glass design sambomb s7 .

21. Kumar123 unregistered

I agree with you maherk is total samsungw***e but he tries really hard not to show it but fails miserably.

5. talon95

Posts: 994; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

I honestly wish Sony all the best, but I don't consider that XZ a flagship. I don't know what they hope to achieve with it. It better be cheap since it's inferior in almost every regard.

6. NEWMAN1980

Posts: 11; Member since: Sep 01, 2016

Sony Xperia XZ is better than Galaxy S7 because 1- Most important thing XZ back cover is aluminum not glass like S7. 2- less power hungery screen on the XZ. 3- better design & look. 4- USB Type C. 5- close to pure Android UI, less lag & crash issues. I have sold my S7 to get Xperia X and I'm so happy with Sony, the most thing I like about Sony smartphones is that in call quality in Sony is much better than Samsung. I have used Samsung S5, S7,A5, A8 & Note 4 and I found out the Xperia X is better choice specialy in call voice & loud speakers. in general Sony is better than Samsung smartphones, a personal opinion.

10. Dfont13

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 01, 2016

Sold an s7 for an xperia. Wow. The s7 is a much better phone. It's in another league. Number 1 on your list is the only one that makes sense, the rest is you selling yourself on an inferior phone.

24. NEWMAN1980

Posts: 11; Member since: Sep 01, 2016

yes I did................ I sold the S7 to get Xperia X, and believe me the X 100 time better than S7 and any Samsung smartphone I have used

25. Dfont13

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 01, 2016

My first cousin (who is crashing on my couch) has your phone. I've used them both side by side. It's comical to say the Sony is better than the s7. Like I said, the software is in another league. I am not a samsung fan boy either. I switch from ios to droid and vice versa. The s7 active is the hottest phone to date. We will see what the iPhone 7 has to offer.

22. hillaryisacriminal

Posts: 242; Member since: Aug 26, 2016

1- Most important thing XZ back cover is aluminum not glass like S7. 2- less power hungery screen on the XZ. 3- better design & look. 4- USB Type C. 5- close to pure Android UI, less lag & crash issues. 6- it doesn't explodes on your'e face 7-much more stable user interface 8- camera captures natural images unlike gaLAGxy over sharpened processing. 9- 3gb of ram handles multitasking better than that useless touch wiz infected 4gb ram on gaLAGxy s7. speaker quality is much better than muffled low quality samsung speaker. 11. samsung display is plague with burn in problem .

23. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

As long it doesnt explode, everything is better than a Samsung

12. Chuck007

Posts: 1410; Member since: Mar 02, 2014

The XZ is nice, but not worth it especially it's half a year late to the game. The phone literally has no outstanding feature that sets it apart from the rest. Kinda sad how Sony makes it obvious mobile isn't their priority. They have the designers and technological prowess to make a beast of a phone and somehow they never deliver.

26. Kino2x

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Sony looks better

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