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.
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.
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.