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Galaxy S5 offers a new 16 MP ISOCELL sensor with real-time HDR, but the Xperia Z1 is no slouch with its whopping 20 MP camera, and plenty of shooting modes.

The Galaxy S5 packs a new 16 MP camera that features an f/2.2 aperture lens, LED flash, 1/2.6” sensor, and one of the fastest focusing times in a smartphone camera, thanks to the new Phase Detection aitofocus system. Don’t count out Sony’s pride and joy just yet, as it flaunts an even higher-res, 20.7 MP auto-focus camera with wider f/2.0 aperture lens, and a larger, 1/2.3” sensor.

There are several overlapping modes and manual controls with the two smartphones in question, but they each have their own unique perks that stand out, too. For the Galaxy S5, it has a neat Selective Focus function that allows us to give that blurred look to the front- or the background. Sony's Xperia Z1 counters with a bunch of augmented reality shooting modes that add some fun and life to the experience. Other than those, plenty of additional shooting modes can be fired up on both cameras, including Panorama and Macro. The S5 has the upper hand here, with real-time HDR photography for both stills and video recording. Its camera app interface is also slightly easier to figure out than the cluttered options in the Xperia UI menu.

As for the pictures taken with the two most-resolute cameras on Android phones, the amount of detail captured with both cameras seems to be on par. We used the Z1 in its auto mode, which captures 8MP photos – they are not full size 20MP samples, but Sony chooses this as the default option. We agree, as it deliver samples with good amount of details, yet with less artifacts than the full-size photos. The Galaxy S5 pics come out with a tad saturated colors, but color reproduction is generally good. Noise is an issue with both handsets, but it creeps up especially badly indoors in the case of the Xperia Z1.

Samsung's phone can record 4K video at 30fps, as well as 1080p video at 60fps. The Z1 makes do with 1080p video at 30fps, which, however, is more than adequate for any purpose. Moreover, some enterprising modders have been unlocking experimental 4K video recording modes on the Z1 for a while, too. The video quality from both handsets is quite good, though it looks more appealing with the Galaxy S5, because of the overblown colors. The Xperia Z1's continuous autofocus also wanders too much, while the S5 keeps its eye on the prize at all times.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S5 2.5
Sony Xperia Z1 3.2
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Sony's music player looks more appealing, but for video playback the session goes to Galaxy S5, as the Z1 display has washed-out colors and bad viewing angles.

The Galaxy S5 gallery, as well as the one on the Xperia Z1, offer grid thumbnail view of your photos and videos, with editing options built right into the app's interface. Samsung, however, gives the options of a split-screen navigation, with folders on the left, and their content on the right.

The music players also suggest categorization options by artists, albums or playlists, with plenty of sound modes and equalizer effects to choose from. Sony's Walkman branded music player, however, has a richer, more pleasant to look at interface.

Video playback on the large displays of the Galaxy S5 and Z1 is a very enjoyable experience, until you tilt the screen, when the Z1 starts to show washed-out colors and diminished contrast. The stock player on the S5 runs everything you throw at it, save for DivX files, while the Z1 plays those without a hitch in up to 1080p resolution.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S5 0.43
Sony Xperia Z1 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S5 81
Sony Xperia Z1 68

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