Sony Xperia X vs Samsung Galaxy S7
Sony is on an aggressive timeline: it’s releasing new phones every 6 months or so, but this time it’s different.
The Sony Xperia X is one of three new X series smartphones and the change from the Sony Xperia Z naming communicates that there is something more than just a slight bump in specs here. Indeed, there is: the Xperia X brings a reformulated design, a new camera sensor and a few other important changes.
Samsung Galaxy S7: a phone of similar size and with similarly premium aesthetics. So how do the two compare? Let’s find out.
Both have a stylish and beautiful design with no obvious flaws: the tapered back on the S7 makes it a slightly better in-hand fit, plus it has water-protection. Also, button placement on the Xperia X is terrible.
Sony has long been known for its excellent, stand-out designs: the Sony brand name itself is a synonym for high quality and elegance for many. However, the company’s last flagships from the Xperia Z series had very sharp edges and were a bit on the thick side.
Luckily, Sony went to the drawing board with the Xperia X: it’s not a radical re-design, but it addresses some of the nuisances of the Xperia Z5 design. It features beautifully smooth glass on the front, a stylish and durable metal back with the Xperia brand name etched, and all of that in a phone with no sharp edges that fits well in the hand. With no annoying visible antenna lines and all finished in one, unified color theme - from the back to the side and the front - the Xperia X is a true gem of modern smartphone design, balanced in every way.
Then we have the buttons, so let’s start with the elephant in the room: the terrible button placement on the Xperia X. We don’t know who at Sony thought it was a good idea to put the volume rocker towards the bottom end of the side, but this awkward position makes it quite the annoying stretch to reach out for the volume keys. While the buttons on the Xperia X are a bit mushy (especially the lock key), the Galaxy S7 has very clicky and easy to press buttons. It shows attention to detail and that’s important. Speaking of buttons, one minor nuisance is that the Galaxy S7 home key on the front gets signs of wear and tear, even after about just a week of use. For all else, the S7 has a great design, with slight curves and tapered edges for great in-hand feel.
It’s also worth saying that the Xperia X and Galaxy S7 are very similar in size and weight.
Surprisingly, the Xperia X lacks one important feature – a fingerprint scanner. Sony has confirmed that the Xperia X won’t have fingerprint security in its U.S. version, while the international version is said to actually feature a fingerprint reader on the lock key on the side. The Galaxy S7 has a quick and accurate fingerprint scanner embedded in its home button up front. Naturally, the S7 is also a step ahead in the mobile payments game with Samsung Pay that work via the fingerprint scanner of the phone.
Then, there is waterproofing: the Galaxy S7 can take a short plunge in water and survive it, and that’s a great thing to have, while the Xperia X lacks such protection.
The Xperia X has a 5” Full HD display with oversaturated colors and bluish whites, while the Galaxy S7 offers a 5.1” Quad HD screen that looks very good in Basic mode.
Here’s the deal with displays: we’ve reached a point where most devices these days have sufficient sharpness and the main difference in display quality comes from the way they show colors. Needless to say, both the Xperia X with its 5” LCD screen with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and the Galaxy S7 with its 5.1” Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels meet that sharpness criteria. The extra pixels in the Galaxy S7 make a difference only if you use the phone for virtual reality, or when you stare at it from very up close.
Both are also very bright screens that are easy to read outdoors even on a sunny day.
When it comes to the way the two deal with colors, though, there are some important differences. The Xperia X comes with colors that are overblown and lean towards the colder side. Sony allows you to select two other modes (go to Settings > Display > under Quality, tap on Image Enhancement) that seem to boost color even further and add contrast to images, but that does not make colors accurate, quite the opposite. You also have the option to manually tweak red, green and blue channels (go to Settings > Display > under Quality, tap on White Balance), which may come in useful. We recognize the fact that Sony has achieved high brightness and it’s worth pointing out how well finished and laminated the screen is, so that it appears nearly flush with the cover glass, but color reproduction is disappointing.
As to the Galaxy S7, its default Adaptive mode provides similarly inaccurate colors, but Samsung provides the useful Basic screen mode (go into Settings > Display > Display Mode, and change it there), that makes all the colors on the phone appear very well balanced to the sRGB mode. We recommend using this mode. It has the slight downside of whites appearing just a bit on the green side, but for all else, it gives a very well-balanced look to colors.
The Galaxy S7 also has the neat Always-on Display feature that shows you the time plus notifications, while the Xperia X lacks such extras.