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Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One: first look

We've been pitting Sony's dazzling and brand new flagship, the Xperia Z2, with just about every flagship worth its salt since it was unleashed earlier today. Despite its late comer advantage, we wouldn't go as far as to say that these stands-offs are decided from the outright, even when paired with a device like the now aging HTC One. Simply put, what the Xperia Z2 has in raw power, the HTC One makes up with its eye-catching design, and still very decent hardware specs. But the Z2 is a looker in its own right, too, and the hardware on it is truly top notch as of today. So who's got this one? We can't call this just yet, but that doesn't mean we can't take a cursory look, now does it?

Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One: first look
Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One: first look
Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One: first look
Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One: first look
Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One: first look

Oh boy. Before we even get to comparing what are, in our opinion, two very distinctive design approaches, we have to note that the Z2 is perceptibly larger than the HTC One. Next to the it, the Z2 appears almost brutish, despite the fact that HTC's flagship isn't the most conservative out there. 

Regardless, we can't help but appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the Xperia Z2. The clear-cut lines, the glass at the front and back, along with the rectangular form of the Z2 give the phone a distinguished, stoic look. In comparison, the One feels and looks more feminine, with less pronounced character. The concave nature of the back and the sides are welcoming, compared to the aggressive and edgy Z2, and it's the more ergonomic device of the two for sure. Of course, Sony had to make sacrifices to achieve that IP68 certification, and whatever you may feel you lack in ergonomics, you gain in situational utility. Therefore, and as always, it comes down to individual taste, but we're still a fair bit more enchanted with the aluminum-clad One.


For the longest time, the 4.7-inch, 1080x1920 pixel Super-LCD panel on the HTC One took something of a reference role when it came to display quality, and for a very good reason. Its crisp, 467 ppi screen is still pretty much unrivaled in terms of detail, and we love just how natural color reproduction is. On the other hand, Sony's previous flagships have all relied on disappointing TFT tech that produced under-saturated colors in comparison, and failed to render actual blacks. Despite the visible improvements since the Xperia Z, we're kind of happy to see that Sony finally went with IPS tech with the 5.2-inch display on the Z2. We're not treated to super-crisp, QHD (1440x2560) resolution as we were lead to believe by the rumor mill, but the screen is still pretty darn detailed, at 423 pixels per inch. We obviously didn't have our toolkit with us, so we won't know exactly how well-calibrated the new panel is, but our first impression was overwhelmingly positive. Finally, Sony!


Both devices run their respective takes on the latest and greatest Android 4.4 KitKat, but there's a stark difference to their design approach. Sony has the friendlier interface, and arguably the more modern one. It allows more customizations, too, thanks to its wide variety of built-in color themes, and a more flexible underlying idea. There's no arguing that Sony's take on Android reminds us more of the stock, vanilla experience, even though the company has customized the experience behind most essential apps, like the Dialer, Messaging, Gallery, and Camera apps. Individual features, like double knock to wake the phone, are especially welcome.

Looking at HTC's Sense 5.5-skinned version of Android, we can't help but note the difference in approach. HTC's UI is for grown-ups in comparison -- it's just sleeker, and far more conservative, almost overly so. Grey and black elements in the ornamentation of the software are common, and the interface feels a tad less colorful when put next to Sony's new flagship. But it would be wrong of us to call HTC's software lifeless, especially in the presence of a feature like BlinkFeed, which aggregates information from numerous sources, like Twitter, Facebook, and others. The software on the HTC One is constantly buzzing with something new!

Processor and memory

Processing power is the one area where Sony's Xperia Z2 easily steamrolls the HTC One. HTC's 2GB of RAM and aging 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 are simply no match for the Xperia Z2's fancy 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 and 3 gigs of RAM. No, that's not a typo -- Snapdragon 801 is going to be a real thing, and it's a decent upgrade over the existing Snapdragon 800 line. In comparison with the now older SD800, the SD801's Krait 400 cores are said to be 14% faster, while the Adreno 330 GPU has received a sizeable, 28% bump in potency.

Obviously, we'll wait and see how Qualcomm's latest performs once we get our hands on it, but it suffices to say that the Xperia Z2 gets an easy win in this particular department.


The camera is, arguably, the second area where Sony's Xperia Z2 has a significant advantage. The 4MP "UltraPixel" tech behind the HTC One is not as bad some would lead you to believe, but it simply can't match the 20.7MP Exmor RS sensor of the Xperia Z2. What's more, the Xperia Z2 now touts an even more complete software feature set, with support for 4K video capture and an 120 FPS mode for slow-mo vids. Sony has also made the TimeShift and AR (Augmented Reality) effects usable in video capture mode, instead of just stills, so that's another new perk with the Z2. Lastly, it's worth pointing out that its fancy Snapdragon 801 processor is said to bring up to 45% improvements in camera sensor processing speed, but we'll have to wait this one and see how exactly these gains translate into reality.


Pragmatism dictates that the smarter pick at this point in time is the Xperia Z2 -- something many of you would probably agree with. It's the newer device, with the hotter hardware, and it's far from bad to look at. But while this might be enough of a reason for some to make the jump, not everybody is necessarily after the most impressively-sounding hardware. After all, the HTC One gets by more than fine, and despite its age it's still a very potent device, and, in our view, the more stylish one. 

  • Options

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 10:58 4

1. Kishin (Posts: 706; Member since: 30 May 2013)

2 out 3 best looking phones...

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:03 5

2. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Obviously the Z2 takes the cake.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:05 7

3. AliNSiddiqui (Posts: 382; Member since: 19 Sep 2012)

Depends on the person, HTC One takes it for me.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:15 6

7. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)

Not with that terrible camera it doesn't.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:26 4

9. jellmoo (Posts: 2035; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)

I think it really depends on what you value though. The camera on the One isn't stellar, sure, but the size of the Z2 is a pretty big turnoff as well. It has phabletesque size without the benefits.

Ultimately, it's too hard to tell until we actually get our hands on these devices. Plus the real comparison will be made when the sequel to the One is announced.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 12:52 1

14. hboy857 (Posts: 349; Member since: 03 Jun 2013)

Yeah, a terrible camera that s4 couldn't beat.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:07 4

4. Astoni (Posts: 649; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)

HTC one Imo, i own the z1 and in terms of holding it in the hand is pretty horrible compared to other devices, and z2 is even bigger.. Sheer power z2 wins but we'll have to see HTC m8 specs first to know :p.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:10 2

5. s_boy (Posts: 20; Member since: 30 Nov 2013)

Phones are getting ridiculously big now, entering phablet territory for a the standard flag-ship sized phone.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:11

6. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)

it is a beautiful phone :D I just love the fact is water proof!!

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:19 4

8. Amir1 (unregistered)

the so called "best phone of 2013" (by some reviewers) just got OWNED by Z2. in everything.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 11:56 2

10. datphoneguy (Posts: 155; Member since: 15 Sep 2013)

HTC's screen STILL looks better than the Z2's IMO.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 17:28 1

17. fireblade (Posts: 717; Member since: 27 Dec 2013)

One is just better in term of pixel density. Z2 wins in color reproduction

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 12:10 1

11. Leonis (Posts: 338; Member since: 08 Jan 2014)

Man get z2 compact out close to this z2 launch because it is too big even for me who is an Sony fanboy. Hopefully HTC One 2 show how good a phone can be without being so damn big. i know its not waterproof but I take a smaller device over this giant.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 12:35

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

Sony already show you "how good a phone can be without being so damn big."
And I'm sure my Z1 Compact is still good enough to compete with HTC One 2.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 12:13 1

12. tyger11 (Posts: 194; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

Does the Z2's camera have optical image stabilization? That was the major lack in the camera in the Z1, and I've not heard anyone talking about this for the Z2 yet.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 15:36

15. Dante216 (Posts: 32; Member since: 18 Dec 2013)

How many times is Sony gonna put out the exact same phone with the exact same crappy UI?

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 15:42

16. deathgod (Posts: 122; Member since: 23 Nov 2011)

I'd like it if PhoneArena could add how the display looks at full brightness to its handson/preview/review articles. Like for instance when you're watching a movie or youtube video and need to turn up the brightness, do the colors become washed out? Do the blacks become bright gray or do they retain most of their darkeness.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 18:23

18. jesuskz (Posts: 5; Member since: 05 Nov 2011)

I'm not sure if phonearena posted this yet but I just checked my Att htc one and its downloading the kitkat update.

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 04:23

19. Trex95 (Posts: 1118; Member since: 03 Mar 2013)

http://youtu.be/IJquEOrTj1Y Xperia Z2 review .

posted on 04 Mar 2014, 11:29

20. tfouto (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 Mar 2014)

Sony is lying to us. Sony is using TFT for Xperia Z2. Maybe only in european markets?

Main screen
Colours 16,777,216 colour TFT
Resolution Full HD 1920x1080 pixels
Size (diagonal) 5.2 inches

just put

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